Friday

01 April 2016

“Surely God is my salvation; I will trust, and will not be afraid, for the Lord God is my strength and my might; he has become my salvation.” (v. 2)

Psalm: Psalm 149


Background

Ezekiel's vision, which we read yesterday, was addressed to exiled Judaeans who had given in to despair. The other temptation for an exiled people was to become assimilated in the dominant culture - in this case the Judaeans. Isaiah's task was to strengthen God's people to resist both of these temptations, by offering a vision of the restored homeland - Jerusalem raised to new life and glory.

Although the first part of Isaiah (chapters 1-39) is set in the Syro-Ephraimite war (c. 735BC) after which the Israelites were exiled to Assyria, it is addressed, like Ezekiel, to the Judaeans exiled in Babylon over a century later. Today's passage is the culmination of a whole section, much-read around Christmas, of glorious promises that light will shine in the darkness (Isaiah 9:1-7), God's people be gathered from all the ends of the earth back to their homeland in a second exodus (Isaiah 11:10-16) and an ideal kingdom of peace and prosperity be established in Judah (Isaiah 11:1-9).

Today's passage is a song of praise in response to God's promise of rescue, a foreshadowing of the words of praise God's people will sing "in that day" (v. 1) when these promises are fulfilled. The point of these promises is to remind the Judaeans who they really are. They are not abandoned, hopeless, godless people; neither are they Babylonians, complacent in their night and dominance; they are the chosen people of God, beloved of God, whose identity is expressed in the worship of God. And God is in their midst (verse 6) and never abandons them.

As with Ezekiel's vision, the parallels with the resurrection story are obvious. Throughout the ages God does not promise that there will be no disaster or destruction, but God does always promise new life, and the record of Scripture shows God to be faithful to God's promises. Even when we are in the midst of disaster and destruction, God says that our true life is the new resurrection life; our true identity is in the presence of God and expressed in the worship and proclamation of God's love.


To Ponder

  • In a sense, in this world we are exiles from God's kingdom. In what ways are you tempted to despair? In what ways are you tempted to assimilate?
  • What evidence can you see in your own life of God continually bringing forth new life?


Bible notes author: The Revd Anna Bishop

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