GETTING THE MESSAGE/Grace given freely in Christ
“Sing to the Lord a new song,” the prophet Isaiah exclaims in Isaiah 42:10. Who is to sing? All the people on earth and the earth itself. The song is connected to the announcement of the Servant of God arriving on the scene. The subject of the song is that Christ has been revealed to the world and sent by the Father as the chosen servant of God to restore the world and men to God for the praise of God.
So it is no ordinary song. There is no Creator but the Lord, and there is no Redeemer but the Lord. Such is the grace of God that the villages of Kedar and the inhabitants of Sela will join the chorus of those who sing the song (verse 11). The people of Kedar and Sela were enemies of Israel, of such Paul writes in Ephesians 2: “strangers to the covenant of promise, having no hope and without God.”
But now, with the coming of the Servant, those who were far off have been brought near. In Isaiah 40:9, we read, “Go up to a high mountain, O Zion, herald of good news, lift up your voice with strength, O Jerusalem, herald of good news.”
Now in verse 11, people from Kedar and Sela are responding to the good news by “shouting from the top of the mountain.” They have become part of the redeemed of God. This is a song only the redeemed know and sing. They are now the property of the Lord Jesus. And so they sing accordingly. So should you if you have learned this song of the redeemed.
We have a hymn by Charles Wesley we sing at Christmas entitled “Come Thou Long Expected Jesus.” One of the stanzas reads, “O’er the hills the angels singing news, glad tidings of a birth: “Go to him your praises bringing; Christ the Lord has come to earth.” The verses in Isaiah 40:13-14 are like this.
Except it is God who is crying out. He shouts aloud like mighty warrior (verse 13) and cries out like a woman in labor (verse 14). God depicts himself as barely able to wait in sending Christ to the earth. He comes like a warrior to defeat his enemies (sin, death, and the devil). Christ is born a child and yet a king. He is the new things God has declared (42:9) that will bring the new song. Christ brings the word of God and the grace of God. Grace is what we need just now, and it is to be had freely.
It was in the fullness of time, God’s time, that Christ was born. Everything is on God’s timetable. He is not slow in keeping his promise, even though it seems like a long time to his people. To wait on the Lord, knowing he keeps all his promises, is a sign of true faith.
In Isaiah 40:15-16, we see that the journey the redeemed will make is through a wilderness, but the Lord will be their shepherd. Verse 15 is a scene of devastation: mountains and hills crumble, vegetation dries up, and the waters disappear. There is a limit to affliction. God sends it, but God also provides as we saw in 41:18.
The Lord is with his people in their pilgrimage through this world (42:16). He will “lead the blind,” meaning his people may go through dark periods in their lives, but he will guide them. He will “turn the rough places into level ground.” The Lord says, “I do not forsake them.”
That is a blessed promise isn’t it? The Lord will not forsake you. It is the Lord who has you by the hand when you go through tribulation. This is God’s promise to those who embrace Christ. If he is their Lord, their lives and souls are in his hand. David says, “The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear” (Psalm 27:1)? The guidance of the Lord is continual. Depend upon it.
This blessed safety of God’s people is contrasted with the shame of those who cling to idols in Isaiah 40:17. God says they are “utterly put to shame.” The cry of the Lord as a warrior to save his people becomes a shout of wrath against all those who remain his enemies.
Those who refuse the call of Christ will reap what they have sown. Those who continue to love sin will know the misery of it now and in the day of the Lord. To resist Christ shows one to be an enemy of all goodness. And God warns that the shame of it will be exposed in due time.