Praise: The Purpose of Life
“The people whom I formed for Myself will declare My praise.”
Israel was in the throes of experiencing God’s discipline. Because of their continual rebellion against God and refusal to walk in obedience to God’s law, the Israelites were captured and deported by the Babylonians. It was a time when heaven seemed silent and their lives were in a spiritual wilderness. However, echoing the words of Hebrews 12:10, that God brings his discipline for our good, Isaiah reminds the people of Israel that the captivity had a redemptive purpose. Instead of wallowing in the quagmire of past guilt and regret, they are to instead look to the future as God rebuilds a new relationship with the people of Israel (verse 18). God’s discipline of his people is not to be construed to be a complete rejection.
Instead of forsaking Israel, God brings his discipline to refine and cleanse them. In the end, he will restore them. The trek in the wilderness is not final for God will bring rivers of refreshment into the barrenness of the desert. To offer proof, God points to the residents of the wilderness that he cares for. The jackals and the ostriches, which live in the wilderness do so because God provides water and care for them. By their capacity to live in the most barren areas, they provide a testimony of God’s grace and His provision. Their life brings glory to God because they serve as a reminder that even in the most inhospitable wasteland of life, God is still present with his people even when his hand of discipline is heavy upon them (vs 2). They are still precious in his sight and he will restore them and bring them back to the land again (vss 4-6) Consequently, in the end, Israel will declare the praise of God (vs 21).
This is what brings us to the very core of our purpose in life. In verse 7, God reminds the people of Israel that he has called them and created them for his glory. In other words, their whole existence finds its ultimate purpose in the praise and glory of God. The same is true for us. We are created to praise God and we are saved from sin to bring his glory. The tragedy is that we can become distracted from this end. In the daily affairs of life, we can become so focused on the present and the pursuit of our own agenda that we forget what our true purpose is. We pursue dreams that become nightmares as we strive to find meaning in that which only leaves us empty. It is only when we live our lives with the objective of bringing glory to God that we genuinely discover significance and purpose.
But this is what makes the recent events so dangerous. The greatest danger and what should cause us the greatest fear, is not the danger of the Covid-19 virus, it is the danger of spiritual distractions. Church is no longer convenient. It takes commitment and discipline to watch a service online. Even if we attend a live church service, it is not the same. There is nothing to entertain us. Therefore, it is easy to allow other activities to creep in as a replacement. We can easily slip away into a spiritual wilderness without being aware of it. As a result, we will find ourselves filling our lives with other activities but leave feeling empty and unfulfilled. We need to remember that purpose in life is not found in the activities of this world, but in the praise and glory of God. During this time do you find yourself growing closer to God, or becoming more distant from him? If it is the latter, then refocus your life upon Christ. “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you” (James 4:8). This begins with praise.