A circle of friends on pilgrimage for the love of God

Restoration Has Finally Come


Isaiah by Michelangelo (1508-1512)

Pentecost +7
Rev. Doug Floyd
Isaiah 55

Our house is being rebuilt after the fire last year. The cement block is complete, and they’ve put the plumbing in the basement. We are anxiously waiting and watching for each step. We printed out Scriptures that friends and family sent us and prayed them over the build, and then dropped the into the cement block. As I’ve prayed over the emerging structure, I keep hearing the word “restoration.” Certainly, a restoration for us, but also I pray that it will be a place of restoration for others.

Makes me think of an old Winans song, : “Restoration has finally come, I’ve been restored back to my place in God.” Yes, let it be so for our nation and our world. Today Isaiah is singing “restoration.” May this word be on our lips and in our hearts.

First, let’s back up slightly to the familiar Isaiah 53 passage on the suffering servant. Isaiah sings a series of songs on the suffering servant with Isaiah 53 being a climax. Who is the suffering servant? In one sense, the Israel of God is the suffering servant. Called as a priestly nation to both reveal God to the world and to intercede for the nations. In the sacred texts, the people of Israel revealed the Creator to the world, but in their actions they revealed the broken human condition. They failed to live out their calling as a royal priesthood.

Jesus comes and fulfills this calling. He is the Israel of God. He is the priest who fulfills the will of the Father and intercedes for the nations. He is the king who defeats the powers of darkness and leads His people into the kingdom of light. He is the prophet who is the very word of the Lord. When we hear the words of Isaiah 53, we hear a description of our Savior.

Surely he has borne our griefs
and carried our sorrows;
yet we esteemed him stricken,
smitten by God, and afflicted.
But he was pierced for our transgressions;
he was crushed for our iniquities;
upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace,
and with his wounds we are healed.
All we like sheep have gone astray;
we have turned—every one—to his own way;
and the Lord has laid on him
the iniquity of us all. [1]

We behold Jesus Christ as the Suffering Servant standing in the place of all human brokenness to restore us to the place of God’s faithful love. Isaiah sings this promise of the suffering servant to wayward Israel. The unfaithful nation turned away from God and fell into captivity. The Temple was destroyed. The land was salted and ruined. The people were dragged away. It appeared all was lost. The nation had ceased to exist.

Through His prophets, God revealed that He had not abandoned them but would recall them to life. The people would become a living parable for all humanity. God Himself would restore them even as He would restore the families of the earth. He would recall us from death to life. After the songs of the suffering servant, Isaiah transitions to a new series of songs: the Conquering King. Unlike the weak and unfaithful kings of Israel, a king would emerge from the house of David. This king, this Messiah would lead God’s people back to Himself. In Isaiah 54 and 55 we hear two of the conquering king songs.

I want to highlight a little from both chapters today as we think about the word “restoration.” What was lost has been found. What we have forsaken has been redeemed. What was far off has been brought near. Glory to God in the Highest.

Isaiah opens chapter 54 with the words, “Sing, O barren one, who did not bear; break forth into singing and cry aloud, you who have not been in labor!” [2] Think of the barren women in Israel’s history: women like Sarah and Hannah. When the Lord opens their wombs, He ushers in a new age for Israel. Sarah gives birth to Isaac, meaning laughter. This son of rejoicing is also the son of promise. Abraham, Issac and Jacob are the forefathers of faith. It is through these patriarchs that God will begin the process of breaking the curse of sin and blessing all families of the earth, which will be brought to completion in Jesus Christ.

The barren Hannah will give birth to Samuel. The Scripture says that not one of his words would fall to the ground. Samuel is the kingmaker who will anoint David and raise up a king after God’s own heart.

Isaiah captures this imagery in His song. A woman is barren. This woman is a people. Israel is barren and dying in the wilderness of Babylon. God has not forsaken His people. This people languish in captivity  but they will be fruitful again. The promise of their restoration is a promise for us all.

“Enlarge the place of your tent,
and let the curtains of your habitations be stretched out;
do not hold back; lengthen your cords
and strengthen your stakes.
For you will spread abroad to the right and to the left,
and your offspring will possess the nations
and will people the desolate cities. [3]

The barren woman will give birth to nations. As God restores His people, He begins the great homecoming, the great restoration, the Gospel ringing out to all nations.

For your Maker is your husband,
the Lord of hosts is his name;
and the Holy One of Israel is your Redeemer,
the God of the whole earth he is called.
For the Lord has called you
like a wife deserted and grieved in spirit,
like a wife of youth when she is cast off,
says your God.
For a brief moment I deserted you,
but with great compassion I will gather you.
In overflowing anger for a moment
I hid my face from you,
but with everlasting love I will have compassion on you,”
says the Lord, your Redeemer. [4]

This is our God. Full of mercy and lovingkindness. Ready to restore, to heal, to love. In Isaiah 55, the song gives a picture raising up this people to perfection and through them reversing the curse upon all creation which Paul will pick up on in Romans 8, and we will explore that more next week.

Isaiah 54 opens with the following:

Ho, everyone who thirsts,
come to the waters;
and he who has no money,
come, buy and eat!
Come, buy wine and milk
without money and without price.[5]

This brings to mind Lady Wisdom who cries out in the book of Proverbs. She is calling out to the young rulers of Israel, she is calling out to us. In Proverbs 9 we read,

She has sent out her young women to call
from the highest places in the town,
“Whoever is simple, let him turn in here!”
To him who lacks sense she says,
“Come, eat of my bread
and drink of the wine I have mixed.
Leave your simple ways, and live,
and walk in the way of insight.” [6]

The feast Lady Wisdom offers is a feast of justice and truth, it is a feast of wisdom and life. Isaiah sings to a people being restored, Isaiah sings to us,

Ho, everyone who thirsts,
come to the waters;
and he who has no money,
come, buy and eat!
Come, buy wine and milk
without money and without price.[7]

We are invited to a feast that will transform all feasts. Once we have tasted of the bread of heaven and drunk the wine of new life, all feasts are transformed. Every meal becomes an act of thanksgiving and worship to our God. Every meal is a reminder of the great meal of thanksgiving we receive on Sundays and a promise of a great feast to come at the marriage supper of the Lamb. In this feast, we receive of God’s provision for us and we are reminded that He is feeding us with wisdom and truth as well. In the physical bread and wine, we eat the meal given by Jesus Himself. He is sustaining us, restoring us, and raising us up.

We are living signs of the promise in Isaiah 55. He sings of the conquering king who will restore Israel and restore the nations. He sings,

Behold, I made him a witness to the peoples,
a leader and commander for the peoples.
Behold, you shall call a nation that you do not know,
and a nation that did not know you shall run to you,
because of the Lord your God, and of the Holy One of Israel,
for he has glorified you. [8]

Jesus is that leader and commander, Jesus is that witness and through him Israel will be restored and the nations will be restored. Then Isaiah turns to the people with word of hope and healing:

“Seek the Lord while he may be found;
call upon him while he is near;
let the wicked forsake his way,
and the unrighteous man his thoughts;
let him return to the Lord, that he may have compassion on him,
and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon. [9]

 As I read these words, I think of the words of Paul from 2 Corinthians 2:6, “Behold, now is the favorable time; behold, now is the day of salvation.”[10]

Because of the goodness of God in Jesus Christ, today is the day of salvation. It is not far off, it is here. Today is the day of salvation. This is Gospel for us all. Are you in need of forgiveness? Today is the day of salvation. Are you in the grip of sin and death? Today is the day of salvation. Are you weary and downhearted? Today is the day of salvation. Christ has not abandoned you. He knows you by name and He knows where you are. Today is the day of salvation. Turn to Him and find joy for your soul. Or as Isaiah sings, “Seek the Lord while He may be found.”

Even as Isaiah sings to the people, He gives assurance. This assurance comes not from our stability. It comes not from our faithfulness. This assurance comes from the unshakeable faithfulness of God Himself and His faithful Word.

For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts.
10 “For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven
and do not return there but water the earth,
making it bring forth and sprout,
giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater,
11 so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth;
it shall not return to me empty,
but it shall accomplish that which I purpose,
and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it. [11]

What a promise! God’s Word is unshakeable. It goes forth as rain to water the earth, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater. It shall not return void. It will accomplish the purpose for which God sent it. And today I would remind us all that God has told each of us through the words of St. Paul, “he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.”[12]

You are a work in progress. A clay jar being perfected. A living and shining example of God’s faithful love, and He will present you as blameless before the Father. Now listen afresh as I read the last words of Isaiah’s song. And hear the great promise of God to reverse the curse upon the earth and turn this world from death to life.

12 “For you shall go out in joy
and be led forth in peace;
the mountains and the hills before you
shall break forth into singing,
and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands.
13 Instead of the thorn shall come up the cypress;
instead of the brier shall come up the myrtle;
and it shall make a name for the Lord,
an everlasting sign that shall not be cut off.” [13]


[1] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2016), Is 53:4–6.

[2] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2016), Is 54:1.

[3] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2016), Is 54:2–3.

[4] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2016), Is 54:5–8.

[5] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2016), Is 55:1.

[6] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2016), Pr 9:3–6.

[7] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2016), Is 55:1.

[8] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2016), Is 55:4–5.

[9] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2016), Is 55:6–7.

[10] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2016), 2 Co 6:2.

[11] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2016), Is 55:9–11.

[12] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2016), Php 1:6.

[13] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2016), Is 55:12–13.

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