Series: The Lion and the Lamb
Message: Gospel According to Isaiah
Preacher: Japhet De Oliveira
Reflection: Becky De Oliveira
Live Wonder: Zan Long
Live Adventure: Jenniffer Ogden
Live Beyond: Adrian Peterson
Live Purpose: Kyle Smith
Editor: Becky De Oliveira
Refresh: Begin with prayer. Ask for the Holy Spirit to open your heart to new understanding and for God’s character to be revealed.
Reflect: This chapter doesn’t discuss only humbleness and judgement, although those are the themes I’ve focused on so far this week. I’d like to look at another gentler theme as we approach the Sabbath this week. God promises deliverance and joy to Jerusalem—and I imagine those of us reading this are supposed to extend this metaphor to ourselves as followers of God. The text compares Jerusalem to a nourishing mother and provides details that harken back to an idyllic childhood: “You shall nurse, you shall be carried on her hip, and bounced upon her knees” (Verse 12). God goes on to promise that He will “comfort you,” and that “your heart shall rejoice; your bones shall flourish like the grass” (Verse 14).
You may or may not have fond memories of your childhood—and therein lies the problem with some of the metaphors the Bible uses. They are of limited use for people who had physically and emotionally abusive fathers or mothers—or even parents who were competent but not particularly loving. But I hope that you have had some experience of comfort in your life, whether or not that came from your actual mother. My memories of comfort as a child are wrapping myself up in a blanket and sitting on the heater (something I still like to do), my mother scratching my back to help me fall asleep, and my father bringing me drinks, medicine, and food when I was sick in bed. More recent comfort comes from good conversations with friends and people I love. Sometimes I find strength and comfort from simply thinking of a person I love, imagining their face.
Recently I read Man’s Search for Meaning (1946) by Viktor E. Frankl for the first time (I’m forever reading about this book but had never read the book itself) and I was of course struck by the emphasis he places on hope for the future as a way for a human being to survive and even thrive to some extent regardless of his or her circumstances. He describes one occasion when he was obsessing about various aspects of concentration camp life during WWII—the sores on his feet, whether there would be anything for dinner—and, becoming disgusted with himself for having to think about such trivial things, he decided instead to imagine that he was giving a lecture on the psychology of the camp in a comfortable, warm, well-lit room. This allowed him to transcend the situation and probably kept him alive.
I wonder if focusing on images like the one God gives us here, of a nurturing mother, can similarly help us to persevere through our lives, giving us the strength to live with integrity as we look forward to a future with God, fulfilling the purposes He created us for. It seems that He often reminds of us our future, of its brightness and hope, telling us to remain focused on everything we have to gain.
Recalibrate: What are some things you like to think about that give you hope and encouragement?
Respond: Pray that God will bless you with encouragement and hope for the future.
Research: Read Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor E. Frankl.
Becky De Oliveira is a teacher, writer, editor, and graphic designer. She is working on a PhD in research methods at the University of Northern Colorado in Greeley.
Has your child ever fallen over and needed a Band-Aid? Have you and your little one experienced pain that you can do nothing about? There is nothing worse than not being able to comfort your child. Know that Jesus will make all things right and take away all the pain when He returns. While we are waiting for that day, remember He wants to be your best friend and Savior. Hold His hand as your child holds yours.
Be sure to work on memorizing the Words to Remember for the week. (“Look, the Lord is coming with fire. The Lord’s armies are coming with clouds of dust,” Isaiah 66:15.) Ask one of the adults in your life what they think about fire and clouds being a part of God and His army coming to this world. What does this mean to them? Share the words you memorized with them and tell them what fire and clouds when God comes means to you!
Although there are some challenging things mentioned in this week’s chapter, we find a beautiful picture at the end. Verse 22 says, “‘As surely as my new heavens and earth will remain, so will you always be my people, with a name that will never disappear,’ says the Lord.” There may be some pain in our lives, some things we might think life would be better without, but God gives us hope with the promise when Jesus returns to make all things new He will claim us as His people. The next verse even teaches us that we will go on worshiping Him! I don’t know about you but I look forward to the day that Jesus will put an end to the pain and suffering in our world and we can live with Him forever.
If you would like to know more about the new Jerusalem and the end of all bad things, check out Revelation 22. Have a read and then grab some pens and paper and draw what you think it could look like. Let your imagination run wild!
Everyone wants to be remembered. People build monuments, buildings, streets, and all sorts of things just to have their names put on them. There are also rewards and honors that we hand out year after year, usually featuring the name of the person who first received them. I am not trying to sound depressing, but at the end of this life all we get is a paragraph about us on a piece of paper that people will just throw away. No matter how famous you are, or how much money you have, people will forget who you were. So how do we build a legacy? According to Verse 22, it is by being one of God’s people. If you give your life over to God, He will never forget you. Your name will always remain in His sight, your life will be written in His scars. How have you attempted to attain legacy or greatness in life? Has it worked? I want to encourage you as we head into the Sabbath hours to let Jesus take care of your legacy. Develop a relationship with Him so that when He returns He will be coming to claim you as His own.
Zan Long is GRC director for faith development groups. She lives in Sydney, Australia, and serves at her local church in nearby Kellyville.
Jenniffer Ogden serves as the children and family pastor at the Walla Walla University Church in College Place, Washington.
Adrian Peterson is the associate pastor at Burwood Adventist Community Church in the eastern suburbs of Melbourne, Australia.
Kyle Smith is the associate pastor of youth and family ministries at New Haven Adventist Church in Overland Park, Kansas