Tuesday 22 March 2011

Bible Book:

"Learn to do good; seek justice, rescue the oppressed, defend the orphan, plead for the widow." (v. 17)

Isaiah 1:1,16-20 Tuesday 22 March 2011


The cities of Sodom and Gomorrah stand in the Bible as models ofthe evil city. In Genesis 18:16 - 19:28 the story is told ofhow God destroyed them as a result of the behaviour of theresidents of the city. The story makes it clear that there werevery, very few who lived as they should. Their society acceptedbehaviour that was wrong. And in the end they faced theconsequences.

Isaiah is speaking centuries later. He makes it clear that thoughpeople still do wrong, God will forgive and give them anotherchance, if they turn away from wrong and do what is right. God islike that - forgiving time and again. But the prophet sayssomething else as well. He assures the people that if they do whatis right "you shall eat the good of the land" (verse 19) - lifewill be good.

Can we believe the prophet? Don't people who do wrong often getaway with it. Of course that is often true if we only look atmaterial things, such as the heartless industrialist sacks hisloyal workforce and makes a fortune in the act. But Isaiah is goingdeeper than that. His words promise something more. In modern termshe is saying - in the end ethical living rewards its adherents withdeeper treasurers: integrity, truth and, as a result, friendshipsand the love of family. It's a complex thing, and often it seemsotherwise. But Isaiah is affirming that ultimately it's the ways ofGod that win through; in the end God's way is the best.

To Ponder

What are the true signs of success in a society?Is it by how it treats the poorest and the weakest? How else mightwe judge a society?

History doesn't always seem to reward those whoare just, or does it in the end? In what ways can we see happeningwhat the old hymn says: "God is working his purpose out as yearsucceeds to year"?

How far should the Church today speak like theprophets of old about the consequences of not caring for theenvironment?

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