Shall not Lebanon in a very little while become a fruitful field, and the fruitful field be regarded as a forest? On that day the deaf shall hear the words of a scroll, and out of their gloom and darkness the eyes of the blind shall see. The meek shall obtain fresh joy in the Lord, and the neediest people shall exult in the Holy One of Israel. For the tyrant shall be no more, and the scoffer shall cease to be; all those alert to do evil shall be cut off— those who cause a person to lose a lawsuit, who set a trap for the arbiter in the gate, and without grounds deny justice to the one in the right.
Therefore thus says the Lord, who redeemed Abraham, concerning the house of Jacob:
No longer shall Jacob be ashamed, no longer shall his face grow pale. For when he sees his children, the work of my hands, in his midst, they will sanctify my name; they will sanctify the Holy One of Jacob, and will stand in awe of the God of Israel. And those who err in spirit will come to understanding, and those who grumble will accept instruction.
Last week in our Daily Devotions, we walked with the great prophets Elijah and Elisha who confronted the people of their time with the living word of God. Today we reflect on words associated with and inspired by the great prophet Isaiah. As the book has unfurled, Isaiah has condemned the corruption and injustices in his nation and spoken of destruction and disaster to come – Jerusalem will fall, the nation will be invaded. The earth itself stands under God’s judgement. Yet in the midst of all this comes these words of hope and new life, a picture of humanity and the natural world saved and redeemed. It is a hope beyond this world and yet one made incarnate in it.
This Advent, as we move towards the great Christmas celebration, we will remember that ‘God so loved the world that he gave his only son’, that Jesus came that we might have ‘life and life in abundance’. Isaiah reminds us that we need to hear that word not for ourselves alone.
Isaiah’s vision of God’s salvation involves a transforming and healing of the natural world. It turns the tables and raises the oppressed, the blinded and the deafened. It brings justice in the law courts and beyond. It humbles of the tyrants and the scoffers. And it requires a change of heart and mind for those who ‘err in spirit’ or ‘grumble’. Might that latter challenge be today’s word for us? In what sense have we joined ‘the grumblers’ and those who ‘err in spirit’? In what ways have we shared in society’s injustices? In what sense have we closed ourselves to the challenging yet hopeful word of the Living God?
Today may we learn from our compassionate, awesome and holy God and may we become part of this God’s work of transforming life for all.
Let us pray Holy, Awesome One, turn us to yourself. Stop our grumbling and renew our hearts and minds.
Compassionate One, give joy to those weighed down by life. Confront all who oppress or destroy And save your creation, The work of your gracious hands. Amen.
The Rev’d Terry Hinks, minister of Trinity, High Wycombe and Cores End URC