9. Refuge Restored

MEDITATIONS IN ISAIAH – No.9

Isa 4:5,6 Then the LORD will create ….. a shelter and shade from the heat of the day, and a refuge and hiding place from the storm and rain.

You may not have noticed it but there is a phrase that keeps on cropping up in Isaiah: “in that day”. So far it has appeared in 2:11,17,20, 3:7,18 and now in chapter 4 in 4:1,2, to make seven times in these three chapters. It is simply a day of the Lord’s appointing. It is not a chance day, but a day when God decrees something specific will happen. It shouldn’t be seen as a single day because it refers to a number of things happening which clearly will take time to occur. Recap: the LORD alone will be exalted in that day,” (2:11) when man’s pride is brought down and God alone exalted (also 2:17). In that day men will also give up their idols and flee from them (2:20). In that day no one will want to take responsibility for leadership (3:7). In that day the finery of the women will be gone (3:18) and they will desperately look for male covering (4:1). Finally on that day will come the restoration of the Lord (4:2).

We see in this study the end result of the Lord’s activity which so far has seemed somewhat negative as He deals with the unrighteous people. Now we see what He has been working towards. “In that day the Branch of the LORD will be beautiful and glorious.” (4:2a). A branch is a shoot off the trunk that has grown distinctive in its own right. Often in Scripture the Lord refers to Israel as a plant. It is a convenient picture that conveys a lot. It is something planted by the Lord (established in the Promised Land by the Lord), it is fed by the Lord (His word and His Spirit provide nourishment for them), He tends it and cares for it, and He expects it to produce fruit (righteous living). But when the enemy comes and attacks it, it is chopped down, hence Isaiah’s later reference to a ‘stump’ (6:3, 11:1) but for now the focus is on a branch, a new shoot from the old tree. This new shoot will be beautiful and glorious. This new work of God in the people will be beautiful to behold and will have the light of God shining in it.

But there is more: “and the fruit of the land will be the pride and glory of the survivors in Israel.” (4:2b) There will be survivors from what the Lord does with them (it will not be their end) and they will feel good about the state of the land. Now that could mean the physical state of the land which has become fruitful again after the pillaging enemy has gone, or it could be the general state of righteous wellbeing. Whichever it is, it is good being there! Moreover, “Those who are left in Zion, who remain in Jerusalem, will be called holy, all who are recorded among the living in Jerusalem.” (4:3). All those left alive after the enemy has gone will be seen to be a special, set-apart, people of God. That is what holy means. They will be clearly seen to be the people of God who are different! (unlike the present where they are just the same as any other idol-worshipping people of the world).

“The Lord will wash away the filth of the women of Zion; he will cleanse the bloodstains from Jerusalem.” (v.4a) Jerusalem is going to be transformed and all the ungodliness and unrighteousness of the women of Jerusalem, who had dominated the city, will be taken away and will just be a past memory. All of the injustice will be removed. How? It will happen by, “a spirit of judgment and a spirit of fire.” (v.4b). Obviously the hand of the Lord will bring judgment on the people and the unrighteous will be burned up (removed) by the fire, which may be literal fire or simply the cleansing effect of a marauding army from abroad.

But that isn’t the end of it: “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 all the glory will be a canopy.” (4:5) This echoes the Lord’s provision of protective security that Israel had known when they left Egypt (Ex 13:21,22 and Ex 14:20). It was a sign of His very presence that provided protection for them. Thus this protection is, “a shelter and shade from the heat of the day, and a refuge and hiding place from the storm and rain.” (4:6). Put very simply, His presence will protect them from anything that might harm them. It is a picture of total security.

Perhaps we take for granted this picture because it is so simple. It says that when we are restored to a right relationship with the Lord, His very presence with us acts as a protection and security like nothing else does. If we are Christians, we need to know that this is our position today. We have been restored to a right relationship with God through the work of His Son, Jesus Christ, at Calvary, and so today we have totally security as His children. As you read your New Testament, catch this truth again and again. Let it establish you and maintain you in peace. When the enemy seeks to upset your equilibrium, don’t let him! Declare the truth and hold onto the peace that is rightfully yours. As the apostle Paul said, stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.” (Eph 6:13)

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