God’s Saving Word: Joy
Isaiah 54:1–17: Today’s reading describes the LORD’s love for and relationship with Israel and his promise to rebuild Jerusalem. The opening verses affirm that Jerusalem will once again be filled with people.
The Lord’s Love for Israel
54 Jerusalem, you have been like a childless woman,
but now you can sing and shout for joy.
Now you will have more children
than a woman whose husband never left her.
2 Make the tent you live in larger;
lengthen its ropes and strengthen the pegs!
3 You will extend your boundaries on all sides;
your people will get back the land
that the other nations now occupy.
Cities now deserted will be filled with people.
4 Do not be afraid—you will not be disgraced again;
you will not be humiliated.
You will forget your unfaithfulness as a young wife,
and your desperate loneliness as a widow.
5 Your Creator will be like a husband to you—
the Lord Almighty is his name.
The holy God of Israel will save you—
he is the ruler of all the world.
6 Israel, you are like a young wife,
deserted by her husband and deeply distressed.
But the Lord calls you back to him and says:
7 “For one brief moment I left you;
with deep love I will take you back.
8 I turned away angry for only a moment,
but I will show you my love forever.”
So says the Lord who saves you.
9 “In the time of Noah I promised
never again to flood the earth.
Now I promise not to be angry with you again;
I will not reprimand or punish you.
10 The mountains and hills may crumble,
but my love for you will never end;
I will keep forever my promise of peace.”
So says the Lord who loves you.
The Future Jerusalem
11 The Lord says,
“O Jerusalem, you suffering, helpless city,
with no one to comfort you,
I will rebuild your foundations with precious stones.
12 I will build your towers with rubies,
your gates with stones that glow like fire,
and the wall around you with jewels.
13 “I myself will teach your people
and give them prosperity and peace.
14 Justice and right will make you strong.
You will be safe from oppression and terror.
15 Whoever attacks you,
does it without my consent;
whoever fights against you will fall.
16 “I create the blacksmith,
who builds a fire and forges weapons.
I also create the soldier,
who uses the weapons to kill.
17 But no weapon will be able to hurt you;
you will have an answer for all who accuse you.
I will defend my servants
and give them victory.”
Today’s Key Verse: Isaiah 54:5b
The holy God of Israel will save you—he is the ruler of all the world.
What promises are given in today’s reading? Note the way in which the city of Jerusalem and the people of Israel are described—as a childless woman, a young wife (verses 1, 4, 6)—and how God is described as a husband (verses 5–6). What do these images suggest to you about God’s relationship with Israel? Reread verses 11–12. How is the future Jerusalem described? You may wish to compare these verses with Revelation 21:18–21 (part of the reading for December 30) that describe the heavenly Jerusalem in much the same way. What does today’s reading teach you about God?
Holy God, I shout for joy because of your faithfulness, and I trust in your promises and in your never-ending love. Amen.
Isaiah 55:1–13: The LORD extends an invitation to the people to return to him.