The Branch of the Lord
2 In that day the Branch of the LORD will be beautiful and glorious, and the fruit of the land will be the pride and glory of the survivors in Israel. 3 Those who are left in Zion, who remain in Jerusalem, will be called holy, all who are recorded among the living in Jerusalem. 4 The Lord will wash away the filth of the women of Zion; he will cleanse the bloodstains from Jerusalem by a spirit of judgment and a spirit of fire. 5 Then the LORD will create over all of Mount Zion and over those who assemble there a cloud of smoke by day and a glow of flaming fire by night; over all the glory will be a canopy. 6 It will be a shelter and shade from the heat of the day, and a refuge and hiding place from the storm and rain.
Today let’s start with the middle of the passage, where Isaiah writes about God’s “spirit of judgment and spirit of fire”. I think we can assume that any process that involves a spirit of judgment and a spirit of fire is not a pleasant nor an easy one. It probably is extremely difficult and those who find themselves in that process just want it to end.
But look at what results from this arduous process: the restoration of Israel, a day described as beautiful and glorious. Pride and glory will be restored to Israel, and God’s presence will be with the nation, protecting it daily. This is such a startling and wonderful switch from the descriptions we just read in the previous passage, and all of it results from a spirit of judgement and fire.
Sometimes, the most wonderful things that God wants to do in our lives result from the most difficult circumstances. So when we find ourselves in the midst of those terrible moments, we have to cast our thought forward, and look towards the great things that God can and will accomplish in us through the pain.
1. What was the hardest time in your life so far?
2. What do you think God accomplished through those difficulties? Do you think there was any other way those things could have been accomplished in your life?
3. What is the most difficult situation in your life right now? What greater thing might God be doing?