Perspectives on Restoration (7)
“Rain down, you heavens, from above,
And let the skies pour down righteousness;
Let the earth open, let them bring forth salvation,
And let righteousness spring up together.
I, the LORD, have created it.” Isaiah 45.8
Our text occurs in the middle of God’s promised restoration of Israel from Babylon. He says through the prophet that He will raise up His servant, Cyrus – not even born as of this time – to be the one who will free Israel from their captivity in Babylon and send them back to the land of promise (Is. 45.1-7). It didn’t matter that Cyrus wasn’t born yet. Or that he didn’t know the Lord. God, Who makes light and darkness, and brings peace and calamity to nations, will do His will with Cyrus, that His people might be restored to their homeland.
Along with Cyrus, God would raise up other leaders and prophets – Ezra and Nehemiah, as we have seen – to lead and direct the people in the work of rebuilding the temple and the wall of Jerusalem.
Our text occurs as a reminder of God’s overall plan for His land and, by implication and extension, His creation as a whole. His intention could not be more clear: His salvation and righteousness are to descend from heaven and fill the earth. God Himself will do it.
Let’s take a closer look.
Heaven to earth
God’s intends that the earth should be as He originally intended, a garden of righteousness and salvation, expressing the goodness of Him Who is its creator.
To that end, the heavens will rain righteousness upon the earth, so that the goodness of God is everywhere present and fruitful (Ps. 33.5). But this goodness is only, as it were, in seed form, and requiring planting, cultivation, and nurturing. It must be acknowledged, attended to, developed, and declared before it can realize its full potential to glorify the Creator.
God’s righteousness “trickles” or “drips” on the earth; it does not pour down in torrents (רָעַף, raaph, trickle, drip). It comes gently, steadily, nearly imperceptibly, but truly and continuously, flowing like a mountain stream (יִזְּלוּ., yizlu, flow, trickle, drop, distil). It flows, as Jesus explained, in and through all those in whom the Holy Spirit has come to abide, bringing the gift of salvation and the power for making all things new (Jn. 7.37-39).
Earth receives the righteousness of heaven, as it comes in the form of the Lord’s salvation, even our Lord Jesus Christ and His Kingdom, coming on earth as in heaven. Those who open to Him and receive Him become the fertile ground in which salvation and righteousness rain down, take root, grow, and flourish, and from which they flow to water the whole earth.
God thus shows that Cyrus will fulfill a measure of His purpose in returning Israel to their land. But he and they are a type of God’s greater plan for the world, in the days when His righteousness and salvation are growing together in the earth – the days in which we live. We are not fulfilling our promise or purpose if we do not seek to bring the goodness of the Lord to light in all aspects of life, and to proclaim and bring His salvation to every creature.
We are called to the ministry of reconciliation, and the work of restoration that entails. This calling is for the long haul, and we are to make steady progress in it, receiving and increasing in, trickling and flowing the goodness of God back to His creation, wherever He sends us to serve.
A warning, a call, and a promise
This passage, in which God recalls His purpose for the earth, and explains His intention in returning His people to the land, is followed by a stern warning to any who fail to hear the Word of the Lord:
“Woe to him who strives with his Maker!
Let the potsherd strive with the potsherds of the earth!
Shall the clay say to him who forms it, ‘What are you making?’” (Is. 45.9)
It is not our calling to question the reasonableness, possibilities, likelihood, or convenience of what God has declared. Who are we to strive with Him Who is making all things new? Who are we to choose to receive His gift of salvation, but not His mandate to restore the reconciled world? God has promised to be present with us in the work of restoring His creation (Is. 45.11, 12). He will direct all our ways as we work to rebuild and restore the world according to His purpose and plan (v. 13). He will provide us with all the resources we need to restore the reconciled world (v. 14), and He will unfold the fullness of our everlasting salvation as we take up the work He has appointed to us (vv. 15, 16).
This passage ends with a sovereign call and promise which, while it applied directly to Israel in the days of their restoration from Babylon, still holds true for all who will hear it, embrace it, claim it, and give themselves to it today:
“I am the LORD, and there is no other.
I have not spoken in secret,
In a dark place of the earth;
I did not say to the seed of Jacob,
‘Seek Me in vain’;
I, the LORD, speak righteousness,
I declare things that are right.
Assemble yourselves and come;
Draw near together,
You who have escaped from the nations.
They have no knowledge,
Who carry the wood of their carved image,
And pray to a god that cannot save.
Tell and bring forth your case;
Yes, let them take counsel together.
Who has declared this from ancient time?
Who has told it from that time?
Have not I, the LORD?
And there is no other God besides Me,
A just God and a Savior;
There is none besides Me.
Look to Me, and be saved,
All you ends of the earth!
For I am God, and there is no other.
I have sworn by Myself;
The word has gone out of My mouth in righteousness,
And shall not return,
That to Me every knee shall bow,
Every tongue shall take an oath.
He shall say,
‘Surely in the LORD I have righteousness and strength.
To Him men shall come,
And all shall be ashamed
Who are incensed against Him.
In the LORD all the descendants of Israel
Shall be justified, and shall glory.’” (Is. 45.18-25)
May we be found among those who believe God’s Word, receive His salvation and ministry of reconciliation, and work by His truth and grace to restore the reconciled world, for the praise of His glory and the benefit of all the earth.
1. In what ways is the restoration of Israel to Jerusalem a type or symbol of our calling today?
2. What is God’s purpose in appointing us to the ministry of reconciliation?
3. How can believers encourage one another in the work of restoring the reconciled world?
Next steps – Preparation: Give praise and thanks to God for His salvation and His calling. What will you do today to further the work of restoring the reconciled world in your Personal Mission Field?
T. M. Moore
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This is part 5 in the series, Restoring the Reconciled World. All installments in this series may be downloaded for further study by clicking here.
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