In the future, Israel—the branch of the LORD—will be lush and beautiful, and the fruit of the land will be the pride of its people. - Isaiah 4:2
On the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month of 1918, the guns finally fell silent in Europe. World War I was mercifully over. Ten million soldiers had been slaughtered, most of them bachelors or young married men. Young officers had suffered disproportionately high casualties. They were called “the lost generation.”
Then the battle to cope with the future began. This was particularly difficult for young women. The “lost generation” had been their husbands, fiancés, and boyfriends—and the wives, fiancées, and girlfriends knew that their “life chance of a partner had disappeared with their loved ones in the mud of the trenches.”2
A similar tragedy had happened before. When Isaiah foretold Jerusalem’s collapse, which occurred in 586 B.C., he wrote, “The men of the city will die in battle. . . . Few men will be left alive” (Isaiah 3:25–4:1). And the result? “Seven women will fight over them and say, ‘Let us all marry you! We will provide our own food and clothing. Only let us be called by your name, so we won’t be mocked as old maids’“ (4:1). The scene of humiliation and desperation is hard to imagine!
Anyone traveling to Europe today can see that the continent has recovered. Men, women, and children are there in abundance. But it took time! It took time for Jerusalem, too. The prophet said the city would recover. In fact, Isaiah spoke in glowing terms of the future even before the tragedy happened: “But in the future, Israel—the branch of the Lord—will be lush and beautiful, and the fruit of the land will be the pride of its people” (4:2). Isaiah, with a prophet’s vision, was looking down through the centuries to the Messiah—to the kingdom of Jesus Christ.
The survivors of the tragedy in Jerusalem were called to be a “holy people” whose “moral filth” had been washed away (4:5). It was not just a matter of survival and then a return to life as usual. Their devastating experience had served a purpose, opening up new vistas of hope and blessing. The promise was that their once-devastated city would receive “shelter from daytime heat and a hiding place from storms and rain” (4:6).
Life’s devastating traumas can bring about ultimate blessing. The traumas allow God to deal with our sin, cleanse us from iniquity, call us to commitment, deepen our faith, strengthen our moral principles, and set us apart for holy living. When these things happen, blessing follows. It doesn’t happen overnight, any more than a lost generation is immediately replaced. It takes time. But by God’s grace, it does happen.
For Further Study: Isaiah 3:25-4:6