Tuesday, March 20, 2007

God Will Come w/ Vengeance...to Save You

Isaiah 34-36 makes a transition from lyrical damnation of those who are destroyers, betrayers of what is good, beautiful, and true. In ch.34 we read about the judgment against all nations, in ch.35 we read about the coming joy of the redeemed, and in ch.36 we switch from poetry to narrative, and we have the initial account of Assyria's king assaulting Jerusalem. The switch happens almost too fast. The juxtaposition of texts is difficult to adjust too. God is talking about ending an exile, ending their pain, ending their desert-like experience before it has even begun, and then the next story is about a threat which would bring about exile, pain and a desert experience - but it gets thwarted...odd arrangment of texts.

In prior chapters we've read about the coming vengeance of God against Israel (27), leaders of Ephraim & Judah (28), David's City (29), Obstinate Nations (30), Those Who Rely on Egypt! (31), Women of Israel (32), Sinners in Zion (33), All the World (34). Pretty much everybody has done something to offend, hurt, anger, wound, wrong God. And he can only take so much of it. God used Assyria as a tool of vengeance against Ephraim (Northern 10 Tribes of Israel), the captivity and destruction finalized in 722BC. God used Babylon to complete the captivity and devastation of Judah (Southern 2 Tribes of Israel) in 586BC. Since the time of David (ca 1000BC) God had been warning his people to obey His commands, delight in His presence, love their neighbors, be a light to the nations - and if they obtusely and obstinately refused to do this, He would remove them from the land. This promise actually starts with Moses (ca 1500BC), you can read about it in Deuteronomy.

So, about 800, 1000 years later, God actually removes everybody from the land. I believe "patient" would be a good word to describe God. Loyal. Forgiving. One who seeks Reconciliation.

God wants all the world to walk on his Way, he wants to rescue all the nations, he wants gladness and joy to overtake all peoples, he wants sorrow and sighing to flee from all cities...but only those that refuse foolishness and evade evil will want God to direct them to His Way.

Refuse foolishness with all your heart, evade evil with all your strength.

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