Isaiah 61:4-5 They will rebuild the ancient ruins
and restore the places long devastated;
they will renew the ruined cities
that have been devastated for generations.
Aliens will shepherd your flocks;
foreigners will work your fields and vineyards.
It’s interesting that these two verses were the only part of the whole chapter that I hadn’t underlined previously, but they are what the Lord spoke to me just now. We often forget how thoroughly God is in the business of restoration. Maybe you could call it His hobby! He often does some of His most magnificent work with lives that have previously been devastated and written off by others. Restoration is an opportunity for Him to demonstrate that He is far greater than any circumstances we might face. This chapter as a whole is significant for several reasons. Jesus Himself read the first verse and the first line of the second in the synagogue in Nazareth (Luke 4:14-30) at the beginning of His public ministry, claiming it as His commission. From verse four through verse nine, it seems to be finding fulfillment in the nation of Israel today. That’s not to say that the Jews are God’s people apart from the Church, or that the Church is God’s people apart from the Jews, but rather that God’s plans aren’t complete yet for any of His children, and His plans are magnificent indeed. After the Holocaust, who would have dreamed Israel would be as it is today? Israel became a nation again 70 years ago this year, and today it is a shining example of a whole litany of good things, despite fierce opposition from many quarters. As the saying goes, one plus God is a majority!
The reason this jumped out at me just now is that the Lord spoke to Cathy a few days ago that we are to touch base with people we have known over the 36 years we have been in Omura, because He is going to use them not simply to restore this church but to bring in the harvest for which we have prayed so long. She was in the process of making up a list of those we should go visit when Friday a young woman showed up asking for help with an overseas communication problem, and it turned out she had come to an English class here at the church as an elementary school student. Yesterday we went out visiting people on Cathy’s list, and though none of them were at home, we made good contacts with other people in the process. In reference to verse five, at a pastors meeting this past week we were struck by the fact that there were more non-Japanese than Japanese present, with missionaries from Korea and Hong Kong as well as Cathy and myself. Spiritually speaking Japan has certainly been a “place long devastated,” but that is no problem for the Lord. He has given us the vision of Omura again being the foremost Christian city in the nation, as it was 450 years ago. However impossible that looks to man, nothing is impossible for God!
Father, thank You for this Word of encouragement. Thank You for all that You are doing, which is far more than I could even imagine. (Ephesians 3:20-21) May all of Your plans, for us and for this nation and for the world, be fulfilled, on Your schedule and for Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!