“Awake, awake! Rise up Jerusalem,
you who have drunk from the hand of the Lord the cup of his wrath…
…This is what your Sovereign Lord says, your God, who defends his people:
‘See, I have taken out of your hand the cup that made you stagger;
from that cup, the goblet of my wrath, you will never drink again. ‘”Isaiah 51:17, 22. NIV
Today is Good Friday, and I felt to read from Isaiah where Jesus is spoken of as the suffering servant (ch53). I started at chapter 51 and was amazed at what I saw. Three things in particular spoke to me from this passage – Rise up, The Cup, and Never Again.
I love the way the mist rises from our gully. It is effortless. It is gentle and shifts slowly. I think this is a reflection of how God wants us to grow in Him.
We have a great privilege, a responsibility, to respond to our Sovereign God. He has provided everything we need for freedom and salvation. But it doesn’t just come. We receive, we accept, we repent, we believe, we follow and obey. We have a part to play.
Again, in Isaiah 52:1-2, it says, ‘Awake, awake, Zion, clothe yourselves with strength! Put on your garments of splendour, Jerusalem, the holy city… Shake off your dust; rise up, sit enthroned, Jerusalem, Free yourself from the chains on your neck, Daughter Zion, now a captive.’
We are encouraged in the New Testament to put on: the armour of light (Rom 13:2), the Lord Jesus Christ (Rom 13:14), the new man (Eph 4:24), the armour of God (Eph 6:11), love (Col 3:124) as well as many ‘put off…’ commands. We have been given a robe of righteousness to wear. We clothe ourselves with strength by knowing who our God is in us. We read His word and renew our mind to who we are. We see His great love and power poured into us and we walk in that. We step out in faith, following the leading of the Holy Spirit, being strong and courageous. (Josh 1) Or at least, that is our goal. But we must rise to it.
I hadn’t ever noticed how God described His taking away of the wrath and judgement the Israelites were living under.
‘I have taken out of your hand the cup…that cup, the goblet of my wrath, you will never drink again.’
What an incredible promise to the Israelites of the day. As I contemplated Jesus’ death on the cross, it was clear that Jesus also took the cup for us. He knew He would carry the wrath of God on our behalf. Such a simple picture for us. As we take communion we see the hand of God at work, lifting wrath, the punishment we deserved. We are forgiven and made free.
And then there is a promise, ‘…you will never drink again.’ We are forgiven and free forever. We may be corrected, we may experience consequences of our sin, but we will never have to carry the weight of God’s wrath. I am as forgiven, loved and righteous as I ever will be. Now I am free to walk in these, and respond with gratefulness, humility and love.
In Isaiah 52:1 there is one more little phrase,
‘The uncircumcised and defiled will not enter you again.’
This is another amazing promise. And it reminded me of Moses’ words to the Israelites as they faced the Red Sea on one side and Pharoah’s army on the other. They were terrified, angry, and ready to return to slavery.
‘Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the Lord will bring you today.
The Egyptians you see today you will never see again. The Lord will fight for you…’Exodus 14:13-14
God then told them to move on! God knows how to deal with our enemies. And He knows how to stop them from returning!
In Zephaniah 3:15 it says,
‘The Lord has taken away your judgements,
He has cast out your enemy;
The King of Israel, the Lord, is in your midst.; You shall see disaster no more.’
At the Passover meal, Jesus took he cup, gave thanks, and then shared it with His disciples. After supper He again took the cup, and said,
‘This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you.’Luke 22:20
Later that evening, at the Mount of Olives, Jesus prayed,
‘Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but Yours be done.’ (v42)
As the Lord had taken the cup of wrath from the Israelites, so, too, Jesus has taken it for us. He was beaten, crushed, mocked, bruised, whipped. He also carried our sorrows and pain, our curses, sickness and disease. Read Isaiah 53 to see what Jesus bore for us.
The Father didn’t take the cup that night because He knew the victory on the other side. Jesus’ punishment, death and time in hell won for us our freedom and salvation. Jesus has won His family back.
On the cross, Jesus declared, ‘Father, forgive them for they do not know what they are doing.’ (Luke 23:34) The centurion seeing all that had happened, said, ‘Surely this was a righteous man.’ (v47)
And now we are gifted this righteousness.
‘For He made him who knew no sin to be sin for us,
that we might became the righteousness of God in Him.’2 Corinthians 5:21