Did you recognize the church here as being God’s vineyard? We see Leviathan as the enemy of God’s created order. Whether it’s meant to be Satan, Babylon, or something else is unknown. What is important to note is that God will punish and kill it. Evil will, at last, be no more.
“In that day, sing about the fruitful vineyard. I, the Lord, will watch over it, watering it carefully. Day and night I will watch so no one can harm it.” God’s people are that vineyard. We are being watched over and cared for. When enemies attack, God will destroy them, unless they beg for mercy. It is always God’s hope that people will turn from their evil ways. “Let them make peace with me; yes, let them make peace with me.”
Once again, God reveals the future to Isaiah. If we ever wonder what our purpose is, it is to praise and worship God. Everything else in life is just fluff. If we are wanting to make a difference in the world to leave our mark, with our purpose in mind we should be striving to being remembered as faithful and right with God. “Open the gates to all who are righteous; allow the faithful to enter.” When you think of it, nothing else really matters. It can put your whole day into a new and fresh perspective.
Were there any verses in today’s reading that popped for you? I suppose it was verse 10 for me. “Your kindness to the wicked does not make them do good. Although others do right, the wicked keep doing wrong and take no notice of the Lord’s majesty.” What caught my attention here is remembering that God loves the whole world. Everybody. Even evil people receive God’s benefits, but that doesn’t teach them to do what’s right. Sadly, they probably don’t even realize where their good fortune comes from. But it is temporary. Without God there is no future glory. They’ll end up like a “one hit wonder!”
After our reading yesterday, I feel like the light switch was just turned on. Truly our mourning is turned to dancing. Psalm 30:11-12 pictures it like this. “You have turned my mourning into joyful dancing. You have taken away my clothes of mourning and clothed me with joy, that I might sing praises to you and not be silent. O Lord my God, I will give you thanks forever!” Such a beautiful compliment the praise given here for judgment and salvation.
I had highlighted verse 1 along the way, and it’s good to see those “notes to self” in my Bible. I wish I had put a date on it – there was even a yellow sticker which signifies “God’s Plan and Promise.” I think that is a surprisingly good summation of what we have going on in this whole chapter. It was God’s plan, his will, and his intention, that his people would go through their time of desolation. For those who endured, the promise of salvation and a feast in his presence would come. “O Lord, I will honor and praise your name, for you are my God.”
The next few chapters (24-27) will be what are known as “Isaiah’s Apocalypse.” You can see why from the doom and gloom described. Yet, there are some technical things missing to truly be apocalyptic in nature. For instance, we are missing the words calling this out as a “vision.” There are also scholars who question if Isaiah wrote this, and if he did, shouldn’t it be at the end? These are details I share with you, but let’s not let them keep us from hearing God’s message to us today. After all, the purpose of this is to “reflect” not figure out the who, what, where, and how!
I have to admit this wasn’t the most uplifting of readings today. There was the glimmer of hope in verses 14-16. We’ll come back to that. But what this reading says to me overall is that God is in control. If he wants to bring destruction to the world, he will. We saw what he did with the flood in Noah’s day. He promised he would never do that again. In the descriptions were read in Isaiah, there is no mention of water covering the earth.
We close out the series of oracles against neighboring nations today with Tyre. Tyre was a city along the Mediterranean Sea, known for its commerce. It was a major trading center, and the other prophets also speak of Tyre. Ezekiel devotes several chapters to Tyre. We learn of God’s plans to destroy Tyre because he hated their pride. Pride separates people from God. “The Lord of Heaven’s Armies has done it to destroy your pride and bring low all earth’s nobility.”
Think about pride for a minute. As a noun, it’s defined as “a feeling or deep pleasure or satisfaction derived from one’s own achievements, the achievements of those with whom one is closely associated, or from qualities or possessions that are widely admired.” (Foregoing taken from a google dictionary search result.) In the Bible pride is more than just arrogance. It goes deeper and includes our will or intention, rather than seeking on God’s will. We can then join Jesus in saying, “Thy will be done.”