"Sing, O barren one, who did not bear; break forth into singing and cry aloud, you who have not been in labor! For the children of the desolate one will be more than the children of her who is married," says the Lord. "Enlarge the place of your tent, and let the curtains of your habitations be stretched out; do not hold back; lengthen your cords and strengthen your stakes. For you will spread abroad to the right and to the left, and your offspring will possess the nations and will people the desolate cities. Fear not, for you will not be ashamed; be not confounded, for you will not be disgraced; for you will forget the shame of your youth, and the reproach of your widowhood you will remember no more." — Isaiah 54:1–4
Isaiah is a book filled with amazing promises of God and pictures of his future redemptive work through Jesus Christ, the spotless Lamb of God (Is. 53:1-6). In this particular passage, God speaks to his people and acknowledges the difficulties they have experienced. Interestingly, though, these difficulties are the direct result of their rebellion and the subsequent judgment of God! Rebellion brought severe consequences leaving them in desperate need of God. Their enemies routed their cities, plundered their wealth, destroyed their defenses, and swept away their wise men. The end result is that they are left without any option of self-rescue. So, at the end of their rope in utter desperation with no hope, God breaks through the darkness and despair with a promise.
“Get ready!” he declares. “I’m going to do something. Don’t miss me. You are at the point where you cannot do anything for yourself, you have no hope of a future on your own, so I’m going to give you a future in me that will be unmistakably grace.”
What God does in this amazing promise in the midst of their judgment is remind them of two critical lessons that are still applicable to his children today:
1. Our future is not defined by our past, but by the gracious promises of God.
2. This glorious future will overshadow our painful past.
God has a plan to increase and prosper his children. While the fullness of that plan will not be experienced until Jesus returns and establishes the fullness of his Kingdom, God in his grace often allows some of the blessings of our promised future to splash over the rim of the present so that we get a glimpse of what is to come. These glimpses do not disarm the danger of this present age, but should help reorient our eyes on our gracious King and his coming Kingdom.
The future for God’s children is defined by the promises of God and not their past. Such a future is exponentially greater than the pain of their past.
So, the people of God do not have to carry around their pain.
God’s people are not defined by their performance.
God’s people are not defined by their good choices.
God’s people are not defined by their bad choices.
God’s people are not defined by the choices of others.
God’s people are defined by the promises of God inherited through faith in Jesus Christ the Son. Our future is secured by faith in the promises of God, who out of love sent his Son to bear the weight of failure so that we could have a glorious future.