Tuesday 17 December 2013

Bible Book:

Isaiah 50:4-10 Tuesday 17 December 2013


This section of the book of Isaiah seems to be rather differentfrom the earlier chapters. It was once widely held that chapters1-39 were written before the people of God were taken into exile inBabylon, while chapters 40-66 contain clear references to animminent (and real) return to their homeland. Recently, however,opinion is gathering around the notion that these later chaptershold the entire book together in a new way, reflecting on 'theformer things' and focusing attention on the 'new thing' that Godis doing.

Embedded in these chapters is a series of poems about amysterious 'servant' (of God). Today's passage is the third ofthese 'servant songs'. The calling of God's servant (perhaps theauthor of these poems, or perhaps God's people?) is to be exposedto torture and brutality, but all the while he is (they are) underthe protection of God. But what kind of protection is that?

The measure of God's protection is not to be found in theexternal aspects of life, mere survival. In November we heard ofthe impending closure of the naval shipyard in Portsmouth. In a BBCinterview a man whose job is set to go at the end of the year spokeof his anxiety. He and his wife are both deeply upset but herreaction is more 'philosophical': "You may not have your job, butwe have our house, we have each other". Where is your heart? Whatreally matters? What is your bottom line?

I heard of a primary school head who urged her staff colleagueswith these words: "This isn't about you; it isn't about me; it'sabout the children". Something of that spirit rings through thesechapters. God blesses us, but God has a purpose for us too.

To Ponder

  • The people of God grew accustomed to living in the 'betweentimes'. How well does this match your current experience?
  • When push comes to shove, what matters most to you?
  • In your church, at your place of work, are you clear aboutwhat, and who, matters most of all? And what is it?
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