If you search the pages of history, you will find one story after another of God’s salvation, of God setting His people free. Israel was let out of Egyptian slavery and Paul was blinded on the road to Damascus. No doubt you have known and experienced God’s salvation in one, if not many instances in your life. In today’s lesson we will search Isaiah 12 in order to discover something about the God who saves.
Chapter 12 of Isaiah is actually a song of thanksgiving. We see that this is an appropriate conclusion to the last verses of chapter 11 which foretells that the people of God will be returned from exile.
LOVE IN THE MIDST OF ANGER (12:1). The first verse of our text repeats a theme that we have discussed in two preceding lessons: God’s anger must be seen as part of His compassion. Isaiah states that a day is coming when the people will sing (literally say) praises to the Lord because once He was angry with them but now He literally “turned his anger away from them.” Now, says Isaiah, God comforts His people. Once again we see the compassion defines the character of God.
THE SALVATION OF THE LORD (12:2-3). Isaiah refers to God’s salvation three times in these two verses, and he uses language which is similar to Exodus 15:2 and Psalms 118:14. Verse 2 literally begins by saying: “Behold! God is my salvation!” Following that confession, the people proclaim that they will trust in the Lord and they will not be afraid. This presents an important point. When we confess that God is our salvation then we place our trust, our confidence, in Him. We have nothing to be afraid of, for God is powerful enough to deliver us. George Fohrer, a professor of Old Testament studies, has said that “trust in this salvation and help of God from all the tribulations and terrors which always and everywhere oppress us, is an essential element in the believer’s self-understanding.” Other places in the Old Testament where God’s salvation encourages the believer to trust in God are found in Psalms 22:4-5; 25:2-3; 31:14-15; Jeremiah 39:18. Salvation should produce trust and confidence in God.
Verse 2 concludes with the same confession with which it began: “God is my salvation!” What exactly does it mean to say that God is our salvation or that God saves us? We have seen that salvation produces comfort (v. 1) and trust (v.2) for the believer. God’s ability to save is based upon His power (v.2 and see also Psalms 80:2) and His kingship (see Isaiah 33:22). God’s salvation can be described as deliverance or as His rescuing us. God can rescue us from His judgment (see Ezek 34:20-24) or from oppression and danger (see Jeremiah 15:20), but we must resolve to depart from our sinful ways (see Jeremiah 4:14). God can rescue us now from danger, and He will rescue us from that future day of judgment.
In Isaiah 12:3 we find a beautiful image of God’s salvation. Isaiah says, “as fresh water brings joy to the thirsty, so God’s people rejoice when he saves them.” For a people acquainted with the desert and who depended upon wells for water, this is a promise of God’s providing for His people. Compare Jeremiah 2:13 where God is described as the “spring of fresh water” and John 4:7-15 where Jesus offers the Samaritan woman “living water.” The SON/SUN provides WATER, as well as providing free solar energy, a business which my son Joshua has undertaken as part of his mission on Earth. Unlimited energy, more evidence of the Lord’s abundant gifts and how technology can bring us CLOSER to God and the SON/SUN instead of alienating us.
THE HUMAN RESPONSE (12:4-6). What is the human response to God’s salvation? In verse 2, we saw that we should trust God and not be afraid of His judgment or of dangerous circumstances. In verse 3, we read that the water of God’s salvation brings us joy. We are sustained and refreshed by God’s salvation. In verses 4-6, however, we read of a most important and natural response to God’s salvation: praise and proclamation of His mighty works. Verses 4, 5, and 6 all begin with different exhortations to praise God. Verse 4 encourages the believer to ‘give thanks to the Lord”; verse 5 asks that those who have been saved “sing to the Lord”; verse 6 says that we should “shout and sing to the Lord.” What are we to proclaim? We are to tell of God’s mighty works and His greatness (vv. 4 and 5). Verse 6 encourages the people of Zion to tell of God’s greatness and that He lives in their midst. What a fantastic message! God is an almighty God who saves His people and who lives among them.