GOD INTENDS that us reading his word should be just as real and personal as if we were talking with him in person. I mean by this that God is concerned that we hear him speaking to us what is precisely what he considers best for a given day in direct relation to how we are doing and what we are going through.
HOW DO I know this? Because the whole Bible is the collection of one experience after another where the people were going through specific circumstances, facing and feeling specific things, and God spoke precisely what he wanted them to know right then and there matching thought-to-thought and feeling-to-feeling.
IT HAS BEEN thirty-plus years now that I have approached the word of God with my best expression of honesty about how I am doing in order to receive my best experience of what God my Father is speaking to me about in his word. And in these three decades, I can testify to how real and personal God has been in helping me come to him as I am so I can hear how precisely he addresses my need while drawing me into his will.
THIS MORNING, he got me up crazy early and turned the diamond of Isaiah 49 in his hands so that the exact same verse that spoke to me yesterday revealed another facet of truth that was both precisely personal in speaking to my need and so graciously revealing of his love for me in showing me where he is working and how I can join him.
“In a time of favor I have answered you;
in a day of salvation I have helped you…”
FIRST, God blesses this little child with the delights of rhyming his thoughts. Yes, he customizes this to my delight in words, perhaps as a kind of love-language between us (that probably applies to all his children but he always makes sure it feels extremely special to me), but with a sense of wonder that he has personally chosen something to say 2700 years ago that speaks to me this morning like the ink is still wet on the scroll on which it is written.
THE RHYMING thoughts are like this:
In a time
I have answered you
In a day
I have helped you
WE COULD linger all day on the beautiful sound of these parallels and find ourselves falling deeper into these treasures of thought as they seem to expand microscopically into one scripture after another. But we could also close our eyes and listen to the rhyming sound of the song as its music plays into our souls and tells us what is on the heart of our heavenly Father as he sings over us with joy.
SECONDLY, the WHEN stands out because it says there is one. There is a WHEN with God. It rarely comes as quickly as we impatiently wish, but my own dealings with children remind me that I myself often must tell the little ones that it isn’t time for something they want. God uses such things as this (probably with a smile filled with understanding and compassion beyond my comprehension) to teach me to feel trust in him while I see nothing happening. Trusting him WHILE I see something happening is a small thing. It is good, and he will do such things, but it is not the best we can feel. To genuinely feel trust in the dark, and in the quiet, and in the loneliness, and in the sorrow, brings us to feel a treasure of wisdom and knowledge that makes us thankful for these gifts that did not feel as gifts at the start.
THIRDLY, the WHAT tells me the character of what God has in mind. In this case (and these would always be in the works even in the time and on the day of discipline), WHAT Father has in mind is turning the page to a chapter of favor and salvation. It strikes me that it is never his intention for his favor and salvation to come intermittently. His word makes clear that his preference would be that his children live constantly under his blessing. Even the first covenant made this abundantly clear when he directed the priests to constantly pronounce this over the people of God:
“The LORD (Yahweh) bless you and keep you;
the LORD (Yahweh) make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you;
the LORD (Yahweh) lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace.
So shall they put my name (Yahweh) upon the people of Israel, and I will bless them.”
OKAY, so the rhyming thoughts there are CAPTIVATING! But look at God’s desire to bless his children! And whenever he must bless us with loving discipline, the time of favor and the day of salvation will follow shortly.
AND FOURTHLY, the HOW tells me that the people were finally calling out to God after their season of discipline (a significant way God knows it is time to act favorably instead of disciplinarily), and so his help is prepared in direct answer to their prayers (which is also another testimony of how precisely God matches what he speaks to us about each day to what we are admitting to him and ourselves about how we are doing in whatever we are going through).
WHAT’S THE POINT?
THAT GOD speaks to us about what he is doing before he does it! In fact, he even says that exact thing! “For the Lord GOD (Lord Yahweh) does nothing without revealing his secret to his servants the prophets.” And now we have the word and the Spirit to speak God’s heart to his children every day of our lives!
GOD WILL work through circumstances to discipline us where we are rebelling, or resisting his Spirit, or doing our own thing. And when he sees repentance has caused us to surrender to him about something because we finally ask for HIS name to be hallowed, and HIS kingdom to come, and HIS will to be done in us as it is done in heaven, he speaks to us through his word about the way he wants to help us with favor and salvation.
DOES THIS favor and salvation apply to those who are already saved and adopted as the children of God?
THAT’S THE WAY Paul saw it when he quoted this verse to the Corinthian Christians. He first said, “Working together with him, then, we appeal to you not to receive the grace of God in vain.” The church (assembly of believers) in Corinth is being addressed, not some unsaved people outside the church.
THEN HE quoted this verse from Isaiah and added, “Behold, now is the favorable time; behold, now is the day of salvation.” To Paul, this applied to the people of God in his day and in their particular situation as surely as it applied to God’s children in Isaiah’s day.
PAUL NEXT listed his credentials in suffering for the gospel of Jesus Christ and proving himself faithful in his ministry to the church (in contrast to the “super-apostles” who were trying to lead the church astray), and concluded with, “We have spoken freely to you, Corinthians; our heart is wide open. You are not restricted by us, but you are restricted in your own affections. In return (I speak as to children) widen your hearts also.”
CAN YOU IMAGINE a pastor talking to a congregation like that! The believers were being deceived by Satan’s age-old deception to get them thinking God couldn’t be trusted in what he said through the gospel because someone smarter had come with a better gospel, one that combined the New Covenant with the Old.
PAUL IS desperately calling them back to the supremacy of the New Covenant alone, telling them the sufficiency of what Jesus did on the cross to save them in the “It is finished” salvation he purchased by his blood. And in the midst of all the confusion, he tells them that he is pouring his heart out liberally towards them in love and grace and longing while lamenting that they have closed their hearts to him by drinking the poison of the false teachers.
AND SO IT IS that when God speaks, he is invariably addressing us where we have closed our hearts to him. He knows when his servants have spoken to us and we resisted. He knows when his Spirit was leading a pastor to preach the word and we said nothing was required of us in what we heard. He knows when his Watchmen have come into his presence weeping that people he has loved and cared for have closed their hearts to him because they do not want to hear from Jesus.
AND GOD says to us all,
“In a time of favor I have answered you;
in a day of salvation I have helped you…”
AND THOSE who are listening, say, “Yes, Father, I need this, and I wait for it in expectation.”
© 2023 Monte Vigh ~ Box 517, Merritt, BC, V1K 1B8
Unless otherwise noted, Scriptures are from the English Standard Version (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Text Edition: 2016. Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.)
 Isaiah 49:8
 YES, that is in the Bible! “The LORD your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing” (Zephaniah 3:17).
 Numbers 6:22-27
 Amos 3:7
 From the “Disciples’ Prayer” of Matthew 6:9-13 (in the context of Matthew 6:7-15, and the larger context of the Sermon on the Mount of Matthew 5-7)
 II Corinthians 6:1-13