July 18 - Isaiah 32:14-20

Thursday, July 18, 2013

The fortress will be abandoned, the noisy city deserted;  citadel and watchtower will become a wasteland forever,  the delight of donkeys, a pasture for flocks,  till the Spirit is poured on us from on high, and the desert becomes a fertile field, and the fertile field seems like a forest. 

The LORD’s justice will dwell in the desert, his righteousness live in the fertile field. The fruit of that righteousness will be peace; its effect will be quietness and confidence forever. My people will live in peaceful dwelling places, in secure homes, in undisturbed places of rest. 

Though hail flattens the forest and the city is leveled completely, how blessed you will be, sowing your seed by every stream, and letting your cattle and donkeys range free.

Isaiah was prophesying to the Israelites, warning them of the impending abandonment of Jerusalem.  The city would be destroyed, the people would be gone.  Everything would become a wasteland.  The people had sinned and moved far from God and until they figured it out, they would not be allowed to live in the home God had given to them.

We know the next part of this story.  Nebuchadnezzar conquered Israel, taking nearly everyone away into exile.  He ransacked the temple, ensuring that nothing that was left could be considered holy.  He destroyed buildings and ruined the city.  The Israelites lost their home and became a wandering people once again.

They hadn't listened to the prophets who clearly warned them of their impending doom, they kept living as if nothing would change.  They had lived through quite a bit and God had never done anything quite as drastic as what the prophets were announcing.

But, one thing we have to realize about prophecies of doom and destruction in the Old Testament. There is always hope.  Always.

It might not come in the immediate, but these people had very long views of the world.  They knew that the community’s relationship with God existed long beyond their lifetimes.  They could track back through their ancestors and see how God had worked within the community.  Their sense of individuality existed only as part of the larger community and that community spanned many generations.

Hope existed for them, not necessarily in a single lifetime, but in the long view of creation.  Even if peace, joy, justice and righteousness came to the Israelites after thousands of years, they held out hope and waited for it to come.

With the arrival of Jesus Christ, God answered their prayers and responded to their hopes and dreams.  Peace was theirs, if only they would grasp it.

Peace is ours … peace is yours.