20 February 2018

Isaiah 56:1-8

“Maintain justice, and do what is right, for soon my salvation will come and my deliverance be revealed.” (v. 1)

Psalm: Psalm 34:1-10


As you read the opening verses of Psalm 34, do you find them difficult? They speak of those who trust and follow God’s ways as being provided for; being delivered, saved, lacking no good thing. Yet we know in our world that there are many followers of Jesus who are persecuted and suffer. Even amongst our own community there may well be those who faithfully follow Jesus, yet are faced with a difficult lot – we may well be tempted to cry “It’s not fair.”

This is how many people who first heard the words of the prophet Isaiah would have been feeling. They were trapped in a set of circumstances that were not of their own making. Even if those who were first taken into exile were guilty of wrongdoing - that was a generation now passed, why should they still suffer?

Isaiah offers us a simple challenge – live in the present in anticipation of the future. God’s salvation is coming when wrongs will be put right and everyone will find a place of fulfilment and belonging. Notice how Isaiah particularly includes those who have previously felt excluded and left behind. We might also notice that we are not called to “solve” everyone’s problems, but to build a community where everyone belongs. How are you seeking to do that in your own situation? Where might God be challenging you to go further?

Although now passed, the season of Advent is one in which Christians are particularly called to live the present in anticipation of our future. God’s Kingdom will one day come in all its fullness, and visions like that of Psalm 34 will be fulfilled. God’s people are called to be a living sign of that future kingdom. How can we build in the here and now communities of justice for all?

To Ponder

  • “I will bless the LORD at all times; his praise shall continually be in my mouth” (Psalm 34:1). How easy or difficult do you find these words?
  • In your life and the life of your church, how can you live in the present in anticipation of the future?

Bible notes author

Phil Jump

Phil Jump Phil Jump is Regional Minister of the North Western Baptist Association and has worked with local churches on a number of community and public issues initiatives. He is currently the interim member of the Joint Public Issues Team on behalf of Baptists Together.