Our house isn’t coming down with family heirlooms. In fact, I could count on one hand those that spring immediately to mind, and still have fingers left to count how many of them would make it on to the Antiques Roadshow.
There is one however that my late grandfather gave me a long time ago. It is a pocket watch, given to him by his father. His father’s name is engraved on it and the year 1899.
As it was no longer functional, I decided some years ago to take it to a jeweller and have it repaired. Unfortunately he returned the watch in the same condition. He said that, whilst it might have great sentimental value, it was beyond economic repair. Priceless, but broken and, in his eyes, not worth the cost of fixing.
When Isaiah spoke the prophetic words to the people of Judah recorded in Isaiah 44.24-28, he was speaking to a people who, in God’s eyes, were priceless but broken. And a people who in the eyes of the world were beyond economic repair.
If you had looked west to Jerusalem during Judah’s Babylonian exile, you might well have concluded that Jerusalem and the temple of God were also beyond economic repair.
God had other plans, better plans. He would restore His people to their land. He would restore Jerusalem. The temple would be rebuilt. And how would he do it? He would use a pagan King, Cyrus, to initiate the return and restoration of his people. (Incidentally, the Jewish historian Josephus relates a story that Cyrus somehow got hold of Isaiah’s prophecy and was so impressed that he had personally been mentioned that he was moved to action!)
Earlier in the chapter, Isaiah outlined how God would move among His people as He moved to restore what had been lost. He promised to pour out His Spirit (1-5). He challenged them to confront and renounce their idols (6-20). And He reminded them of His grace (21-23).
God is still in the business of restoring what is “beyond economic repair”. He has done and is doing just that in everyone of us who respond to Him in faith. He is still in the business of restoring families, churches, communities, cities – even whole nations – let’s not limit His ability!
He usually works to the kind of pattern seen in Isaiah 44. The outpouring of the Spirit on those who are thirsty. Confronting and renouncing our idols – for idol read “anything that we put in the place of God”. And, of course, His grace. If we forget grace our most sincere desires for the Spirit to move and our most godly instincts for holiness can so easily work themselves out in legalistic self- effort.
No life, no situation is beyond economic repair because Christ has already paid the repair price at the cross. God spared no expense for us. That’s why it’s called grace.