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The joyous transformation

Isaiah series

The joyous transformation
Posted on August 20, 2021  - By Tom Horvat

In 1 Peter 1:10, we are given insight regarding the intense interest that the prophets demonstrated towards the revelations they were given. Prophets were sent to deliver messages of either warning and coming judgment or encouragement and coming deliverance.  

Peter says they had a particular subject that they gave much attention to: the salvation that God had revealed was coming in the Messiah. “Concerning this salvation, the prophets who prophesied about the grace that was to be yours searched and inquired carefully…” Well, as we consider chapter 12 of Isaiah, we will see the glorious truth of justification by grace ring out in exuberant rejoicing and celebration.

Salvation full and free

In verse 1, there is a sudden and transforming experience of the grace that would drive Isaiah to search diligently for more light. There is a reference to a day when those held captive would be released and their deliverance would first issue in thanksgiving. The gratefulness is directed only to the Lord as He is the one who wrought the deliverance.  

Thankfulness is the proper response to a deliverer. To be delivered and not express gratitude to the one who intervened to save us amounts to a criminal offence. When Jesus healed 10 lepers, only one returned to give Him thanks. How thankful are we for our redemption? How do we express that gratitude? How much offering up of thanksgiving in prayer are we giving?  

Thankfulness is the proper response to a deliverer

The reason for the gratefulness expressed in v.1 is connected to a very profound transformation that has taken place between God and a rebellious sinner, a transformation that, no doubt, astonished the prophet. The one who was under the wrath of God is now the subject of His comfort! How did this happen? God was angry with His people — but then His anger was turned away. Only one condition could have brought this about: the offence had to be removed. 

God’s law is perfect and cannot be compromised. Man falls short of complete obedience always, either by neglect or disobedience. Since man could not do anything to turn God’s wrath away, God Himself provided the perfect remedy in the Messiah, who according to v.2 is our strength, song and salvation. Isaiah could not have known at this point in redemptive history the full picture as we have now, although I believe they looked to the promised seed of the woman to accomplish full salvation.

The law of God provided righteousness to the one who would keep the whole law perfectly.  It also judged and condemned all who transgressed its righteous requirements. This is why man could not be just before God — because no man could meet this mark. 

Jesus came into the world in human flesh for a twofold provision in what we know as substitutionary atonement. As the second Adam, He would fulfil in perfect obedience the law of God so that God would be well pleased with Him. His obedience would take Him to the cross of Calvary where He would take the place and punishment of a condemned sinner, thus fulfilling the law’s demand for the death of the sinner. 

This work in entirety would be accepted by God as substitutionary atonement. Our sin was imputed to Him (put to His account) and His righteousness was imputed to us (put to our account). Faith receives this testimony of what God has done in Christ and the sinner is immediately justified, declared righteous. 

Faith is not a work; we are not told to pray anything, raise our hand and go forward in a church service, or anything else. We simply believe that God is true and Christ’s work alone is sufficient to save us.

Faith is not a work. We simply believe that God is true and Christ’s work alone is sufficient to save us

Living water for all

Salvation by grace is just the beginning of this transformed relationship. We are told in v.3 that we shall draw water out of the wells of salvation with joy. Jesus said, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’” (John 7:37-38).  

We find ourselves thirsty many times in our walk with the Lord and needing to return to the wells of salvation to satisfy our thirst. The living water in John 7 is identified as the Holy Spirit. The wells could be the study of Scriptures, prayer, worship, encouragement from other believers, and other means that the Spirit uses to communicate life to us. 

Notice that wells and rivers are plural — but water is found singular in both passages. The means may be varied and plenteous, but the water is the source of refreshment. We are thus taught not to look to the wells or rivers, but to the water itself. A river can be a beautiful thing to observe but unless we drink of its water, it avails nothing to satisfy thirst.  

The joyous transformation is then turned into proclamation in vv.4-5. This water is for all men in all the world and is proclaimed by those who have drunk of that water and can direct the lost, alienated, dying-of-thirst sons of Adam to the Lord Jehovah. 

Evangelism is not Christian ‘head-hunting’ or something to enhance our own spirituality. It is a declaration of His doings among the people and glorifying His name among those who take His name in vain. All the earth is to eventually know that He has done excellent things. There is no greater thing than to rehearse what He has done through his Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. 

One of the greatest declarations from the mouth of the Saviour was: “It is finished!” A full and free salvation had been accomplished on the cross of Calvary. It is something that when realised in the smallest degree causes us to “shout and sing for joy… for great in [our] midst is the Holy One of Israel” (v.6).

May we find the refreshing and joyous experience of daily drawing water out of the wells of salvation!



Tom Horvat

About Tom Horvat

Tom Horvat completed his BA in education and theology at Washington Bible College. He pastored a house church for 15 years and served as a volunteer chaplain in a local prison for 20 years. He is employed by the Department of Defense in the US, and works at a military installation in Maryland. He is passionate about ecology, and is a soon-to-be-published author. Tom has seven children and 12 grandchildren with his wife of over 40 years.

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