When we confess our faith in Jesus Christ we confess a most beautiful
truth. We confess a truth that causes us to sing and be joyful,
to break forth into joyous chorus. We confess that the Lord has
been merciful and has comforted us with a wonderful, amazing comfort.
We state that Jehovah has loved me with a love that can never
be broken. We confess a love of God for us that surpasses anything
the human mind could imagine. God loves us with a love that is
even greater than the love of an earthly father or mother for
their child. Isaiah makes known that comfort in this chapter and
specifically in our text.
These words of unspeakable comfort were written years before they
would be appreciated. God knows what happens to His children far
before the situations come upon them. God prepared this word of
comfort for Zion especially when they would be in the hands of
their captors. It was a dark night for Zion when the people were
taken to Babylon and became slaves. This wonderful word of God
penetrated the darkness as a bright, shining ray testifying of
Jehovah's covenant faithfulness, even toward a straying people.
"I have graven thee upon the palms of my hands; thy walls
are continually before me."
God prepares that same word for us which we look at under the theme:
GRAVEN UPON GOD'S PALMS
I. GOD'S EVERLASTING LOVE
II. ZION'S VEXING DOUBTS
III. OUR ABSOLUTE ASSURANCE
GOD'S EVERLASTING LOVE
We read in verse 13: "Sing, O heavens; and be joyful, O earth:
and break forth into singing, O mountains: for the LORD hath comforted
His people, and will have mercy upon his afflicted." The
wonder of salvation is such a grand and glorious wonder that all
of creation is commanded to break forth into singing. The wonder of redemption affects the whole of the creation as
reveal. Jehovah has worked a wonder of wonders!
He has taken a people with no life and has given them life! He
has sent forth a light to the Gentiles. He has established covenant
with His people. There is only one valid response to this wonder
- that of rejoicing and giving thanks to God for the marvelous
work that He has performed.
Isaiah brought this message to a people who were ungrateful. Israel
was walking according to her own pleasures. She did not take interest
in God's ways. Isaiah was commanded to bring God's wonderful word
of hope to the people of Israel knowing full well that many would
not hear. This prophetic word was meant for Israel when she would
be in captivity. God brings this word to us who are often ungrateful
and reminds us of the joy we have in Him. There are two reasons
for the singing and joy.
First, God has comforted His people.
God has rescued a people out of the depths of woe and has given
them assurance and comfort for this life. These people were destined
to destruction. God looked down on them in His everlasting pity
and kindness and rescued them out of all their troubles. The emphasis
of this act is on God's mercy, as literally the word comfort in
verse 13 reads: "reestablished his people." God has
shown comfort in that He has once more established His people
as His people. Those who fell in Adam and went with the devil
have been delivered from their darkness and given new life in
Jesus Christ, the second Adam. This ordaining is from eternity,
not with respect to those who are Israelites according to the
flesh, but to those whom He has chosen unto life eternal in Jesus
Christ. These people are re-established as God's people, and therefore
are comforted with the comfort that is beyond expectation.
Second, the Lord will have mercy upon His afflicted.
Mercy is compassion toward those in distress. God's people were
in distress, they were in a situation without hope. God's comfort
comes in the form of mercy. God's mercy is such that it covers
His people and keeps them in all their troubles. The Lord is presented
as the great protector of His people. His people will not hunger
nor thirst according to verse 10: "For he that hath mercy
on them shall lead them, even by the springs of water shall he
guide them." Regardless of the darkness of the night, Jehovah
is present in His love and mercy.
God directs this word to Zion. Zion is the people of God, the
church of all ages who rejoices and delights in her Lord and King.
In the way of rejoicing and thankful living, Zion would show her
desire to walk in the ways of Jehovah.
There were times when even Zion did not want to hear the words
of Isaiah. Zion turned on God and followed after the idol gods
of the lands. They had only themselves to blame for their situation.
They provoked the Holy One of Israel. They followed after other
gods, turning away from Jehovah. God's prophets were mocked, persecuted,
Isaiah is writing prior to the captivity, but his words are prophetic,
having even more meaning if we consider the following history
when the church was taken into captivity. Old and young, sick
and healthy, all were torn from their homeland and taken into
a captive land. Zion was brought into Babylon to sigh and weep
some 70 years. Zion continues to be afflicted throughout the years
of persecution and struggle. God prepared this word of comfort
for Zion when they would be in the hands of their enemies far
from Jerusalem and the Holy Temple. God prepared this word for
His church of today who lives in similar times of idolatry, persecution,
ZION'S VEXING DOUBTS
In response to God's wondrous message, Zion said in verse 14:
"The LORD hath forsaken me, and my Lord hath forgotten me."
Zion is dejected and downcast. She refuses to see God's hand in
her salvation. She will not acknowledge nor thank God for all
the wonders He has wrought. Soon, she will be taken into captivity
and these words take on even greater meaning. The measure of her
iniquity will be filled and then will come the chastisement. Jerusalem
is in waste. The temple is burned with fire. There is no regular
public worship of Jehovah anymore. They are surrounded by mockers
and scoffers. All the day long they hear the bitter words: "Where
is thy God?"
What a foolish way for Zion to talk! She robs herself of the only
thing that is able to comfort her in her night of misery. She
denies the reality concerning Jehovah. God is our God regardless
of our current situation. God is God and all is well no matter
where or what.
We are tempted to share the concern of Zion. We rise up in unbelief,
looking around ourselves and our situation wondering where Jehovah
is. In the midst of a world steeped in sin and increasing in iniquity
the people of God are being battered about. Few are interested
in the truth of God's Word. There is great indifference for the
truths of the Bible among confessing believers. The presence of
God is not enjoyed by many. There are personal questions and concerns
and struggles. We are required to bear weighty crosses and heavy
burdens. We struggle to see the comfort and mercy of Jehovah.
We focus on our present affliction. We dwell on the difficulties
that God has placed on us.
God urges His people to look around! There is abundant proof that
God loves them and that God will preserve them to all eternity.
God gives that assurance through two simple, clear illustrations.
OUR ABSOLUTE ASSURANCE
God responds to Zion's doubts in verse 15: "Can a woman forget
her sucking child, that she should not have compassion on the
son of her womb? Yea, they may forget, yet will I not forget thee."
God responds to Zion and our doubt with a clear, simple analogy.
Look at the millions of mothers. Does any of them ever forsake
her child so that she would not have compassion on her little
baby? Have you seen a mother give up her little baby? Deliberately
Isaiah uses sucking child -- the little baby who is still nursing.
Isaiah makes emphatically clear his reference with "one of
her womb." The idea that a mother could forget her own nursing
baby is unthinkable! And, yet they may forget. It may happen occasionally
that a mother does forget her sucking child. This is a rare reality,
but nevertheless, we read occasionally of it happening. There
are such wicked mothers who will forsake their children. Occasionally
we read of such in the newspaper or we hear of them on the news.
The thought causes us to shudder, but yes, they may forget. God
knows that mothers, by nature, are prone to all sin, and therefore
He says, they may forget.
But, I will not forget thee! That, beloved, is the everlasting
gospel of God! God's love and kindness are eternal, from everlasting
to everlasting. He is God! He is Jehovah! All the difference is
found in that wonder that HE is the Unchangeable, ever present,
I Am! God's sovereign, unconditional promise of salvation is sure!
God's promise is not conditioned upon the will of man. God's promise
can not be thwarted by men nor by the devil. God will accomplish
all that He has set out to perform. He stands far above even our
earthly parents. They love us, but they may forget. Not Jehovah!
In the darkest night, He remembers His children with an everlasting
memory of love. Not even the streams and billows of sin and corruption
that Zion commits can turn His love away from her. A mother or
father may be turned away from their child in his sin, but not
Jehovah from His children. He loved us while we were yet enemies
This is one of the strongest, if not the strongest expression
of God's love found in the Old Testament. There are those who
claim that the God of the Old Testament is a fearful God, filled
with wrath and vengeance, and it is only in the New Testament
that we find love and kindness through Jesus Christ. We have God's
tenderness set forth for us here in the Old Testament, exposing
the foolishness of those who seek to make a division between the
two testaments regarding God. The picture we have here is one
of a tender love for one's child. God tenderly holds each of His children in the hollow of His bosom (Psalter 278 and
God feeds His little infants the milk of His word. They are the
apple of His eye. They are the objects of His sovereign kisses,
His hugs, His constant guidance. God leads them, He has sympathy
for them, He cares for them, He provides love and firm discipline
That, beloved, is here spoken of you! Is this your confession?
Do you confess God to be the God of your salvation in Jesus Christ
so that He will never forsake you, although you may be afflicted
with great and numerous difficulties? Can you sing Psalter 278
with joy and thanksgiving, without reservation? Do you believe the wonder we sing in Psalter 203 (
that to live apart
from God is death, but to live in His presence, with his hand
in our hand is the fullness of joy and life? It may feel as though
everything is going against you; but are you able to lift your
head and confess the love of God in Jesus Christ for you? But,
you say, what is proof of God's love for me? Where do I find the
confidence that His love is even stronger than the love of my
God responds: "Behold, I have graven thee upon the palms
of my hands." When we love someone, we have an image of the
loved one that we keep close to us. God has your image with Him
continually. Your image is graven upon the palms of His hands.
God has placed an image of you as close to Himself as possible-
on the palms of His hands. On the palms of His hands it is always
close to Him and always before His face. He can not loose sight
of you. You are always before His eyes.
What is the image that God constantly has before His eyes? It
is an exact portrait of you and me in Jesus Christ. Thankfully,
it is not a picture of what we are by nature- a murderer, adulterer,
thief, liar. It is a picture of you covered by the blood of Jesus
Christ. The image is a perfect image inscribed on the palms of
His hands reflecting who you are by grace! It is an image of your
perfection in Jesus Christ. The inscription on the palms of God
is a picture of your holiness and righteousness in Jesus, your
Redeemer. You are the perfection of beauty as you are engraven
on God's hands. This image is the image of Zion that is eternally
determined in Christ. God sees us eternally in Jesus Christ. That
is the image graven upon the palms of His hands.
That we are engraven is significant. We are so permanently etched
that the image can never be erased or blotted out. Nothing can
separate us from Jehovah God. Our pictures and images will last
a while, but eventually they are outdated or no longer available.
God decrees and ordains His people in such a way that their image
in Christ is permanently graven upon His palms. He loves them
and they are the objects of His affection. He loves them with
an unchanging and eternal love. So deeply are we graven, that
we are eternally chosen in God's love to be the perfect image
of Jesus Christ. We are eternally secure! The New Testament sets forth the same teaching in
any man pluck them out of my hand. My Father, which gave them
me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out
of my Father's hand."
The second analogy that God uses is that expressed in the last
part of verse 16: "Thy walls are continually before me."
The term walls is used here as a memorial that continually reminds
God of His Zion. Although the forces of unbelief, indifference,
and ignorance attempt to overthrow the church, yet God is with
her, for she is ever before His eyes. God wants to see His Zion
continually as a memorial of His grace and glory. In Zion He sees
the love of His only Begotten Son. In Zion He sees His praise
and glory, and His handiwork. In you, God sees His glory and grace.
You are an abiding memorial to the grace and glory of God. God
has set His angels around us to preserve and keep us as His memorial.
What a glorious confession God has given to you and me! A confession
that we can truly rejoice and be glad in! This is the greatest
confession and most comforting confession that a person can make.
Can you make it your own? This is the only confession that can
give us true comfort and consolation as we live our life here
below. It is not much comfort to merely know that the present
night of darkness will pass. It may give us some temporary relief,
but no ease from the present struggles we face. But, what a comfort
to know that the faithful covenant Jehovah holds us in the hollow
of His hands, and that He beholds us as precious in His sight!
May we join the heavens and the earth in singing and joy, for
the Lord hath indeed comforted His people and hath shown mercy
to His afflicted!