Summary: Our future depends on our past & present attitude & actions toward God. Yet even if we have thwarted God’s purposes in our past, He is willing to restore us, for God is a God of redemption. He holds out gracious promises to those who turn to Him.
ISAIAH 48: 17-22
PROMISES FOR THE FAITHFUL
Had Israel responded to God in their past, their present life and circumstances would have been considerably different. Instead of being enslaved and going into exile they would have walked in righteousness and known God’s peace. Yet it wasn’t too late. Israel as a nation would have opportunity to return to the Promised Land, if they would heed God’s Word and return to Him. To this end God’s people are urged to seize the opportunity which would be given them by Cyrus’ decree and leave Babylon, other wise they would know no peace.
Our future depends on our past and present attitude and actions toward God. Yet even if we have thwarted God’s purposes in our past, He is willing to restore us, for God is a God of redemption. He continues to hold out gracious promises to those who turn to Him in a willingness to be obedient to His Word (CIT).
I. WHAT MIGHT HAVE BEEN, 17-19.
II. WHAT COULD BE, 20-21.
III. WHAT A WARNING, 22.
Verse 17 explains why we should listen to God. Thus says the Lord, your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel; "I am the Lord your God, who teaches you to profit, who leads you in the way you should go.
The word of God is filled with the most precious promises. Note the character of the speaker who is your LORD. It is not just anyone eliciting your attention and response. It is your Redeemer who will not simply leave you a victim of circumstances or your own bad decisions. He is the One, the only being worthy of the title "the Holy One." The One with whom you have entered into covenant relationship.
This One is a teacher and guide. God in His word and through life teaches us many things. The things God teaches you are profitable, meaning if they are obeyed they bring increase to us, to our life. The profit or return from those who follow His teachings lasts far longer and are more valuable that the silver or gold so many seek.
Why does store owner or his employee stand all day working? For profit. Why does the mechanic bend over the fender of a car? For profit. Why does the farmer spend all day on his tractor in the dust and sun? For profit. God want to teach you what is best for you for your earthly and eternal profit or increase.
Those that profit from God’s teachings will be led in the way they should go. So many today go the way the world goes, or in the way they want to go. Those who profit from God’s teaching go in the way God leads them.
Is your relationship with God dear to you? If you sense some of the greatness of His redeeming love, if you know anything of the power and cleansing of His atoning blood, anything of the sufferings and sorrows of an incarnate God, surely you would open your ears and hear what the Redeemer says, for He speaks to us for our earthly and eternal profit. The only true profit in life comes when we allow God to be the God of our life.
Verse18 relays some of the results of listening to God. "If only you had paid attention to My commandments! Then your well-being would have been like a river, and your righteousness like the waves of the sea.
This is an exclamation of disappointed thwarted love. Since God is who He is in both being and action, one would think that God’s people would listen carefully to His words of instruction and guidance. History bears witness that has far to rarely been the case. The good which God purposed has been missed because of man’s fault, yet God still regards the misguided Israel with sorrow and pity. The kind intention and benefit of His instruction has been sabotaged by the free will of man.
Peace is a state of general well-being. Righteousness refers to the right thinking, speaking, and behaving of those trained by salvation’s blessings. [Peace and righteousness are often linked in Scripture: 9:7; 32:17; 54:13-14; 60:17; Ps. 85:10; Heb. 7:2.] Peace and righteousness are the results of the reign of God.
Abundant and overflowing peace and righteousness are given to those who follow God. The peace or well being referred to indicates abundant personal and national benefits that make life satisfying and meaningful, a fulness of prosperity.
The promised blessing of the Abrahamic covenant were also forfeited as verse19 reveals. "Your descendants would have been like the sand, and your offspring like its grains; Their name would never be cut off or destroyed from My presence."
In an environment of well-being and right behavior, families grow and prosper. In an environment where God’s Word is taught and listened to, children grow and become productive persons. YAHWEH is saying "Had you responded to My Word, to the Word of My prophets, you would not be as you are now. You would live in peace and righteousness and your heirs would have been like the sands of the sea and the stars of the heavens." If they had listen to God it would not only have been better for them it would have been better for their descendants. The same promise is given to us as well.