Thursday 19 January 2012

Bible Book:

or command me concerning the work of my hands?" (v. 11)

Isaiah 45:8-17 Thursday 19 January 2012


God has revealed the plan to Israel to use Cyrus as the agent ofrestoration to home, city and temple (Isaiah44:26-28). However dissent seems to be the response to the ideato use a foreigner and a Gentile (non-Jew) to end the period ofexile. There is fear that the homecoming will be as subjects of apagan king, with the holy city of Jerusalem and the temple rebuiltunder his direction. God's response is to underline that there isno 'plan B' and that both creation and salvation are only possibleby the hand of the Lord.

By means of two pictures (verses 9-10), God underlines that as anation of created beings, Israel is entirely dependent upon thecreator. Clay is powerless to mould itself, but only becomes formedthrough the hands of the potter, and a child is unable to choose afather during conception, nor a mother during birth. Both the potand the baby are dependent entirely upon a power beyond themselvesfor their existence. Like a rebellious child, Israel is nowquestioning God's purpose for their future, suggesting they areforgetful of the divine grace of the past. Through Cyrus, God isproposing to offer Israel freedom and salvation from exile, but theexiles seem to have become choosy as to how they wish to be freedand saved.

God however will not be deflected from the divine purpose, and thatpurpose includes raising Cyrus for the task (verse 13) every bit asmuch as it involves the freedom and restoration of Israel. Thereare alternatives on offer: the path of idolatry can be taken whichleads to shame and confusion (verse 16) but to remain faithfullywithin the divine purpose is retain a unique identification withGod. There is no conflict, ultimately, between Israel's identity,the instrument who has been chosen to restore its fortunes and thedivine nature of the Eternal One "who is with you alone, and thereis no other" (v. 14).

To Ponder

In what ways are you creative? When have youcreated something and "it was very good" (Genesis1:31)? How did you feel?

Which of the images offered in Isaiah (the pot,the baby) do you find most helpful in reflecting on therelationship between creator and creation? Why? What other imagesof your own do you find more insightful?

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