Mrs. B, Mommy, and we three girls all sat around the living room, chatting about this and that. Above us was the sound of Mrs. B's little boys banging around upstairs doing whatever little boys do! Then we heard feet on the stairs, and seven-year-old Carlton entered the room with a Bible in his hands and a puzzled look on his face. "Mom?" he said a little fretfully, approaching his mom. "Mom, do you remember how Dad said on Sunday that in Revelation, it says 'we win'?" (Carlton's dad, Mr. B, is a pastor at a Freewill Baptist church in Conneaut.)
"Yes," Mrs. B replied.
"Well, I've been looking all over Revelation and I can't find it! I can't find where it says 'We win'!"
For years I have chuckled as I remember Carlton's very sincere worry that he couldn't find the exact wording in the text, and Mrs. B's trying to explain to a little boy that the pastor meant that the idea of Revelation is that Christ and His servants will conquer over evil in the end.
I thought of that scenario quite frequently this past month as I once again read through my favorite Old Testament book: Isaiah. Each time I have read it, and this time more than ever, it has filled me with such unspeakable joy and inexpressible thrill as chapter after chapter reveals God's goodness, His holiness, His greatness, His faithfulness, and, most of all, His promise that He will conquer in the end.
We live in a scary day. Economics rise and plunge inexplicably. Politics create fear in the hearts of sensible human beings. Health care threatens the freedom of individuals and families. Technology that could help us instead seems to close in on us. Wicked men are honored, evil is promoted, the truth is twisted, God is ignored. We are reminded of the days in which Israel rebelled against God and was taken captive by Babylon and Assyria.
And yet God speaks to us, to not fear what the people fear, but to honor the LORD as holy, and to fear Him. He reminds us of His unmatchable character-- His creative power, His goodness, His faithfulness to His promises, His deity. He gives us eight oracles (chapters 14-23) to assure us that, no matter how wicked this world gets and how powerful evil seems to be, HE ALONE will conquer and reign in the end. He promises us that He will be our strength and our shelter from the storm, to keep in perfect peace the one whose mind is stayed on Him. He offers hope: "In returning and rest shall ye be saved; in quietness and in confidence shall be your strength." He fills us with courage as He reminds us that He has orchestrated all the events of life, whether it be on the national scale or in the individual lives of "unimportant" people like me, all for His glory.
Isaiah is the book which holds many of my favorite verses and passages: 1:18; 9:6,7; 25:4, 8, 9; 26:3,4; 30:15, 18, 19, 21; 40 (whole chapter!!); 41:10,13; 43:1-3, 25; 44:21-22; 49:13-17; 50:10; 51:12-13; 52:7; 54:1-10; 55 (favoritest chapter ever!); 61:1-4, 10; 62:11-12; 63:7; 66:1-2. It is a book full of hope, of promise, of forgiveness, of majesty. While reading it, I often wondered whether I was actually reading Revelation and it was just somehow stuck in the wrong place in my Bible. Several times I wanted to climb to the top of a high mountain, throw my arms open to the wind, and yell, "YAAAAAAAHOOOOOOOO! My God reigns!!!!!!!!!"
Read the book of Isaiah. Here is hope. Here is forgiveness. Here is strength. Here is the promise: "We win!"