God’s Life-Giving Word of Forgiveness and Mercy
Isaiah 54:1-17: Today’s reading describes the LORD’s love for and relationship with Israel and the LORD’s promise to rebuild Jerusalem. The opening verses affirm that Jerusalem will once again be filled with the Israelites and that their descendants will occupy even more land.
The holy God of Israel will save you—he is the ruler of all the world.
God Promises to Rescue His People
1Israel, the Lord who created you says,
“Do not be afraid—I will save you.
I have called you by name—you are mine.
2When you pass through deep waters, I will be with you;
your troubles will not overwhelm you.
When you pass through fire, you will not be burned;
the hard trials that come will not hurt you.
3For I am the Lord your God,
the holy God of Israel, who saves you.
I will give up Egypt to set you free;
I will give up Ethiopia and Seba.
4I will give up whole nations to save your life,
because you are precious to me
and because I love you and give you honor.
5Do not be afraid—I am with you!
“From the distant east and the farthest west
I will bring your people home.
6I will tell the north to let them go
and the south not to hold them back.
Let my people return from distant lands,
from every part of the world.
7They are my own people,
and I created them to bring me glory.”
Israel Is the Lord's Witness
“Summon my people to court.
They have eyes, but they are blind;
they have ears, but they are deaf!
9Summon the nations to come to the trial.
Which of their gods can predict the future?
Which of them foretold what is happening now?
Let these gods bring in their witnesses
to prove that they are right,
to testify to the truth of their words.
10“People of Israel, you are my witnesses;
I chose you to be my servant,
so that you would know me and believe in me
and understand that I am the only God.
Besides me there is no other god;
there never was and never will be.
11“I alone am the Lord,
the only one who can save you.
12I predicted what would happen,
and then I came to your aid.
No foreign god has ever done this;
you are my witnesses.
13I am God and always will be.
No one can escape from my power;
no one can change what I do.”
Escape from Babylon
14Israel's holy God, the Lord who saves you, says,
“To save you, I will send an army against Babylon;
I will break down the city gates,
and the shouts of her people will turn into crying.
15I am the Lord, your holy God.
I created you, Israel, and I am your king.”
16Long ago the Lord made a road through the sea,
a path through the swirling waters.
17He led a mighty army to destruction,
an army of chariots and horses.
Down they fell, never to rise,
snuffed out like the flame of a lamp!
18But the Lord says,
“Do not cling to events of the past
or dwell on what happened long ago.
19Watch for the new thing I am going to do.
It is happening already—you can see it now!
I will make a road through the wilderness
and give you streams of water there.
20Even the wild animals will honor me;
jackals and ostriches will praise me
when I make rivers flow in the desert
to give water to my chosen people.
21They are the people I made for myself,
and they will sing my praises!”
What promises are given in today’s reading? Note the way in which Jerusalem and 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 of Jerusalem described? You may wish to compare these verses with Revelation 21:18-21 which describes the heavenly Jerusalem in much the same way. What does today’s reading teach you about God?
Holy God, I sing and shout for joy because of your faithfulness, and I trust in your promises and in your never-ending love. Amen.
Couples planning their wedding
Isaiah 55:1-13: The LORD extends an invitation to the people to return to him.