Hephzibah and Beulah
Hephzibah and Beulah
God wants us to know in no uncertain terms that He is fully devoted to making us righteous. God expresses expression a remarkable zeal, devotion, and commitment display to the task. He is fanatically committed.
The wording of God’s devotion ought to make us blush. We receive great assurance of God’s love. The assurance is given to help us persevere in times of difficulty. Saying and believing the words, “Come, Lord Jesus” gives strength.
Think of the many who will receive assurance through the ages. Isaiah, chapter 62 will encourage Daniel and his companions as they face hungry lions and a fiery furnace during the Babylonian captivity.
First century Christians under Nero’s rule persevere by believing the promises of God. In AD 516, when a Jewish ruler named Yousef takes pride in killing over 22,000 Christians, God’s chosen find hope in the Scripture. In the mid-7th century, the Islamic population of Mesopotamia and Assyria impose severe penalties, including the death penalty on Christians. Men such as Wycliffe, Hus, and Luther find solace in the promises of Isaiah. In the 16th and 17th century, the French Huguenots need hope. And, in our modern day, in places such as the Soviet Union, China, India, North Korea, the Middle East, countries in the Sahara region, and Indonesia, Christians find joy in Isaiah 62 and other chapters of great hope.
Friends, I encourage you to listen today to the words of Isaiah 62. Should we face persecution or the difficult trials of life, know that we can open our Bibles to Isaiah 62 and receive comfort for our soul, and hope to give us the strength to persevere.
The main truth of this passage is that we are to respond to God’s loving commitment by faithfully building a gospel highway to the Lord.
We are a people called by God to accomplish a specific work. We have a mission. God calls us to build a gospel highway that will bring His people to Him. We are the builders.
Building a highway is hard work. There are boulders to move and hills to level. We face opposition. God desires for us to know that the highway we build leads to Him. God will tell us of His deep love, and in doing so, He is spurring us on to put our hand to the task and not to look back. God gives us strength. The words of hope are given, so we don’t give up.
(Since we read the chapter during the Scripture reading, I will not be reading each verse.)
The Lord’s Commitment to Zion
God promises that He will not keep quiet for Zion’s sake. Zion represents all of God’s people throughout all time. Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses, Isaiah, Peter, Paul, and you and I are all Zion.
God says for our sake; He will not keep quiet. Rejoice when God speaks. When He does, the universe comes into existence. Raindrops know when and where to fall. Planets spin. Gravity continues. God speaks, and armies march and enemies flee.
God’s voice is the most powerful force in the spiritual and physical realm. The disciples see a demonstration of God’s power when Jesus calms the wind and the waves, multiplies bread, heals the blind, and raises the dead from the grave.
In looking at these words, it is helpful to understand Hebrew poetry. Hebrew poetry is not rhyming by sound (e.g., round and ground), but by idea. For example, the poetry of verse 1 is “not keep silent” and “not keep quiet.”
Hebrew poetry teaches us that salvation and righteousness are the same. Salvation saves us from sin, and transforms us so that everything we do is right. Righteousness is “right-ness.”
We are saved from condemnation and we are saved from words, thoughts, and actions that condemn us. Salvation transforms us so we think every thought right, speak right every word right and live every action right.
God desires that our righteousness be visible and bright to every person in existence in every nation of the world. Kings will see our glory and take note.
Think about the mention of kings. Kings are surrounded by the world’s glory. They live in palaces. They have mighty armies at their beck and call. Kings eat the finest food and wear the most luxurious of clothing. But, when kings see our glory, they stop and look. They have never seen such glory. They thought they knew glory, but realize they don’t once they see the glory of the saints.
What is our glory? Our glory is that we wear the righteousness of Jesus Christ. He clothes us in splendor and majesty.
True glory is not found on the outside with where we live or what we wear. Our glory is from our salvation in Christ. His righteousness makes us glorious. God promises He will not rest until we are righteous, and our salvation is a blazing torch for all creation to seen and marvel (Isaiah 62:1-2a).
The Lord’s Care for Zion
God cares for us (Isaiah 62:2b-3). He gives us a new name. There is no greater honor than for God to give us a new name (revealed in 62:4).
God changes Abram’s name to Abraham. Sarai is named Sarah. Jesus gives Simon the name of Peter. God gives Saul the name of Paul.
Have you ever held a royal crown in your hands? The vast majority of people do not. God wants us to imagine doing so. How would we hold it? We would hold it with great care. We would look at it with adoration.
God says that He holds us in His hand as a crown. We are as a valuable object in His loving hands. He looks upon us with adoration and admiration. God holds us as a beautiful possession.
Imagine that day, when we are held in God’s hand!
The Lord’s Delight In Zion
Isaiah 6:4 reveals to us our new name.
Before we are in Christ, our name is “Forsaken.” When we join together with Christ, we receive a new name. God’s new name for us is Hephzibah. It means, “My delight is in her.”
What an amazing truth. God looks at us and says to each of us, “I delight in you!” God finds joy in being in our presence. It is one thing for us to dream of the day when we are in the presence of God, enjoying Him. God promises a far greater experience. We delight in God, and God delights in us. The Supreme being of the Universe finds delight in being in our presence.
God takes it a step further. Before we are joined with Christ, our home is empty and our land and our labor do not yield fruit as it should. The name of our dwelling place is “Desolate.”
God promises to make a covenant marriage relationship with our abiding place. Imagine a young man looking at his bride to be and saying, “I promise that every place your footsteps will be a place of joy. I will cultivate the land where you will live. I will make it flourish. I will make it beautiful.
God makes “over the top” promises to His people. He promises to save us and make us righteous. He promises to hold us in His hand like a royal crown. He promises to delight in being with us. And, He promises to marry the place where we live.
The Lord’s Rejoicing over Zion
How much will God delight in our presence? He will rejoice over us as a bridegroom rejoices over the bride (Isaiah 62:5). God wants us to imagine the joy of a young man who knows that the love of his life desires to spend the rest of her life with him.
A young man will think of his future and not care what will happen when he knows he gets the woman he loves.
God poetically expresses to us in a way we may understand His joy of looking forward to being in our presence in eternity. It seems unimaginable to us that God finds such joy in a people who are once His rebellious enemy.
God expresses that our children will find joy in being part of our great relationship. The expression, “your sons will marry you” is a way of saying that the relationship is so amazing, our children will enjoy abiding with us. They will not leave.
The Lord’s Faithfulness to Zion
For us to understand the next two verses (Isaiah 62:6-7), it is helpful to put them in context. God is telling His people how much He cares for them. Therefore, this verse is expressing to us how much He does on our behalf.
It is common for kings to appoint a recorder (e.g., 1 Kings 4:3) to listen to the king, and remind the king of what he says he will do, of what others say, and of what laws are made. The Hebrew word for recorder is sometimes translated as watchman.
Another translation of the same word is found in Daniel 4:13. Daniel says, “I was looking in the visions in my mind as I lay on my bed, and behold, an angelic watcher, a holy one, descended from heaven.” The word is also translated, messenger.
With these two possible translations in mind, recognize that God says He appoints watchmen. God is not saying that He appoints His bride, to do the work of a watchman. What this passage is telling us is that God appoints watchmen to remind the Lord, “don’t rest until you are done establishing your people.”
The logical conclusion is that God appoints specific angels, who work day and night to remind God to be faithful to His chosen people. God tells them, “You who remind the Lord, don’t rest and don’t give God rest until He makes Jerusalem a praise in the earth.”
We are not to press the details too far. This is a poetic way of God telling us that He is so committed to completing the work, He establishes watchmen with the full-time duty of reminding God to stay busy.
By the way, this is not the first time God uses something to help Him remember His covenant. The rainbow is not so we will remember God’s covenant, it is so He will remember His covenant!
“I set My bow in the cloud, and it shall be for a sign of a covenant between Me and the earth. It shall come about, when I bring a cloud over the earth, that the bow will be seen in the cloud, and I will remember My covenant, which is between Me and you and every living creature of all flesh; and never again shall the water become a flood to destroy all flesh. When the bow is in the cloud, then I will look upon it, to remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is on the earth.” (Genesis 9:13-16)
Is God getting old and forgetful? Does God forget? No.
Is God serious about letting us know that He is 100% committed to being faithful to His covenant with us? Absolutely!
The Lord’s Covenant to Zion
God cares for us, He delights in us, He rejoices over us, and He promises to be faithful to bring about His promises.
Isaiah once again brings up the New Covenant God makes with us in Christ.
When people are in court, they take an oath, to tell the truth. When a president or an official is sworn into office, they sometimes place their hand on the Bible. They are swearing on the Bible to carry out their responsibilities.
When God makes covenants, such as with Abraham, He swears on Himself. His oath is found upon His word. With the New Covenant, God swears by His right hand. In other words, God swears that He will bless us, and we can know He will because He makes His oath upon Jesus Christ. God proves the oath by sending us His Son.
God swears on the greatest of all things in heaven and earth.
What is the oath that God is making? He promises we will eat and drink of the fruit of our labor. Others will not reap the harvest which we sow.
To get the full impact of Isaiah 62:8-9, we need to remember the Mosaic Covenant. It is very instructive to read Deuteronomy 28. God tells His people that if they obey the covenant, they will be blessed. But, if they disobey and fall away, they will be cursed. The Mosaic Covenant is conditional. The blessings of the covenant are conditional. The people must obey to be blessed.
In Deuteronomy 28, God outlines many curses for disobedience. One of the curses is that they will work, but not eat of the work of their hands. Instead, strangers will eat their crops.
A people whom you do not know shall eat up the produce of your ground and all your labors, and you will never be anything but oppressed and crushed continually. (Deuteronomy 28:33).
The New Covenant is not like the old. The New Covenant is not conditioned upon our obedience. We need not perform to receive blessings from God. We need to have faith. We will enjoy all the blessings of heaven regardless of our performance as believers. Jesus performs in our place. Our faith is in God’s right arm, Jesus Christ, our Savior. Jesus fulfills the covenant. He is the One who obeys. He gives us His righteousness.
The promises of God to delight in our presence, give us a new name, rejoice in us as a young man rejoices over his bride, serve as the backdrop for what comes next. God has a job for us to accomplish. He has a mission. The promises of verses 1-9 give us the strength to do the job.
The Lord’s Mission to Zion
The Lord’s mission for Zion (for us) is to build a highway. It’s not just any highway, it is the highway Isaiah mentions many times in his prophecy.
The highway is a highway to God. It is a word picture of the road to bring God’s people home to His kingdom.
Isaiah 11:23 tells us that the highway is provided for the remnant to return home. Isaiah 40:3 prophecies that John the Baptist is the voice calling, “Clear the way for the Lord in the wilderness; make smooth in the desert a highway for our God.”
A memorable passage about a highway to God is found in chapter 35 (Isaiah 35:8-10). Isaiah writes of the roadway called the Highway of Holiness. It is built for the redeemed of the Lord. God’s elect follow the road to the New Jerusalem. The people travel on the road with joyful shouting. At the end of the highway, they find gladness and joy, and sorrow and sighing flee away.
God’s people are the builders of His highway. We are to go out of our homes and clear the way for people to find their way to God. We are called to build the highway, remove stones and obstacles, and make it easy for people to find their way to God.
As we build, we are to raise a standard for all people to see. The standard draws people of every tribe and tongue. A standard is a banner or a signal. This is the third mention in Isaiah of the standard we are to raise (Isaiah 11:12; 49:22). The standard is Jesus.
Jesus is a flag on a flagpole signaling people that grace, forgiveness, and mercy is given freely to all who put their faith in Christ. Jesus is a white flag on the battlefield, letting people know the war between man and God finds finality in the Prince of Peace.
The banner we lift has the emblem of a cross which reads, “God loves you.”
Jesus tells Nicodemus, “As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up; so that whoever believes in Him will have eternal life” (John 3:14-15). And, in the last days before His crucifixion, Jesus told His disciples, “if I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw all men to Myself” (John 12:32).
Our response to God’s love, adoration, and commitment is that we are to build a highway and raise a banner drawing all people to salvation in Christ.
The Lord’s Proclamation for Zion
As we lift the banner of Christ, we are to proclaim the gospel of salvation. God proclaims to the end of the earth, “Lo, your salvation comes.”
We are given a command to tell the daughter of Zion that God brings reward. The daughter of Zion is another way of saying, God’s chosen one. We are the daughters of Zion. Everyone that we will see in heaven is the daughters of Zion.
The reward is everything we believe in this chapter. God brings the reward of His commitment, care, delight, and faithfulness. The recompense God promises is a relationship full of perfect joy and blessing.
Go and let people know, God’s love is so amazing, that their feeble mind and delicate emotions are unable to conceive the extravagance and perfection of the relationship God offers. God’s salvation promises perfect joy and satisfaction to all who believe.
The Lord Redeems Zion
Who are the Lord’s redeemed? We are a holy people. We are set apart for God. The principalities and powers in the heavenly places, every angelic being will gaze upon God’s redeemed, and say, “They are the ones who are sought out. God sought them. Even though they are rebellious by nature, God sought them and made them holy.”
God sends His beloved Son to seek and to save those who are lost (Luke 19:10). Those who are lost, are not seeking God. Not one (Psalm 14:23; Romans 3:10-12). Those who are lost don’t know the way, otherwise, they are not lost.
The only way someone is saved is to hear the gospel. Nobody is born knowing the gospel. Unless we hear the gospel, we are forever lost. We are forsaken. We live in desolation and doomed for destruction.
Praise God we may say that we are sought out. Our identity is not that we are anything special or that we have special characteristics. In the spiritual realm, before God seeks us, we are former rebellious, enemies of God. But, God showers us with His grace and transforms us from being evil and wicked to be glorious and beautiful.
Those who sought by God are a city that is not forsaken. We are the New Jerusalem, the bride of Christ. When the Apostle John receives his revelation, one of the angels in heaven bids to him and says, “Come here, I will show you the bride, the wife of the Lamb.” And he carries John away in the Spirit to a great and high mountain, and shows him the holy city, Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, having the glory of God (Revelation 21:9-10).
The beauty of this passage is found in God’s promises. If anyone else made these promises, we would scoff. Who can possibly fulfill these promises? Only God.
Nothing can stand in His way. He is all-wise, all-powerful, and full of zeal to bring about His purpose and plan.
“Go therefore to the main highways, and as many as you find there, invite to the wedding feast.” (Matthew 22:9)