May 27, 2021
"Listen to Me, you who pursue righteousness, who seek the Lord: Look to the rock from which you were cut, and to the quarry from which you were dug."
“Listen to Me, you who pursue righteousness, who seek the Lord: Look to the rock from which you were cut, and to the quarry from which you were dug. Look to Abraham your father, and to Sarah who gave birth to you in pain. When I called him he was only one; I blessed him and made him many. For the Lord will comfort Zion; He will comfort all her waste places, and He will make her wilderness like Eden, and her desert like the garden of the Lord. Joy and gladness will be found in her, thanksgiving and melodious song.” Isaiah 51:1-3
The previous chapter ended by expressing concern for the spiritually depressed. Chapter 51 continues the application of a remedy. The two “servant songs” (49:1-6; 50:4-9) are undoubtedly meant to encourage true believers, captive in Babylon, to “turn their eyes upon Messiah.”
Chapter 51 elaborates by a threefold use of either “listen” or “hear,” all of which urge tired believers to continue living faithfully. Three sections of Isaiah 51 (1-3, 4-6, 7-8) advocate that believers look backward, forwards, and to the present, taking careful observation of the promises of God surrounding each perspective. Now, on to today’s passage.
God encourages us first to remember what He has done in our past, rescuing us from sin and assuring us of His promise of love and abiding presence.
Isaiah uses the image of a “piece of rock” (shapeless and black) and the quarry from which it is taken – dirty, dark, and dismal. The sculptor has fashioned it into a work of great beauty and design. “look back at your roots,” God urges. “Think of what I have done for you.”
Taking Abraham (the father of the faithful) and his wife Sarah as examples, Isaiah reminds his hearers how God took these two people and multiplied them. God blessed Abraham and his descendants. Out of one couple (and an old one at that), God miraculously formed a great nation. No matter how small and difficult things may be, God can transform our situations beyond recognition. Nothing is too difficult for God. Faith does not operate in the realm of the possible. It begins where man’s power ends.
God promises comfort, compassion, paradise (He will make her wilderness like Eden), and joy in place of gloom and despair. The desert-like experience of Babylon will give way to restored paradise. We already saw the use of a garden (Eden) as a symbol of what God intends for His children in Isaiah 35:12
When the dying thief asked to be remembered by Jesus, he was promised the experience of “paradise” that day. (Luke 23:43) Paul momentarily experienced it (2 Corinthians 12:4), and the last book of the Bible takes up the word again, holding out the prospect of Heaven. (Revelation 2:7) If you were to die tonight, do you know, for certain, that you will enter eternal life, “paradise” with Messiah Jesus?