Today marks the beginning of Holy Week or the week of the Passion, in which together with the saints throughout the world we remember the final events leading up to the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ. We are also continuing our study of the seventh commandment. Today we consider how Jesus is our faithful husband in a way that enables us to be faithful spouses.
The prophet says that what he has to say no one would believe or imagine (Is. 53:1). But the servant of the Lord is coming (Is. 52:13-15), and he will grow up a tender plant in the wilderness of Israel having no natural attractiveness (Is. 53:2). He is despised and rejected by men, and he knows the grief of rejection and loneliness (Is. 53:3). But He is not merely enduring a hard providence; He is carrying the grief and sorrows of those who reject Him (Is. 53:4). More than that, He was wounded for their sins, struck for their iniquities, the punishment for our peace was laid upon Him, so that the lacerations of His flogging have become our healing (Is. 53:5). This is only possible because while we were wandering, selfish sheep, He came as a lamb so that God might lay on Him our sins, and He could be slaughtered in our place (Is. 53:6-7). He was cut off from the land of the living, and buried like a criminal though nothing untrue ever passed His lips (Is. 53:8-9). This pleased God to strike His Servant because He became an offering for sin, and with this accomplished, His servant will rise up triumphant, seizing the joy of victory and the fruit of His suffering, justifying many, having borne their sins (Is. 53:10-12). Therefore the prophet instructs barren, widowed, forgotten Israel to shout aloud with songs of triumph, and build an addition on the back of the house to hold the fruitfulness about to descend, overflowing cities (Is. 54:1-3). The shame and confusion of Israel will be wiped away and forgotten (Is. 54:4). This is because God the Creator will be her husband, Yahweh of Armies, her Near Kinsman (Is. 54:5). The Lord calls her in her brokenness and mourning, and admits that He has for a moment left her alone, but assures her that with great mercies He will gather her to Himself forever because He is her Redeemer (Is. 54:8).
Redeemer God, Redeemer Husband
The word for “redeem” is loaded with glory reaching back to the Exodus (Ex. 6:6, 15:13), but it also became a permanent fixture in the law for close relatives to deliver their brothers from debts and slavery (Lev. 25, 27). The Lord also provided that justice might be meted out by the “redeemer” of blood, executing a murderer (Num. 35). Boaz is the most famous redeemer husband in the Old Testament for his courageous love for Ruth the Moabitess (Ruth 3:9, 4:1-12). But here in Isaiah, God promises to be the Redeemer of Israel by paying her debts, by taking the justice required by her sins, and by marrying her in her weakness and shame. Faithfulness to this Husband is the only sure foundation for a chaste life. Unfaithfulness flows out of the sins of bitterness, fear, and manipulation.
Freedom from Wrath
James says that “the wrath of man does not produce the righteousness of God” (Js. 1:20). The sinful impulse to wrath, vengeance, and bitterness fails to see God as your Redeemer. Human wrath is an attempt at sovereignty, at control. Women who hurt themselves through anorexia, bulimia, or other forms of self-inflicted pain are trying to find control, trying to block out hurt and confusion. But God is our Husband, our Redeemer, and you cannot save yourself. Only Jesus is God of the whole earth (Is. 54:5). Secondly, human wrath is an attempt at dealing justice: we demand that someone pay for the pain. But the demand for justice has been fulfilled in Jesus: Surely he has borne our grief and sorrows; he was wounded for our transgressions and bruised for our iniquities. Jesus already suffered for that sin. Jesus paid it all.
Freedom from Fear
Women are frequently tempted to fear: the fear of pain, sickness, loss, fear for children, finances, health, or the fear of being sinned against, fear of guilt, or the fear of death. These fears become prisons that hold you captive, they manipulate you, they rule you, they haunt you, and it can easily become an obsession. But every follower of Christ must look straight to the cross in the midst of fear: for to this you were called, because Christ left us an example (1 Pet. 2:21). But more than merely an example, Christ bore our sins in His own body, so that we having died to sin might live. We have returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of our souls (1 Pet. 2:25). A gentle and quiet spirit –which is precious to God – is only possible when you have trusted in God. And when you have died and your life is already hid with God in Christ, you are freed to do good and be unafraid of any terror (1 Pet. 3:4-6).
Freedom from Manipulation
Do you manipulate the people in your life through emotional outbursts or tears? Do you use sex or withhold sex from your husband to get your way? Do you try to get inappropriate attention through the clothes you wear? Are you distant, cold, and difficult to please? Do you play the victim and then refuse godly counsel because that would mean leaving the safety of your games? This is poison to you and your home. The foolish woman pulls her own house down with her own two hands (Pr. 14:1). Some of you resort to manipulation because, again, you feel powerless. But God is your husband; Jesus is your Redeemer. If you are being abused, get help. If your husband refuses to ask for help, ask for him. You are not a doormat; you are a co-heir of the grace of life, a daughter of the King (1 Peter. 3:7). Some of you need to be Abigails, but that is only possible if the Lord of Armies is with you. And if the Lord of Armies is with you, you are not powerless, and you are free from manipulation.
The guilt of sin is the great prison of the human race, but Jesus was our sin offering and your guilt was fully pardoned, completely forgiven. You are free. And Jesus has gone to His Father in order to be your advocate, so that whatever you ask in His name may be granted, so that you may receive and your joy may be full (Jn. 16:23-24).