Single is Good
Reading: Isaiah 52-57, Hebrews 6
Oh, killer passage! There is so much to think on here. A whole book could be written on these chapters—and probably has.
But let’s go backward to go forward.
Hebrews 6 ends with the assurance that the promise God has made concerning our salvation is absolutely solid. God doesn’t lie. And because He doesn’t lie we can “…be greatly encouraged. We have this hope [of salvation] as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain, where Jesus, who went before us, has entered on our behalf. He has become a high priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek” (Hebrews 6:18-20, NIV).
The picture here is of the function of the High Priest in the Jewish sacrificial system who entered the Holy of Holies in the Temple to offer a yearly sacrifice for the sins of the people. Jesus is pictured as that priest. The writer will later explain the nature of His priesthood and how Jesus became the ultimate sacrificial Lamb that put an end to the need to offer these yearly sacrifices.
But now let’s go forward to part of the reading from Isaiah. The end of Isaiah 52 and all of Isaiah 53 describes this sacrificial Lamb of God who would, once and for all time, remove the barrier between us and God through His death on the cross. If you have never read Isaiah 52:14-53:12, take the time to immerse yourself in it. It is one of the most beautiful and moving passages of Scripture.
“Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we considered him stricken by God, smitten by him, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed. We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned on to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all” (53:4-6, NIV).
As Isaiah 53 ends, the next chapter describes the redeemed, those who, through faith in Christ are now in relationship with God the Father because of the sacrifice of His Son. For the people of Isaiah’s time this description represented hope for the future, the assurance that God would restore the fortunes of Israel. For us today it reminds us of what God has done for us through Christ. But oddly enough, the passage has been stretched (hopefully not twisted) to have a particular meaning to those of us who are single.
For many single women, the absence of husband and children has robbed their lives of meaning. They feel unfulfilled and dissatisfied. That does not have to be. Listen to how Isaiah describes Israel:
“’Sing, O barren woman, you who never bore a child; burst into song, shout for joy, you who were never in labor; because more are the children of the desolate woman than of her who has a husband,’ says the Lord. ‘Enlarge the place of your tent, stretch your tent curtains wide, do not hold back; lengthen your cords, strengthen your stakes. For you will spread out to the right and to the left; your descendants will dispossess nations and settle in their desolate cities. Do not be afraid; you will not suffer shame, Do not fear disgrace; you will not be humiliated. You will forget the shame of your youth and remember no more the reproach of your widowhood. For your Maker is your husband—the Lord Almighty is his name—the Holy One of Israel is your Redeemer, he is called the God of all the earth” (54:1-5, NIV).
I gave you the whole passage so that you could understand the application I want to draw from it. Isaiah has just finished describing the coming of Christ as our Saviour and as the Redeemer of lost men and women. Based on that promise he tells his audience to rejoice because not only have they been brought back into relationship with their God, but purpose has returned to their lives.
They will be the instruments God uses to bring others into relationship with Him. They are to get out and get going and reproduce for all they are worth! The image is that of a barren woman having children because now she has a Husband, God, who is working in her to accomplish His purpose of bringing others into relationship with Him—producing spiritual children.
There is no higher honour—not even marrying and having babies can top it. To work with God in helping spiritual babes to take their first breath of heavenly air and to take their first tottering steps of faith cannot be beaten. And it is because of what Jesus did for you and me, single gal, that it is possible for us to have a fulfilling, joy filled life without all that we usually associate with those two words.
Isaiah includes another reminder to those who will be childless, one that doesn’t need any stretching at all to be applied. In Isaiah 56 he continues to talk about salvation and the fulfillment it brings to everyone. Listen to what he says: “And let not the eunuch complain, ‘I am only a dry tree.’ For this is what the Lord says: ‘To the eunuchs who keep my Sabbaths, who choose what pleases me and hold fast to my covenant—to them I will give within my temple and its walls a memorial and a name better than sons and daughters; I will give them an everlasting name that will not be cut off’” (Isaiah 56:4, 5, NIV). That's pretty cool.
You see, life isn’t so much about physical reproduction as it is about spiritual reproduction. It’s why Christ came to die and it's why we’re here to live.