Isaiah 12-16; 2 Timothy 3-4

Week Number

“I have a plan for the whole earth, for my mighty power reaches throughout the world” (Isa. 14:26). When God gave this message to Isaiah, large areas of the world were embroiled in war against the powerful and exceptionally cruel Assyrian army. Wherever they marched, intense suffering was inflicted upon the people.

This time of despair was not unique in history. Financial, moral, and social breakdowns; horrific natural calamities; despotic governments; deadly epidemics; and devastating warfare continue. So it has been for the days that have come before our time and so it is for the times in which we live. It would be easy to despair and be overcome by fear.

Except we have one immensely important thing to cling to during periods of upheaval—the steadiness of God. God has “a plan for the whole earth,” and He has the mighty power to realize His plan. Nothing—no matter how evil, widespread, or insidious—has the power of God. Despite ongoing calamity, God has a plan with a magnificent ending.

It is surely comforting to know there is such a plan because these in-between times would be unsettling if we did not have God’s promises to give us hope. Isaiah 14:26 is one of those promises. There is hope for us because there is a time coming when God’s plan to extinguish evil and its consequences will be fully implemented. At that time a new earth, free of the evil that causes so much anguish and calamity, will be called into existence (Rev. 21).

Since God has a plan to destroy evil, we may wonder why He doesn’t implement it. The times of Isaiah help us address this question, for they show us God’s plan to destroy evil is delayed by His mercy, patience, and love.

We see this delay played out in different ways in the northern and southern kingdoms of Israel. God withholds His judgment of sin in both nations, waiting patiently for those who had rejected Him to turn from evil. The northern kingdom wasted this valuable time to pursue everything but God. In spite of God’s love for the people, the time finally came for judgment, and the Assyrians moved in to destroy the northern nation. This painful plan to restore goodness was not implemented without ample warning to those who were sinning.

In contrast to the northern kingdom, the people of the southern kingdom took this time of mercy from God to listen to His warning, turn from their sin, and receive His forgiveness. God in turn rescued them from annihilation when a deadly epidemic destroyed the Assyrian army as they prepared to attack.

That, of course, is ancient history. But although times change, the basic story of the world does not, nor does God’s plan for the world. God has not made a secret of the things to come for those who follow Him and for those who do not. Followers of Jesus Christ need not fear what is happening today or what is to come in our world—for we have the hope of Heaven. But knowledge of our own eternal rescue should do more than merely comfort us, for we have family, friends, and acquaintances who need to understand God’s plan for them and for the world. Paul summed it up when he told Timothy we must “work at bringing others to Christ,” for God “does not want anyone to perish”—and neither should we (2 Tim. 4:5; 2 Pet. 3:9).

God has the power. God has the plan. God has given us His promise. And therein lies our hope. In a deeply troubled world, share the hope of Christ.

© 2010 Arlina Yates

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