Thursday in the Second Week of Advent

Isaiah 26:16-21

Giving Birth to Wind

A common theme throughout Isaiah is God’s greatness and our smallness.  He is eternal in the heavens, and we are like the flower that fades away.  His work endures forever while we build castles in the clouds.

These verses in Isaiah express this very thing.  Isaiah rehearses in graphic language the failure of the nation from its beginning to the present.  I have said in other places that God’s covenant with Israel was preparation for His new covenant with His Church.  God set His people of the old covenant up for the coming One whose life, ministry, death, and resurrection inaugurated the new covenant in which we live.  Of course Israel could not live up to the terms of the old covenant.  God did it this way that we might know our need of Him and His forgiveness that was made real through the atonement of His Son, and applied through the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives – truths veiled from the eyes of the Israelites but revealed to us upon whom the end of the ages has come (1 Corinthians 10:11).

So here Isaiah expresses the futility of the work of the nation apart from God.  They labored, but in vain.  The image of the woman in labor giving birth to wind is powerful.  To experience the pain and agony of childbirth without results is a poignant figure of just how fruitless and empty our works are.  “We have accomplished no deliverance in the earth,” Isaiah wails.

But then comes the promise that is only foreshadowed in a few places in the Old Testament but becomes the victory of the New: The resurrection of the dead.  And this is something only God can do.  “Your dead shall live; their bodies shall rise,” speaking of the Lord’s people.  The Lord redeems His people even from the dust.  They can accomplish nothing, but God does the impossible – for their sakes.  Thus, once again, we are encouraged to take our eyes away from helpless man and fix them on Almighty God.

The passage ends with a beautiful call to the righteous to come in from the coming storm, the calamity that God is about to bring upon the earth in judgment.  God may chasten His people as sons but never condemns them with the wicked (Hebrews 12:3-11).  Thus, He tells us to “hide yourselves for a little while until the fury has passed by.”  Advent reminds us that our Lord is coming again to gather his people and judge the wicked once and for all.  Until then many storms will pass.  May we rest in His ever faithful arms through them all until the day comes and we appear with Him in glory.

Author: The Reformed Baptist

My name is Stephen Taylor, ordained Baptist minister of eighteen years pastoral experience with a Ph.D. in Historical Theology from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas. Better than that, I am married to a godly woman, Karla, who has been very patient with me since 1989. I have two daughters, both of whom I homeschooled for extended periods of time, who became godly young women, and who ran off and married godly young men, all of which is very proper. The oldest daughter has even seen fit to bless me with a grandson and a granddaughter, and my youngest daughter with a grandson, all three of whom are bundles of exceeding joy. As you can see, I am quite blessed. This website is dedicated to helping people grow in the wisdom and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ through the gift of writing that the Lord has given to me. It is specifically about helping His people grow in godliness, the theme you see repeated above. I write devotions with this aim and hope that they might be of some help to God’s people. Full disclosure: I am of a Reformed bent, meaning that my understanding of Scripture is primarily informed by the Reformers and their successors of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. However, as a student of church history and theology, I strive to remain true to that teaching handed down once for all unto the saints through every age of the Church. I like to think of myself as a “catholic” Christian, as the Reformers thought of themselves. At any rate, feel free to read, pray, and contact me if you wish, or correct me if need be. As you can see, I tend to follow the church year. Of course, I make no special claims about these devotions. I know very well that others have written better and plumbed the depths of God’s word with greater insight. But if my musings help someone draw closer to the Lord, well then, I have my reward. Blessings to you and may the God and Father of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ speak to you that word which He knows you especially need to hear. Grace & peace, Stephen Taylor

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