BEAUTY FROM ASHES

Opening Prayer

As I read Scripture today, Holy Spirit, use it to not only humble me, but also to lift me up.

Read ISAIAH 4:2-6

The Branch of the Lord

In that day the Branch of the Lord will be beautiful and glorious, and the fruit of the land will be the pride and glory of the survivors in Israel. Those who are left in Zion, who remain in Jerusalem, will be called holy, all who are recorded among the living in Jerusalem. The Lord will wash away the filth of the women of Zion; he will cleanse the bloodstains from Jerusalem by a spirit[a] of judgment and a spirit[b] of fire. Then the Lord will create over all of Mount Zion and over those who assemble there a cloud of smoke by day and a glow of flaming fire by night; over everything the glory[c] will be a canopy. It will be a shelter and shade from the heat of the day, and a refuge and hiding place from the storm and rain.

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Footnotes

  1. Isaiah 4:4 Or the Spirit
  2. Isaiah 4:4 Or the Spirit
  3. Isaiah 4:5 Or over all the glory there

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Meditate

Trust the Lord, even in the calamities of this life. Catastrophe is never the last word where God is present.

Think Further

We continue the roller-coaster ride of these early chapters of Isaiah. After the depths of the previous chapters (‘woe,’ ‘abandoned,’ ‘judgment’), we are now ratcheted up into the heights, with views of breathtaking beauty. God’s ‘strange’ work of judgment1 includes the creation of something ‘beautiful and glorious’ (v. 2) following the purging of evil.

John Oswalt explains, ‘The Israelites and Judeans thought, as many moderns do, that judgment and hope are contrasting elements. But Isaiah shows that they are complementary … there is hope, but it is through judgment.’2 Even severe judgment leaves survivors (vv. 2, 3, literally ‘people who escaped’). The implication is that they are few, but they will be called ‘holy’ with their names written in God’s book (v. 3). Deluge and fire will wash clean and burn away impurity (v. 4). God often prunes in order to promote growth, making the results of his work at times seem small and vulnerable. Terrifying judgment and reduction to a remnant could be a disastrous strategy if it were not for God’s overarching protection, creating a refuge for his people (vv. 5, 6). He is, after all, the God of the Exodus, still present to lead, guide and safeguard. Without that promise, we would never persevere.

The Greek Island of Evia suffered devastating fires in the summer of 2020. Visits there show entire hillsides of blackened, burned-out trees and vegetation, a lunar landscape where livelihoods have been ruined. However, in 2022 masses of wildflowers in vibrant reds, yellows, and purples brightened and beautified the otherwise-dead landscape. There is life, not just existence, but extravagance of color, brightness, and beauty. Just as God spoke and brought creation out of chaos, so he will speak again.

Apply

Have you lost hope of change in some area of life? Does this passage shed any light on it? Perhaps even a flicker will remind you that God is at work.

Closing prayer

Heavenly Father, thank you that the Lord Jesus endured so much ‘for the joy set before him’ (Hebrews 12:2). Help me to do the same.

Last Updated on June 28, 2024 by kingstar

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