Therefore the LORD waits to be
gracious to you,
And therefore he exalts himself
To show mercy to you.
For the LORD is a God of justice;
Blessed are all those who wait
While reading through Isaiah this morning as part of my daily read-through-the-Bible plan, I came across this verse and it called me to pause. There are many precious gems in Isaiah, and this beauty, though small—only one verse—reflects the glory of the gospel and the magnificence of Christ. This gospel gem begins with a “therefore,” so we must examine what has gone before. It follows a lengthy admonition from the LORD, through his prophet, against the rebellious and stubborn children of God who have been unwilling to find their rest in the LORD and have sought their own sources of strength in Egypt, instead of from quietness and trust in the Holy One of Israel (30:15)
After describing how these stubborn children will continue choosing to flee from the LORD, and will therefore be reduced by their enemies until they “are left like a flagstaff on the top of a mountain, like a signal on a hill” (30:17), Isaiah reveals how the LORD is graciously waiting to save them even still. Not merely in spite of their rebellion, but because of it (hence the therefore), the LORD will exalt himself to show them mercy. Because he is a God of justice he cannot let their rebellion slide. The Righteous Judge of all the earth does not simply sweep sin under the rug. Sin must be dealt with in the Holy courts of the LORD. Sin must receive its due judgement. My sin and your sin must be judged.
Enter Jesus, the very Son of God, who left the glory of Heaven to be born as a man and live a sinless life on behalf of we who were conceived in sin and have never drawn a sinless breath. Paul writes in Philippians that Jesus “made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men” (2:7). But this wasn’t the lowest point to which Christ the Lord would stoop to save us: “he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross” (8).
Because of his gracious love for his wayward children, God in Christ made a way for our sins to be dealt with. In his incarnation, Jesus identified with us in our humanity in every way except for sin. But on the cross Jesus took the final step in identifying with us when he took our sins upon himself. So fully did he take them, Paul writes that God the Father “made him to be sin… so that in him we might become the righteousness of Christ” (2 Corinthians 5:21).
And now, continuing with Paul’s letter to the Philippians, we see the glorious result of Jesus’ obedient humiliation. And here’s a therefore which is tied right back to Isaiah’s therefore in 30:18: because Jesus humbled himself in obedience to the point of death—
Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory and praise of God. —Philippians 2:9-11
There it is! The glorious exaltation of which Isaiah prophesied! Jesus Christ exalted to the highest place in heaven and earth because of his perfect obedience to the Father in bearing our sins on the cross. Because he bore our sins, and they are, once and for all, justly punished in him, Jesus Christ, very God of very God, is exalted to show forth the glorious mercy of God toward all who believe in Christ for the forgiveness of their sins.
Because we are sinners, stubborn, rebellious, and unable in our own strength to turn to the LORD, God sent his only Son to the cross. And then, because of his obedience, he exalted Jesus in order to mercifully bring us into his rest. Therefore, child of God, seek your rest, quietness, and trust in him. And though we still live in a restless, disquieting, and fearfully fallen world, God’s gracious promise to his children in Christ remains:
“blessed are all those who wait for him” —Isaiah 30:18