24 January 2012

Isaiah 48:12-21

"I am the Lord your God, who teaches you for your own good, who leads you in the way you should go." (v. 17)


Today's passage is the second half of a poem announcing a new Exodus for those now in exile. In the first half of the poem (Isaiah 48:1-11) God calls God's own people back to Jerusalem, assures them that all that is happening is God's purpose and challenges them to hear and respond. In this, the second part, the same themes are revisited but through different imagery. God, the creator and redeemer, calls all to assemble (verse 14), as if in a great public meeting, and there openly declares his purpose and providence. Cyrus, the new powerful Persian conqueror who is threatening to overpower the ailing Babylonian empire is probably referred to in this verse as the one who the Lord loves and who will fulfil God's purposes. People are to draw close and make no mistake that this is God's unfolding future. The God who taught them (at Sinai) and led them (through the desert) is at work now in human history.

Verse 18 comes somewhat abruptly into the flow. It is meant to arrest attention, for here God reminds people of their past missed opportunities. If they had believed and worked with God in past times they would have been as flowing as a river, as unstoppable as the sea and as numerous as the grains of sand on the seashore (verse 19). 

The force of verses 20-21 is to urge them to grasp the new opportunity: to seize the moment to begin afresh with God and follow God's leading once more into the desert. In this new Exodus, as with the first, God will provide the resources needed for the journey. 

To Ponder

As I write, the financial climate is bleak and the collapse of western economies is a real possibility. What might God be saying to us through this?

What are the opportunities of this day? Pray that God will make you alert to the possibilities of faith today.