14 December 2011

Isaiah 9:8-17 (Looking for God in hard lessons)

"For all this, his anger has not turned away; his hand is stretched out still." (v. 12)


This is a passage about pride and anger; God's anger and human pride. It is difficult to hear. People know why things are going wrong for them - they sense a message from God as the sycamores are cut down and as the buildings collapse. But instead of responding to the lesson that God is teaching them, they simply replace the sycamores with cedars and the bricks with dressed stone. Unsurprisingly God's anger is not "turned away". The lesson isn't being learnt. We may well understand their response; the difficulties their disobedience has got them into are unbearable. The simplest thing appears to be to try and plaster over the problem. The deeper lesson is that by hearing the word God has sent upon Judah that falls upon Israel (verse 8), they will do far more than reduce the symptoms of their dis-ease. God's anger is not gratuitous but intends all the wonderful things that are heard in the verses before. Paying attention, even to difficult lessons, is thus a challenge to both our capacity to trust God's goodness, and to follow God's pathway for us.

To Ponder

Where can love and anger go together?

What difference does love make to that anger?

A challenge:
Am you papering over the cracks of problems that you need to solve?

Bible notes author

The Revd Dr Mark Wakelin

Born in Africa to missionary parents, Mark Wakelin is a Methodist minister, He was the President of the Methodist Conference 2012/2013, and before that worked for the Connexional Team, as the secretary for internal relationships. He is now the minster at Epsom Methodist Chuch.