Let yourself become open to God and the knowledge that comes from the Word. Ask God for peace at this time.
Isaiah 1:24-31 (NRSV)
Therefore says the Sovereign, the LORD of hosts, the Mighty One of Israel:
Ah, I will pour out my wrath on my enemies,
and avenge myself on my foes!
I will turn my hand against you;
I will smelt away your dross as with lye
and remove all your alloy.
And I will restore your judges as at the first,
and your counselors as at the beginning.
Afterward you shall be called the city of righteousness,
the faithful city.
Zion shall be redeemed by justice,
and those in her who repent, by righteousness.
But rebels and sinners shall be destroyed together,
and those who forsake the LORD shall be consumed.
For you shall be ashamed of the oaks
in which you delighted;
and you shall blush for the gardens
that you have chosen.
For you shall be like an oak
whose leaf withers,
and like a garden without water.
The strong shall become like tinder,
and their work like a spark;
they and their work shall burn together,
with no one to quench them.
Isaiah opens with an accounting of the terrible departure of Judah from being the people God had intended. It serves as an indictment of a nation fallen into corruption and greed, a nation that neglects its most vulnerable. If verse 25 is read on its own, it sounds like a curse, a condemnation irrevocable. But Isaiah goes on in the verses that follow, using this powerful and descriptive language, to speak of restoration, righteousness, faithfulness, redemption, justice, and repentance. Present in these verses is God’s abundant, powerful, restoring love.
In our own time, it is difficult to see news reports day after day of the same kind of greed, corruption, and abandoning of the vulnerable that Judah stands accused of, and yet to still remain standing as witnesses to God’s ability to redeem and restore what seems to us to be as lost as the ancient cities of Sodom and Gomorrah. But we do keep standing tall. These verses are infused with the assurance that God can and does redeem and restore the broken and the weary. Through God’s great love there is hope in the promise of God’s redemption even of the most rebellious and sinful, both among us and within each of us.
Redeeming and restoring God, smelt away the dross within us. Hold us tenderly as you shape us and fill us with your grace. In Jesus name we pray, Amen.
Go with God!