Saturday 15 September 2012

Bible Book:

"And the ransomed of the Lord shall return, and come to Zion with singing; everlasting joy shall be upon their heads; they shall obtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away." (v. 10)

Isaiah 35:1-10 Saturday 15 September 2012


This prophecy in Isaiah may be later than much of First Isaiahand may have come from the time of the Babylonian exile, with avision of the end of exile, the return to Zion, and the redemptionof God's people. Its central theme is that the natural order willbe dramatically transformed and that the "ransomed of the Lord"will come with joy into Israel. The signs of redemption are linkedwith earlier prophecy in Isaiah, especially with the restoration ofLebanon in Isaiah29:17-18, where the blind see and the deaf here, motifs thatare echoed in Mark's story of healing that we readearlier this week.

The basic concern of this passage is for restoration andwholeness, whether for human beings or for the natural world. Thechapter as a whole, particularly verses 5-7, is used in the Gospelsas signs of God's redemption of Israel through the ministry ofJesus (eg Luke 4:16-21). In the context of Isaiah,though, it is important to remember that the blind and the deaf arethe whole community, the people of God, who are restored to fullhumanity by the gracious redemption of God.

The biblical use of the words "redeem" and "ransom" (in verses9-10) tend to be heard by modern readers in religious terms. In theOld Testament however, the terms also have political and economicmeaning. In the exodus tradition (when the Israelites were freedfrom servitude in Egypt, documented in the book of Exodus), theseterms mean actual release from physical slavery.

Isaiah 35 proclaims the good news of God's care for the peopleof God. Those who experience their lives as exiles, those who passthrough a wilderness, those who are weak or disadvantaged mayindeed shout for joy, for God will transform all things. The veryproclamation of these things has the power to transform ordinarylives and the realities of this world.

To Ponder

  • Isaiah promises the end of suffering and a transformation ofhuman life. What signs do you see around you that this prophecymight be coming true?
  • Isaiah suggests that the people of God are restored to fullhumanity by God's redemption. How have you experienced thisrestoration in your own life?
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