Barren to Brazen
Introduction: I keep sensing that we are moving into a new season! Not sure whether merely because of Covid or because of Covid + !
Some suppose this chapter to have been addressed to the Gentiles; some, to the Jewish Church; and some, to the Christian, in its first stage.
On comparing the different parts of it, particularly the seventh and eighth verses, with the remainder, the most obvious import of the prophecy will be that which refers it to the future conversion of the Jews, and to the increase and prosperity of that nation, when reconciled to God after their long rejection, when their glory and security will far surpass what they were formerly in their most favoured state, v. Isa 54.
I choose to believe that not only will 2021 be a different year but that it will be a better year!
MH – One of my take-aways from the Covid era is that a lot was exposed! That truth was challenged and that cream rose to the top!
2020 was a year of interspection, 2021 is going to be a year of regeneration.
Question: What do I believe is part of our mission and vision for today and tomorrow?
Not settling! Not falling back ‘into the usual’ but moving forward with purpose!
First of all let’s move forward!
‘Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. 13 Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, 14 I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus’. (Phi 3:12-14 NKJ)
2020 I might refer to being somewhat barren.
• Things were shut down.
• There was very little movement (remember the 405 last year?).
• The year was full of questions, doubts, frustrations, disapointments and even lots of death!
Transition: I want to visit with you about two things: a former state and a future focus.
Transition: Isaiah begins by describing the former state….bareness!
I. Former State
Barren = agar = barren or sterile
Question? How did the women and men of the Bible understand barrenness?
The Bible presents all forms of fertility as a gift from God. Pregnancies occur when Yahweh “remembers” women and “opens their wombs.” Biblical women who experience periods of barrenness often understand their inability to conceive as a divine withholding of blessing, a punishment, or even a curse.
Sarah understands her barrenness to be the result of God withholding the gift of pregnancy: “Yahweh has prevented me from bearing children” (Gen 16:2; see also Gen 30:2). Later, during Sarah’s strange sojourn in the house of King Abimelech, Yahweh is said to have “closed fast all the wombs of the house of Abimelech” as punishment for Abimelech’s taking Sarah into his house (Gen 20:18).
Michal, the daughter of Saul and wife of King David, offended David when she rebuked him for dancing naked before the ark of Yahweh. When the narrator closes Michal’s story with the notification that “Michal the daughter of Saul had no child to the day of her death,” a reader could conclude that her barrenness is a divine punishment or curse.
In an oracle of condemnation against Israel, the prophet Hosea announces, “the days of punishment have come” such that Yahweh will guarantee that Ephraim as a nation experiences “no birth, no pregnancy, no conception” (Hos 9:7, Hos 11).
‘More are the children of the desolate than the children of the married woman.’
Those that are married (in covenant with the Lord) are less productive / blessed than those who are not!
This needs to change!
Transition: Here is my prayer and hope for moving forward…
Transition: There was a former state that God is calling to be regenerated into a future focus!
II. Future Focus
1. Enlarge the place of your tent
2. Strecth for the curtains of your habitation
The same idea occurs in Isa 49:19-20 (see the notes at that chapter). The curtains of thy habitations. The word ‘curtain’ does not quite express the sense here. It is commonly with us used to denote the cloth hanging round. a bed or at a window, which may be spread or drawn aside at pleasure, or the hanging in theaters to conceal the stage from the spectators. The word here, however, denotes the canopy or cloth used in a tent; and the idea is, that the boundaries of the church were to be greatly enlarged, in order to accommodate the vast accession from the pagan world.
3. Lengthen your cords
Go farther….reach for more!
Question: Have we settled? Are we ‘satisfied’ when there is so much more?
4. Strengthen your stakes – that which holds your place down and keeps it secure!
[Not one of the stakes thereof] The ‘stakes’ here refer to the poles or fixtures which were driven into the ground in order to fasten the tent, to enable them to spread it, or to the small stakes or pins that were driven in the ground in order to secure the cords by which the tent was extended. The drawing in the book will give you an idea of the mode in which tents were commonly pitched, and will serve to explain this passage, as well as the similar passage in Isa 54:2.
What needs to be Strengthened?
Conclusion: What will it take? What is our dream, purpose, destiny?
1. Vision – Defining new horizons.
2. Faith – Expecting different results (if not bigger…grander!)
3. Commitment – we shouldn’t merely believe but we must also work!
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