Copyright August 14 by Rev. Bruce Goettsche
Today, one of the most important questions we ask when looking for a new job, “What are the benefits that come with the job?”
With skyrocketing health care costs, the uncertain nature of Social Security and the need for vacation for renewal and restoration, the benefits of a job may be a much bigger factor in your decision than even the salary or hours.
In Isaiah 53 we learned about the suffering Messiah.
That Messiah would reach beyond Israel to the entire world.
He died to set us free.
But what does it mean to know His salvation?
What is this freedom that we have because of Christ?
If you will, what is the benefit package of following Him?
Is this just something that is in the future (Heaven) or are their present elements to this salvation?
Isaiah 54, I believe, describes some immediate benefits and blessings of salvation.
It begins in verses 1-3 of Isaiah 54.
1 “Sing, O childless woman,
you who have never given birth!
Break into loud and joyful song, O Jerusalem,
you who have never been in labor.
For the desolate woman now has more children
than the woman who lives with her husband,”
says the Lord.
2 “Enlarge your house; build an addition.
Spread out your home, and spare no expense!
3 For you will soon be bursting at the seams.
Your descendants will occupy other nations
and resettle the ruined cities.
The Blessing of An Expanded and Enriched Life
In this chapter Jerusalem (Zion) is pictured as a woman who is childless and alone because of the exile of the people.
To be childless was to be without support.
Childlessness was seen as being deprived a blessing.
What God was going to do in Israel was the equivalent of the blessing of a childless person who learns, after all the years of trying to have a baby, that they are pregnant.
Also, the woman (Israel) is to put an addition on the home because they were going to need it because through the Messiah, they were now going to be bursting at the seams.
This is a reference, I believe, to you and me.
He is talking about how salvation is going to extend well beyond Israel because of Jesus.
That is why this verse is a favorite of missionary organizations.
In addition to the household of God expanding to those outside of Israel, I believe our own personal lives expand when we become followers of Christ.
Let’s look at some of the ways this happens.
Our earthly spiritual family enlarges.
Because of Jesus, we now have a familial relationship with people all over the world.
People from all races and backgrounds can come together and immediately feel a connection because of Christ.
If you have ever been at a large gathering of believers, it is remarkable how connected you immediately feel.
There are no debates about theology, there is no discussion about which church is better.
We are drawn together simply by Christ.
He is the One who makes us one.
When we divide, it is because we forget this fact, and begin to build our own little kingdoms.
When we keep our eyes on Him that unity is profound.
It does not see race, gender, income level or educational background.
All it sees is what we hold in common in Jesus.
Our life is more anchored than it ever was before.
Before we met Christ we looked to our jobs, our family, our education, social standing, or income as the things that gave stability and meaning in our lives.
When we trust Christ, the Apostle Paul wrote, “I have been crucified with Christ.
It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me.
And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”
(Galatians 2:20) We have a new direction for our lives.
We are no longer anchored (or find our identity) by our status or our circumstances; we find our stability and purpose in the One who never changes because He cannot be improved upon.
That means, no matter what storm we may face, our anchor, Christ, will hold.
We have a different foundation than we used to have.
For the first time, we will truly see other people.
Life is no longer only about us, but about Him.
In other words, in Christ, we can see beyond ourselves.
In Philippians 2 Paul said we should “consider others better than ourselves and to do nothing out of selfish ambition.”
(Philippians 2:3,4) Jesus tells us to “Love one another as I have loved you.”
(John 15:12) It doesn’t take much to realize that we live in a world that is very selfish.
We see what we want, what we need, and we want others to see that as well.
There is a real sense in which we act like the world revolves around us.
Here’s a reality check: the world does NOT revolve around us!
No matter how self-absorbed you are, you cannot and will not find what you are looking for in the world around us.
As we come to Christ and allow the Holy Spirit to live inside of us, we suddenly start to see other people as we never did before.
We see them as children of God.
We now see they have infinite inherent value.
Because of that, we see their richness and treasure; we also see their hurts and struggles, their gifts and potential.
We have a more abundant life.
In the Gospel of John, chapter 10, and verse 10, Jesus said, “I have come so you might have life, and have it more abundantly.”
This is not the way most people look at faith.
Too often people look at Christianity and see rules and people who they think are stuck up.
They believe, if they follow Christ, they will end up losing out.
Life will no longer be fun.
You will have to spend all your time praying and singing songs you don’t know with people you don’t really like.
But that is not true!
The real prison is the life we live now . . . the treadmill to meaninglessness.
When we put our hope and trust in Him, the prison door springs open and we find a life that has more dimension and joy than anything we have experienced before.
In Philippians 4:13 the Apostle Paul wrote, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”
In 4:19 He wrote, “My God will supply all your needs according to His riches in Christ Jesus.”
We are taught He will give us the words to say; He will use us as He sees fit; He will equip with unique gifts to further His cause in the world.
Instead of just happiness, we will know joy.
Instead of a good life, we will know what it is to have a contented life.
This is how the gospel “enlarges our house.”
We move from the daily “grind” to a “daily adventure.”
We trade our stress for trust.
We stop living with regret over our past sin and look forward to a future glory that is given to us as a gift.
We need to remind ourselves often of the blessing of the gospel.
But this is not all, the text continues,
4 “Fear not; you will no longer live in shame.
Don’t be afraid; there is no more disgrace for you.
You will no longer remember the shame of your youth
and the sorrows of widowhood.
5 For your Creator will be your husband;
the Lord of Heaven’s Armies is his name!
He is your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel,
the God of all the earth.
6 For the Lord has called you back from your grief—
as though you were a young wife abandoned by her husband,”