Today we finish our journey through the book of Isaiah. It’s hard to appreciate the kind of ministry prophets had back in those times. They didn’t publish books or go on speaking tours. In fact, most of the time when they showed up it was more a threat than a treat. The last chapters remind us of judgment and hope, of the time when all will be called to account for the choices made that fly in the face of God.
Isaiah 63:1-6: God’s Day of Vengeance and Redemption
Thoughts of Revelation 19:11-21 come to mind when reading this first section of chapter 63.
I looked, but there was no one to help,
I was appalled that no one gave support;
so my own arm achieved salvation for me,
and my own wrath sustained me.
The day of judgment will surely come, but I’m in no hurry for that day. Yes, there will be no more pain and suffering and it will be a glorious new dawn for those who have put their faith in Christ. However, for those I dearly love and for the great number who don’t know Jesus, this day will not be welcomed. No, I don’t look forward to this for that reason. Be patient with us Lord and help us to reach out to those who have not accepted your grace and forgiveness.
Isaiah 63:7-64:12: Praise and Prayer
Isaiah’s mini-sermon extols the wonders of the Lord in remembrance and calls out to have his mighty hand return and guide his people.
For when you did awesome things that we did not expect,
you came down, and the mountains trembled before you.
I love the notion of this verse, “awesome things that we did not expect.” I’m sure if I were in closer step with the Lord, I’d see how many things happen that we don’t expect. Honestly, I think I’m so focused on my own little world that I miss the glory of God by majoring in the minors, by concentrating on little things that have no kingdom impact.
Yet you, Lord, are our Father.
We are the clay, you are the potter;
we are all the work of your hand.
Do not be angry beyond measure, Lord;
do not remember our sins forever.
Oh, look on us, we pray,
for we are all your people.
Please remember, Lord, that we are your clay. Do not be angry when I say stupid things or think thoughts that are misguided. Our intentions are often good and true, help us to align our actions with our words.
Isaiah 65:1-16: Judgment and Salvation
The painful truth of this passage is hard to deny:
“I revealed myself to those who did not ask for me;
I was found by those who did not seek me.
To a nation that did not call on my name,
I said, ‘Here am I, here am I.’
All day long I have held out my hands
to an obstinate people,
who walk in ways not good,
pursuing their own imaginations—
“Pursuing their own imaginations…” Such an appropriate depiction of sin that covers so much. Our society in particular encourages such behavior under the banner of inclusiveness. While the concept has worthwhile roots in compassion and understanding, Satan has used this foothold to corrupt many by whispering into ears that whatever feels right is right. The great tempter has misled many this way, feeding into the imaginations of intelligent and powerful people that make those of us who call upon Christ look like fools. My speech is slow, I’m not capable of rapid-fire rebuttal, I guess that why I type slowly each morning, but I pray for salvation and believe God’s hands are at work where I cannot see.
Bless this land, Lord, bless your people again in bold strokes that are inviting to those who are far from you!
Whoever invokes a blessing in the land
will do so by the one true God;
whoever takes an oath in the land
will swear by the one true God.
For the past troubles will be forgotten
and hidden from my eyes.
Isaiah 65:17-25: New Heavens and a New Earth
I do look forward to this glorious day:
“See, I will create
new heavens and a new earth.
The former things will not be remembered,
nor will they come to mind…
The wolf and the lamb will feed together,
and the lion will eat straw like the ox,
and dust will be the serpent’s food.
They will neither harm nor destroy
on all my holy mountain,”
says the Lord.
Isaiah 66: Judgment and Hope
The words of judgment are nothing to be excited about. Those who have fallen into Satan’s trap can be redeemed. There is no denying that we see people every day, that we know of those who have chosen their own self-righteous paths:
They have chosen their own ways,
and they delight in their abominations;
so I also will choose harsh treatment for them
and will bring on them what they dread.
For when I called, no one answered,
when I spoke, no one listened.
They did evil in my sight
and chose what displeases me.”
O Lord, forgive us when we do these things! Help us to reveal this truth to others that don’t see the err of their ways. Give me the right words to guide them back to you. My heart is heavy when I think about your just judgment.
My preference is to dwell on this promise more than the annihilation of those who denied Christ:
For this is what the Lord says:
“I will extend peace to her like a river,
and the wealth of nations like a flooding stream;
you will nurse and be carried on her arm
and dandled on her knees.
As a mother comforts her child,
so will I comfort you;
and you will be comforted over Jerusalem.”
Lord, may our message be heard: Grow your church, Holy Spirit, may it stretch across this land and all people be glad. Let this generation be the generation that makes a difference. May we be the people they talk about when the tide was turned, not for fame, but for your glory. You have done it before, Lord, do it again today!