Isaiah paints a very descriptive word picture in verse 11. He speaks of the afflicted church and refers to her as "storm-tossed, and not comforted." There are times when we feel like "a ship ready to be swallowed up by the waves." Surely nothing can save us. Surely we are doomed. Surely we will perish. The storm surge is big. Our faith is small. We are distressed. We are disconsolate. We find comfort in nothing. These are sinking times.
Yet, clearly God sees our despairing condition. Clearly He sees it by the very fact that He refers to us as afflicted ones, storm-tossed and not comforted. Our desperate plight has not escaped His notice. He sees us. He knows us. He helps us. Notice the wonderful, hope filled promises that He affords to His sinking children:
"Behold, I will set your stones in antimony, and your foundations I will lay in sapphires. Moreover, I will make your battlements of rubies, and your gates of crystal, and your entire wall of precious stones."
Here are "very precious promises that God would not only continue His love to His people under their troubles, but that He would raise them to greater prosperity than any they had yet enjoyed." Look at their apparent, outward condition at the beginning of chapter 54. They are barren, desolate, humiliated, seemingly forsaken. Things are not going wonderfully well for them. The church is in a distressed state yet God declares that this distressed state is the doorway for them to enter into a glorified state. In the same sense that Isaiah 53 is the portrait of the humiliation of Christ which led to the exaltation of Christ, so is Isaiah 54 the portrait of the humiliation of His bride which will lead to her exaltation. When we are afflicted and storm-tossed, when comfort is beyond our ability to comprehend we need to turn to these verses and hear our Maker, Husband, Redeemer, and Holy God speaking to us. Our condition may seem beyond help. Our walls may seem to have been decimated. But perception is not reality, God's promise is reality! She looks and feels pitiful in her current condition but beauty and strength and honor are on the way.
The body of Christ is compared to a city, for that is what she is - the living city of the living God. "Whereas now Jerusalem lay in ruins, a heap of rubbish, it shall be beautified and appear more splendid than ever; the stones shall be laid not only firm, but fine. The foundations shall be garnished with sapphires, for Christ and the foundation of the prophets, are precious above anything else. The window of this house, city, or temple, shall be made of agates, the gates of carbuncles, and all the borders of pleasant stones." God is builiding His church and the Master architect's design is glorious! O afflicted one, storm-tossed, and not comforted will you look not to the crashing waves but to the conquering Christ? Peter sank when his eyes were not on his Savior. Fix your eyes on Jesus, the author and perfector of your faith!
God makes promises regarding the "building" of His church. He also makes promises regarding the seed of His church. And all your sons will be taught of the LORD; and the well-being of your sons will be great. Covenant promises are precious promises. Our children are not left out to fend for themselves. As part of the covenant community they are to be taught; and as, by God's grace we faithfully teach them their well-being will be great. So, train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it (Pr 22:6). Let the words which God has commanded us be on our hearts and let us teach them diligently to our sons and let us talk of them when we sit in our houses and who we walk by the way and when we lie down and when we rise up. Let us bind them as a sign on our hands and they shall be as frontals on our foreheads. And let us write them on the doorposts of our houses and on our gates! (Dt 6:5-9)
God gives promises of beauty from the ashes. He gives promises of great seed from barrenness. And He gives promises of security from the tempest. He says He will establish His church. "In righteousness you will be established; you will be far from oppression, for you will not fear; and from terror, for it will not come near you." Above all else, this is the safety and security, beauty and glorious dress of the church - Christ's righteousness. It is Christ's righteousness alone that can and will establish us and drop anchor in the midst of storm-tossed seas.
Matthew Henry writes, "Though now she lay in danger, God promises her protection and security. Though attempts should be made upon them, none of them shall succeed. As long as there is a devil in hell and a persecutor out of it, God's people may expect frequent alarms. But their attempts will end in ruin! We may with great assurance depend on God for the safety of His church." The gates of hell will not prevail against it!
The Sovereign, Omnipotent, King of Kings is our Maker, Defender, Father, Husband and Friend. "If God is for us, who shall be against us?" He reminds us of His sovereignty and of His divine providence in all of history when He declares, "Behold, I Myself have created the smith who blows the fire of coals, and brings out a weapon for its work; and I have created the destroyer to ruin."
Beloved, no trial comes our way apart from God's design. Job's did not. Joseph's did not. Peter's did not. Lori's has not. God has brought the storm and will still it at the exact moment that it must be stilled - not a moment too soon and not a moment too late. God has allowed the sifting to assail us. "God has created the smith and therefore can tie his hands, so that the product of the enemy can miscarry. They think their own ingenuity, labor and experience made them soldiers; but it was God that created them andn He will serve His own purposes and designs through them." Do we realize just how safe and secure we are? God's sovereignty rules over all! It rules your storm - both its starting and its stopping.
Precious saint, "no weapon that is formed against you shall prosper; and every tongue that accuses you in judgement you will condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the LORD. And their vindication is from Me," declares the LORD. There are no weapons strong enough to match omnipotence. There are no weapons numerous enough to overcome omnipresence. There are no weapons secret enough to outwit omniscience. There are no weapons evil enough to undo holiness. We are safe and secure in Christ!
And when the weapons fail and the accusing tongues arise remember the promises of Romans 8: There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. Who will bring a charge against God's elect? God is the one who justifies; who is the one who condemns? Christ Jesus is He who died, yes, rather who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who also intercedes for us. Here is the heritage of the servants of the LORD. Our vindication is from Him. Trust oh, storm-tossed one. He will calm the sea!