The rain and snow come down from the heavens
and stay on the ground to water the earth.
They cause the grain to grow,
producing seed for the farmer
and bread for the hungry. It is the same with my word.
I send it out, and it always produces fruit.
It will accomplish all I want it to,
and it will prosper everywhere I send it.
You will live in joy and peace.
The mountains and hills will burst into song,
and the trees of the field will clap their hands!
Where once there were thorns, cypress trees will grow.
Where nettles grew, myrtles will sprout up.
These events will bring great honor to the LORD’s name;
they will be an everlasting sign of his power and love. (Isaiah 55:10-13 NLT)
The Lord says his word always produces fruit. The implications for that are endless (I talked about the husband’s responsibility to wash his wife with the word, as one example). But what are the direct fruits, accomplishments, and prospering the Lord is making known in Isaiah?
Joy & Peace
First, “you will live in joy.” This joy is blood-bought. It’s not something that ebbs and flows like the tide. It cannot be taken away because its source is everlasting and overflowing. God is promising a joy that’s built on the promises that are ours in Christ. Specifically he’s calling Israel to remember the covenant God made with his people after he redeemed them from Israel. This historical event was a type of a greater redemption to come. So to then we must look back at our redemption as the foundation for our joy.
This joy in turns breeds worship. Commenting on the ever popular Westminster Larger Catechism question/answer 1(“The chief end of man is to glorify God and to enjoy him forever.”), Matt Chandler says,
We can call this enjoyment “worship.” Worship is the attributing of ultimate worth to something. When this ultimate worth is attributed to anyone or anything other than the one, true triune God of the universe, it is idolatry. The root of Christian worship, then, is acknowledging, submitting to, and enjoying the supremacy of God’s glory. In all things. (The Explicit Gospel p. 36)
Second, “you will live in . . . peace.” The joy and peace are closely connected but they are also distinct. All that I said about remembering God’s covenant faithfulness also applies to peace. Peace in Hebrew is an all of life peace. It’s resting secure. Isaiah earlier calls Jesus the prince of peace.
This title brims with gospel expectancy. The question it immediately brings to mind is how does Jesus's arrival bring peace to mankind? Hear what the angels say when they announce the arrival of Jesus:
And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with fear. And the angel said to them, "Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.
And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, “and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!” (Luke 2:8-14).
I love how the KJV renders this annoucement: “[O]n earth peace, good will toward men.” I would like to suggest that this advent proclamation of peace is the foundation for Paul’s theology on justification. Without this proclamation there’s no justification! Paul says:
But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility (Ephesians 2:13-16 see also Ephesians 6:14-15 “the gospel of peace” bold mine).
For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross (Colossians 1:19-20 bold mine)
Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God (Romans 5:1-2 bold mine).
It’s in Paul’s magnum opus, the letter to the Romans, that he makes the connection undeniable between peace and justification so when someone asks Paul How can a righteous God make peace with man through Jesus? Paul would says (in shorthand) justification.
The proclamation of Jesus as king of the coming kingdom is filled out with richness through justification. How can one have an all of life peace? Paul says through justification. What’s more study the ministry of Jesus is centralized around bringing peace to those who are sinners, sick, abused, & destitute. While reading through any of the gospels, one might ask How can God be righteous and allow Jesus to go around touching the sick and forgiving sins of people that didn't commit against him? the answer would bring he brings peace through justification by blood of the cross.
Isaiah then goes on to describe the joy and peace we have in restoration imagery. The mountains clap. Thorns produce fruits. Nettles produce myrtles. This is nothing less than taking something that is dead and giving it new life. Giving it sustenance. Nourishing it. These striking images not only point us back to our own transformation by the power of the Spirit but point us forward to the culmination of all things in the last days. A time when Christ will reign supreme and the “not yet” will be the beginning of eternity.
Soli Deo Gloria
How does Isaiah end? “These events will bring great honor to the LORD’s name; they will be an everlasting sign of his power and love.” Soli Deo Gloria. These transformations bring honor and glory and praise to the Lord. They are a sign to promises that he’s made to us in Christ. They are an everlasting sign that nothing can separate us from the love of our Father.
So preachers preach confidently. His word will accomplish all these things in the life of his beloved bride. Christians as we read his word, read expectantly. These are take it to the bank as good as gold promises. These promises for joy and peace our your in Christ. He is our yes and amen. And may we all pray earnestly that the Word of God would nourish us and that the Spirit would produce these fruits in our life.