Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Oh Judgment! Oh End of Evil! Oh My God...

Isaiah 22-24 wraps up the string of prophecies against cities of the middle eastern world - woes that began in chaper 13 come to a devastating, stunning, glorious finish in chapter 24.

Three things I noted:

Chapter 22 - though this prophecy is against Jerusalem, it takes on a very personal tone against a man named Shebna, the steward of the palace. He is cursed by God, and another man is named to take his place - Eliakim. Amongst other things the LORD describes as being given to him is this:
"I will place on his shoulder the key to the house of David;
what he opens no one can shut, and what he shuts no one can open.
I will drive him like a peg into a firm place;
he will become a seat of honor for the house of his father.
All the glory of his family will hang on him.
In that day, declares the LORD Almighty, the peg driven into the firm place will give way;
it will be sheared off and will fall, and the load hanging on it will be cut down.
The LORD has spoken."

This account immediately reminded me of the story where Jesus asks his disciples about his identity; Peter answers correctly - He is the Christ, the Son of the Living God - and Jesus replies with: to you I give the keys to the kingdom of heaven, whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven, etc, and upon you I will build my church and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.

I'm sure Jesus had in mind this Isaiah prophecy...the background adds a new richness to the Gospel story. Peter is the one to end the judgment against God's people, his being placed in a position of authority signals a reversal of fortune. The keys represent his authority and ability in the kingdom to operate and in this case: be the rock upon which Christ will build his church. Though in the days of Isaiah the LORD promised to even shear off the "replacement peg", in Jesus' situation, there is a promise that not even evil can withstand the oncoming church. What a reversal of fortune for Israel and the whole Earth!

Second note: the city of Tyre, a port city north of Israel, is condemned and judged - there is a sense in reading it though that God had high expectations for the city, that they were outrightly rebelling against Him. But they are not God's covenant people? So what kind of relationship did God have with them that illicits this response? Is God at work in all nations/peoples of the world despite the words/deeds of his covenant people? May it be...

Third note: the devastation of the earth, as epically penned in this last chapter, reminds me - on a much larger, global scale, the devastation that the LORD brought to the Amorites through Joshua as Israel entered into the Promised Land. Genesis 3 tells us the tale of evil's infestation of the good earth, and here we see the ultimate, devastating, deeply saddening effects of evil run rampant. For the millions and billions of people that bear the brunt of evil everyday - on a global level, on a regional level, on a national level, on a local level, on a personal level - through war and famine, through rape and disease, through torture and dismembermant, through neglect and betrayal, through abandonment and mockery...through a land so polluted and disemboweled... will it ever end? Will wrong ever be righted? Will hurts be healed? Will suffering be turnd into gladness?

At the end of the day, the LORD Almight will reign...with great glory!

He will judge my evil. He will redeem evildoers. His Glory will drive away the darkness within our souls.

Oh my God have mercy on the church - your instrument of glory and redemption in this world.

Chapter 25 beautifully envisions the Restoration of all Things...the story of humanity does get better.

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