Tonight we looked at passages from Is 58:9-12 and Jer 31:11-14 which tell us God wants to make us a well-watered garden. It can be hard for us living in ‘this green and pleasant land‘ where rainfall is in plentiful supply to imagine how hard it is to have a well-watered garden in a sun-scorched land, but these passages remind us that God is able to make things grow, even in circumstances where growth does not seem possible. God is able to help us to grow, no matter what the exterior conditions look like.
The source of spiritual growth is God Himself. Both Isaiah and Jeremiah lived during desperately difficult times for the people of God: warnings of exile and exile itself were the messages these prophets had to bring. Yet it was during this time of apparent hopelessness that God promised His people to be their guide. He promised to satisfy their needs and strengthen them like a spring that never goes dry. (Is 58:11) He promised to ‘deliver Jacob and redeem them from the hand of those stronger than they.’ (Jer 31:12) It’s God who will turn their mourning into gladness, God who will give comfort and joy instead of sorrow. (Jer 31:13) Both passages speak of satisfaction: Isaiah says, ‘he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land’ (Is 58:11); Jeremiah says, ‘I will satisfy the priests with abundance, and my people will be filled with my bounty.’ (Jer 31:14)
The sooner we grasp the fact that it’s God alone who satisfies, the quicker we will grow up and become mature. So often, our problems occur because we are looking to other things to satisfy us and we are working on growth ourselves. Growth is the natural consequence of life lived God’s way and it’s God who makes things grow. (1 Cor 3:6-7) If we do the things that God has commanded us to do, He takes care of the growth; He takes care of the satisfaction. Yet so often, we try to turn things around and do it ourselves. At the heart of Isaiah’s message and Jeremiah’s message is the reminder that God is at the centre. He is God. He will not yield His glory to anyone else. (Is 42:8) There are plenty of things that God wants us to do, but fundamentally, we have to understand there are some things only God can do and we must not seek to take His place or do the things only He can do.