The 55th chapter of Isaiah is one of my favorite Scripture passages—Not only does God tell us a lot about Himself, He also uses the prophet Isaiah to communicate some powerful truths about our earthly journey of faith. Today I want to point out three promises given to the people of God in verses 6-13, and explore what it looks like to apply them to our daily lives.
Salvation is For Everyone
We should pay close attention to the first group of verses in this passage (6-9). This is an invitation to receive the pardon of God, an abundant act of forgiveness that transcends our understanding.
What’s perhaps most important here is the people to whom this invitation is given— the wicked and unrighteous. God’s promise to pardon abundantly is not reserved for perfection, but extends fully to the darkest and most twisted among us. For a lot of us this is why the Gospel is good news, but for some this idea seems to be in conflict with justice. To those who might call God’s work of grace “unfair”, I would say this:
You’re right! Grace is a suspension of justice, and this is something we should celebrate. The heart that feels cheated by God’s grace toward others has an imbalanced view of their own righteousness. We are just as unworthy of God’s grace as those who we see as “worse than us”. If God was unfair in saving them, then we certainly have no claim to salvation.
God doesn’t discriminate—There is no question of “bad-worse-worst” in the kingdom of Heaven, and that’s exactly the point of Isaiah 55. He goes on to say that not everyone will understand this choice to pardon, For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. But though we may not always understand how God works, we should always strive to live marked by this promise—No one is beyond the saving grace of God.
God is Fully in Control
We also learn from Isaiah 55 that there is no authority greater than God’s. Verses 10-11 show a clear picture of God’s divine control, telling us that God’s word will always accomplish what it intends.
Word here is not simply referring to the Bible, but to the living voice of God. The same kind of words that spoke the universe into existence (Genesis 1:3-5) are at work all around us, continually molding and shaping the world into a testimony of His grace and power. We’re promised here that no power can thwart the will of God, and that His word will always accomplish what He intends.
Faithfulness is Marked by Joy and Peace
The chapter ends with a beautiful promise for the faithful—”…You shall go out in joy and be led forth in peace…”. The dynamics of this promise are somewhat complex, but very important for the daily practice of our faith:
We Choose Joy
The first part of the promise involves “going out” in joy, but what does that really mean? We know from the book of James that joy is something we can accept or reject (James 1:2-3), but what does it look like to choose joy?
I wrote an article on Joy last year that I think might be helpful here:
Joy is eternally present in our hearts, and is oriented toward the reality that our hope is in Christ, not in our present circumstances.
When our lives are marked by joy we look different. The worst life has to offer can’t compare to the beauty of God’s grace, and this is the source of our hope. Choosing joy doesn’t mean we’re never sad or disappointed, but rather that we experience these things from the perspective of heaven—The joyful heart sees the hardest times of life as a temporary setback on the journey of eternal life.
God Gives Peace
The second half of this promise comes as a result of our choosing joy—we will be led forth in peace. Peace, it seems, is not only a bi-product of the joyful heart, but also a gift that God uses to lead His people.
Like with joy, peace doesn’t mean we’re never going to suffer, but describes how we might respond to hardship when it comes. In the case of Isaiah 55, our choice to experience joy is met with God’s promise to lead us forward in peace, and this is how God displays His glory through our story.
Working Together for His Glory and Our Good
When we put all of these promises together, sharing this good news becomes second nature. The joy of His people and the peace in which they are led will point others to the glory and grace of His character—and since we know that salvation is offered to all people, every person we meet becomes an opportunity to share that story. God has uniquely equipped His people to display His glory, and the promises of Isaiah 55 show us how we can daily participate in this mission.
As surely as God is faithful, our word to you has not been Yes and No. For the Son of God, Jesus Christ, whom we proclaimed among you, Silvanus and Timothy and I, was not Yes and No, but in him it is always Yes. For all the promises of God find their Yes in Him. That is why it is through Him that we utter our Amen to God for His glory. And it is God who establishes us with you in Christ, and has anointed us, and who has also put his seal on us and given us His Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee.
2 Corinthians 1:18-22