Friday 23 February 2018

Bible Book:

“The nation and kingdom that will not serve you shall perish; those nations shall be utterly laid waste” (v. 12)

Isaiah 60:8-16 Friday 23 February 2018

Psalm: Psalm 130


The Old Testament can sometimes contain words, phrases and ideas that disturb us or seem out of place in our contemporary world. How do you feel when you read verse 12? When we look at the history of our world, we might think of many examples where nations with power have crushed, damaged and ruined those who would not serve their ends – is this really how God thinks our world should be? How much of our own wealth has been accumulated at the expense of other nations?

Reflecting on this, it could be helpful to recognise that the chapter begins not with a picture of a nation simply being handed influence and power, but the light of God’s presence dawning at the heart of its life (Isaiah 60:1-3). One of the key messages throughout the Old Testament is that God does not expect his people to simply be a nation in their own right, but a reflection of God’s presence on earth; a living example of how God longs for our world to be.

It is clear that God’s vision of nationhood is not one where any can inflict harm and ruin on another, but one where nations live as community. How does Isaiah’s image of gates that are open to others sit alongside our approach to international borders today? Why does Isaiah see open borders as enabling the sharing of wealth and wellbeing rather than being a threat to be feared?

In Isaiah’s view of the world, ruin comes about not because one nation inflicts its power on another, but when nations distance themselves from a vision of international community centred on God’s justice.

To Ponder

  • Where do you see examples of international co-operation today? How can this be celebrated?
  • Does this passage have anything to contribute to the discussions about Brexit? If so, what?
  • How do you respond to passages which speak about God who is violent and destructive?
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