Monday, September 22, 2008

Isaiah 22

He wanted us to leave disturbed. That's what he said. I believe he accomplished his purpose. But more importantly, I believe God did a powerfully disturbing work in many hearts. I know I was sobered a great deal.

Isaiah 22 is a reprimand to celebrating civilians. Sennacherib's army has been destroyed without a bow shot or a sword thrust. One day the entire city of Jerusalem and her outlying areas are under siege with ramps and battering rams all around; the next morning, instead of troops, corpses surround the city. How would you respond? Probably like the Judeans--parties, feast, and loud celebrations. This is where the phrase, "Eat and drink for tomorrow we may die" comes from.

But Isaiah says, "No. What are you thinking? Have you not learned anything from those of your own people who died so ingloriously while under siege? God has called you to weeping, not to feasting!"

What follows is a sobering oracle to two men. One is an unscrupulous steward who abuses his power and seeks to make a legacy for himself. The other is a faithful counselor to Judah. Guess which one God wants them to trust in for security. The answer, of course, is neither. What does a nation do when it is faced with impending (financial) disaster? What if the economic house of cards falls? "Trust in the Holy One of Israel alone, for He only is salvation."

But what will God be calling us to if the government does indeed contrive a bail-out that grants a reprieve and sends the stockmarket skyrocketing? Feasting? Partying? Self-congratulations on barely missing disaster? Or weeping and wearing of sackcloth for the sins that brought on the disaster in the first place? "Or do you think lightly of the riches of His kindness and tolerance and patience, not knowing that the kindness of God leads you to repentance?" (Romans 2:4).

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