Israel’s efforts to build the Temple stretch across centuries. Isaiah urged Israel to place its hope in the LORD, the everlasting God, the creator of the ends of the earth. Why? Isaiah knew that: “those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint” (Isaiah 40:28-31).
Israel’s efforts to build the Temple stretch across centuries.
The Temple built by Solomon was ransacked by the Egyptians. It was perverted into the worship of idols. It decayed into ruins. It was destroyed by the Babylonians.
The Israelites themselves were carried into exile—first by the Assyrians, later by the Babylonians.
Eventually, a remnant of the people of Israel returned to the Promised Land to re-build the Temple. Other Jews continued living in other lands.
Regardless of whether the Jews lived in Israel or elsewhere, they suffered persecutions and hardships.
In the time of Queen Esther, the survival of the Jews was endangered by vile Haman—a powerful official of the Persian government. The heroic exploits of Esther led to the miraculous salvation of the Jews that Purim celebrates.
In the time of the Maccabees, the survival of the Temple and of Judaism was endangered by the combined Powers of Money, Religion, and the Kingdoms of this World. The heroic exploits of the Jews led to the miraculous renewal of the Temple and Judaism that Hanukkah celebrates.
Therefore, regardless of where Jews lived, they were the kind of suffering servants envisioned by Isaiah. God’s servants whom he upholds. God’s chosen ones in whom he delights. The ones on whom God puts his spirit to bring justice to the nations. (Isaiah 42:1-7; 44:1-5;21-23; 52:13-53:12).
As Isaiah foresaw, Jews would often be despised and rejected by Humanity. They would suffer, and be familiar with pain. They would be despised and held in low esteem, oppressed and afflicted. (Isaiah 53:3-4,7).
However, as Isaiah also foresaw, despite their sufferings, Israel would see its offspring and prolong its days. Despite their sufferings, Israel would see the light of life and be satisfied. (Isaiah 53:10-11).
For “we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28).
Through the love of God, Israel will overcome all its troubles, hardships and persecutions. Through the love of God, Israel will be more than a conqueror in all these things. For nothing in all creation can separate Israel from the love of God. (Romans 8:35-39).
Therefore, Isaiah urged Israel to place its hope in the LORD, the everlasting God, the creator of the ends of the earth.
Isaiah knew that:
“[The LORD] will not grow tired or weary,
and his understanding no one can fathom.
He gives strength to the weary
and increases the power of the weak.
Even youths grow tired and weary,
and young men stumble and fall;
but those who hope in the LORD
will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
they will run and not grow weary,
they will walk and not be faint.
There are many types of exiles.
The most famous is the Babylonian Exile of the Israelites after the Temple was destroyed.
But we are “exiled” from the “Temple” every time we fail to love the LORD our God with all our heart and with all our soul and with all our mind. (Deuteronomy 6:5; Matthew 22:37).
We are “exiled” from the “Temple” every time we fail to do for others what we would want done for us. (Matthew 7:12; Leviticus 19:18; Matthew 22:39-40).
At these times when we and our civilization are straying from our path on the Labyrinth of Light, we who follow the Way of Jesus—both Jews and non-Jews—need to return to the highway envisioned by Isaiah:
“It will be called the Way of Holiness;
It will be for those who walk on that Way.
The [impure] will not journey on it;
wicked fools will not go about on it.
No lion will be there,
nor any ravenous beast;
they will not be found there.
But only the redeemed will walk there,
and those the LORD has rescued will return.
They will enter Zion with singing;
everlasting joy will crown their heads.
Gladness and joy will overtake them,
and sorrow and sighing will flee away.”
To learn more about the Power of Money, the Power of Religion, and the Power of the Kingdoms of the World, please read my blogs “Beware the Power of Money”, “Beware the Power of Religion”, and “Beware the Power of the Kingdoms of the World”, and please read the chapter “Ahab Takes Naboth’s Vineyard” in my book Healing the Promised Land, at pages 221-233.
As first drafted, my book Hoping in the LORD began with the material in the chapters “Ezekiel and Daniel Revive God’s People in Exile” and “Hoping in the LORD Revives God’s People in Exile”, published in what is now my book Healing the Promised Land. I like this way to conceive of hoping in the LORD because, after all, the initial fulfillment of the verses about hoping in the LORD (Isaiah 40:28-31) was Israel’s return from the Babylonian Exile. Unfortunately, the resulting book was too long. So my book Hoping in the LORD starts with the birth of Jesus.