Friday

16 December 2011

"Against a godless nation I send him, and against the people of my wrath I command him, to take spoil and seize plunder, and to tread them down like the mire of the streets." (v. 6)

Background

How are we to understand the troubles that assail us? It is easy to make excuses for God and think that God's got nothing to do with it. Today, for example, we may want to account for the difficulties of the Church in the language of social science, talking of 'secularisation', or 'post Christendom', and making sense of our feelings of marginalisation and decline in terms of the inevitable movement of social forces. 'It's nothing to do with God.'

It is tempting for Isaiah to understand their predicament in terms of powerful kings and the conquest of superior armies. 'It's nothing to do with God!'

In such analysis these is an easy comfort, but an inevitable hopelessness arises. If it is all nothing to do with God, then God has nothing to do with it all and all is hopeless. By Isaiah understanding the people's circumstances in these difficult terms, God is written back into the story, and in the darkness of their suffering a light is lit for the future. The God who uses such a stick is never to be mastered by it, and God's love will be shown in ways less painful. Surprising though this may seem as we read these passages, their purpose is to remind people of a God who has everything to do with it, and who still goes on loving.

To Ponder

How may we account for our Church's present situation in terms of God's continual care and concern for us?

What hope is there in your own life to know that God remains sovereign over all?

A challenge:
"The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away, blessed be the name of the Lord." (Job 1:21)

 

Bible notes author: The Revd Dr Mark Wakelin

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