Scripture: from verse 17
Instead of bronze I will bring gold,
and instead of iron I will bring silver;
instead of wood, bronze,
instead of stones, iron.
Observation: In the wake of 9/11, Rabbi Jonathan Cahn pointed out that at least two leaders quoted from Isaiah 9:10, swearing to rebuild stronger than ever. This was a rather foolish thing to do, as Isaiah 9 is about people who ignore the Lord’s warnings and rely on their own strength to rebuild.
But here, God is promising a similar rebuilding. The rebellious leaders promised to replace fig trees with cedars; God promises to replace wood with bronze. They were going to replace brick with dressed stone; God promises to replace stone with iron.
The difference, of course, if that God is the source of this new strength. We can try to create our own strength, using the best ideas and materials available to us, but our efforts will never work as well as if we’d relied on God in the first place. His ways are higher than ours. His Spirit can amplify our strength in ways we would never have predicted.
Application: Rely on His strength, now your own
Prayer: Father of Light, I praise you because everything that has been made was made by you and for your purposes. I praise you because you created this world and allowed me to play in it, like a child in a sandbox. Thank you for taking delight in the castles I create. Help me to rely on you to accomplish what I cannot. Amen.
Scripture: from verses four and five:
To the eunuchs who keep my Sabbaths and…hold fast my covenant…I will give them an everlasting name that shall not be cut off.
Observation: God is speaking to people who may feel that they are outside of God’s blessing: eunuchs and foreigners and outcasts. God says that their circumstances will not block His blessing. If they choose to follow Him, God will gather them close, and bring them into His unity. The eunuchs should not describe themselves as “dry trees,” even though that is exactly what they are, because God is not stopped by their physical limitations.
There is no human limitation that can stop God’s blessing. He can give an everlasting legacy to a eunuch. He can give us righteousness, no matter what our past decisions have been. He can make us whole, no matter how hurt we are. He can give us health, no matter our genetics or condition or age.
Application: Speak the truth: that God has made you righteous and whole and strong. Don’t describe yourself as a dry tree.
Prayer: Yeshua, I praise you because there is nothing that limits you. There is nothing that the powers of this world can do to stop you from blessing me. Thank you for restoring me. Help me to see your truth. Amen.
Scripture: from verse 4
their voices do not upset him…
Observation: Israel has been turning to Egypt for help (again) and God is highlighting how much more powerful He is than Egypt, by comparing Himself to a lion that the shepherds are yelling at. Occasionally, of course, there was a shepherd (like David) who was able to drive off a lion, but most of the time the lions could safely ignore the shepherds they encountered. The shepherd didn’t even factor into its plans.
That’s how God feels. Our strength and plans and resources don’t even figure in His calculations unless He feels like including them. We are not nearly as big as we thing we are.
And really, that’s just as well. Even when we’re doing okay, we almost never really have everything figured out. There’s always an unexpected factor or event or person to throw our plans out of whack. The 2005 movie The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy has one character murmur, “Best-laid plans of mice,” and when he is corrected, he adds, “I don’t think men had much to do with it.” And while I’m pretty sure the mice aren’t running the show, I agree with him that we aren’t either.
Application: In all your ways, acknowledge Him (Psalm 3). He’s bigger than you.
Prayer: Yeshua, I praise you for being bigger than me. I praise you because you understand my world considerably better than I do. I praise you because the things that threaten me do not bother you. Thank you for protecting me. Help me to remember that you have already set my plans. Amen.