Isaiah 55:13 says, “Where once there were thorns, cypress trees will grow. Where nettles grew, myrtles will sprout up. These events will bring great honor to the LORD’s name; they will be an everlasting sign of his power and love.”
Renewing how I think, is the best part of digging deeply in Scripture. Every time I spend time in His word, God uses it to help me find new truths about him and about how he designed me to live.
This week I have been mulling over the content of Isaiah 55. Verse thirteen especially caught my attention. I always love finding “nuggets of truth” in God’s word that cause me to alter the way I am thinking. This Scripture did just that, it made me question if I have been settling for less than God desires for me? I mean what is it exactly that God wants for me regarding life-change (transformation). Have I been expecting and settling for God to simply take the broken, sinful me and piece me back together- like Humpty Dumpty? To superglue me back together as if I was a broken vase or cup? You know, just making me into a less broken version of me or am I looking for God to make me brand, spanking new?
“Yahweh is salvation”- this is what Isaiah’s name means in Hebrew. The prophet, Isaiah is most often known for his writings about the prophecies concerning the first coming of the Messiah. Having the great benefit of 20/20 hindsight, we 20th century Christians know that Jesus is the promised Messiah. And because we realize this, we understand that Jesus was the one who came to seek and rescue the lost. In other words, Jesus came to bring the free gift of salvation to any of us willing to receive it. Isaiah 55 beautifully describes this astounding gift – this gift of salvation- a gift we are all invited to take part in. What is this salvation suppose to be like? What are the benefits? What impact should this salvation have in my life?
I can just imagine Isaiah, cupping his hands over his mouth and yelling at the top of his lungs, so that everyone for miles and miles could hear what he had to say. The KJV says that Isaiah yells, “Ho, everyone that thirsts, come ye to the waters, He that hath no money come and buy and eat.” Isaiah wanted this message out…GOD’S SALVATION IS A FREE GIFT, COME AND GET IT!
According to Isaiah, there are a lot of amazing benefits of this free salvation: satisfaction, abundance, being led by the one who knows the best way to live, being forgiven, and having joy and blessing. But here is the verse I want you to see.
Isaiah 55:13a in the NLT says, “Where once there were thorns, cypress trees will grow. Where nettles grew, myrtles will sprout up.
You probably know what a myrtle tree looks like …
but what in the world is a nettle?
So here is a fun little fact, a nettle is a coarse herb armed with stinging hairs. It is prickly and not too fun to come in contact with.
You see, the picture Isaiah is painting is clear; in the Lord’s magnificent act of restoration, God takes away our coarseness, scratchiness, and sharp, prickly edges, and brings forth an amazing and overflowing beauty, much like a blooming myrtle tree. And he does it for his glory.
More than once I have heard women say, “I just want God to put my broken life back together again. I want it to go back to the way it used to be. Just make my life what it once was! Please make me whole AGAIN!”
But according to Isaiah 55:13, God isn’t in the business of simply putting lives back together. No, instead what he desires is to change us completely. What he wants is make us new. God is in the business of changing us from a prickly, hard to be around nettle into a fruitful, fragrant, colorful and beautiful myrtle.
My point is, he isn’t about making you into a better nettle. No, his salvation comes with the offer of becoming a new creation. He wants to change us!
Regarding Psalm 51:10 and David’s words, “create in me a clean heart.” Charles Spurgeon said this, “David does not say, “Make my old heart clean;” he is too experienced in the hopelessness of the old nature. He would have the old man buried as a dead thing, and a new creation brought in to fill its place.”
But way to often we just plain settle for staying a nettle. We figure a nettle is the best we can be- an improved nettle of course. But, God doesn’t want us to settle for staying a nettle. He has a much better plan for you and I. God’s plan for us is much grander and glorious than putting us back together. His plan involves making you and I brand new! 2 Corinthians 5:17 says, “Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.” So the next time you consider settling for just being put back together remember God has a much better plan. He wants you to be brand new.