Written by Jim Jordal   
Thursday, 02 November 2017


By Jim Jordal

For you shall go out with joy, and be led forth with peace. For the mountains and the hills shall go before you with singing, and the trees of the field shall clap their hands.”                                                                                              Isaiah 55:12 WEB

This Bible verse is probably better sung than read. In music its joyful lilt transfers the overwhelming joy present as the great prophesies of Isaiah bring the wayward sons of God out of their well-deserved bondage and oppression.

As you perhaps know, the history of God’s people is cratered with disaster and suffering, almost always connected to their forgetting of God’s law. This time it was deliverance from the Babylonian captivity. Several thousand years earlier it was from slavery in Egypt, and in several intervening accounts it was from many of their host of enemies. But the principle remains: God’s people lurch from egregious sin, through punishment, then deliverance, usually by some great leader like Jehoshaphat, then God’s favored people, then back to sin again.

The first 39 chapters of the Book of Isaiah constitute a sad rendition of Israel’s sins and God’s anger at their perfidy. From the 40th chapter onward, Isaiah becomes a beacon of hope as God’s people march forward into the deliverance promised for centuries.

Israel’s first and perhaps most notable experience with divine deliverance was its miraculous journey out of 400 years of slavery in Egypt. Later God shared his intent for this anguish by revealing its purpose to create a national memory so graphic that they would never again ignore the cries of sufferers under political, economic, or social oppression.

But the hundreds of biblical references concerning suffering and deliverance can be misapplied in many ways. For example, although the deliverance was national, its principles can also be applied to individual predicaments. As we see every day, individuals also move from sin through punishment through deliverance and back again to sin. It seems to be the nature of the human race. We find deliverance from sin through faith, but then as trials and tribulation arise we sometimes lose confidence in the power of God to keep us on track, so we begin anew on the path of waywardness.

People of faith can be sidetracked in their Christian journey by giving too much attention to the cascade of disaster and human failing revealing itself daily in the news media. Scripture shows that God has reasons for what he does, although we do not often perceive what these reasons are.

Today we see revelations of all sorts of chicanery by public figures prominent in entertainment and politics. We tend to react to these revelations with the faulty view that God has somehow lost control over an immoral, lost world. We forget the promises that I’ve quoted before where God says that “nothing will be hidden that shall not be revealed” as the end times approach and the millennial kingdom of God on earth gains traction.

Deliverance is the message of the hour. As Isaiah says so plaintively, “For you shall go out with joy, and be led forth with peace…” That’s why all the evil and turmoil exists---to identify the many violations of God’s law and to prepare us for the joy and peace soon to follow as God deals once and for all with human waywardness.

The text ends with the beautiful phrase, “the mountains and the hills shall go before you with singing, and the trees of the field shall clap their hands.” In biblical symbolism, “mountains” usually are nations and “hills” are smaller governmental units, while “trees” symbolize nature. Imagine if you will the awesome scene of forests of trees literally waving their branches in joy as Christ’s kingdom moves in with Christ sitting on his throne. Imagine the peace and joy that will replace the turmoil and suffering of the present age.

Consider again the deliverance from financial, legal, moral, environmental and political oppression that will occur as God’s people (that’s us) at long last discover the full meaning of the historic Exodus---the development of a national vision and ethic of creating peace and joy through deliverance and healing.

This isn’t mythology, folks, because it’s really on the way.