6 April 2011Isaiah 49:8-15
"Thus says the Lord: In a time of favour I have answered you, on a day of salvation I have helped you; I have kept you and given you as a covenant to the people, to establish the land, to apportion the desolate heritages; saying to the prisoners, 'Come out,' to those who are in darkness, 'Show yourselves.'" (vv. 8-9)
The book of Isaiah is filled with challenging calls to recommit
to God and astonishing images of God's love and care for people.
Here we see a more specific promise as the Israelites are told they
will be restored to the land from which they were exiled and that
their period of exile will be brought to an end. They are promised
food (verse 10) and a smooth journey (verse 11) and even those
exiled as far as Aswan (now a region of southern Egypt) will be
restored. This is a far reaching and deeply specific promise for
God's people offering them a concrete hope in a time of uncertainty
and suffering. But it is a promise that is not without relevance
today. The image of God's dedication to the Israelites as being
greater than that of a nursing mother (verse 15) to her child is
extremely powerful, resonating in almost every generation and
culture. It is an image which stresses the protection, strength and
intimacy God offers and indeed promises even in the times when we
may feel forgotten.
The words of verse 9 take us a step further than the promises ofTuesday's passage. Here we find a reminder not simply of all that God promises to us but a challenge to take that message of hope to the world around us. We live in a society in which we seem to find more forms of 'captivity' and darkness than ever before as issues of debt, addiction, low self-esteem, unemployment and guilt become more and more prevalent. Isaiah's words of hope and love speak as clearly to these modern day issues as they did to the Israelites in their time of exile.
What hope does today's passage offer to the marginalised and overwhelmed in our society today?
What do you feel you could do to demonstrate this hope in your local context?