10 I will greatly rejoice in the LORD,
My soul shall be joyful in my God;
For He has clothed me with the garments of salvation,
He has covered me with the robe of righteousness,
As a bridegroom decks himself with ornaments,
And as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.
11 For as the earth brings forth its bud,
As the garden causes the things that are sown in it to spring forth,
So the Lord GOD will cause righteousness and praise to spring forth before all the nations.
Have you ever caught yourself singing in public? You know how it goes: you’re in a good mood, a tune gets stuck in your head, and you start singing it quietly (or loudly!) without really thinking about who might be standing nearby, listening. And if you’re a Christian, sometimes those songs take the form of praise and worship, or maybe just a recent favorite contemporary Christian tune. You start singing “Amazing Grace” or “How Great is Our God” as tunefully as you can…and then the next day someone knocks on your door and arrests you for publicly preaching Christianity.
Last night as I read today’s verses from Isaiah, I thought about how easy it is for us in America to sing praises to our God and King, and yet we so rarely do so. And then I considered the churches worldwide where they sing praises to the Lord at the risk of their own lives. People in India supposedly have the freedom to worship whatever god they choose, and yet Christians are persecuted by the destruction of their homes and places of worship. Converts from Islam to Christianity are hunted down and killed – if they don’t manage to escape to foreign lands, forever exiled from their families and homeland. In many Arab countries, conversion is labeled “apostasy” and is punishable by death, and preaching the gospel of Christ to a Muslim will get you deported at least, executed at worst. In Malaysia, you must declare your religion on your state-issued ID card, and state laws forbid conversion to Christianity, and Christian evangelistic practices are strictly controlled. In China, churches must be licensed by the government and precious few get those licenses, and preaching or teaching the gospel outside of a licensed church will get you thrown into prison. In many parts of Northern Africa, Christians are persecuted by Muslims at the urging of the governments themselves!
And yet it is inevitable that Christianity should be preached in every corner of the globe, because we were told to do so.
And He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature.”
God has ordained that His righteousness will “spring forth before all the nations.” Furthermore, He has ordained PRAISE will spring forth before all nations! Jesus told His disciples they would be persecuted in His name’s sake, and so they still are. But He also said:
“And you will be hated by all for My name’s sake. But he who endures to the end will be saved.”
Those who sing God’s praises under persecution are enduring to the end, they are remaining steadfast and true. They know that their light and temporary affliction is meant for God’s greater glory.
Today and every day, we who can do so ought to praise God openly and without shame. Shame is of the devil, a useless reticence that serves Satan more than it serves us. Let us speak out for God whenever we can, praising Him publicly for His righteousness. A time is coming and is now here when even we here in the “free” countries will be persecuted and jailed for speaking God’s Word in truth and love. The gospel is a target, but we should not be afraid to put that target on our hearts, because God in His infinite love has indeed clothed us “with the garments of salvation.” How can we NOT praise Him?!? Just as springtime is inevitable and dresses the earth in lively color and abundance, so should righteousness and praise come forth from you and me and every believer in every nation on the earth.
God Almighty, Your blessed Son has clothed us with the robe of His own righteousness – a robe dipped in His own blood and yet whiter than snow. Let us join those in churches worldwide to sing praises to Your name, and may Your Word be ever upon our lips. Let us never forget the persecution that has come to others will soon come to us, but, Lord God, please embolden us to worship You loudly and without fear. Thank You for enduring pain and even death for us. May we be ever willing to do so for You. Amen.