Encouragement from Isaiah 12
October 1, 2020
At the close of the opening section of Isaiah, he breaks into a song that pulses with the rhythm of the gospel, set in the key of grace. It’s a song of how God saves us by giving us himself. And when we know this salvation, we can’t keep ourselves from singing—in worship to God, in witness to everyone we can. #Isaiah #growgroups #missions #evangelism #worship #gospel #salvation
At the close of the opening section of Isaiah—after he has spoken of the judgment and discipline coming to God’s people, after he has spoken of God’s future intervention through the Messiah—Isaiah breaks into song:
You will say in that day: “I will give thanks to you, O Lord, for though you were angry with me, your anger turned away, that you might comfort me. “Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust, and will not be afraid; for the Lord God is my strength and my song, and he has become my salvation.” With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation. And you will say in that day: “Give thanks to the Lord, call upon his name, make known his deeds among the peoples, proclaim that his name is exalted. “Sing praises to the Lord, for he has done gloriously; let this be made known in all the earth. Shout, and sing for joy, O inhabitant of Zion, for great in your midst is the Holy One of Israel.” (Isa 12:1–6)
Isaiah 12 is a more hopeful parallel to the Ballad of the Beloved’s Vineyard in chapter 5. It is a song that sings not only the story of Jerusalem but our story, too. It is a song that pulses with the rhythm of the gospel, set in the key of grace.
It begins in the same place as ch. 5: the sadness and suffering that stem from our sin (v. 1). The Holy One of Israel is angry with us, and rightly so. He has commanded us to love him with all that we are and to give our worship to nothing beside him. We haven’t. He’s told us to cease to do evil, to learn to do good, to seek justice, and correct oppression (Isaiah 1:16–17), but we only seem to advance in technologies that allow us to accelerate the accumulation and distribution of our sins (Isaiah 5:18).
This could be the end of the story, the abrupt end to this song. And if it were up to us, it would be. But God steps in, he turns away from his righteous anger so that we can turn back to trusting him (v. 1). He comforts us through his kindness to draw us to repentance (Romans 2:4).
So the song modulates from sadness over our sin to a celebration of God’s salvation. And what is maybe most remarkable about this salvation that God works for us is that God isn’t giving us something else to put our hope in or to strive towards. He’s giving us himself. He doesn’t give us something to make us strong. He is our strength. He gives us himself. He doesn’t free us to sing about some other delight. He is our song. Our heart is captured by him and him alone. And so we trust him and we fear nothing else. “God has become my salvation” (v. 2).
But when you drink deeply of the water drawn from the wells of salvation, you can’t contain the uninhibited joy that overtakes us. In fact we’re filled to overflowing and the joy spills over the edge in praise to our glorious God and in proclamation of the gospel of grace to anyone and everyone. We come to have no greater joy than to be able to speak to God and to others about the beauty of who he is and the greatness of what he has done.
And when we really drink deeply of the salvation we have in God, praise and proclamation isn’t a burden or obligation—though it is obedience to God’s commands—but our desire to exalt and evangelize is an irrepressible urge that comes from deep within. We can’t help but praise God. As C. S. Lewis says in "Reflections on the Psalms":
...enjoyment spontaneously overflows into praise unless (sometimes even if) shyness or the fear of boring others is deliberately brought in to check it….just as men spontaneously praise whatever they value, so they spontaneously urge us to join them in praising it: ‘Isn’t she lovely? Wasn’t it glorious? Don’t you think that magnificent?’ (p. 94–95).
This is why Isaiah bursts into song at the first thought of the salvation God gives and calls the whole world to sing along:
“Give thanks to the Lord, call upon his name, make known his deeds among the peoples, proclaim that his name is exalted. “Sing praises to the Lord, for he has done gloriously; let this be made known in all the earth. “Shout, and sing for joy, O inhabitant of Zion, for great in your midst is the Holy One of Israel.” (Isaiah 12:4–6)
It isn’t enough just to see God and what he has done for us. Our hearts long to speak and sing and shout of what he’s done in Christ. Lewis again:
“I think we delight to praise what we enjoy because the praise not merely expresses but completes the enjoyment; it is its appointed consummation….the delight is incomplete till it is expressed” (p. 95).
We don’t fully know the joy of the grace God has shown in giving himself to us in Jesus, until we give ourselves back to him in wholehearted worship and give ourselves to others in full-throated witness to Christ.
So make today the day you drink deeply of God’s salvation and give yourself to the song of verse 4:
Praise God personally.
Call on him and ask him in trust to do what only he can do so that you will have every good thing you need and so he will get the glory that alone can satisfy a joyful soul. Let him prove himself faithful and trustworthy in your life.
Then let your praise spill out into proclamation that lets anyone and everyone, near and far, friend and foe, know about a God whose very own Son has turned his anger away from us so that we can turn back to him.
We need to speak and sing of God’s salvation because we still live in a world in which sin often seems to run unchecked, where many haven’t ever heard the song of God’s salvation. But for those who turn away from God even after he has turned to them in Christ, who refuse the way of trust, there is still a judgment coming. God won’t be mocked. He and his people will have justice even when the unjust seem invincible.
That’s what we’ll go deep to discover this Sunday when we study Isaiah 23 in our Grow Groups. On Zoom or in the room, we’ll see you there.