Today: [Isaiah 50] Where Does Suffering Originate? In this chapter the Father speaks through Isaiah against accusations of unfairness. Do you ever feel that God is being unfair to you? Have you felt that what you are going through is unjustified and that the responsibility to act lies with God now to make things different? That is the complaint of those that Isaiah is speaking to in this chapter. We are often quick to overlook things in our life that need to change and be different. We want to blame God rather than have a moment of clarity where repentance can come and change can be made possible.
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[Isa 50:1-11 KJV] 1 Thus saith the LORD, Where [is] the bill of your mother’s divorcement, whom I have put away? or which of my creditors [is it] to whom I have sold you? Behold, for your iniquities have ye sold yourselves, and for your transgressions is your mother put away. 2 Wherefore, when I came, [was there] no man? when I called, [was there] none to answer? Is my hand shortened at all, that it cannot redeem? or have I no power to deliver? behold, at my rebuke I dry up the sea, I make the rivers a wilderness: their fish stinketh, because [there is] no water, and dieth for thirst. 3 I clothe the heavens with blackness, and I make sackcloth their covering. 4 The Lord GOD hath given me the tongue of the learned, that I should know how to speak a word in season to [him that is] weary: he wakeneth morning by morning, he wakeneth mine ear to hear as the learned. 5 The Lord GOD hath opened mine ear, and I was not rebellious, neither turned away back. 6 I gave my back to the smiters, and my cheeks to them that plucked off the hair: I hid not my face from shame and spitting. 7 For the Lord GOD will help me; therefore shall I not be confounded: therefore have I set my face like a flint, and I know that I shall not be ashamed. 8 [He is] near that justifieth me; who will contend with me? let us stand together: who [is] mine adversary? let him come near to me. 9 Behold, the Lord GOD will help me; who [is] he [that] shall condemn me? lo, they all shall wax old as a garment; the moth shall eat them up. 10 Who [is] among you that feareth the LORD, that obeyeth the voice of his servant, that walketh [in] darkness, and hath no light? let him trust in the name of the LORD, and stay upon his God. 11 Behold, all ye that kindle a fire, that compass [yourselves] about with sparks: walk in the light of your fire, and in the sparks [that] ye have kindled. This shall ye have of mine hand; ye shall lie down in sorrow.
In this chapter, the Lord speaks to His people in captivity to Babylon. They are not in captivity yet but Isaiah looks down through time and sees the people suffering in Babylon and complaining that God has forsaken them. Through Isaiah the Father asks the question “where is the bill of your mother’s divorcement, whom I have put away?” They people from captivity accuse God of abandoning them or selling them into slavery to Babylon in order to pay a debt. What the Father is insisting is that while the people ask, “why God” and hold Him responsible for their suffering that it is actually their own transgressions and iniquities that have resulted in and brought on their suffering. This is very difficult for the people to hear. They are not in a frame of mind to be told they are wrong or that their problems originated with their own national and personal sinfulness.
What about your own personal suffering? Perhaps you are going through a difficult time and have asked the question, where is God in all of this? When our lives are out of control and we don’t know where to turn it is a very human thing to look up to heaven and question why God has seemingly left us without aid and without escape. When Adam and Eve fell their first response was to blame God for putting them in the position they found themselves in. What God is calling upon the people to do here is to take into account that in this case it was their sin and being out of fellowship with God that has caused their suffering. Are you suffering? Have you considered that perhaps it is an area of disobedience or unwillingness to hear God’s instruction that has caused what you are going through? Are you capable of that kind of honesty, or are you quick to resort to some convoluted explanation of things that places no obligation or requirement on yourself to get things right or do things differently? Inability, or refusal to ask this difficult question causes many people to live lives of desperation and unnecessary suffering that they would be led out of if they would only soften their hearts and be willing to be corrected.
In verse 2 we find another reason why God’s people are not speedily delivered: prayerlessness. The Lord asks the question why – when He was willing to act was no one praying. Is it because He has no power to redeem. In James 4:2 the writer says we have not because we ask not. It is difficult to pray when you are under pressure for a very long time. In times of suffering we become spiritually numb and the grace to pray escapes us. Yet how different would our situation be if we would make time to seek God’s face in prayer?
In verse 4 Isaiah says that God has given him the tongue of the learned that he might speak a word in season to the weary. The people do not receive Isaiah’s counsel. They feel like he is out of step with what is really going on and that they problem doesn’t lie with them but with God. We all seem to be perfect saints in times of suffering and weariness. Isaiah says to us that these questions he is asking are relevant to us whether we realize it or not. In your pain or frustration of life is there a need for repentance? In your difficulty have you resorted to the place of prayer? We tend to become angry when these suggestions are offered but Isaiah is saying that these are the very questions that can lead us to the point of relief and deliverance. These are not religious platitudes – they are the keys to bringing change when you feel you are dealing with captivity in your own life.
In verse 6 we find a Messianic statement. In your time of difficulty remember that Jesus gave His back to the smiters and that he took our shame and abuse upon Himself. The message is clear – Jesus suffered so that we don’t have to. How do we take advantage of what Jesus has done to pay for our deliverance? By being willing to openly and honestly repent of sin and of unbelief. The answer does not lie in conjuring some theology of suffering that puts all the responsibility on God for what we are going through. Whether we understand it or not Jesus has paid the price so that things can be different and it is therefore up to us to come to Him in repentance and simple faith believing for answers to our situation and relief in our difficulty. If our defiled conscience wants to insist we are not responsible we have to make a decision to believe God’s word above all else and humble ourselves before our God who has sent Jesus to pay for our sinful condition that our flesh doesn’t even want to acknowledge exists. Jesus paid it all and we must acknowledge the sin debt if we are to receive the blessing of the price that was paid.
From that perspective we see in verse 7 that God will help you if you will set your face like a flint to not be influenced by others but to believe the message of the gospel. As we put our trust in Him we will not be ashamed and verse 8 tells us we will THEN be justified. We are not justified in our excuses or in our theology of suffering. We are justified when we look to the work of Christ on the cross and know that it is our sinful condition that necessitated His suffering and to come willingly and humbling asking the Father to wash us of all iniquity and place us in full fellowship with His Holy Spirit and the blessings of the New Birth. Then we will without doubt see relief from all that we may be facing of the difficulties of life for this is what the cross was intended to bring about – our deliverance in all things.
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