But now hear, O Jacob my servant,
Israel whom I have chosen!
Thus says the LORD who made you,
who formed you in the womb and will help you:
Do not fear, O Jacob my servant,
Jeshurun whom I have chosen.
For I will pour water on the thirsty land,
and streams on the dry ground;
I will pour my spirit upon your descendants,
and my blessing on your offspring.
They shall spring up like a green tamarisk,
like willows by flowing streams.
This one will say, “I am the LORD’s,”
another will be called by the name of Jacob,
yet another will write on the hand, “The LORD’s,”
and adopt the name of Israel. (Isaiah 44:1-5)
God has moved in with his people for good. On the day of Pentecost the Spirit of God came upon believers in a new way, as part of the New Covenant that God was making with them. Jeremiah would later say that in doing this, God was writing his law on the hearts of his people. When the Spirit took up residence in them, it had a tremendous impact on their lives. They couldn’t help but become fruitful and abundant. God compared that new life to lush willow trees growing by a flowing stream.
Writing the words “The Lord’s” on a hand was a reference to the original covenant between Israel and God, when he had told the people that they would write his law on their hands and forehead. In Jewish practice, this led to the phylacteries: little boxes that were tied about the hands and head when they prayed. God’s point, however, was not that people should scribble on their bodies. Rather, God was drawing a picture: he wanted to be the center of their lives. Before the captivity, the people worshipped other gods and were distracted by everything else around them. After the captivity, his people would have God as their focus. At last they would be able to love both God and their neighbors as themselves. With God living inside of us, our lives have been changed from what they would have been without him there.