“In that day you will say: ‘I will praise you, Lord. Although you were angry with me, your anger has turned away and you have comforted me.’”
Happy Thanksgiving to each and every one of you! Today we are going to look at a very old Thanksgiving message from Isaiah. Instead of saying we should be thankful, let’s express our thankfulness again and again through this song. Let’s “sing for joy.” This passage consists of two sections--one a personal, intimate expression of thanks and trust, and the other a public exclamation of praise to all nations. Today let’s praise the Lord with joy as Isaiah did both personally and to all nations. May God bless us to be overflowing with joyful thanks this Thanksgiving.
I. I Will Praise You Lord
Verse 1 begins, “In that day….” “In that day” refers to back chapter 11, which exquisitely describes the character of the coming Messiah and his kingdom. Isaiah was a prophet who around 740BC was sent to challenge God’s people to turn back to the Lord by repenting of their many sins. The description of the sins and darkness of the land, and the impending judgment are in almost every chapter. Yet, in the midst of this shines the hope of a Messiah to come. He is Jesus. The Messiah is unlike any other king and his kingdom is far more glorious than any other. It is because the Messiah is filled with the Holy Spirit and delights in the fear of the Lord. His clothes are righteousness and faithfulness. In his kingdom fear will be banished and peace will reign. A wolf will live with a lamb, a lion have dinner with a calf and a child will play near a cobra’s den. Though the kingdom is glorious, there were barriers, metaphorically described as the Euphrates River and the Egyptian sea, barring God’s people from reaching his kingdom. Yet the Lord promises to destroy all barriers, so that all of God’s people may freely come to the Messiah’s kingdom. The great Euphrates River will become like little streams that can be crossed with sandals, and the sea will become dry land, so anyone can come to the Lord freely. The Lord will even make a highway for his people, so they can travel 65 mph back him and his glorious kingdom.
Look at verse 1. It begins with, “In that day…” “In that day….” is the day God’s glorious promise is fulfilled. It looks forward to the second coming of Jesus, when he will restore his paradise again for us to enjoy with him forever. But it also refers to the day Jesus came to each of us, beginning with his birth in Bethlehem, followed by his death and resurrection. Through faith in him all barriers to the Lord are removed and we can freely run back to the Lord and his glorious kingdom. “In that day” is “today” for each of us. Today is “In that day” because we have Jesus. We don’t have to wait another day. “In that day” is here!
Let’s read verse 1a together, “In that day you will say: ‘I will praise you, Lord.’” This is a personal expression of praise to God. Let’s say “I will praise you, Lord” together. Let’s say it again. When we have tasted the Messiah’s grace, we each personally can say, “I will praise you, Lord.” This will be the expression of our hearts when we come to the Lord. It should be the expression of our hearts always. Of course we live in a real world, with real problems. Sometimes we get angry and complain. So, how can we have this expression of praise in our hearts always?
First, we have to remember what the Lord has done for us. Verse 1b says, This verse tells us that God was angry with us, each of us. What? God is angry with me? Yes, God was indeed very angry with each and every one of us. We must know this reality. It is because each of us has turned from God to his own way. Isaiah 53:6a say, “We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way….” The Lord created us for his glory, to be with him and live for him. He created each person with a definite purpose. He created each of us to live according to his truth. But each one of us has turned to his own way. Each one of us thought our way was best and turned from the Lord. When I was 16 years old I decided to live for my pleasure as a musician. I didn’t seek God or think he was important. I was 100% convinced my way was the best. This made God angry. So instead of blessing, my life was nearly ruined by the time I was 25. One young man wanted to be a famous TV news reporter. He appeared to seek God, but not from his heart. God was angry because of his superficial devotion, and his career came to nothing. Today so many are seeking their own way, convinced they are right. So many think living a sexually immoral lifestyle, or a greedy lifestyle or a pleasure seeking lifestyle will lead them to happiness and blessing. Some seek God superficially, culturally or habitually. This makes God angry. Most people think they are basically okay, or at least better than the other guy. But God is angry with me and each of you because of our sins. Romans 3:23 says, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God….” God created us to reveal his glory. But we have all fallen short because of our sins. Who here has lived up to God’s glory? Because of our sins, God’s wrath comes on the world. Romans 1:18 says, “The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of people, who suppress the truth by their wickedness….” God’s wrath is the most urgent problem facing mankind, because it leads to eternal death. (Rev 21:8) God is angry with each of us.
Yet we praise God because somehow, God’s love and mercy overcame his anger. Verse 1b says, “Although you were angry with me, your anger has turned away and you have comforted me.” Isaiah poetically says that God’s anger turned away. He didn’t hold onto it, but turned away from it. He found a way to love us and restore us. “Turning away” sounds so easy. But it was not. God found a way to pay the penalty of our sins. It was through the cross of his one and only Son, Jesus Christ. Isaiah 53:6 says, “We all like sheep have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way, and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.” This is the most beautiful description of what the Lord has done for us. God laid on Jesus the iniquity of us all. God laid all of our sins on Jesus, the Messiah. God was so angry with us. But he loves us more. Romans 5:8 describes God’s love, “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” The Lord loves us so much, he overcome every barrier to bring us to Him. The Lord even sacrificed his one and only Son of the cross to bring us to him. When we realize this love for us, we can say “I will praise you, Lord” from our deepest hearts.
The Lord not only saves us, but he comforts us. Verse 1 concludes, “…your anger has turned away and you have comforted me.” The Lord wants to be with us. He wants to heal all our wounds. God’s comfort is a like a mother who cares for her injured child. She will first hug her crying child, tell him, “it will be okay,” put a Band-Aid on the wound and kiss it to make it all better. Then she will make a nice lunch. How beautiful a mother’s comfort is. Yet God’s comfort is far greater than even a mother’s comfort. There are many who are hurting and wounded. We all need God’s comfort. Some are waiting for God’s comfort. God’s comfort will indeed come--sometimes we just need to be patient. The first official U.S. Thanksgiving holiday came out of deep thankfulness to God’s comfort. In 1863, the U.S. was in the second year of a horrific civil war. More people died in that war than in any other war on American soil. President Abraham Lincoln believed that God was punishing America for its sin of slavery against African-Americans, as he stated in his second inaugural address. Yet in the midst of God’s discipline, he believed God also had mercy on and comforted America. He was amazed that in its weakened state, the nation was still very prosperous. He was surprised that no nation had taken the opportunity to attack. And despite the war, the population increased. He wrote in his Thanksgiving Proclamation of October 3, 1863, “They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy.” Abraham Lincoln was full of thanks to God who despite our sins, was comforting the nation, and declared the last Thursday of November as a national day of Thanksgiving. The Lord had and still has hope for America and for each one of us. We thank God who has turned away from his anger and comforted us through his one and only Son, Jesus Christ. So, we will say, “I will praise you, Lord.”
When we know God’s saving grace, we can also say as in verse 2, “Surely God is my salvation; I will trust and not be afraid. The Lord, the Lord himself, is my strength and my defense; he has become my salvation.” We can say with great confidence, “Surely God is my salvation….” When God is our salvation we can trust and not be afraid of anything. We know that the Lord, the Lord himself is our strength and defense. The Lord does not send a representative to defend us. The Lord, the Lord himself, is our strength and our defense. When we feel weak or attacked, the Lord himself is our strength and our defense. If someone wants to point out our sins and attack us, we really have nothing to say. We are guilty and become powerless. But the Lord is our defense. The Lord defends us through Jesus’ blood before our accusers. It is not because of our righteousness, but because the Lord, the Lord himself, is our defense. The word “defense” can also be translated as “song.” God is our song means that the Lord is our joy. Those who know God’s salvation sing in their hearts. They are happy and a blessing. They can say with confidence, “He has become my salvation.”
Second, draw water from the wells of salvation. Look at verse 3, “With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation.”A fruit of salvation is joy. Those who receive Jesus’ salvation are joyful in their souls. This joy does not come from something external; it comes from within. The source is the living water, Jesus Christ. Jesus told a Samaritan woman, “Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” The living water leads us to eternal life. The problem with external joy is that is always temporary. Those who only know this temporary joy are always thirsty again. But the living water fills us with overflowing joy continually. Jesus said in John 7:38, “Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.” The rivers of living water come from Jesus, our Savior. Verse 3 says that we will draw water from the “wells” of salvation, not “well” of salvation. It doesn’t mean there is more than one source of salvation. But it means we have this joy anywhere, at any time. Once, St. Paul was in a prison in Philippi. It was cold and I am sure the food was not very good. Yet he was filled with joy. He and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God. The key, however, is that we must draw water from the wells of salvation. Drawing water takes a little effort. When we come to Jesus, seeking him and growing in him, we will be filled with joy. We will be able to sing praises to God. For the past year, I have been blessed to share a Daily Bread message every other Monday at 5:30 a.m. I thought it would be difficult and I would be tired and grumpy. But on those days, I am overflowing with joy. Jesus comes to me through his word and I am incredibly happy. Rich Ryzewski has decided to make a video reciting our Sunday message key verse every week and send it to our Loyola Fellowship. When he seeks the Lord he is filled with joy, and his videos are really funny. There are so many things to do in this Holiday Season. There is a lot of shopping to do. There are many wonderful things to see and people to meet. But please, let’s take time to draw water from the wells of salvation, so we may be overflowing with joy. God has given his sure promise to us—“With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation.” The wells of salvation are there, open and waiting for us. May God help us to draw water from the wells of salvation always so he can fill us with joy and make a us blessing.
II. Make known among the nations what he has done
The first part described our personal expressions of thanks. In this part, this praise and thanks is expressed externally, even to the whole world. Look at verse 4. “In that day you will say: ‘Give praise to the Lord, proclaim his name; make known among the nations what he has done, and proclaim that his name is exalted.’”“In that day” again refers to the day we receive the Messiah and God’s salvation. In that day, we will say out loud, “Give praise to the Lord, proclaim his name.” When we have experienced God’s salvation, we want to praise him and proclaim his name. To proclaim his name is to honor him. We want Jesus’ name honored above all names. We want Jesus’ name to be glorified. We want to proclaim his name. We honor his name by making known among the nations what he has done and proclaiming that his name is exalted. The most important work of the Messiah is saving and changing lives in all nations of the world. In our own ministry, he has saved thousands of souls and spread the gospel to many nations. Jesus took a wretch like me, saved me and gave me the beautiful and godly woman, Dr. Helen, to be my wife, with two wonderful children. Jesus has raised many spiritual leaders in our midst. Jesus is now molding us to be more fruitful and a greater blessing in the future. We have to make known among the nations what he has done.
We will also proclaim that his name is exalted. In this pluralistic society it is difficult to say that Jesus’ name is exalted. But only Jesus brings salvation through the forgiveness of sins. Only Jesus will come again in power and glory. Only Jesus died on the cross out of love for us. Only Jesus is the holy Son of God. His name alone is exalted. So we proclaim, “His name is exalted.”
Look at verse 5, “Sing to the Lord, for he has done glorious things; let this be known to all the world.” In that day, we will sing to the Lord. Singing is the expression of our hearts. We don’t have to be skilled at singing. It doesn’t matter if you sing out of tune. What matters is that we sing to the Lord out of joy and thanks. We should never come to the Lord out of sense of duty. I heard some are doing that and it discourages others from coming to the Lord. We have to come to the Lord singing. If we are too embarrassed to sing outwardly, at least we should sing in our hearts. Let’s sing to the Lord!
The world is a very difficult and painful place for many. We heard about the terrible suffering after the typhoon in the Philippines. There is a long and bloody civil war in Syria. There are so many hurting and suffering people even in the United States. The Lord wants us to let his salvation be known through all the world. The Lord wants us to sing his praise, showing our joy and thanksgiving to all the world. Even at this Thanksgiving we will meet many people, many who don’t know God’s salvation. They don’t drink from the wells of salvation. They are miserable. They don’t need to be lectured. What they need is to see our joy and thanks that we get from the wells of salvation. They need to hear how the Lord has done glorious things in and through us, so they can trust him as well. May God fill us with songs of joy to the Lord and make known what he has done to all the world. Amen.
This chapter concludes with verse 6. “Shout aloud and sing for joy, people of Zion, for great is the Holy One of Israel among you.” This exhorts us to shout aloud and sing for joy. The people of Zion are God’s people. God’s people should shout out our joy. Why? Look at verse 6b, “For great is the Holy One of Israel among you.”We shout and sing for joy because the Holy One of Israel is great among us. God is the great God. He is performing great work. He is active, powerful, living, working, moving and driving. Sometimes we may think God is not doing anything. But God, the Holy One of Israel, is great among us. He is doing his great work. He is carrying out his world salvation plan. He is saving lives. He is marching toward the complete restoration of his kingdom. The Holy One of Israel, the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ is great among us.
Today we have learned a great song of praise. This song is the expression of our thanks and praise to God for being our Savior and the promise of the coming kingdom of the Messiah. It is a song of praise to God our salvation, our strength, our defense and our song. We have this song when we draw water from the wells of salvation. God promised this “in that day.” That day is today, Thanksgiving of 2013. Let’s say together, “I will praise you, Lord.” This Thanksgiving, may the Lord gives us a song of praise to Him in our hearts. Let’s make known to those around us the glorious things he has done. Let’s shout aloud and sing for joy, “Great is the Holy One of Israel among us.”