Isaiah uses an unusual expression in his prophecy to God’s people in trying to encourage them. He calls on them to “look to the rock from which you were hewn, and to the quarry from which you were dug” (51:1). The implication is to think about your origins, your identity, and live out your life in the light of that. For the people he was talking to, he pointed them to Abraham (v2). They were worried that God had abandoned them – that their people would die out. But Isaiah reminds them that Abraham and Sarah had the promise of God that a great nation would come from their descendants. But they had no kids, and were very old. Yet they kept trusting God, and eventually that nation came into being. God kept his promises then, and he will keep doing it. That is a great message for people who are losing hope.
What is the Rock from which we are cut, what sort of quarry have we come from, as God’s people in Melbourne in the 21st century? The quarry that we have come from is just as squarely based on the promises of God – only we see the fulfilment of those promises much more clearly than the people in Isaiah’s time. Jesus has come and died for our sins and opened up the way for us to be amongst the redeemed people of God. The New Testament speaks of Jesus as the Rock (Romans 9:33, 1 Cor 10:4, 1 Peter 2:8), and tells us that “whoever believes in him will never be put to shame.” He is the Rock that we look to and trust in. Our identity, our origin as God’s people is totally bound up with him. Let’s keep trusting him and living for him as we let his light shine in the city.