Tuesday 31 January 2012

Bible Book:

"All the ends of the earth shall see the salvation of our God." (v. 10)

Isaiah 52:1-12 Tuesday 31 January 2012


Monday's reading looked back through timeto recall the mighty acts of God. Today, Isaiah's vision sweepsacross the earth, recognising the contrast between Zion (as thehome of God's people) and other areas, where they are far from homeand God's name is not honoured. But God's dynamic restoration ofGod's people will make salvation known right across theworld.

The passage falls into four sections:

  • The very first words are the same as those Israel addressed toGod (Isaiah 51:9) - God is challenging Israel toawake, just as they have challenged God . And when they awake andrise up, they will no longer be captives.
  • The second section (verses 2-6) lists the places where theyhave suffered in exile: Egypt, Assyria and, by implication, Babylontoo. God's name, reputation, and honour, are all defamed throughthe humiliation of the people; so by restoring the people, God'sown glory will be restored too. There will be no bargaining (verse3); the oppressors will send them home through the influence ofGod's power (Ezra 1:3).
  • The lovely images of the third section (verses 7-10) arewell-known. They set us in the shoes of watchmen on the walls ofJerusalem - who is that coming? It is the Lord (verse 8)! Then weare on the outside, far away at the ends of the earth, lookingtowards Jerusalem - who has come? It is the Lord (verse 10)! Thereis a beauty even to the feet of the messenger of peace andsalvation (verse 7); how much more wonderful is the sight of theLord, rolling up his sleeves to defend his people (verse 10). Nowonder all the world is amazed!
  • The last section (verses 11-12) reflects Israel's joy that theyare coming into the presence of the Lord. This is a new exodus(verse 11), but unlike the first exodus (Exodus12:32-34), there is no need for rush or hurry (verse 12).Instead, they can ensure that no-one affected by uncleanness entersthe Lord's presence.

It is unlikely that a triumphant return ever actually tookplace - the historical evidence suggests a much more piecemealprocess, and the temple was never quite the same after the exile.But there is still huge power to move and exalt in the vision ofGod, returning with his people, so that all the ends of the earthsee salvation.


To Ponder

Some scholars suggest that exile is a goodmetaphor for the condition of the Church in the West today. How fardo you agree with this?

What "beautiful garments" (v. 2) would you put onto celebrate the Lord's return?

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