Thursday 27 September 2012

Bible Book:

"Rejoice with Jerusalem, and be glad for her, all you who love her; rejoice with her in joy, all you who mourn over her – that you may nurse and be satisfied from her consoling breast; that you may drink deeply with delight from her glorious bosom." (vv. 10-11)

Isaiah 66:10-13 Thursday 27 September 2012


This final chapter of Isaiah's all-encompassing vision of God'spurpose is an encouragement to readers to, in New Testament words,"confirm [their call] and election" (2Peter 1:10). Before and after today's passage there arereminders of God's judgement and of the need to take God's wordseriously. But here the appeal is to identify fully with Jerusalemin order to be part of God's consummated plan of salvation.

Christian readers, recognising that it is only through Christand at the time of his future coming that the hope of a perfectworld will be revealed, will interpret "Jerusalem" in verse 10 asstanding for the worldwide Church in its invisible spiritual naturerather than primarily its concrete manifestations (cf Galatians 4:26; Hebrews 12:22; Revelation 21:10).We may find it easier to grumble about the Church in the lattersense than to be glad for her in the former sense, as verse 10urges. But it does also expect us to "mourn over her", lamentingthe sins of the visible Church of which all its members are apart.

The remaining verses (verses 11-13) outline the blessings ofbeing thus fully identified with the people of God. In an all toorare biblical use of female imagery for God, and following arelated image in verse 7 of the Promised Age as one of pain-freechildbirth, Isaiah describes God as a nursing mother whose breastsare ever full so that her child finds every need met in terms ofdrinking deeply and experiencing every kind of caress andcomfort.

The reference to "prosperity (or peace) like a river" (v. 12)relates back to earlier failure through disobedience to enjoylasting peace (Isaiah 48:18); in a land where all streams areseasonal the reference here is to a year-round abundantwater-source. At the very beginning of the book (Isaiah2:2) the nations were envisaged streaming towards Jerusalem forthe Lord's blessing; here they are again, creating a world city,where the inner reality of peace is matched by outward wealthshared by all.

To ponder

  • To what extent is the situation in and around the city ofJerusalem today a help or a hindrance in acting on the instructionto rejoice and mourn for Jerusalem in verse 10?
  • In what ways do you find helpful or unhelpful the image of thegood life to come in terms of nursing at God's breast? What seem tobe reasons for your response?
  • If verse 10 indeed encourages the individual Christian toidentify with the universal Church of Christ, what implications interms of local church membership are there? 

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