Connections 01.16.2022: The Near Future

Isaiah 62:1-9

Sometimes when we Christians think about the future, we think primarily about what we presume to be the distant future. We think about going to heaven or about Jesus coming back. We think in terms of everything being all right one of these days.

Well, I’m here to tell you that everything is indeed going to be all right one of these days. Our Bibles tell us that we will go to heaven one of these days and that Jesus will return one of these days. God is finally and ultimately going to work God’s purposes out one of these days. We can count on it.

But counting on it isn’t the same thing as sitting around waiting for it.

Scripture passages such as this week’s lesson text remind us that God works in the near future as surely as God works in the distant future. The people had returned to Judah from exile in Babylon. There was much work to do to rebuild Jerusalem. The prophet encouraged the people to believe that God was going to keep God’s promise to restore Jerusalem. God was going to act in the near future.

The prophet proclaims that God will rebuild Jerusalem. But that doesn’t mean that God would do the actual construction work. People were going to have to do that. People would have to partner with God to get the work done. People would have to do what God wanted to be done.

It is good and right to look forward to going to heaven. It is good and right to look forward to the second coming of Jesus. But it is also good and right to look around to see what God might want accomplished in the near future and to ask what we can do to help get it done.

Everything is going to be all right one of these days. Maybe some things can be better in these days if we’ll look for what God wants done and then do our part. What do we need to do to contribute to the accomplishment of God’s purposes in the near future?

Discussion

  • On one hand, the prophet is certain that God will restore Jerusalem and Judah. On the other hand, he pledges not to be silent or rest until God has done so (v. 1). Moreover, he says he will post sentinels who will give God no rest until God keeps God’s promises (v. 6-7). What can we make of this combination of being sure and making sure?
  • Why will God give Jerusalem and Judah new names? What do the new names signify?
  • Why do you think this prophet and other prophets use the metaphor of marriage to symbolize the relationship between God and God’s people (v. 5)?

Michael Ruffin is husband to Debra, father to Joshua (Michelle) and Sara (Benjamin), grandfather to Sullivan and Isabella. A graduate of Mercer University and Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, he has previously served as a pastor and as a university professor. He lives on the Ruffin Family Farm in Yatesville, Georgia. He is the Connections Series Curriculum Editor.

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