My dad’s hobby is restoring old cars, mainly cars from the 1920s and 1930s. Anyone who has restored something old, whether it be a car, a house, or an antique piece of furniture knows that it is a process. In regards to restoring old cars, the process may involve repairing a steel body that has suffered years of corrosion and rust, replacing or rebuilding an engine, replacing the interior and repainting the car, all of which involve the resources of time and money. When the car is restored, it brings a sense of joy to the owner.
Our God is in the restoration business- restoring the lives of people. Of course, God’s greatest restorative act was sending His Son, Jesus Christ, to die for humanity’s sins. However, God not only seeks our eternal redemption, He wants a personal relationship with us. God wants us to seek and worship Him in our everyday lives. Going back to the car in need of restoration, what has brought “corrosion and rust” into your life? What needs to be rebuilt? What needs to be replaced? Do the rough edges need to be sanded down and made smooth? If we allow God to take us through His restorative process, it will bring great joy in our lives. God will replace our rusted out “jalopy” of a life with a life of joyous “show room quality.”
The restoration of Israel is a thread woven deep within the pages of the Old Testament. As Israel would fall away from God and worship the pagan idols, God would bring judgment upon Israel, often in the form of an invading foreign nation. God would relent when Israel would repent of its sins. Even in the midst of their rebellion and coming judgment, God never gave up on Israel. God sent prophets not only to warn Israel, but to encourage them with future days of joy and restoration, which would culminate with the coming of the Messiah and the establishment of His kingdom.
“Therefore the redeemed of the Lord shall return, and come with singing unto Zion; and everlasting joy shall be upon their head: they shall obtain gladness and joy; and sorrow and mourning shall flee away.” (Isaiah 51:11, KJV).
“Break forth into joy, singing together, ye waste places of Jerusalem: for the Lord hath comforted His people, He hath redeemed Jerusalem. The Lord hath made bare His holy arm in the eyes of all the nations; and all the ends of the earth shall see the salvation of our God.” (Isaiah 52:9-10, KJV).
“For the Lord hath redeemed Jacob, and ransomed him from the hand of him that was stronger than he. Therefore, they shall come and sing in the height of Zion, and shall flow together to the goodness of the Lord, for wheat, and for wine, and for oil, and for the young of the flock and of the herd: and their soul shall be as a watered garden; and they shall not sorrow any more at all. Then shall the virgin rejoice in the dance, both young men and old together; for I will turn their mourning into joy, and will comfort them, and make them rejoice from their sorrow.” (Jeremiah 31:11-13, KJV).
The prophets Isaiah and Jeremiah prophesied before the Babylonian Exile, where the Israelites spent seventy years in Babylon as punishment for their continued disobedience to God. As Christians, we have a better covenant with better promises (Hebrews 8:6) and we are forgiven of our sins past, present, and future. However, there may be times when we will have to deal with the consequences of our sins. We may go through a sorrowful season, but there is joy and restoration on the other side.
The seventy years of exile in Babylon came to an end and the Israelites were allowed to go home. The Books of Ezra and Nehemiah deal with the issue of the Israelites returning home to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem and the temple. For some, the rebuilding of the Temple was a time of sorrow, as they remembered the glory of the first Temple (Ezra 3:12-13). However, for many coming back to Jerusalem was a time of great rejoicing, for God had once again showed His faithfulness to Israel.
“And the children of Israel, the priest, and the Levites, and the rest of the children of the captivity, kept the dedication of this house of God with joy…And kept the feast of unleavened bread seven days with joy; for the Lord had made them joyful, and turned the heart of the king of Assyria unto them, to strengthen their hands in the work of the house of God, the God of Israel.” (Ezra 6:16, 22, KJV).
Concerning the dedication of Jerusalem’s walls, Nehemiah 12:43 states: “Also that day they offered great sacrifices, and rejoiced: for God had made them rejoice with great joy: the wives also and the children rejoiced: so that the joy of Jerusalem was heard even afar off.” (KJV).
All of us will go through difficult times. There will be times of pain and suffering, but we must rejoice in those times because we know that our God is faithful. God will restore us, bringing us eternal glory and joy after we have gone through our “momentary” trials.
“For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.” (Romans 8:18, KJV).
“For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory.” (2 Corinthians 4:17, KJV).
“But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ’s sufferings; that, when His glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy.” (1 Peter 4:13, KJV).
Whatever you are facing, this shall pass. Your personal Babylon will not last forever. God will restore what you have lost. To paraphrase the Psalm, you have spent the night in sorrow, but joy is coming in the morning. God bless you all.