4 April 2011

Isaiah 65:17-21

"I will rejoice in Jerusalem, and delight in my people; no more shall the sound of weeping be heard in it, or the cry of distress." (v. 19)


The book of Isaiah presents us with a challenging, yet wonderful picture of the nature of God: we are continually reminded of a God who calls for commitment and obedience but simultaneously makes astonishing promises of love, provision and protection to those who respond to that call.

Having pronounced judgement on the people for ignoring God, Isaiah proceeds to outline the hope for those who choose to serve God in verse 17. These words are echoed in Revelation where John also has a vision of the future (Revelation 21) but here Isaiah couples the reference to a new heaven with a wonderful promise that God will forget all the sins of the people and a new era will begin.

What is most striking about this passage is the way in which the prophet describes God's involvement with and devotion to people. This is not a general promise to a nation in exile but a specific description of all that God's love will mean to individuals in their daily lives. It is a promise that extends from the weakest of infants to the eldest member of the community. It is a promise of God's ongoing provision as we read of a nation that will settle long enough to build houses and long enough to see the fruit of their crops (verse 21). In any context this would be a wonderful vision of peace and prosperity but to Isaiah's hearers, a nation faced with slavery and exile, the promise is even greater. A nation of refuges and exploited workers are promised homes and land of their own and reminded of the God who longs to supply all of their needs. This is a passage which clearly underlines God's desire for restoration and peace in every generation. Isaiah's condemnation of the people is uncompromisingly clear but the protection, love and provision offered to those who follow is a powerful reminder that God understands the challenges each of us face, and longs to meet with us in those difficult places as we open our lives to God's help and guidance.

To Ponder

In which areas of your life do you feel most in need of God's help?

In what ways have you seen God at work in the details of your life?

Bible notes author

The Revd Jenny Pryde

Jenny Pryde studied at the Wesley Study Centre in Durham. She is stationed to the United North East Circuit and was ordained in July 2009.