Day forty-nine of our cover to cover voyage through the Bible. If you want to see the readings for our trip through the Bible you can follow this link:
Day 49 Readings: Isaiah 1:1-13:22
We have shifted dramatically from the wisdom literature into the prophetic writings. Isaiah, son of Amoz, gives some troubling predictions for Judah and Jerusalem. Images of destruction of formerly beloved vineyards, haunts for wild animals and remnants of population should have given the hearers pause.
The message that Isaiah lifts up is really one of "The End is Near!" I wonder how many even considered what he was saying or if he was dismissed like the cartoon cliché that sign-bearer has become. If someone stepped up in your congregation this Sunday or came to your door tonight or confronted you in the parking lot of Trader Joe's (or wherever you like to shop for the special something) and said "It is all going to end very soon." what would your response be? Jonah, eventually, went to Nineveh with just such a dire prediction. The whole place, palace to cow stable, fasted and put on ashes and God relented. Perhaps that would have been the case had Isaiah's audience been a little more attentive and responsive.
In the midst of these gloomy forecasts some of the most beloved promises of scripture about the coming savior are spoken. The sign of Immanuel is given to Ahaz in chapter 7 (how that is a sign to him when it isn't fulfilled for centuries is an interesting question for another time). Isaiah 9 puts the words to Handel's Messiah. More promises are to be found about the stump of Jesse in Isaiah 11. Jesus and his reign of peace and salvation are strewn throughout these texts of judgment, death and captivity.
Where do you find yourself this day? Do you feel that you are suffering consequences of God's judgment? Are you oblivious to what God's prophets are even saying? Are you put upon yet able to discern the hope of the coming kingdom and reign of Jesus? Are you conquering or conquered? Are you longing for a sign or perhaps a warning sign in the life of another? Are you one, like Isaiah, proclaiming "Here am I, Send Me!" (see With One Voice hymn number 752 "I, the Lord of Sea and Sky" aka "Here I am, Lord").
Our loyalties and our memories fade and falter. God, remembers God's covenant with us. The good promises of Isaiah 7 and 9 and 11 are for us and for all. May we rest in the gentle and saving reign of Jesus no matter what the world before us promises or threatens.
God, thank you for sending Jesus. Teach us to trust him and those who remind us of his promises and his coming reign. Help us hear your voice. He we are, send us. Amen.