Saturday 28 January 2012

Bible Book:
Isaiah

and my justice for a light to the peoples." (v. 4)

Isaiah 51:1-8 Saturday 28 January 2012

Background

Just as the section Isaiah 40-55 begins with a word of comfort(Isaiah 40:1), today's passage carries a word ofconsolation to a people in exile. After 40 years they are again toknow God's gracious gift of salvation. God understands theirsituation and declares deliverance to them. Unlike some of thesurrounding passages, however, these verses require of the hearersonly that they listen and look. Those addressed are named as thosewho "pursue righteousness" (v. 1); that is, those who are alreadyseeking the Lord. They are not told that they have sinned or beenrebellious: they are not asked to make significant changes. Ratherthey are only to pay attention to God, and recognise what God isdoing among them.

Three times they are invited to listen (verses 1, 4 and 7). Thefirst call to listen asks them to look to Abraham and Sarah.Abraham was a solitary human being when called but became a nation.God can begin with next to nothing and create a multitude. God cantake a wasteland and make it a garden full of abundantlife. 

The second call to listen points again to the wider purpose of God.God's deliverance will be quick and will extend teaching and lightto all the nations (verse 4b). In other words, God is not simplyrestoring Israel but inviting God's own people to witness to God'slove for all nations. They are to lift up their eyes (verse 6), forthe new work of God is radical, changing heaven and earth. God isto do something new. It will be an everlasting salvation and nevercome to an end. 

The final call to listen is to reassure the faithful ones - thosewho know God's teaching in their heart. They should not be afraidof those who mock and reproach. Mockery will be temporary anddismay short lived. God's actions by contrast will have a lastingimpact: an everlasting salvation for all generations. God's word issolid and sure and to be trusted even in times of harassment andmaltreatment. 

The call to listen seems to be the key message of thispassage. 

To Ponder

Why is listening important in the life of faith?What can make it so difficult for you?

Methodists have of late been asked to look totheir roots as a"discipleship movement shaped for mission". This might be seenas looking to the founding figure, John Wesley, or to 'the rockfrom which you were hewn'. What are the values of looking tobeginnings? Are there any disadvantages?

What has been your most trying time as aChristian? What kept you going?

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