Friday

26 April 2019

Isaiah 26:1-19

Your dead shall live, their corpses shall rise. O dwellers in the dust, awake and sing for joy! For your dew is a radiant dew, and the earth will give birth to those long dead. (v. 19)

Psalm: Psalm 100

Background

Isaiah 26 marks the start of what some scholars call the Isaiah Apocalypse, material that was most likely written during the exile looking towards the downfall of Babylon. This text narrates a song to be sung by the righteous on that day. In it, we encounter powerful imagery of the lofty city brought low, laid to the ground and trampled upon. The imagery is reminiscent of the Psalms, as the chapter describes the soul’s yearning for God and the assurance of salvation.

Verse 19 offers a note of resurrection. The morning dew, tiny drops of water that form onto cool surfaces, evokes the daily reawakening of the earth. Some Jewish commentators speak of the dew of the Torah, which shall be for them a dew of light. Other writers describe dew as "the life-giving Spirit of God or of Christ". Dew often goes unnoticed, but it still goes on appearing regardless of our awareness of it. This image of the morning dew, as life-giving water that replenishes the earth and enables growth, feels significant. In what can be experienced (in some churches) as the frenetic activity of Easter, which, rather like Advent and Christmas, can leave people feeling weary and exhausted rather than renewed, perhaps we need to recover a sense of waiting for the morning dew to quench our dry and thirsty spirits.

Alongside renewal of ourselves, how often do we notice the recreation and resurrection of the earth all around us? How often do we give praise with the psalmist for "mercies which are new every morning"? In focusing on humanity, how often do we miss everyday signs of resurrection, of new life emerging all around us? Perhaps, we need to be reminded that "God so loved the world", the whole cosmos (John 3:16). The gift of salvation is for the whole of God’s creation, which includes, but is not limited to, the human community. As people of faith, perhaps we could pay more attention to the sustaining and renewal of the earth, and seek to be better stewards of the good gifts of God.

In Hosea 14:5-6 God is likened to dew, a blessing that enables blossoming, flourishing and fragrance. "I will be like the dew to Israel; he shall blossom like the lily; he shall strike root like the forests of Lebanon; his shoots shall spread out; his beauty shall be like the olive tree, and his fragrance like Lebanon."

This verse may also be an inspiration for the Tfilat Tal: The Jewish blessing for dew. As you read this ancient prayer, imagine yourself receiving the morning dew from God:

May dew fall upon the blessed land.
Fill us with heaven’s finest blessings.
May a light come out of the darkness to draw Israel
to you as a root finds water from dew.
May you bless our food with dew.
May we enjoy plenty with nothing lacking.
Grant the wish of the people – that followed you
through the desert like sheep – with dew.
You are Adonai our God,
who causes the wind to blow and the dew to fall,
For blessing and not for curse.
Amen.

For life and not for death.
Amen.

For plenty and not for lack.
Amen.

 

To Ponder:

  • Where do you find renewal and refreshment?
  • Where do you see signs of resurrection in God’s created world?
  • How could you be more attentive to caring for the earth? 

Bible notes author

Deacon Eunice Attwood

Eunice is a Methodist deacon. She is a tutor in Pastoral Theology at the Queen's Foundation in Birmingham, and a member of the Centre for Ministerial Formation since 2012.

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