The same God who destroyed the Egyptians so his people could flee from their enslavement promises to cause the Babylonians to flee! This will allow a new generation to return home. It’s highly likely that even though the Israelites had been in captivity, the story of the exodus from Egypt would have been retold often. Just as likely the celebration of Passover would have continued in some fashion, probably in secret. When hearing these words then, the people would surely take note of Isaiah’s message from God!
And what does God say now? “But forget all that—it is nothing compared to what I am going to do.” I don’t think God meant for them to truly “forget.” His point was, “you haven’t seen anything yet!” We can all think of examples of where we have seen God at work in our lives. We simply need to think of Jesus. John 3:16 says, “For this is how God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.” God came to earth as one of us!
Lest we get ahead of ourselves, God said through Isaiah, “I will make a pathway through the wilderness.” Is that a pathway back to Jerusalem so his people would find the way from Babylon? Is that a pathway back to God for those of us who have lost our way? Is that pathway pointing to Jesus? All of the above?
It’s a beautiful image to behold. Imagine having someone clearing the brush off a trail so you can traverse through uncharted territory. There is freedom in knowing the direction you should go. God is promising freedom “so my chosen people can be refreshed.” In response, you’d think the people would be grateful. And God expects “they will someday honor me before the whole world.” Is God still waiting for that “someday? It’s time to ask, “Am I honoring God with my life?
It seems the people weren’t asking for God’s help and weren’t bringing their sacrifices like they had been taught. I can sense God’s frustration in these words, “Instead, you have burdened me with your sins and wearied me with your faults.” Did they want their cake and eat it too? It seems the people wanted God’s perks but didn’t want to give God the honor he is due. It isn’t so much about the rituals God was missing, but what’s inside our hearts. God can see it all.
The passage closes with the reminder of why they ended up in Babylon in the first place. The people sinned and broke God’s laws. Beyond that, there was no repentance, no shame. The people were taking God for granted. After all, God said, “I—yes, I alone—will blot out your sins for my own sake and will never think of them again.” That, my friends, is God’s mercy and grace. Will such a reminder bring the people back to their senses? What does it say to us today?
Spend your quiet time reflecting on these verses and your own relationship with God.
Let’s pray … Lord, thank you for rescuing me from each trial and struggle I have experienced and have yet to encounter in my life. I wouldn’t be where I am today without your tender mercy and amazing grace. Help me create an environment around me that glorifies you and builds our relationship stronger with each passing day. You are what matters most! Forgive me when you don’t feel that level of devotion from me. Draw me closer. In Jesus’ name. Amen.