jeudi 26 juin 2014

Our Redeemer is the Holy One of Israel (Isaiah 47:1-4)

This is the first time I've posted course-work, but I found this exercise challenging and thought-provoking and was quite please with the result.  The exercise was to write a short series of "daily-devotionals" on a particularly challenging chapter of the prophet Isaiah. The style is a little choppy, due to the strict word limit.

Isaiah 47:1-4

Today’s verses make grim reading. We could try to avoid them by dismissing them as reflecting the problems and values of another age and therefore irrelevant to our world. But if we want to benefit from the "full counsel of God" we need to find a way to engage with them.
These words are generally attributed to an otherwise unknown prophet, usually referred to as Deutero-Isaiah, active during the declining years of the Babylonian empire. The people have been under Babylonian rule for around 70 years – time for three generations to grow up knowing nothing else. Babylon's power is waning on the international scene, but for the majority of the Judean exiles, and for those eking out a living in what remains of Judah, Babylon still dominates the horizon. The prophet speaks into this situation, to remind the people that Babylon is not all powerful and that their God is ultimately in charge of events, including the fall and rise of empires.
Isaiah 47 is part of this message. It is important to note that it is addressed in the first place to the oppressed people of Judah. By describing the apparently almighty “Queen Babylon” as a defeated enemy, undergoing the same ordeal as Jerusalem before her (Lamentations 1, 2), the prophet is undermining her power and telling the people that they do not need to be afraid of her. Rather they can have confidence in their God, who is on their side and is their Redeemer. The description of Babylon's fate may be shocking to 21st century sensibilities. However the underlying message, that God, far from being neutral, is on his people's side (verse 4) and that no human power or system is unlimited or everlasting, is profoundly encouraging.
What apparently unassailable “Empires” dominate our lives? What difference does it make to how we think about them if we realise that their power is not unlimited, and that the Lord Almighty is still on his people's side?

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