Word for the Discouraged
A daily devotion for February 21st
Restoration of Israel
8 This is what the Lord says:
“In the time of my favor I will answer you,
and in the day of salvation I will help you;
I will keep you and will make you
to be a covenant for the people,
to restore the land
and to reassign its desolate inheritances,
9 to say to the captives, ‘Come out,’
and to those in darkness, ‘Be free!’
“They will feed beside the roads
and find pasture on every barren hill.
10 They will neither hunger nor thirst,
nor will the desert heat or the sun beat down on them.
He who has compassion on them will guide them
and lead them beside springs of water.
11 I will turn all my mountains into roads,
and my highways will be raised up.
12 See, they will come from afar—
some from the north, some from the west,
some from the region of Aswan.”
13 Shout for joy, you heavens;
rejoice, you earth;
burst into song, you mountains!
For the Lord comforts his people
and will have compassion on his afflicted ones.
14 But Zion said, “The Lord has forsaken me,
the Lord has forgotten me.”
15 “Can a mother forget the baby at her breast
and have no compassion on the child she has borne?
Though she may forget,
I will not forget you!
16 See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands;
your walls are ever before me.
17 Your children hasten back,
and those who laid you waste depart from you.
18 Lift up your eyes and look around;
all your children gather and come to you.
As surely as I live,” declares the Lord,
“you will wear them all as ornaments;
you will put them on, like a bride.
19 “Though you were ruined and made desolate
and your land laid waste,
now you will be too small for your people,
and those who devoured you will be far away.
20 The children born during your bereavement
will yet say in your hearing,
‘This place is too small for us;
give us more space to live in.’
21 Then you will say in your heart,
‘Who bore me these?
I was bereaved and barren;
I was exiled and rejected.
Who brought these up?
I was left all alone,
but these—where have they come from?’”
22 This is what the Sovereign Lord says:
“See, I will beckon to the nations,
I will lift up my banner to the peoples;
they will bring your sons in their arms
and carry your daughters on their hips.
23 Kings will be your foster fathers,
and their queens your nursing mothers.
They will bow down before you with their faces to the ground;
they will lick the dust at your feet.
Then you will know that I am the Lord;
those who hope in me will not be disappointed.”
24 Can plunder be taken from warriors,
or captives be rescued from the fierce?
25 But this is what the Lord says:
“Yes, captives will be taken from warriors,
and plunder retrieved from the fierce;
I will contend with those who contend with you,
and your children I will save.
26 I will make your oppressors eat their own flesh;
they will be drunk on their own blood, as with wine.
Then all mankind will know
that I, the Lord, am your Savior,
your Redeemer, the Mighty One of Jacob.”
Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne? Though she may forget, I will not forget you! See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands; your walls are ever before me. (Isaiah 49:15-16)
Here Jehovah reminds Israel,
Though you may feel neglected and forgotten, I cannot cast you off. I will never forget you, Proverbially, of course, a mother's love is the strongest love of all. Many mothers continue to love their children no matter what they do. But it is unfortunately true that mothers can forget their children. Mothers can forget their children, but God cannot:
Can a mother forget the baby at her breast?
See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands. We are reminded of that scene in the gospels when Jesus, after his resurrection, appeared to his frightened disciples, huddled together in the upper room, and said to them,
Behold, my hands and my feet and see that it is I (Luke 24:39). Those wounds in his hands were marks of love and their very names were engraved in his hands.
Though this passage is addressed to Israel as a nation, we Christians have a right to claim these promises for ourselves. This entire section is a great word for discouraged hearts. Do you ever feel like God has forgotten you, that he has turned his back on you? Perhaps you have made mistakes and you think that God is going to punish you all the rest of your life. Many people feel that God has totally forgotten them.
I was speaking to a group of pastors and was encouraged to hear one of them say that he had learned that he was preaching to the wrong crowd of people. He thought he was preaching to the average family, a man and his wife, their two-and-a-half children, driving a nice car, living in a beautiful home on an acre of ground, etc. But he discovered that he was really speaking mostly to another group who live in high-rise apartments, drive a sports car, have been divorced, and their family consists of his, hers and their children. They are living empty lives, climbing the corporate ladder, feeling the rush and restlessness of life, troubled by many inner problems and distresses. But God has a ministry to the discouraged and defeated ones. He will restore and do a work that will leave them amazed and baffled at the wonders that he produces.
Thank you, Lord, that you love to reach the discouraged and defeated ones. Thank you that you reached out to me and that my name is engraved in your hands.
Life Application: Because we know that Jesus is God and that He took our sins in His own body on the cross, we can know He is Immanuel, God-with-us in deepest compassion and love. How do we respond to such infinite love?
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Daily Devotion © 2014 by Ray Stedman Ministries. For permission to use this content, please review www.RayStedman.org/permissions. Subject to permission policy, all rights reserved.