Great encouragement came to me recently from Isaiah 55:11, “So shall my word be that goes forth from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and it shall prosper in the thing for which I send it.” While this verse teaches the effectiveness of God’s Word in changing lives, its basic point is to affirm how purposeful each of our own lives will be when they are lived in accordance with the Word of God. In the very next verse Isaiah says, “For you shall go out in joy,” and then he tells of the wonderful objectives that are achieved by those who go out in obedience to God’s Word. So in verse 11, when Isaiah says that the Word of God will prosper in the thing for which God sent it, he is talking about the wonderful purposes that will be realized in people who are obedient to God’s Word.
Thus Isaiah 55:11 greatly encouraged me because it promises that as I live my life in obedience to God’s Word, he will bring me to a most worthwhile and meaningful goal for my life, a goal which I will not miss. It comforts me to know this as I go about my daily affairs—grading stacks of term papers and final exams, reading and answering letters, preparing lessons to teach, or pecking away at my typewriter, trying to bring to birth another chapter for a book. Sometimes Satan jeeringly says, “Do you really think that all this work is ever going to amount to anything? You’re kicking up a lot of dust with all this action, but where’s any real production to show for it all?” But how marvelously suited is Isaiah 55:11 to quench such a fiery dart. That verse makes it clear that I don’t worry about making my life worthwhile. As long as I am confident that I am in the center of God’s will, I can be sure that God will accomplish the purpose that he has established for me. In the meantime, my job is just to move along with God’s will, a step at a time, a day at a time.
Then another time Satan objects, “You have these specific plans you hope to accomplish. You hope to write a book on how to interpret the Bible, and then one on the unfolding of God’s plan of the ages, but just think of all the things that could happen to prevent your writing those books—like illness, accident or tragedy in your family. But Isaiah 55:11 is beautifully capable of also quenching this fiery dart. Two verses earlier God said, “My ways are not your ways … for as the heavens are higher than the earth so are my ways higher than your ways” (Isaiah 55:9). So, the plans that I have projected for my life may not be at all the plans that God has for me, since his ways are so much higher than my ways. But while my plans are not necessarily going to be realized, yet Isaiah 55:11 says that God’s plans for my life will most certainly come to fulfillment. And surely God is in a much better position than I am to make wise plans for me. He’s the one who is running the whole world, so his plans for me will not be out of step with things but will fit right in with his master plan. And then, too, since he loves me so much that he sent his only Son to die for me, his love for me will surely employ all his perfect knowledge and wisdom to map out the very best pathway, all things considered, for me to follow as I fit into his master plan. So I reply to Satan, “Whether I write those books or not, God will accomplish that which he purposes for me, and his plan is the very best thing that I could possibly want.”
When we resist the devil with the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God, Satan soon flees. Liar that he is, there is nothing that he finds more unpleasant than to be confronted with the Word of God.
Daniel P. Fuller