Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Beautiful Feet, Good Tidings of Peace

Isaiah 50-54 is a proclamation of good news: The cup of wrath that Jerusalem has drained to the dregs, that cup has been taken out of their hand. Salvation is on the way...if they will walk that way of peace with God.

How much of the tragedies that we get caught up in are somehow tied to our own lives, how much of what is awful about your larger life is rooted in the cruel cyle of reaping and sowing?

But now, all you who light fires
and provide yourselves with flaming torches,
go, walk in the light of your fires
and of the torches you have set ablaze.
This is what you shall receive from my hand:
You will lie down in torment.

This is how the world works. But even God can work in this kind of world. These torch-holders took God in a garden and nailed him to a tree...that's the way of their life. And out of that evil comes beautiful feet with good news: You who walk by your own dim torch light - you can walk in the light of a Son who will never scorch or burn. No matter how blind you've been, no matter how long you've stumbled, no matter how little you've taken responsible for, God offers a new light to hold in your hand.

After he has suffered,
he will see the light of life and be satisfied;
by his knowledge my righteous servant will justify many
and he will bear their iniquities.

God is willing to rescue his people, the very people that he punished with atrocities...that says something about God. And some of what it says is difficult to accept and understand. But we find in Jesus, God's suffering servant, one who bears punishment and atrocities. God is in Jesus, and so we find God willing to take upon himself the kind of atrocities he poured out on his people in ages past. The Assyrians were despicably cruel to the Ten Tribes they carted off, the Babylonians were just plain mean in their subjagation of the other two tribes. Disgusting crimes against humanity. And Assyria and Babylon were instruments of God, brought upon His people because of their stubborn rebellion, their own cruel treatment of neighbors, and hardened disregard for what was just and merciful.

It seems that what God's people were guilty of, what they had been punished for by Assyria and Babylon were the same things they were guilty of during the days of Jesus, and Jesus bore the brunt of that fury and previously condemned sins. I recoil at the remembrance of the atrocities God's people experienced because of their rebellion, but God let those same kind of atrocities be committed against him in the flesh. That says something about God.

Isaiah writes down these stirring words of God:
In a surge of anger
I hid my face from you for a moment,
but with everlasting kindnes
I will have compassion on you
says the LORD your Redeemer.


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