30 June 2015Isaiah 62:1-12
“Because I love Zion, I will not keep still. Because my heart yearns for Jerusalem, I cannot remain silent. I will not stop praying for her until her righteousness shines like the dawn, and her salvation blazes like a burning torch.” (v. 1) (NLT)
Psalm: Psalm 35:9-18
The editors of the New Living Translation call this passage "Isaiah prays for Jerusalem". John Wesley titles it "A prayer of the watchmen for the Church in confidence of God's gracious designs and promises to it". There is something about prayers born out of love and a desire of restoration - whether that is us praying for a country, or praying for the Church or for a special person.
Imagine the ruins of a old city or castle. Build up an image of the walls being complete, roof intact and the rooms furnished. Imagine the sounds and smells, the bustle of people. Now imagine how you would feel if you knew that place, if you were one of the people living among those walls; now look at the ruins.
For those in Isaiah's time this was their story. They had lived or had heard tales from those who have lived there. Now there was nothing. This is where Isaiah exists, living with a memory and looking at ruins.
Now reread the passage.
Isaiah builds an amazing picture of a restored Jerusalem, and ends with the promise of a saviour, a final protector so the restoration will remain forever. It is a promise of hope. When the saviour comes it isn't as the builder, the job was already done. The saviour has a different role.
When Jesus came people looked to him as a rebuilder, someone who would physically restore Jerusalem but that job had already been done. They looked to him as someone to free them from Roman rule, to help them become self-governing again. But that wasn't his role. His task was the restoration of the people spiritually, and from that other stuff comes.
God looked at humanity, remembered what it was and now looked at the ruins. God set about rebuilding humanity, restoring the people and sweeping clean the weeds and webs. That is what Jesus did.
- What feelings are generated by the words of the deserted and desolate? How does the promise of leaving these feelings behind help you understand the gospel?
- Have you got anyone in your life that you pray for like Isaiah prays in this chapter? Use the time to pray for them now.
- Many prayers come out of desperation or a need for help. When you pray like this to what extent do you ask only for help or do you vocalise the restoration like Isaiah has?