Those who heed God’s warnings:
He said, “Go and tell this people:
“ ‘Be ever hearing, but never understanding;
be ever seeing, but never perceiving.’
Make the heart of this people calloused;
make their ears dull
and close their eyes.
Otherwise they might see with their eyes,
hear with their ears,
understand with their hearts,
and turn and be healed.”
Then I said, “For how long, O Lord?”
And he answered:
“Until the cities lie ruined
and without inhabitant,
until the houses are left deserted
and the fields ruined and ravaged,
until the LORD has sent everyone far away
and the land is utterly forsaken.
And though a tenth remains in the land,
it will again be laid waste.
But as the terrbinth and oak
leave stumps when they are cut down,
so the holy seed will be the stump in the land.” – NIV Isaiah 6:9-13
God told Isaiah that the people would listen but not learn from his message because their hearts had become calloused (hardened) beyond repentance. God’s patience with their chronic rebellion was finally exhausted. His judgment was to abandon them to their rebellion and hardness of heart. Why did God send Isaiah if he knew the people wouldn’t listen? Although the nation itself would not repent and would reap judgment, some individuals would listen. In 6:13 God explains his plan for a remnant (holy seed) of faithful followers. God is merciful even when he judges. We can gain encouragement from God’s promise to preserve his people. If we are faithful to him we can be sure of his mercy.
Marked by faithfulness:
In that day the remnant of Israel,
the survivors of the house of Jacob,
will no longer rely on him
who struck them down
but will truly rely on the LORD,
the Holy One of Israel.
A remnant will return, a remnant of Jacob
will return to the Mighty God. – NIV Isaiah 10:20-21
Those who remained faithful to God despite the horrors of the invasion are called the remnant. The key to being a part of the remnant was faith. Being a descendant of Abraham, living in the promised land, having trusted God at one time – none of these was good enough. Are you relying on your Christian heritage, the rituals of worship, or past experience to put you in a right relationship with God? The key to being set apart by God is faith in him.
This is what the LORD says:
“The whole land will be ruined,
though I will not destroy it completely. – NIV Jeremiah 4:27
God warned that destruction was certain, but he promised that the faithful remnant would be spared. God is committed to preserving those who are faithful to him.
This third I will bring into the fire;
I will refine them like silver
and test them like gold.
They will call on my name
and I will answer them;
I will say, ‘They are my people,’
and they will say, ‘The LORD is our God.’ “ – NIV Zechariah 13:9
This “third” was a remnant, a small part of the whole. Throughout the history of Israel, whenever the whole nation seemed to turn against God, God said that a righteous remnant still trusted and followed him. These believers were refined like silver and gold through the fire of their difficult circumstances. Determine to be part of God’s remnant, that small part of the whole that is obedient to him. Obey God no matter what the rest of the world does. This may mean trials and troubles at times; but as fire purifies gold and silver; you will be purified and made more like Christ.
The remnant that will be saved:
Isaiah cries out concerning Israel:
“Though the number of the Israelites be like the sand by the sea,
only the remnant will be saved.
For the Lord will carry out
his sentence on earth with speed and finality.”
It is just as Isaiah said previously:
“Unless the Lord Almighty
had left us descendants,
we would have become like Sodom,
we would have been like Gomorrah.”
– NIV Romans 9:27-29
Isaiah prophesied that only a small number – a remnant – of God’s original people, the Jews, would be saved. Paul saw this happening in every city where he preached. Even though he went to the Jews first, relatively few ever accepted the message. Verses 27 and 28 are based on Isaiah 10:22, 23, and 9:29 is from Isaiah 1:9.
©Kingsway International 1973.