"Sing, O barren, you who have not borne! Break forth into singing, and cry aloud, you who have not labored with child! For more are the children of the desolate than the children of the married woman," says the LORD. "Enlarge the place of your tent, and let them stretch out the curtains of your dwellings; do not spare; lengthen your cords, and strengthen your stakes." Isaiah 54:1-2
We understand that this scripture addresses the state of despair the Jews were in after their deliverance from captivity. Isaiah 54:1-2 is a prophecy of their inheritance of increase for their nation after they settled into their own land. Jerusalem had been in the condition of a wife who is childless, or a desolate solitary widow; but now it is promised that the city should be replenished and the country peopled again. Not only are the ruins of Jerusalem to be repaired, but the suburbs that extended on all sides and a great many buildings erected upon new foundations, estates which had for many years been wrongfully held by the Babylonian Gentiles should now return to the right owners. God will again be a husband to His people and the reproach of their captivity, and the small number to which they were then reduced shall be forgotten as the children of the desolate become more than the children of the married woman. It is also to be observed that, by virtue of the ancient promise made to Abraham of the increase of His seed, that when they were restored to God’s favor they multiplied greatly.
I was recently inspired by the promise in this scripture and believe that this is also a promise to us, God’s people, in this chaotic season that our world is in. I believe that God is about to turn our captivity and confusion and release us into a large place that He has promised and prepared for us.
As leaders and human beings, my wife and I have been through an interesting decade. Like you, we have promises from the Lord of what He wants to do in and through our lives, yet it has been a season of lack and betrayal, disappointment in ourselves and others, with days full of faith and days full of doubt. At times we have felt like this scripture in Job, “I go forward but He is not there, I go side to side but cannot find him. Yet He knows the way I take and when I come forth I shall be as gold.” Job 23:8
It is during these seemingly barren times that we learn from Isaiah 54 that barrenness, desolation, and fruitlessness are all preparation for enlargement. King David confirms this in Psalm 4:1, “In my distress thou hast enlarged me.” In acknowledging that I am in a process, I have been encouraged that I am being prepared for the fullness of God’s plan for my life.
The first step of the process involves spiritual heart surgery as our hearts are being enlarged to receive and contain God’s continual downloads of compassion. Personally, I know this to be true because the Lord was very gracious to me and showed me an operation He was performing on my and my wife’s heart with an incredibly sharp knife. It was shocking to me, and after the surgery the Lord gave me the following scripture in Psalm 119:32: “I shall run the way of Your commandments, For You will enlarge my heart.”
I understood that God was enlarging our hearts for Him and for others. Joseph would be the biblical character I related to during this process. His story is found in Genesis 37-50. Most of us are very familiar with the plot line. God gives him a dream that excites him for his future then almost immediately his brothers sell him into slavery. He then faithfully serves a master named Potiphar whose wife falsely accuses him and then Joseph lands in prison. Wow, what a process! Thankfully, Joseph’s faithfulness sustained him while his capacity was being enlarged, and at end of the story God ultimately fulfills his promise and purpose for Joseph, and the nation of Israel is saved.
First, it is all in the process, and scripture clearly spells out how God prepared Joseph for enlargement in Psalm 107:18-19: “His feet were held in chains while the word of the Lord tested him.” The outcome was that in the process his heart was enlarged. In Genesis 50:20, it reads, “As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today.” We see God had changed his heart toward his brothers and had given him a profound understanding of what the process was meant to accomplish. I know that there are many reading this who have gone through a similar process. We certainly have, and, even though we don’t have all of the answers, we recognize that it is a process that has been specifically designed to assure that we land exactly where God means for us to.
Secondly, we see that the process is to enlarge our capacity. Moses is a great example in that. We see him in Egypt realizing he has been called to deliver Israel. Many years later, according to Exodus 2:11-12, when Moses had grown up, he went out to visit his people, the Hebrews, and saw how hard they were forced to work. Then, he saw an Egyptian beating one of his fellow Hebrews. Verse 12 tells us, “After looking in all directions to make sure no one was watching, Moses killed the Egyptian and hid the body in the sand.”
The next day, when Moses went out to visit his people again, he saw two Hebrew men fighting. “Why are you beating up your friend?” Moses said to the one who had started the fight. The man replied, “Who appointed you to be our prince and judge? Are you going to kill me as you killed that Egyptian yesterday?” Then Moses was afraid, thinking, “Everyone knows what I did.” And sure enough, Pharaoh heard what had happened, and he tried to kill Moses. But Moses fled from Pharaoh and went to live in the land of Midian.” Exodus 2:13-15
After Moses’ rash act, God sent Moses to the wilderness to enlarge his capacity. Moses’ mindset and capacity were to deliver one Israelite at a time. God’s mindset was to take the entire nation out in one night. It seems God has to separate and isolate us at times so he can enlarge our capacity for His purposes to be fulfilled.
The Bible actually says that Moses was on the back side of the wilderness. I'm not sure what the back side of the wilderness is, but it must be somewhere way away from anyone or anything else. We may be in a place that seems way away from what God is doing or can do, but it was in this place that God showed up and spoke from a fiery bush. I believe we are about to have this kind of encounter in the season of enlargement.
Joseph and Moses had to go through their own process and both leaders’ capacities had to be enlarged so they could fulfill the mandates on their lives. I believe that is where many of us are in the Body of Christ. We have been through God’s process and now He is ready for us to step into a large place of rich fulfillment.
Psalm 66:10-12 declares:
Oh, bless our God, you peoples!
And make the voice of His praise to be heard,
Who keeps our soul among the living,
And does not allow our feet to be moved.
For You, O God, have tested us;
You have refined us as silver is refined.
You brought us into the net;
You laid affliction on our backs.
You have caused men to ride over our heads;
We went through fire and through water;
But You brought us out to rich fulfillment (large place).
I want to encourage you to dream again, believe God for big things. Let hope come alive that He will do for us what He has promised He will do. Let’s enter a new season by faith and trust that we will taste and see God’s rich fulfillment. Let's dare to pray the bold prayer of Jabez once again:
Jabez cried out to the God of Israel, "Oh, that you would bless me and enlarge my territory! Let your hand be with me, and keep me from harm so that I will be free from pain." And God granted his request.
This is what it looked like when God fulfilled Isaiah 54 for Israel:
When the Lord brought back the captivity of Zion,
We were like those who dream.
Then our mouth was filled with laughter,
And our tongue with singing.
Then they said among the nations,
“The Lord has done great things for them.”
The Lord has done great things for us,
And we are glad.
Bring back our captivity, O Lord,
As the streams in the South.
Those who sow in tears Shall reap in joy.
He who continually goes forth weeping,
Bearing seed for sowing,
Shall doubtless come again with rejoicing,
Bringing his sheaves with him.
I believe in this season we will have to pinch ourselves and say, “This must be a dream, I can’t believe what God has done for us.” It is time to declare: My time of enlargement has come.
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