10 December 2007

Isaiah 24:1-16a

"And it shall be, as with the people, so with the priest; as with the slave, so with his master; as with the maid, so with her mistress; as with the buyer, so with the seller; as with the lender, so with the borrower; as with the creditor, so with the debtor." (v.2)


Advent was traditionally a time of fasting and giving up, a time of reflection upon the world and an anticipation of all that Christ's birth brings. This passage from Isaiah is a reminder this Advent to sit up and take seriously the plight of our world.

The previous chapters of Isaiah are a catalogue of judgements against the nations. (Isaiah then goes to speak about God's blessing in the last days along with the victory over the forces of evil.)

The prophet was speaking to a lost people who had forgotten the way of God and was warning them of the pending judgement. The passage speaks of the devastation of the earth that nobody can escape. It will be the same no matter who you are, priest and people, master and servant - the list continues. The earth will be laid waste, plundered and withered.

Sometimes as we read the scriptures there is an immediate resonance with issues facing us today. Our planet is on the brink of destruction because of our excesses. The earth that gives so much is in danger and Isaiah's message is for us too.

The future looks bleak for us and all people with whom we share this planet; nobody will escape the effects of climate change. We cannot go on living as we are and not face the consequences of our poor stewardship.

In this season when shelves are stacked high with gifts and Christmas trimmings, let us fight the temptation to consume excessively. Let Advent be the time that we consider and carry out all we can do to stop the devastation of this world and its resources.

To Ponder

What can you do to help combat the stripping of the world's resources?

What can you give up at Advent as a sign of your commitment to God's ways?

How can you get others to take climate change seriously?

Bible notes author

Revd Matt Finch

Matt Finch is a Methodist Minister in the West Norfolk Circuit where he shares oversight of ten rural chapels. He is a Fresh Expressions Associate Missioner and passionate about seeing churches flourish in all contexts and people groups.