Isaiah 54:1, “Shout for joy, O barren one, you who have borne no child; break forth into joyful shouting and cry aloud, you who have not travailed; for the sons of the desolate one will be more numerous than the sons of the married woman,” says the Lord.”
Now, the metaphor of a woman being able to give birth to children is a powerful metaphor today, but in Isaiah’s day it would have been an even stronger description, because there was incredible pressure on women in the ancient culture to give birth to as many children as possible.
In our culture today if you are excited about children people look at your like you are weird, but in the ancient culture children were a status symbol. In Isaiah’s day the more children you had the more you could prosper, because it means the more land you could work, the greater harvest you would receive, the more income you would make, so that a larger family was a status symbol in the ancient culture.
I am guessing there are some of us who are saying to ourselves, “Typical biblical oppression of women reducing the female to the identity of baby-maker.” But, every culture that has ever existed drifts toward status symbols to identify who is elevated and who is oppressed.
When you were in middle school it was passing notes, when you were in high school it was your car, and today it is your career. It is called sin. All of humanity takes good gifts form the Lord and we make them into our own personal Savior to give validation, worth, and value compared to other people, and in the ancient culture it was child bearing.
Therefore, when you read Isaiah 54, verse 1 and see the phrase, “Shout for joy, O barren one” the people in Isaiah’s day would have thought, “Why? Why would the barren woman shout for joy?”
The reason is because of Isaiah 53. In Isaiah 53 we see a promise of a future figure who will come with unusual characteristics to draw His people to Himself, and absorb their pain and hardships on Himself. Can you imagine!
Isaiah 53 gives a promise that someone is going to come to take the shame and anxiety of a barren womb upon Himself. Someone is going to come to take the loneliness of social rejection upon Himself. Someone is going to come and take our embarrassment upon Himself, and not only take our broken status symbols upon Himself, but give us His eternal status symbol. That is why the barren women is shouting for joy in Isaiah 54!
This future figure is going to give His treasure. He is going to give His power, and He is going to give His acceptance. He is going to give us His status of Sonship, and instead of anxiety and worry and fear about your status symbol He is going to give us the greatest gift we could ever imagine by grace through faith in Him.
Please take a moment this Christmas to pause and remember the greatest gift you have ever been given in Jesus Christ. Yes, that new sweater is nice, and the new technology is fun, but in Christ, there is a status symbol that will never fade, never perish, reserved for you and protected by the power of God.