We have so much to be thankful for - we sometimes just need a reminder of the tune so we can sing the song of thankfulness.
The start of a new year, or the end of an old one depending on your perspective, is a time when we often reflect on the events of the previous year. For many there is hope that the next year will be better. Others will look back at the previous year and thank God – if for nothing else than that it is over!
Seasons of reflection are good for us. They often bring clarity to what really matters. Reflection can also provide encouragement for what we did right and instruction for what we can do better. But there is a greater level of reflection that belongs to the people of God, and it is the one we will focus our thoughts on today.
Isaiah 12 is a record of events that have not taken place yet… something that will take place “on that day” – the FINAL day of the Lord when Jesus’ kingdom is established on this earth. This is an event that WILL happen, and it could be in our lifetime! How exciting is that!
This short chapter talks about the way the nation of Israel will respond as they reflect on the work of God – at least those that have chosen to be enlisted into the army of God and serve in the Kingdom of God under the leadership of Jesus who rules with justice.
I want to read from the Lexham English Bible (LEB) because it shows a few things in this passage that are unique:
Isaiah 12:1–6 (LEB) — And you will say on that day, “I will give you thanks, Yahweh, for though you were angry with me, your anger turned away, and you comforted me. 2 Look! God is my salvation; I will trust, and I will not be afraid, for my strength and might is Yah, Yahweh; and he has become salvation for me.” 3 And you will draw water from the wells of salvation in joy. 4 And you will say on that day, “Give thanks to Yahweh; call on his name. Make his deeds known among the peoples; bring to remembrance that his name is exalted. 5 Sing praises to Yahweh, for he has done a glorious thing; this is known in all the earth. 6 Inhabitant of Zion, shout out and sing for joy, for the holy one of Israel is great in your midst.”
This chapter is a song, a melody of praise to God. Sung by the people of Israel that will one day be fully free from exile and remain in the presence of God. However, It would be a horrible injustice and a terrible crime of omission if we viewed the message of this chapter as one that is destined for the future and for Israel only. It is the message and song of the redeemed – those bought back to life through the payment of the Messiah. This includes each and every one of us that has surrendered or lives to the Lordship of Jesus and received forgiveness of sins and entrance into the kingdom through faith in Jesus by the grace of God. So, as we examine this song, reflect on how it applies to you.
Some versions say, “you will sing” in verse 1 and others, “you will say”. But it matters not which word you use; the point is that there is something that has taken place that will cause people to want to speak out or sing out. There is not going to be any way to remain silent because of what will take place.
The song is divided evenly into 2 stanzas if you will. Each stanza is introduced by the phrase, “you will say on that day” (which has a great cadence in the English language!).
Isaiah does not say, “you might sing” or “some will sing” – he makes a statement that every man, woman, and child that has experienced the grace of God WILL BE COMPELLED to participate in this song. So, let us look at the chorus we will be signing on that day…
The first stanza is a declaration. It is a statement of fact of what God has done.
Isaiah 12:1–3 (NLT) — 1 In that day you will sing: “I will praise you, O Lord! You were angry with me, but not any more. Now you comfort me. 2 See, God has come to save me. I will trust in him and not be afraid. The Lord God is my strength and my song; he has given me victory.” 3 With joy you will drink deeply from the fountain of salvation!
I WILL give you thanks/praise. While our English language sees these two words as very different, they were not in the Hebrew mindset. Other translations of this same word are “confess” or “acknowledge”. At the root of it, the redeemed will acknowledge the work of God; what HE has done, not what WE have done.
There are three things that are acknowledged in the first stanza of this song as the people reflect on what God has done:
While the Israelites deserved the punishment they received, and while all people deserve the wrath of God for our sinfulness, God, in his mercy and by his own decree, has chosen to NOT be angry forever. For Israel, it will be the relief of the punishment of the nation politically and physically ON THAT Day.
He stopped being angry. Why? Because of his mercy; because of his promise? Whatever the reason it is NOT anything on our part that has caused God’s anger to cease.
John 3:36 (CSB) — The one who believes in the Son has eternal life, but the one who rejects the Son will not see life; instead, the wrath [anger] of God remains on him.
For all who accept Jesus, there is also freedom from the wrath of God. That means YOU AND ME. Because of Jesus, the anger of God has passed over us.
We don’t often talk about the comfort of God, though we often rely on it.
Israel’s comfort will be to have their land returned to them, to take possession of the promise that God made to Abraham back in Genesis.
For all who believe in the Messiah, there is a comfort that comes from the forgiveness of sin and acceptance into the family of God, as well as the strength and encouragement we receive when going through tough times.
2 Corinthians 1:3–4 (CSB) — Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and the God of all comfort. 4 He comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any kind of affliction, through the comfort we ourselves receive from God.
Where the passing of the anger of God might point us to the judicial and authoritative rights of a holy God, the comfort of God shows the compassion of a loving Father.
Like a loving parent who must be angry at the disobedience of a child and must punish will then also find ways to console and comfort that same child to reaffirm the relationship.
One of the most quoted passages by biblical writers shows the tension between the justice and comfort of God:
Exodus 34:6–7 (CSB) — 6 The Lord passed in front of him and proclaimed: The Lord—the Lord is a compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger and abounding in faithful love and truth, 7 maintaining faithful love to a thousand generations, forgiving iniquity, rebellion, and sin. But he will not leave the guilty unpunished, bringing the consequences of the fathers’ iniquity on the children and grandchildren to the third and fourth generation.
God does punish but he also shows compassion, grace and love – all parts of comfort.
Salvation is a very “churchy” term. While we might talk about being saved from a bad situation or from a fate worse than death, we rarely use “salvation” outside of the church context.
What has God saved us from? For Israel it is a literal salvation from the nations that conquered them and deported them. On that day they will be saved from the oppression of the nations, much like the Exodus from Egypt portrayed.
Similarly, the Day of the Lord and the Exodus are designed to show us the need for mankind to be freed from the oppression of sin that we inherited from Adam and Eve. That first sin that placed a curse on all of creation, and that will be removed on that day.
On that day, all of creation will be saved or redeemed (check out Romans 8:19-25)! However, through the work of Jesus anyone who accepts Jesus experiences freedom from the bondage of the curse and of sin and death:
Romans 6:16–18 (CSB) — 16 Don’t you know that if you offer yourselves to someone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of that one you obey—either of sin leading to death or of obedience leading to righteousness? 17 But thank God that, although you used to be slaves of sin, you obeyed from the heart that pattern of teaching to which you were handed over, 18 and having been set free from sin, you became enslaved to righteousness.
While we will not see the ultimate fulfillment of the salvation of God until the day of the Lord, we experience salvation from sin and death through Jesus!
ONE DAY – all of creation will be saved from the curse of sin, the anger of God will no longer be aimed at sinful man and our loving Father will comfort us.
TODAY – those that have accepted the Messiah, the One God chose to send to accomplish his plan, Jesus – everyone who calls on Jesus experiences a partial fulfillment of this song!
When you and I take time to mediate and reflect on this, it should elicit a response. When we acknowledge the work of God by the grace of God, it should motivate us to a response:
There comes a conviction that permeates our thinking and our living that affects the way we respond to circumstances: we can face whatever comes without fear. I do not need to fear God, death, punishment, pandemics, others, finances, unemployment, etc.
In uncertain times, the rock on which we stand is not the hill we shape without our own hands, but the mountain of God and the work that the rock of our salvation has accomplished.
Isaiah 12:2 (LEB) — Look! God is my salvation; I will trust, and I will not be afraid, for my strength and might is Yah, Yahweh; and he has become salvation for me.”
“Yah, Yahweh” is a unique phrase that only shows up 2 times in the OT and both are by Isaiah. “Yah” is a short name for Yahweh (like Mike for Michael). The repetition of the name of God can be used to show singularity: Yahweh and Yahweh alone, or ONLY Yahweh.
GOD must be our ultimate strength. GOD must be our ultimate song. GOD’s victory must be our ultimate celebration. The path to that type of living comes from acknowledging the work of God’s salvation.
Are you exhausted from the past year? God can bring refreshment! Are you tired from the burdens of this life? God can bring refreshment but it comes from surrendering to him and acknowledging him. When we trust in God for our salvation it will refresh us!
Isaiah 12:3 (LEB) — And you will draw water from the wells of salvation in joy.
Water brings life and refreshment. During seasons of pain and discomfort, our ultimate deliverance by God from our sinfulness is what will provide refreshment.
John 7:37–39 (CSB) — 37 On the last and most important day of the festival [of tabernacles], Jesus stood up and cried out, “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink. 38 The one who believes in me, as the Scripture has said, will have streams of living water flow from deep within him.” 39 He said this about the Spirit. Those who believed in Jesus were going to receive the Spirit, for the Spirit had not yet been given because Jesus had not yet been glorified.
2020 was certainly a year that tested each of us in multiple ways: stability, relationships, tolerance, etc. As we look back, do we see the compassion and comfort of God and rejoice in what he has done and what he has provide for us? Will we thank our God or our government? Will we rejoice in our salvation or complain of our situation?
After the year we just left behind, I believe the message of Isaiah 12 is one that we must embrace and make part of our everyday conversation. It is what will make us a light to the nations during times of darkness. It has the power to bring peace to people living in fear and comfort to those who have suffered loss.
If you want to experience joy and freedom, then I encourage you to adopt this song of thanksgiving as your own and remind yourself that what matters is:
It is our position with God that matters, not our comfort in this life. It is our fellowship with the Father that will bring us true joy, not our tax returns, stimulus checks or 401Ks.
The second stanza is a proclamation. It is telling others what has taken place.
We cannot sing the second stanza of the song until we have completed the first. We cannot offer corporate thanksgiving until we have embraced thanksgiving as individuals. The melodies of thanksgiving only ring out in a chorus when each individual part is carrying its own tune, and so it is with the melody of thankfulness.
Isaiah 12:4–6 (LEB) — And you will say on that day, “Give thanks to Yahweh; call on his name. Make his deeds known among the peoples; bring to remembrance that his name is exalted. 5 Sing praises to Yahweh, for he has done a glorious thing; this is known in all the earth. 6 Inhabitant of Zion, shout out and sing for joy, for the holy one of Israel is great in your midst.”
“And you will say on that day” is the introduction to the second stanza of this melody of thankfulness.
Once we are compelled by thankfulness based upon our standing with God and his salvation, we have NO CHOICE but to speak out. First and foremost, we will NOT be silent in offering praise or thanks, or acknowledgement to God himself – stanza one.
Second, we will not be able to stay silent when around each other and others who do not know Him.
Israel was told to remind each other of the work of God. “Make his deeds known among the peoples” – this is a reference to your kin, or your relatives, your people. Tell each other about the work of God in your life. This is something we will one day do without hesitation, but what a blessing to be able to do this every day of our lives!
Psalm 105:1–6 (CSB) — Give thanks to the Lord, call on his name; proclaim his deeds among the peoples. 2 Sing to him, sing praise to him; tell about all his wondrous works! 3 Boast in his holy name; let the hearts of those who seek the Lord rejoice. 4 Seek the Lord and his strength; seek his face always. 5 Remember the wondrous works he has done, his wonders, and the judgments he has pronounced, 6 you offspring of Abraham his servant, Jacob’s descendants—his chosen ones.
Israel is called to tell one another about the good deeds God has done. One day all men, women and children WILL do this. Today, you and I CAN do this!
But if Israel only declared the works of God among themselves, they would not be the light to all the nations. The acknowledgement of Yahweh is to be known in all the earth our passage says. That is everywhere!
Today, you and I can declare the good works of God to all the earth – our workplace, our homes, our neighborhoods, social media, schools, EVERYWHERE!
The way we choose to talk about God and his work will determine if the people in our churches and the people in our communities will see God as mighty among us or not. One day all of creation will experience God in a mighty way as he will physically be among us, but in the meantime, you and I have the ability to demonstrate how God continues to work mightily in our midst.
I think this last part if super amazing! Remember, the work of God has been, and continues to be, do draw people back to him that they can be WITH him, in fellowship, in relationship. Jesus came to be God with us; God among us. Those of us that have accepted the Messiah have God within us – in our very midst individually as well as corporately.
It is the holy one of Israel, the uncommon one, choosing to dwell among the common and thereby make us uncommon by association with him. That is amazing to me!
Shout, sing, cry out, proclaim – with JOY that the mighty God, who is greater than our past experiences, present circumstances and future concerns, is with us.
Isaiah 12:6 (CJB) — 6 Shout and sing for joy, you who live in Tziyon; for the Holy One of Isra’el is with you in his greatness!”
Perhaps the thing we can be and should be most thankful for is the very presence of God with us through the Holy Spirit.
I want to encourage you this morning with some reminders:
However, I also want to challenge us at the beginning of 2021.
This 2-stanza song is a reminder of what the salvation of God ought to produce in our lives: words/songs of thanks to Him that declare his great work and his greatness. It is an individual song as well as a corporate song.
CHALLENGE: as we end 2020, can you list 20 things that God has done that you are thankful for?
None of us knows the number of days we have on this earth, and none of us can control the future, no matter how hard we try. However, every one of us can choose the attitude we will have and the words we will use as we face situations and people on a daily basis.
As you look back on the events of the year do you find yourself finding ways to acknowledge God or do you just blame and complain about others? As you talk with others about your year, your week, your view of the future, ask yourself, “Are the words I’m using declaring the work of God and his greatness?”
Let us not wait until THE DAY of the Lord to live this way… for today is the day of salvation, today is the day to begin living in our new reality of salvation:
2 Corinthians 6:1–4 (NLT) — As God’s partners, we beg you not to accept this marvelous gift of God’s kindness and then ignore it. 2 For God says, “At just the right time, I heard you. On the day of salvation, I helped you.” Indeed, the “right time” is now. Today is the day of salvation. 3 We live in such a way that no one will stumble because of us, and no one will find fault with our ministry. 4 In everything we do, we show that we are true ministers of God. We patiently endure troubles and hardships and calamities of every kind.
May the peace of Christ, the comfort of the Holy Spirit, and the joy of the Father be your strength in 2021 and may you be filled with the melody of thanksgiving for all He has done for you.