‘Hidden Hand’ Meditations No.31 The Hand, Past & Future
Isaiah 51:1-3 “Listen to me, you who pursue righteousness and who seek the Lord: Look to the rock from which you were cut and to the quarry from which you were hewn; look to Abraham, your father, and to Sarah, who gave you birth. When I called him he was only one man, and I blessed him and made him many.
(v.3) The Lord will surely comfort Zion and will look with compassion on all her ruins; he will make her deserts like Eden, her wastelands like the garden of the Lord. Joy and gladness will be found in her, thanksgiving and the sound of singing.”
As we draw near to the end of this series considering the ‘hidden hand of God’ I want us to reflect on these first three verses of Isa 51 that show us a) how the hidden hand of God moved in the past and b) how it was going to move in the future.
Verses 1 and 2 call us to reflect on the past, on the foundation stone, if you like, of the Jewish people – Abraham. Three things made him stand out. First, his calling by God. Second, his obedient response to God and belief in what God said about his future family. Third, the miraculous way God moved and enabled that elderly couple, Sarah beyond child-bearing age, to conceive and have Isaac, the son of promise. (Gal 4:23) People who a) have never learned to listen to God and who b) therefore cannot respond in obedient faith (for faith comes by hearing what God says – Rom 10:17) are also likely c) to be those who fail to observe the workings of the hidden hand of God. Faith listens, faith obeys and faith sees.
Now moving on to verse 3 we find the Lord bringing words of encouragement to Israel – bringing comfort, bringing transformation and life, followed by joy, gladness, thanksgiving and singing. But these are all future things.
Now imagine you were part of Israel back then. The spiritual life of the nation was often not good, they were often under threat from enemies and God’s corrective word kept coming through this prophet. How do you think you would respond to verse 3? So bring it up to date. We live in days of division and upset of wars and rumours of wars, of warnings of environmental catastrophe, of us being a minority in our nations, and then the Lord comes and brings words of encouragement to you. Perhaps you don’t live in a believing church where regular prophetic words – personal words that strengthen, encourage and comfort you (1 Cor 14:3) – but very simply as you read His word, suddenly it seems a word of Scripture encouragement leaps off the page at you. Can you joyfully take this as the Spirit bringing this truth to you? How will it be fulfilled? By the hidden hand of God, i.e. by His Spirit – so come and examine this in the next series.