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1. The God Who Restores: Isaiah

Worshiping God rebuilds us and brings abundant life

“As one whom his mother comforts, so I will comfort you;

And you will be comforted in Jerusalem.”

Then you will see this, and your heart will be glad,

And your bones will flourish like the new grass;

And the hand of the Lord will be made known to His servants,

But He will be indignant toward His enemies.

-Isaiah 66:13-14

Have you ever thought about the reality that chasing after something we believe will make us happy is a form of worship? That the things we desire most are the things our hearts worship?

Just as we worship things like success or beauty or popularity, in the book of Isaiah, we find the Israelites engaged in the worship of idol gods. At this point in their history, the nation has a long track record of neglecting to love and worship God alone. The prophet Isaiah confronts the Israelites with a message from God. He says Israel’s persistent sin will lead to judgment and exile from their land.

But Isaiah also brings a message of hope, seeking to inspire repentance. He assures Israel that God will still fulfill his promise to bring a king out of Israel that will lead them in obedience. Jerusalem will fall, but this king will restore the land, and God’s blessing will flow out to all the nations.

Isaiah calls this future king the “suffering servant,” prophesying that he will be rejected and killed by his own people only to rise from the dead. His death, Isaiah says, will cover humanity’s sin.

For centuries, the Israelites wait and long for this king to save them. And then finally, this king shows up as a humble carpenter from Nazareth! Jesus ultimately fulfills Isaiah’s prophesied role of suffering servant, his death absorbing the punishment of our sin and his resurrection bringing salvation to the world.

Isaiah’s prophecy also looks ahead to the fulfillment of the age of restoration that Jesus’s resurrection begins. Isaiah says God will one day implement justice and establish his kingdom on earth as it is in heaven. God’s children will live in this eternal kingdom, experiencing complete peace, comfort, and joy. “As one whom his mother comforts, so I will comfort you,” God says. Proclaiming that he will bring healing to all the suffering and brokenness caused by sin, God says, “Your bones will flourish like the new grass.”

It can be easy to lose sight of what God is doing in us and our world. Like the Israelites, we can grow indifferent to God, worshiping other gods as if doing so won’t have consequences.

But the reality is, worshiping things like money, influence or pleasure all leave us feeling empty and unfulfilled. God wants his people to worship him alone because he knows the worship of false gods will destroy them! He says in Isaiah 45, “There is no other god besides me, a righteous God and a Savior; there is none besides me. Turn to me and be saved, all the ends of the earth!”

While false gods unravel our lives, God rebuilds us and brings us abundant life! He is the only god who truly restores. Isaiah’s message, fulfilled in Christ, urges us to see God’s love and restorative power and so respond with our worship!

RESPOND: Take a moment to go to God and acknowledge the ways in which you’ve turned from him and worshiped false gods.

Then, make the words of this prayer your own: Lord, give my eyes to see your worthiness of my worship. Give me a deeper grasp of your love for me. Give me a fresh vision to see the restorative work you are doing in and around me. I worship you, God, for all that you are.

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