“Don’t say, ‘The Lord will surely exclude me from His people,’” nor complain, “’I am only a dry tree.’” In these two phrases from Isaiah 56:3, God addresses two subjects: belonging and inadequacy.
Belonging Some foreigners were on the fringe of the Jewish nation. They were drawn to God’s people by the quality of the living God. Moses acknowledged that it was God who made His people special (Exodus 33:16), resulting in something attractive wafting off Israel like perfume that created a pleasant environment. Gentiles joined themselves to Israel because the beauty of God was reflected to some degree by His people.
Some Jews were welcoming, others were not, resulting in Gentiles not feeling secure, even though they tried to keep the law. They lacked the full confidence of belonging. The Jews did not have a lot going for them, but they claimed a monopoly on God and were not about to share Him. So it was tough for Gentiles to break in sufficiently to feel like they belonged. Few things in life are more sought after than belonging. Being a part of some circle of friends, organization, cause or nation. We experience well-being from belonging. Having people welcome us as equals gives us the status of Belongers.
God was telling such genuine God-seekers to reject the rejection they felt from some Jews and trust Him. Why? Because He would give them a “name 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 56:5).
A glorious future name may not seem like adequate compensation for not feeling that a person belonged. But the very fact that God states this as a reward shouts, “You will be glad that you trusted Me and did not become bitter and resentful; that gave your circumstances to Me and continued to honor Me.” God will not be in debt to people.
All of us are called upon to do this over some circumstance in our lives. This is the essence of faith. It is this that qualifies us for (1) “all things working together for good” (Romans 8:28) and the “present suffering is not being worthy to be compared with the glory that will be revealed in us (Roman 8:17).
We all face the Belong Challenge. We have all felt invisible in some groups. We have all felt outside when we wanted to be inside; wanted to be included.
Let’s be on the lookout for that quiet person who is on the outer edge of acceptance. Let’s welcome people and help them belong.
Inadequacy God said, “Do not complain, ‘I am only a try tree.’” What did He mean? This certainly refers to fluid semen forced out of the body at the height of sexual excitement. Could anything be more intimate for a man than not having the male equipment to produce this fluid which is essential for procreate?
In what had to be a very painful, humiliating “surgery,” some men have been made eunuchs. Normally their function as to watch over the beautiful women in a king’s harem. Eunuchs had to feel unmasculine. The butt of jokes. Humiliated. Inadequate.
Men or women can feel inadequate today. Below normal in athletics, academics, parenting, socially or financially. “Failure to perform” is a label too many people ware.
But God told them to not complain. Why? Because He promised them He would “bring them to His holy mountain, give them joy and accept their offerings (Isaiah 56:6 & 7). We do not know what such rewards will be, but the fact that God states them as more than balancing compensations says loudly, “Refusing to complain about inadequacy is what you want your attitude to be.” Why? God refuses to be in debt to those He created.
As the father of two grown men – David is 46 and Daniel is 45 – I do not want them paying for anything when I am present. Nothing (II Corinthians 12:14). While I am sure over the years they have paid for some things, God has put that attitude in me because that is His attitude toward us (Matthew 6:33). We will be glad we trusted Him about feeling on the outside and seeing ourselves as inadequate.