Text: Isaiah 49:14-26
If I were going to give today’s teaching a title, it would be, “He Makes the Impossible Possible.” I will show you that in their captivity, Zion (that is, Jerusalem and members of the twelve tribes of Israel who went into Babylonian captivity) believed the LORD has forsaken them. It seemed impossible! But He makes the impossible possible, if they will repent! I personally testify that He will do it! And He does, too —
Jeremiah 32:27 “Behold, I am the LORD, the God of all flesh; is anything too difficult for Me?”
Verse 14 —
Jerusalem and the twelve tribes lamented, “The LORD has forsaken me, and the Lord has forgotten me.” Their situation looked hopeless! They were captives of Babylon, exiled there because of their idolatry.
He did not answer His unrepentant people’s frantic cries for help. Why? They were crying for rescue from the judgment He had warned them about through His prophets, again and again, but they did not listen. The LORD rebuked those who had not heeded His words spoken through His prophets, saying —
Jeremiah 29:18 “I will pursue them with the sword, with famine and with pestilence; and I will make them a terror to all the kingdoms of the earth, to be a curse and a horror and a hissing, and a reproach among all the nations where I have driven them, 19 because they have not listened to My words,” declares the LORD, “which I sent to them again and again by My servants the prophets; but you did not listen,” declares the LORD.
Verses 15-16 —
But the LORD says He has not forgotten them. He simply would not answer their cries for help until they repented and returned to Him. It was the same for me, and it is the same for you, if you are still sinning against the Lord, beloved!
He asks, “Can a woman forget (be oblivious to) her nursing child, and have no compassion on the son of her womb?” If she forgot to nurse, the child would die of starvation.
But the LORD says to His repentant ones, “Even these may forget (that is, women nursing children), but I will not forget you. Behold, I have inscribed you on the palms of My hands (literally, in the hollows of My hands); your walls are continually before Me.”
It looked impossible, but He does not desire that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance (see 2Peter 3:9). And if they do, He will restore them, even though in their eyes, it looks impossible!
In those days, a master’s name was written on the servant’s hands. But the names of the LORD’s repentant servants are written on His hands — He is the Master who writes His servants’ names on His hands!
Oh, believer! He knows that you are sinning against Him. But if you turn back to Him and repent from your heart, He will surely remember you, for your name has been written in the hollow of His hands! But if you do not turn back, you will have chosen to perish.
The walls of Jerusalem are continually before Him. He has not forgotten that He chose the Jews to be His people (and also brought in non-Jews, as Isaiah has already prophesied), and chose Jerusalem as the place where He would dwell!
I was very far from the Lord. My return looked impossible, for I was very rebellious, and in a captivity of my own making. And yet, just as He says in this passage, He had not forgotten me. When I repented and turned back to Him, I saw that my name was written my name in the hollow of His hands.
Oh, His great mercy! I repented while He may be found and called on Him while He is near! This wicked one forsook her way, and returned to the Lord. He had mercy on me, and freely pardoned me (Isaiah 55:6-7)! He made the impossible possible!
Verse 17 —
The LORD who sits above time says,“Your builders (sons) hurry; your destroyers and devastators will depart from you.” The LORD sees the city of Jerusalem being rebuilt, just as Nehemiah records it.
And those who have destroyed and devastated them — the Babylonians — will release their grip on His people. The LORD will turn the tables on Babylon— the destroyers and devastators will be destroyed and devastated by the Medo-Persians.
Verse 18 —
I will speak of His words from a spiritual perspective, for the devastation of His rebellious people went beyond the natural, beyond the city. The devastation was in their hearts. They were separated from their God, by their sin (Isaiah 59:1-2).
Yet to the repentant ones who were the third generation in Babylonian captivity (see Jeremiah 29:6), He says, “Lift up your eyes and look around; all of them (literally, your sons who will rebuild) gather together, they will come to you. ‘As I live,’ declares the LORD, you will surely put on all of them as jewels and bind them on as a bride.’”
His people were spiritually barren. But He tells the repentant ones to lift up their eyes. To do so, they must lift their heads that they have bowed in humble repentance! Look! Your sons will come to you, and they will adorn you!
Why? He has sworn it by His own name! A surely as He lives, they will be adorned with both natural and spiritual offspring!
Verse 19 —
Again, why should they look up? The LORD continues His words to the repentant ones, saying, “For your waste and desolate places and your destroyed land — surely now you will be too cramped for the inhabitants.” He makes the impossible possible!
Jerusalem will no longer be a desolate wasteland, a destroyed land, but will be rebuilt. But also, their hearts will no longer be a desolate spiritual wasteland, Instead, they will be spiritually prosperous, and they will bear many spiritual children.
Some of their grandparents’ children had been slain in the Babylonian onslaught. Yet when the LORD returns the repentant third generation to the land, they will find that it is too cramped for their many children, natural and spiritual! They will hear their children say, “Make room for me!” He makes the impossible possible!
And those who swallowed them like a ripe fig (Isaiah 28:14) will be swallowed up by the LORD, by way of the Medo-Persians.
Verses 20-21 —
And His people will say in their hearts, “Who has begotten these for me, since I have been bereaved of my children, and am barren, an exile and a wanderer? And who has reared these? Behold, I was left alone. From where did these come?”
The repentant ones will be surprised to see children. They have been spiritually barren, exiled from the presence of God, wandering (literally, plucked away).
So where did these children come from? They were left alone, abandoned by the LORD, from their perspective. Many of the women were widows. Bearing children was impossible. Yet here they were!
I tell you the truth, many of today’s churches and believers are spiritually barren and exiled from the LORD. But if they will repent, He will send them many spiritual children, seemingly out of nowhere! He makes the impossible possible!
Verses 22-23 —
Isaiah continues with the LORD’s words, “Thus says the Lord GOD, ‘Behold, I will lift up My hand to the nations, and set up My standard to the peoples, and they will bring your sons in their bosom, and your daughters will be carried on their shoulders.’”
Ah! This is where Zion’s spiritual children will come from! The LORD will invite the nations to be part of His kingdom, just as He has said in Isaiah 49:6.
He will lift up His hand — His Son — to the nations, beckoning them to come in, and will set Him as a standard (a banner) that can be seen worldwide. The believers who believe into Jesus Christ will become grafted-in branches of the olive tree — the spiritual offspring of His people who repent and believe into Jesus Christ (Romans 11:17-21).
Their spiritual offspring will be tenderly, lovingly, and triumphantly carried to Zion by those who had once been outsiders. He makes the impossible possible!
But this promise also applies to today’s desolate church and believers — ones who have gone far from the Lord, just as Israel did. Yet, He has not forgotten them. He will bring the repentant ones back, and their spiritual children will be brought to them by the most unlikely people — kings and princesses!
The LORD describes them, saying, “Kings will be your guardians (parents) and their princesses your nurses (nursing mothers). They will bow down to you with their faces to the earth and lick the dust of your feet. And you will know that I am the LORD. Those who hopefully wait for Me will not be put to shame.”
This is surely a view of the spiritual offspring of the Lord Jesus Christ’s bride, the church. Even the most high in worldly stature — kings and their princesses — will humble themselves before His repentant people, and before the church. He makes the impossible possible!
Then Israel will know (yada, know by intimate experience) that the LORD is the LORD! And when it happens to today’s church, they will know that the LORD is the LORD! Those who hopefully wait for Him (literally, entwine themselves together with Him) will not be put to shame! He makes the impossible possible!
I myself am physically barren, and I was surely spiritually barren. But I repented and turned to the Lord, entwining myself with Him and crying out to know Him intimately. And He answered! Now, I see some of the spiritual children whom the Lord has given me, and they will be part of His heavenly Zion! Surely, though I am naturally barren, I will not be ashamed when I stand before Him! He makes the impossible possible!
It is just as He promised His repentant ones, later in Isaiah —
Isaiah 54:1 “Shout for joy, O barren one, you who have borne no child; break forth into joyful shouting and cry aloud, you who have not travailed; for the sons of the desolate one will be more numerous than the sons of the married woman,” says the LORD. 2 Enlarge the place of your tent; stretch out the curtains of your dwellings, spare not; lengthen your cords and strengthen your pegs. 3 For you will spread abroad to the right and to the left. And your descendants will possess nations and will resettle the desolate cities.”
And by the power of the Holy Spirit, I stretch out my earthly tent — my body — and strengthen its tent pegs to make room for the spiritual children that I will not see until I stand before the Lord. All these things are for His glory, for I was the least likely to repent and turn back to the Lord! But for the repentant, He makes the impossible possible!
Verses 24-25 —
The LORD asks, “Can the prey be taken from the mighty man, or the captives of a tyrant be rescued?”
It seems impossible, yet listen to His answer to His own question! Surely, thus says the LORD, “Even the captives of the mighty man will be taken away (from the mighty man), and the prey of the tyrant will be taken (from the tyrant).”
How can it be? The LORD says, “For I will contend with (grapple with, seize hold of) the one who contends with you, and I will save (free) your sons.” The LORD will contend with Babylon. And His people will be freed!
And the LORD will contend with Satan and the world system that defies God, and rescue you from their clutches, if you will repent and turn to Him! And you will be set free, indeed, from slavery to sin —
John 8:34 Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who commits sin is the slave of sin. 35 “The slave does not remain in the house forever; the son does remain forever. 36 “So if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed.”
I tell you the truth, He set me free from slavery to sin, and crucified the sin nature in me (Galatians 5:24), so I no longer sin against Him. If you say, “That is impossible,” then I say, “He makes the impossible possible!”
Verse 26 —
For the repentant ones, the LORD says, “I will feed your oppressors with their own flesh and they will become drunk with their own blood as with sweet wine, and all flesh will know that I, the LORD, am your Savior, and your Redeemer, the Mighty One of Jacob.”
Their oppressors (those who rage against them) will be paid back by the LORD. It is also true for Satan and the world system that defies God. What they have done to His people will come back upon their heads, at the LORD’s hand! Then, all of His people will know that He is their only Savior and Redeemer, and that those who are mighty ones on the earth are no match for Him!
Lord Jesus, may believers see that their sin has separated them from You, just as with Israel, and repent and return to you, for surely, you will save and restore them!
Let it be so, I pray. Amen.