Isaiah 13-15 begins a twelve chapter rant against eight nations, and one against the world. It's a rant against all that is wrong with these nations, these peoples, this place we call Earth. God created the Earth and described the results of his work "good." But all that is good faces a grave threat - there is evil at work in this world, ruining, corrupting, tainting, undermining, devouring what is right, and beautiful and good. We see it all around us - if we keep our eyes open long enough to really see all around us. And sometimes you see it happen to you - something wrong, even wicked comes upon you by the hands of another...what do you do with that burden? Or someone you care about has been damaged by another...what do you do? Or you yourself are concious of your own corruption, your own ability to undermine your attempts/efforts to do what is good and right and beautiful.
And so, when you see all this wrong-headed, weak-hearted stuff going on that really hurts and ruins others...does God see this? What is God doing about it? Does he care? Can people do wicked stuff and get away with it? It seems like they do.
These twelve chapters in Isaiah are God's words to all that is wrong in these nations. For those that love what is good and right and beautiful, here is their answer: God sees and seeks to right all wrongs. Punishment will definitely come for the evil ones.
It's interesting that chapter fourteen contains a series of verses that are often attributed to the story of Satan, the ultimate Evil One. Though the poem describes the fate of Babylon, a city guilty of much evil, a city full of evil ones, there is a sense that the potent prophetic poem also describes the fate of the Evil One of evil ones.
For Christmas my sister-in-law subscribed me to National Geographic. She's so thoughtful! A major story of this month's issue deals with the corrupt oil business in Nigeria. A country which has overabundant resources to bring about a beautiful nation, well fed, well educated, well situated to bless its neighboring nations, is mired in heart-aching poverty. That's evil. Last month included a cover story of the deforestation in South America. Large corporations/ranchers are stripping the land of timber, putting in large highways, and destroying native cultures all for their profit. That is my simplified version, but the result is that local people, small farmers, small villages, lose out - including their lives. And so does the environment. That's evil.
Who can stop these national evils? What will happen to those that rule, to those that rally around these evils, but call it by a different name? Isaiah 13-24 provides us with a glimpse of what God thinks about it. And just as the righteous ones had to wait, and wait, and wait back then for God to act...so now. And why did God wait? A reason: God's patience. He is constantly at work to bring about restoration of Good and the redemption from Evil...and he is working through people all over the world to do this. Someday there will be judgment.
And as Jesus wisely points out...the religious people will likely be surprised at whom God considers righteous and wicked.
May God put an end to the arrogance of the haughty, and
May God humble the pride of the ruthless.