“As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it. You will go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and hills will burst into song before you, and all the trees of the field will clap their hands. Instead of the thornbush will grow the juniper, and instead of briers the myrtle will grow. This will be for the Lord’s renown, for an everlasting sign, that will endure forever.” – Isaiah 55:10-11
This text was particularly addressed to a people in captivity in Babylon. God’s people were captives in a foreign land and were losing hope in the God of their forefathers.
The prophet, in these words from the Lord, is presenting the people with some words of hope. The intention is to transform their fractured lives and give them confidence in the Lord, who would return them to their homeland.
There are times we feel down and out and depressed about our life’s situation. During these desperate times, we turn away from the God of hope, grace and mercy. We go in a direction away from the word of God.
Such situations include death in the family, job loss and potential financial ruin, health issues and domestic crises such as separations and divorce. These place us in a difficult situation. Consequently, we sometimes become depressed, then melancholy sets in.
These are the times that we need God, but, instead, we move away from Him. We adopt the same attitude as the Jews in Babylon. We cry out, “Where is God during our time of need? Why does He not enter our situations and give us relief?”
Little do we know, God is always there with us. He is guiding us, but the blindness of our situation does not allow us to see or feel God’s presence.
God’s people who were held captive in Babylon had lost all hope. They thought the God of their forefathers had abandoned them and left them to fend for themselves.
The prophet of God in this text is seeking to provide the exiles with a new perspective. He is helping them to look at their situation with new eyes. The rain and the snow come down from heaven. They do not return to the place of origination immediately. They linger for a while until they have refreshed the earth and make it fruitful, fertile and beautiful.
They will accomplish the purpose for which they have been sent. Then, when they have accomplished their purpose, they return to the heavens. That is God’s purpose in the rain and the snow.
Like the rain and the snow, God’s word goes out through the mouth of his prophets. It, too, has a purpose.
God will rescue the exilic people and return them to their homeland. Unlike the exodus from Egypt, which was a troubling time for the children of Israel, their exodus from Babylon will be with rejoicing. Even though they lost hope, God is with them and will stay with them all the way to their homeland.
As they go out from their captors in Babylon, they will go out with great joy. Metaphorically, He says, as they go out, the mountains and hills will burst into song before them. All the trees of the field will clap their hands.
Not only did God rescue the Jews from captivity in Babylon, but He rescues all people from the bondage of slavery to sin, in Christ. The Messiah came into the world, and through him, all people, including the Gentiles, find and receive salvation.
God’s grace and mercy is being offered to all people, today. Jesus died for our sins, in fulfillment of this prophecy. And because he died, we receive a baptism, which regenerates and enlivens us. Amen.
• Rev. Samuel M. Boodle, pastor at the Lutheran Church of Nassau, 119 John F. Kennedy Drive, can be reached at P.O. Box N 4794, Nassau, Bahamas; or telephone 426-9084; E-mail email@example.com; or website www.nassaulutheranchurch.org.