"Upon the land of my people shall come up thorns and briers; yea, upon all the houses of joy in the joyous city: because the palaces shall be forsaken; the multitude of the city shall be left; the forts and towers shall be dens for ever, a joy of wild asses, a pasture of flocks;
until the Spirit be poured upon us from on highand the wilderness be a fruitful field, and the fruitful field be counted for a forest." (vs. 13 - 15)
I'm amazed at the contrast between verses 13/14 and verse 15. The author so vividly describes the desolation that is life without Christ, and then the refreshing that is life in Christ. The only difference between the two? The outpouring of the Spirit.
"Then judgment shall dwell in the wilderness, and righteousness remain in the fruitful field. And the work of righteousness shall be peace; and the effect of righteousness quietness and assurance for ever." (vs. 16-17)
With the outpouring of the Spirit, He promises righteousness not only in the fruitful field, but also in the wilderness. "Assurance for ever".
"And my people shall dwell in a peaceable habitation, and in sure dwellings, and in quiet resting places; when it shall hail, coming down on the forest; and the city shall be low in a low place." (vs. 18-19)
We are promised rest and peace. Even when there is hail coming down on our fruitful forest, when we lift up our head and lightning strikes... we are promised sure dwellings.
We were eating out last night and sitting close enough to another table to catch quite a bit of their conversation. As I listened to them talk, the emptiness was almost overwhelming. The nights of worthless activities. The lack of fulfillment. The complete absence of living for any greater purpose at all. And my guilt set in, as it always does when I think too long about how much I've been given, how much I've been saved from, and how unbelievably beautiful it is to live life hand in hand with Christ.
And that's just it... when I recognize that it is Him - that I've been blessed with these things, there's no room for guilt. Because in Christ, there is justice, and righteousness - and "blessed are ye that sow beside all waters" (vs. 20)