Isaiah 44:3 For I will pour water on the thirsty land,
and streams on the dry ground;
I will pour out my Spirit on your offspring,
and my blessing on your descendants.
I am very amused at how the Lord used my mistake to get this passage into the reading sequence. When I was preparing the February list I realized that 44 was a typo for 55, which will be the reading for tomorrow. (The January list gives 44:1-13 as following 53:1-12, and verse 13 is an odd place to stop reading in chapter 44.) However, I believe God wanted to be sure we read the first eight verses of chapter 44, so here we are. This particular verse of course calls to mind the passage from Joel that Peter quoted on the day of Pentecost: “And afterwards, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your old men will dream dreams, your young men will see visions. Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days.” (Joel 2:28-29 – Peter went all the way to verse 32 in his quote.) The point is, when we are pursuing the theme of God’s Provision, we must not forget that He provides His Spirit, who is far more important than all the physical provisions we usually focus on. The imagery in this verse is especially appropriate for Japan, because spiritually this has seemed like dry ground indeed. Japan is unique in the world in the poor rate of return for effort and resources put into evangelism. Protestant missionaries arrived over 150 years ago, and Catholics over 450 years ago, but the current percentage of church members, let alone active believers, is around 2% by government statistics, and that includes groups that are marginally Christian at best. However, nothing is impossible for God! John the Baptist said that God gives the Spirit without limit, (John 3:34) so it doesn’t matter how dry the land is! Eventually the time will come when the “spiritual water table” will rise to the point of verdant farm land, and God will receive the harvest that He desires from this nation.
Following my parents, we have been committed to missions in Japan since 1934. My parents didn’t see the full harvest with their natural eyes, and so far I haven’t either. However, we haven’t been entirely fruitless, and that gives me hope. Yesterday I was at a meeting where missionaries from Korea and Hong Kong outnumbered the Japanese pastors, and my wife and I were the only Westerners. God’s plans are both different and much better than ours, and we must not try to limit Him in our thinking. (Isaiah 55:9-11 – part of tomorrow’s reading!) I am to focus on expectant faithfulness, and leave the results up to Him.
Father, thank You for yesterday’s meeting, and for the Korean couple who wanted to come see our church afterward. Thank You that Your plans are greater than we could imagine. Help us keep our eyes on Jesus (Hebrews 12:2) so that we won’t be discouraged, or even give up, but rather fulfill all of Your purposes for us, on Your schedule for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!