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  • Ps Chris Friend - Aglow Australia Board Member

You are His Delight

This was a talk given by Chris Friend during the Aglow Australia Raise a Hallelujah online meeting on 28th August 2020.

It’s such an honour and joy to be with you all this morning. I had the privilege of meeting many of you two years ago in Sydney and I’ll say it again, that I’m well aware that I’m in the presence, the virtual presence, of some of God’s great intercessors, prayer warriors, and generals today.

While we turn to Isaiah 62, let me tell you about what some primary aged kids said when they were asked to define love. Here is what they said:

  • “Love is when my Mummy makes coffee for my Daddy and she takes a sip before giving it to him, to make sure the taste is OK.” Danny, 7yoa.

  • “When my grandmother got arthritis, she couldn’t bend over and paint her toenails anymore. So, my grandfather does it for her all the time, even when his hands got arthritis too. That’s love.” Rebecca, 8yoa.

  • “When someone loves you, the way they say your name is different. You just know that your name is safe in their mouth.” Billy, 4yoa.[1]

Love says your name in a particular way. And it’s this concept of our name, and how God says it, and what God is saying over us that I feel the Lord leading us to focus on this morning as we read from:

Isaiah 62:4

“You will no longer be called, “Abandoned,” and your land will no longer be called “Desolate.” Indeed, you will be called “My Delight is in Her,” and your land “Married.” For the Lord will take delight in you, and your land will be married to Him.”

Deep in our hearts, I’m sure most of us know what those horrible words feel like.

Abandoned.

Desolate.

Alone.

Destitute.

Most of us have been there at some point.

And these were the feelings of the people of Israel in a time of intense suffering about 2500 years ago. And these can be the very same feelings that so many people are carrying right now in a world ravaged by COVID19 with its health and economic ruin. Let alone a world ravaged by sin, with the evil one doing all that he can to steal, kill and destroy.

No wonder so many people around us are asking, and maybe we have even prayed it ourselves… “where are you God?”

That same prayer would have been prayed back then. “Where are you God?”

And it is into the mix of this, that God sends His prophet, this amazing man Isaiah with a clear word from God. Do you hear how it starts? It starts with the command “no longer.”

There is a time, an appointed time, for things to end!

I’m sure you know that there are times and seasons when God puts up with things. He lets things run their course. And whilst we can find ourselves questioning His reasoning or timing, we still know that His ways are so much higher than ours.[2] He knows more than we could ever know.

But praise God, there are times when God says “enough.”

“No Longer.”

“No more!”

God says enough because our God who always steps into human suffering. He doesn’t walk away. He doesn’t turn a blind eye. He will always, at the right time, in His time, step into what we need.

Which brings us back to our text for today. Do you hear the promise of God through the mouth of the prophet? No longer …“abandoned,” and your land will no longer be called “Desolate.” Indeed, you will be called “My Delight is in Her,” and your land “Married.” For the Lord will take delight in you…”

Which would have been a wonderful relief to those who had ears to hear and would have felt like chewing glass to the rest. Because, back in the 6th century BC, when Jerusalem was invaded, the city was burnt, 90% of all Israelites were killed in battle or died of starvation.[3] The remnant was taken off to Babylon and would have felt utterly abandoned by God.

For those still in Babylon, and those returning to Jerusalem, the greatest destruction was not to what their eyes could see. The great destruction was in how they felt.

They felt like God had forgotten them.

They felt abandoned.

They felt barren like Sarah. They felt widowed like Naomi. They felt the pain and angst of a woman who was no longer young, wondering if and when she would ever marry. The clock was ticking, and it wasn’t ticking in their favour.

This is how Israel felt at that time.

On the one hand it’s the abandoned, barren, widowed woman motif that the prophet Isaiah speaks into. God is good - He speaks to how we feel. On the other hand, it’s the ongoing promise of God to His people that they aren’t alone, aren’t forgotten, and that the promises of God are true as they hold onto Him.

They are still His delight.

And this is how I felt God speaking to us here in Aglow this week. When Kerri-Ellen asked me to speak today, I asked the Lord what He wanted to say. And He must have said these words to me, at least ten times.

Tell them “My Delight is in Her.”

They are my delight!

And so, I want to be faithful to the Word that God has spoken to me, and the verses that we have here in Isaiah today. So, let me briefly tackle these three phrases and then we will come to application at the end.

  1. No Longer Abandoned

Isaiah 62:4a says “you will no longer be called, “Abandoned…”

One of the Facebook groups that I’m a member of is all about photos of derelict homes and buildings in Australia. Another one is international. Both of which bring the amazing sense of “what happened?”

What happened to that school building that was once filled with the sound of children laughing and playing, learning and growing? Now it is empty. What happened to that hospital that was once filled with doctors and nurses who treated people, bringing health and healing, cures and prevention to sickness? Now it is in ruins. And in the most tragic of pictures for me, what happened to that church building? How can it be empty? How can there be no on in that community that knows the Lord, loving Him enough to obediently gather in worship?

What happened?

Abandoned. Deserted. Forsaken.

Lost and forgotten.

Empty.

Alone.

Think about it with me. Humans abandon things. God never does!

This is where it is good for us to be reminded that God never abandoned Israel. God never abandons us. And so, we can be comforted and confident, that God is always calling prodigals home. He is always ready, always waiting with arms wide open!

Today He is calling an end to abandonment.

  1. No Longer Desolate

V.4b “…and your land will no longer be called “Desolate.”

This picture of desolate is of course a picture of barrenness. One Rabbi commented that the “desolation of the land [was a] source of shame to the nation to which the land belongs.”[4] This is not how it should be.

Because the land that Joshua and Caleb saw was not desolate. It was a land flowing with milk and honey. It was fruitful!

Desolation was not what God called them into. Desolation is and was the sign of unfaithfulness to covenant.

I’ll never forget flying into Santiago in Chile at the start of 2019 for a conference. I was aware of some issues in the churches that we have there, and so I was praying into it. I was aware of that kind of decrease. It was really suffering. And when I prayed into the needs of that church there, the Lord spoke very clearly to me. I told Him that He needed to fix it. He told me in no uncertain terms “no. They just need to be faithful.”

Desolation in this context, is a tragic picture of unfaithfulness. So, in order for God to call them back to fruitfulness, God is calling them to back to faithfulness.

Back to Himself.

God is saying today is the end of desolation. Today is the beginning of fruitfulness.

  1. No Longer Unmarried

Here of course we are faced with the most unusual of them all. Isn’t Israel married to God?[5] How can God speak, not once, but twice of marriage here in this verse? And not just the people, but the land itself?

What we have in these three images are consistent. God is calling His people back to covenant. To repentance. Back to faithfulness. And by re-entering into covenant with God again, all the blessings that God promised their forefathers, become their blessings.

No longer abandoned.

No more barrenness.

The end of separation.

The end of being cut off.

And so, we are brought back to the wonderful covenant picture of marriage. A beautiful bride in her white gown, having been pampered by her bridesmaids, walking down the aisle towards her beloved. And we know, we have seen it in our lives, and we can imagine His smile – the love on the face of the groom as He sees her for the first time that day!

The smile of the One who has waited for her!

Summary

All of this points of course, to Jesus. Jesus as the Suffering Servant who will bring the end to the suffering of Israel and of all peoples. Jesus as the promised Messiah. Jesus as the very image and full revelation of the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. And Jesus the Saviour for all who believe in Him.

In Him there is not more abandonment, desolation or barrenness. In Him, all the promises of God are yes and amen.[6]

And so, we can take these words, apply them through the work of Jesus into our personal lives and the ministry of Aglow in two simple ways:

  1. Asking the Lord - are we being faithful to what He has asked us to do? Returning to Him again in full repentance and complete surrender….

  2. Are we fully believing the Lord – that He is faithful to do what He said He will do! Holding onto His promises in our hearts, no matter what we see going on around us.

Are we willing?

Conclusion

In the wonderful, redemptive ways of God, God is speaking over us, Aglow, today in a unique way. The call back to Himself. The call back to the most intimate of relationships. The call back to covenant purpose again. The call back to being the handmaidens of the bride again.

And the affirmation of how He sees us.

“My Delight is in Her.”

You are His delight.

Let’s enjoy what He is saying over us today.

Let’s pray.

[1] https://ministry127.com/resources/illustration/love-described-by-children

[2] Isaiah 55:8-9 “"For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways," declares the LORD. "As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts…”

[3] https://hail.to/laidlaw-college/article/zOmGOJ1

[4] https://www.etzion.org.il/en/exile-land-desolation-and-land-lying-fallow

[5] All the prophetic words that God would divorce Israel. https://www.gotquestions.org/did-God-divorce-Israel.html.

[6] 2 Corinthians 1:20.

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