If you're anything like me, you cannot open your phone or computer without being exposed to the many struggles that our friends, community, and nation are facing right now. As I write this, I'm tempted to just finish here with a challenge to stop and pray. If the truths of Scripture regarding the brokenness of humanity and our need for a savior have not been made evident over the last few weeks, then we can only expect greater tribulation ahead as the Holy Spirit works through these circumstances to draw men and women to himself. This is certainly a time for our church to fall on our knees before the Lord in prayer and supplication for the many things happening around us.
Perhaps it will suffice to challenge you with God's words to Israel in 2 Chronicles 7:14: "If my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land." God speaks here about Israel, but you can certainly see the value in devoting ourselves to prayer in these times.
While we are confronted with so many challenges and struggles, I think many people are in need of good news. Maybe you're asking, "Where is the good news?" I have often asked that myself. But we are not the only ones with this question, and indeed, Scripture tells us that the people of God have wrestled with similar things. Turn briefly to Isaiah 52.
We're with the people of Israel, and their capital city--the city of Jerusalem--has just been destroyed by Babylon, a great kingdom in the north. Now, this is a huge deal, because Israel was a nation established by God himself through some incredibly crazy circumstances (just think of all the things God did to bring the people out of slavery and give them a home!), and Jerusalem was supposed to be the city where God would reign over the world and bring peace and blessing to everyone. But now, it's all destroyed. And if you're an Israelite, you've got to be left wondering, "What just happened? Has God abandoned us?" Perhaps a similar question to those we find ourselves asking at times such as this. These types of experiences, these questions, this hopelessness is what Isaiah addresses for the Israelites with his poem in chapter 52.
We're put in the shoes of a watchman--the guy on the city walls who is watching out for danger and trouble on the horizon, or for people coming to the city. And far out on the hills we see a messenger, running towards the city. He's shouting, "Good news!"
Now I have to imagine, if I'm the watchman and all of this destruction has just happened to my city, my nation, my people, I'm thinking to myself, "What good news could there possibly be?" But listen to what Isaiah says in verses 7: "How beautiful are the feet of those who bring the good news..." Beautiful feet? Sounds weird, doesn't it? But the feet are beautiful because they carry a beautiful message: "Your God reigns!" Even though the kingdom of Israel has been destroyed, even though everything seems like it's going south, God is still King. He hasn't abandoned us.
And the watchmen--they respond to this news in verses 8-10 singing for joy! Despite Jerusalem's destruction, God still reigns as King and God himself is going to one day return to this city to take up his throne and bring peace. They sing for joy because of the good news that one day, God is coming to fix what has gone wrong--to restore his kingdom, reign over the world, and bring peace and blessing to everyone.
And hearing this completely changes lives! We see the watchmen go from hopeless to immediately full of hope and joy. And in the same way, hearing this good news should fill you with hope and joy! God is coming to right every wrong and to establish his rule and reign over the world--to establish his kingdom. The good news is God's kingdom! So if you're a watchman, the question you're asking has changed. It's not, "Has God abandoned us?" But, "How is God bringing his kingdom?"
And lucky for us, we already have the answer. Jesus. His life, death, and resurrection has inaugurated the kingdom of God, and it will be fully realized when he returns.
So the good news for the watchmen is also good news for you. If you're overwhelmed with the struggles you're facing right now, remember this: God is King, and he has not abandoned you. Knowing this can radically change your life.
Pray today that this good news will not only give you hope, but bring healing to us all. And then share this good news with others!
Middle School Pastor