Shake yourself from the dust and arise;
be seated, O Jerusalem;
loose the bonds from your neck,
O captive daughter of Zion.
For thus says the LORD: “You were sold for nothing, and you shall be redeemed without money.” For thus says the Lord GOD: “My people went down at the first into Egypt to sojourn there, and the Assyrian oppressed them for nothing. Now therefore what have I here,” declares the LORD, “seeing that my people are taken away for nothing? Their rulers wail,” declares the LORD, “and continually all the day my name is despised. Therefore my people shall know my name. Therefore in that day they shall know that it is I who speak; here I am.”
How beautiful upon the mountains
are the feet of him who brings good news,
who publishes peace, who brings good news of happiness,
who publishes salvation,
who says to Zion, “Your God reigns.”
(Isaiah 52:2-7 ESV)
Has something you’ve done left you feeling like you are lying in the dust; as they used to say in the old west, “Lower than a snake’s belly in a wagon rut?” I think most of us have had that experience at some point in our lives.
If that’s you, the Enemy of your soul wants you to believe that when you messed up it stained you forever, and that there is no recovering from this error. Everyone else can be restored, you suppose. But you may as well forget about ever gaining God’s complete favor and full forgiveness.
If you have ever felt that way, especially if you have disqualified yourself from being used of God in any real way because you’re “not good enough,” there is good news. There is a way to get rid of the noose that is around your neck.
The first thing you’ll have to come to grips with is the low price you were putting on your own value. Though Isaiah 52 doesn’t say this explicitly, the fact is that we sell ourselves very cheaply when we sell ourselves into bondage. Do you have any idea how much value you have to God?
A friend of mine told me this week that real forgiveness is always tragic, because it isn’t just “forgetting about” some way in which someone hurt you. Real forgiveness is having a valid indictment against someone and letting it cost you and not the offender. Giving up your right to judge is costly. That’s what God did because he loved you. He gave up his right to judge you. Instead of hurting you, he chose to take the pain on himself.
You were sold cheaply, Isaiah says. And, to kind of quote C.S. Lewis, there is a deeper magic: you are redeemed – bought back -- without money. That’s how we come to know his name – that’s the way he redeemed you: without money. Isaiah also invites us to “come buy wine and milk without price and without money.” (Isaiah 55)
Beloved! The gift God gave you is still valid! You can’t mess up enough that he will revoke his promise. He bought you with the price of his own Son, and now he wants to use you. And it won’t cost you a cent.