“I have seen his ways, and I will heal him: I will lead him also, and restore comforts unto him and to his mourners. I create the fruit of the lips; Peace, peace to him that is far off, and to him that is near, saith the Lord and I will heal him. But the wicked are like the troubled sea, when it cannot rest, whose waters cast up mire and dirt. There is no peace, saith my God, to the wicked.”
Who hath believed our report!
That is what Isaiah cried a little way back with respect to the humiliation of the redeemer. And the implication is: no one believed the report of that suffering servant. All misunderstood Him.
But Isaiah could just as well have introduced this text with the same question, for it is unbelievable.
Imagine: in the immediate context the Lord had said about His people: “For the iniquity of his covetousness was I wroth, and smote him: I hid me and was wroth, and he went on frowardly in the way of his heart.”
Well, what would you expect? How would you and I finish this miserable story of backsliding and transgression? This way: “and therefore I destroyed those miserable sinners!” But instead of that we have our text before us. And in that text God says: I have seen his ways and I will heal him!
How can we ever explain it?
It is the everlasting gospel of the unspeakable love of God for His sinful people.
Who are they?
Who are the objects of this divine message of comfort ?
No, they are not all men. They are not even all of the historical Israel. This is plain from the negative side of the text: “but the wicked are like the troubled sea.” Isaiah did not have in mind the wicked that dwelled in Edom, Moab, Egypt and Mesapotamia. Oh no, but he had in mind the wicked in Israel.
But how must we understand this? Did not Isaiah describe the wicked in verse 17, and are not the objects of the wondrous comfort of Jehovah men who abound in the iniquity of their covetousness?
Yes, but there is a difference between elect wicked and reprobate wicked. To the elect wicked God says: I am going to heal you. I saw your ways, even the ways of your heart, but I will both lead you and heal you. And doing so I will restore comforts unto you.
The objects of the comforts of my text are those that are loved of God from all eternity. That is the gospel.
Understand it? No. I cannot. But it is true nevertheless. My text, and thousands like it, are the proof for such glad tidings.
If you are an object of that wondrous comfort, then I would have you attend to your description, a description you can trust for it is the holy one of Israel who provides it.
You are characterized by iniquity of covetousness. No doubt, it refers to our covetousness of natural things, of the earth and earthly treasures. And to grasp for those things is iniquity indeed. God did not create us for that foul purpose.
Further, you and I are described as being froward in the way of our heart. That is serious indeed, for out of the heart are the issues of life. If we are froward in the way of our heart, then our name is froward. And froward is that we turn our back upon the living God and hasten to our idols.
We are sick with a deathly illness for God says that He will heal us. Ours is the, sickness of death by nature. That is where God finds us. And in the midst of death He regenerates us unto life eternal.
We are far away from God for the text tells us that God will lead us. We have gone astray, but God will lead us back to the old paths, the pathway which leads to His heart.
That’s our description, and I find it terrible but true. That characterizes everyone of those that are meant in the text.
However, I would have you note one more word that describes the objects of wondrous comfort. They are called mourners.
That shows how God already had begun His healing work.
Mourners? Jesus calls them blessed: blessed are those who mourn for they shall be comforted.
Mourners for what? I think it refers to the sadness that comes over us when we see our natural estate. And it is born of the visitation from on high. When the light of the healing grace of God enters our miserable and iniquitous heart, we forthwith mourn. And we mourn with a mourning that is unique. Nowhere on this world do you find a mourning such as characterizes the objects of this comfort.
Paul speaks of it when he mentions two kinds of sorrow. There is the sorrow of the world, but that works death. But there is also the Godly sorrow, that is the sorrow according to God, a sorrow which is approved of God, and that works repentance.
Oh yes, there you have the distinction between man and man. They all are iniquitous, be they elect or reprobate. But the elect wicked mourn. But they mourn only because God showed them their terrible estate. And when they saw the abomination which characterizes their nature, they hung the head and cried to God.
Attend to. The angel is bidden to put a mark on the forehead of all those that sigh and that cry for all the abominations that be done in the midst of the great city of God.
And so I could go on, telling you of instances in God’s Word which tells on a thousand places of the mourning children of God.
They and they only are the objects of the comforts of my text.
What is the content of this comfort?
It is this: healing for the sickness of death.
And that is properly regeneration. It has begun in the men of which my text speaks. It has even progressed to the stage where they are conscious of their new life. For they mourn.
And God continues to heal. You sing of it in the house of God. Heals our sicknesses and pains. He redeems thee from destruction; and His love thy life sustains!
I see their ways, saith the Lord, but I will heal them!
That is the unbelievable gospel for poor sinners, my brother.
But there is more.
He will lead them.
That presupposes that they are astray. We have lost our way as we are by nature, wander on forbidden paths that lead to hell and damnation.
But our God promises here that He as the good shepherd will come and lead us home.
He does that every day by His Word and Holy Spirit. Ah me, we will never understand such lovingkindness. While we are least deserving, He comes and leads us home to His bosom.
And, finally, He will restore the comforts.
I think that Isaiah had in mind the blessed estate of the first paradise when he talks here of restoration. For so it is. God’s people in Adam and Eve were happy in the first paradise. Theirs was the relation of love and friendship of God’s covenant. And they were at peace.
But that relationship is disturbed, broken.
But the text tells us that the relationship shall be restored.
And what restoration!
No, we do not regain the old paradise. But we are caught up with the Son of God in heavenly perfection. Ours is a world that is entirely renewed, made heavenly, eternal and glorious. And we shall never be able to fall from that height again.
To view those glories that abide! That is the comfort of my text. To know and to experience the blessed relationship of God’s covenant in Christ Jesus is the comfort Isaiah reports to the nation, the church.
What is the fountain of such glories?
The text will give you the answer. It is God. God said: I have seen his ways! And the sight of His beloved church in the clutches of the iniquity of covetousness sets the bowels of His everlasting mercy in motion. And God says: I will both heal and lead him to My glorious eternal paradise!
God is the fountain.
And here is the gushing of that fountain: listen to Him: I create the fruit of the lips!
And the fruit of these lips? They are: Peace, peace!
To those that are near and to those that are far off. Oh, but that refers to the men who are privileged to bring the glad tidings of salvation from age to age and from clime to clime. The fruit of their lips is created of God. He has the message in His divine heart, and from that heart through His grace and Spirit, He gives them the story of everlasting salvation.
And when God has filled you to overflowing with that message of comfort and redemption, you cry: Peace! Peace!
Yes, you shall have an audience. God also provides the audience.
There are those who are denominated as being near. They are without doubt the descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Salvation came first to the Jews.
But it is also for those who are afar off. They are the heathen nations. Also they shall hear the fruit of the lips, created fruit. You shall be able to recognize the divine creator of the message. The message is
And they shall hear, and be comforted.
And they shall sing unto all eternity of such beauties.
But the wicked are like the troubled sea!
When it cannot rest.
And they prove their restlessness: their waters cast up mire and dirt.
Here I tremble for two reasons.
I am not better than they.
And their end is terrible, too terrible to contemplate.
They cannot rest. There is no peace for them. I pity men who cannot rest. They cannot celebrate the Sabbath of Jesus who brought all the peace and rest for the mourning ones.
O God! how good Thou art!