“Shout for joy, O childless one, you who did not give birth; burst into joyful shouting and cry aloud, you who have not been in labor! For the children of the forsaken one will be more numerous than the children of the married woman,” says the LORD. “Enlarge the place of your tent; stretch out the curtains of your dwellings, do not hold back. Lengthen your cords and strengthen your stakes.” Isaiah 54:1-2
For nearly 60 years the “Dean of Old Testament Prophets” proclaimed a message of repentance, retribution and restoration to a people who persistently rebelled against God Who had called them to be His own. Isaiah precisely predicted events that took place within his lifetime, as well as numerous prophecies that occurred centuries later. Isaiah has also been called the “Fifth Evangelist” and his book the “Fifth Gospel” because within its 66 chapters are specific and clear prophecies of Jesus Christ’s virgin birth, His character, His life, His death, His resurrection, and His second coming.
Twenty of the 27 books of the New Testament refer to Isaiah, and 12 of these books include a total of 66 direct quotations from Isaiah. The prolific Bible teacher, Dr. J. Vernon McGee, once stated that Isaiah is like a “brightly colored thread woven into the beautiful pattern of the New Testament.”
Isaiah’s first 39 chapters speak mostly about God’s impending judgment upon His unrepentant people. But beginning with chapter 40, the emphasis shifts to God’s grace, forgiveness, salvation, and the restoration of His people.
“Comfort, O comfort My people,” says your God. “Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and call out to her, that her time of warfare has ended, her iniquity has been pardoned, and she has received from the LORD’s hand double for all her sins.” (vv. 1-2)
Grace, forgiveness, salvation and restoration are made possible because of the climactic reality that Isaiah describes in such detail in chapter 53. A predicted “Suffering Servant” will bear our griefs and carry our sorrows. He was in fact pierced through for our transgressions, crushed for our iniquities, and by His scourging we are healed.
And then come the amazing promises of chapter 54 quoted above. Isaiah predicts the restoration of God’s people from Babylonian captivity back into their Promised Land long before they were ever taken captive! In the first two verses, the prophet employs eight imperatives to drive home his point that God’s future restoration of His people will far exceed their wildest imaginations. Two of these imperatives … “lengthen your cords” and “strengthen your stakes” … caught my attention several years ago.
When the tent-dwellers of Isaiah’s time wanted to expand the size of their living space, they would simply sew together additional goatskins to make the roof larger, and then add a curtain or two for privacy. This expanded roofline required longer cords or ropes. But then it was more susceptible to being blown away by strong, unpredictable desert winds. Thus, the tent stakes or pegs must be strengthened and driven further into the ground.
These two strong images have bearing on what it means today to follow Jesus. They help to clarify priorities in our life of discipleship. There is a rhythm to the Christian life, much like there is to breathing. Isaiah challenges God’s people to “lengthen cords” and “strengthen stakes” in order to grow and expand into the new life that He has prepared for them.
Just before Jesus ascended to heaven, He commissioned His followers to “Go and make disciples of all the nations” (Mt. 28:19) … essentially, to mobilize for ministry … or to “lengthen our cords.” But in order to sustain the effectiveness of this mobilization, we must also “strengthen our stakes” … commit to equipping for ministry.
The mission of StrongStakes Ministries is to equip (“strengthen stakes”) and mobilize (“lengthen cords”) men to follow Jesus. This blog is a platform to share resources that will facilitate our daily walk of following Jesus wherever He leads.
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Peace & Joy!