What assurance can we find that things will turn out OK?
People of Zion, who live in Jerusalem, you will weep no more. How gracious He will be when you cry for help! As soon as He hears, He will answer you.Isaiah 30:19 NIV
The good news is that we can do this… and we can also do it on behalf of those of us who are not yet confident.
THIS IS a clear promise of hope. It is about us having confidence in God’s goodness. His willingness to treat us better than we deserve — to be gracious — is spelt out.
But who does this promise apply to?
We may not be of Jewish extraction, and almost certainly not living in Jerusalem.
But if we have believed and trusted Jesus, we ARE the people of God. Isaiah’s words were spoken first to his own people, long before Jesus was born, but they span the centuries. We, as believers, have become part of that promise.
This word of promise does come with a couple of conditions.
One is to belong to God. We do this through trusting Jesus and receiving Him into our hearts as our Saviour and Lord. It is a choice we make, not a dedication others make in church which we do not participate in. It’s a decision that costs us our independence, but it gives us new life which is the start of eternal life. And that new life gives us a relationship with God! That relationship gives us confidence to talk to Him.
That’s hope. Confidence in Him, confidence in being heard, confidence in His goodness.
The ‘asking’ condition is also in there.
“How gracious He will be when you cry for help!”v.19 NIV
The “when” of “cry for help” means that faith in God, believing in His goodness and generosity, is needed. If we know Him we have confidence in Him. Add to confidence, believing Him, and taking Him at His word — and things begin to look a lot better.
There are two things there, and not everyone finds them easy. Belonging to God may only take an instant, but it is a big decision that might take a bit of working through!
Similarly, the asking is second nature to those who know Him, but others finding their way into that relationship might need a steer. We can all remember needing someone to start us off, to stand in the gap for us.
And that’s the role of a priest — acting as an intermediary: representing us to God, and representing God to us. Now, the interesting question is, who these days are the priests?
The faith of being a disciple of Jesus doesn’t have priests. All that stopped when the Temple was destroyed, in fact it became obsolete when Jesus was crucified. There was an earthquake and a darkness like an eclipse, and the thick curtain in the temple that divided off the Holy of Holies was ripped apart from top to bottom.
God was showing that in Jesus, that separation has ended. All believers in Jesus can know God personally.
So the faith that follows Jesus either doesn’t have priests — or, in another view, it has literally billions of them. Every true believer, in fact. The Bible describes believers as living stones of a new kind of temple, and as royal priests of a new kind of priesthood where Jesus is the Great High Priest. We all have that duty to represent God to those who don’t know Him, and bring them and their needs before God until they can do it themselves.
Our verse said: “He will be gracious if you ask for help… He will respond to the sound of your cries.”
So, as those who know Jesus we exercise our priesthood by giving a lead, praying the kingdom of God over all our neighbours, family and friends until we can get them doing it for themselves.
This is for us, ordinary believers, with no titles, no robes and no special distinction. We are just those who love the Lord because we know His love, and who call to Him every day and know His answer. This is what Jeremiah foretold:
“Call to Me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.”Jeremiah 33:3 NIV
And as Jesus said:
“In that day you will no longer ask Me anything. Very truly I tell you, My Father will give you whatever you ask in My name.”John 16:23 NIV
We go through Jesus to talk to Father God. We can ask Him to help us. And we ask for that help, for others we are helping to find their way into the kingdom.
For a suggested prayer based on this verse, go over to this page on http://glowweobley.com