By: Jeremy Wilson, Church Planting Resident, Houston Northwest Church
put on your strength, O Zion;
put on your beautiful garments, O Jerusalem, the holy city;
for there shall no more come into you the uncircumcised and the unclean.
Shake yourself from the dust and arise; be seated, O Jerusalem;
loose the bonds from your neck, O captive daughter of Zion.
These verses in Isaiah were written to exhort the people of God to claim their true identity. As exiles who were calling on God to awaken in the previous chapter (Isaiah 51:9) and come to their aid, they are now being reminded of their standing as God’s people and the security of the salvation He’s promised!
When looking at our circumstances or viewing the tasks before us through earthly lenses, it can be intimidating and often discouraging. But intimidation and discouragement can lead to inaction, allowing the enemy to parade around like the victor while we cower. This is not what God desires for His people.
The imagery here in Isaiah of dressing oneself in line with their identity and the occasion brings to mind Paul’s words in Romans 13:14 where he writes that we should “put on the Lord Jesus Christ” rather than submitting to our flesh which has no authority in our lives. The idea is that we should not walk in a manner of defeat because it is contradictory to the victory Jesus has already achieved and to who we are in Him.
As we pray for awakening in our lives, churches, and city, it is paramount that we approach the throne of grace humbly, yes, but not from a position of defeat. We are grieved by brokenness and overwhelmed by the task set before us but should not be discouraged in the sense that the outcome is unsure or hangs in the balance.
May we be people of God who shake ourselves from the dust and arise only to “be seated” because the victory is won! Notice that the bonds from our necks, if we’re in Christ, are ours to loosen even if we’re circumstantially still “captives.” As aliens and strangers in a fallen land, we are to boldly represent our king and His kingdom as ambassadors for the hope and freedom that are only found in Jesus.
May our lives embody the “already” of God’s Kingdom among the “not yet” brokenness of this world!
Be encouraged! Put on your strength! Put on the Lord Jesus!
God you are great and greatly to be praised! Thank you for the truth of your word which refreshes our weary souls. Thank you for securing victory over this world and our enemy through Jesus! Give us spiritual eyes, Lord, to see the brokenness into which we can speak life. Help us remember that we are new creations and embolden us to share the hope of new life with those who are far from You. Remind us of the freedom we have from the bonds of sin that we might walk in truth, clothed in Christ! Awaken our hearts to the work you’ve set before us. Awaken our churches to your mission of reconciling all things. And awaken the lost to their need for a Savior! May you find us faithful, Jesus. Amen