For weeks now, I have been reading Isaiah. Amazingly, I read chapter 53 this morning—Palm Sunday.
I say amazing because this wasn’t planned. I didn’t count out the days to make sure that I would land on one of the most famous prophecies of Messiah on Palm Sunday. But, I did…
I love this…
I have just come through the prophecies of the Babylon captivity and then the description of Cyrus setting the Jewish captives free. Now, I am in the description of Messiah and how the Lord has not “divorced” or separated from the Jews even though many of them might have felt that way. And, how God’s promises are open to many outside the Israelites.
Starting in Chapter 41 of Isaiah, God describes the horrible trade that the Israelites made. And, with the benefit of a “birds-eye view” and hindsight, we can see just how horrible of a trade this really was.
What are qualities of a horrible trade?
- You trade away something that appreciates for something that sucks value away and becomes a weight.
- The trade results in a pause and takes you captive.
- You trade away something that provides joy and is refreshing for something that causes shame.
In Chapter 48, God says through Isaiah,
“I am the LORD your God,Who teaches you to profit,Who leads you in the way you should go.Oh that you had paid attention to my commandments!Then your peace would have been like a river,and your righteousness like the waves of the sea; (v.17-19)
Throughout the chapters of this section, you will see illusions to transactions or trades as in a merchant trading.
And, the big picture of what God is saying is that the Israelites traded God’s promises and their only Savior for worthless idols that had to be carried. It was honestly the worst trade ever. It bankrupted the Israelites. They lost their land, their wealth, their children, their inheritances.
Then I realized that I do this every day.
I take the inheritance and legacy and mission and promises that God has given me today and I trade them for a god that I can put in my pocket. We all do this…
- We trade things with eternal value for things that have no value. These things that we desire way us down. They are burdens and they suck the life from us.
- We trade time with our kids for time at the office or a task.
- We pursue a career and prioritize it over our families.
- We trade a breakthrough moment with our children for staying on track in a planner.
- We look at our phones in the morning rather than picking up our Bibles.
Because of the Israelites love for idols, God had the Israelites go into captivity. For 70 years, they were held in a pause, held captive in Babylon. But,…
The most amazing part of this story is that God never abandoned them. And, God does not abandon us…
God still sent His Servant (ch. 52) to earth to redeem the captives. Even though God’s servant was mistreated (53:3). He was despised and not esteemed. The people through their shame could not even look on him.
He made “intercession for the transgressors” (Is. 53:12). He took our place. He redeemed us! In a way, he made the same trade we did and do.
Jesus traded himself, who was of infinite value, for us who are of no value. Why?
Well, for His glory! But also, He desired a relationship with us. He is good! He is love! And, his steadfast love endures forever. His love can not be stopped. Even by our idiotic trades. This is the meaning of unmerited favor. God’s grace could not be stopped and its resonance in the world comes through the Cross.
Through God’s amazing love, he made our horrible trade a good one.
And, with that, God has called us to stop the madness. Stop trading what has value for what has no value!