Does Edom represent all nations who have opposed God and led his people astray? I’m not sure what to make of this passage. I do see it as representing God’s mercy revealed to a people who had been lost. What a startling and memorable depiction to be sure. While his royal garments were covered in blood, the LORD remained strong and full of intention.
He declares, “It is I, the Lord, announcing your salvation! It is I, the Lord, who has the power to save!” God is mighty to save not just judge and condemn. I like the words from the praise song, “Mighty to Save” from Hillsong.
Everyone needs compassion A love that’s never failing Let mercy fall on me Everyone needs forgiveness The kindness of a Savior The hope of nations
Jerusalem has been a popular city over the years. I was recently awakened to Jerusalem’s amazing history by watching the documentary series, “Christ Revealed.” I had never studied the history of Jerusalem, other than references in the Bible. Even though I didn’t take notes during the documentary, I remember enough to know the Jerusalem temple would be rebuilt after the Babylonian destruction. Then it would be demolished again by the Romans, a generation or so after Jesus predicted it and was crucified.
The people returning from exile were feeling like they were in over their heads. Seventy years had done a number on their blessed city. Those that did return didn’t have any memories of their own. They were simply following in the heritage of their ancestors. You know how it feels to have a huge task ahead. You can easily get stuck in frustration. To have Isaiah’s prayer for their city would have been comforting.
Did you recognize this passage? It’s the one Jesus read to his hometown congregation. Jesus proclaimed to them that he was this prophecy fulfilled. I can see Jesus in these words, can’t you? “The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is upon me, for the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to comfort the brokenhearted and to proclaim that captives will be released and prisoners will be freed.”
Again, for a people who were feeling lost, these words must have sounded like music to their ears. Such beautiful displays of God’s mercy being poured out on his people. Yet still today we have a hard time receiving gifts from the Lord. We often ignore them, fail to use them, and thus miss out on so many blessings intended for us.
What a proclamation of light breaking through the darkness! It’s like hope raining down on God’s people at last! “Arise, Jerusalem! Let your light shine for all to see. For the glory of the Lord rises to shine on you. Darkness as black as night covers all the nations of the earth, but the glory of the Lord rises and appears over you.”
These first 6 verses are often text used on Epiphany Sunday in our tradition. Epiphany is traditionally January 6, and we will be celebrating that this coming week. To Isaiah’s audience, they had been stuck in a pattern of darkness. These words would bring hope. They are being given a glimpse into the fullness of life that will happen during the restoration. Would they actually allow themselves to believe?
Do you ever feel like God isn’t listening? It seems the Israelites had a similar experience. They were questioning God. You can almost hear the “whining,” can’t you? Isaiah needed to set the record straight. “Listen! The Lord’s arm is not too weak to save you, nor is his ear too deaf to hear you call. It’s your sins that have cut you off from God. Because of your sins, he has turned away and will not listen anymore.” Our sinfulness does separate us from God.
As followers of Christ, we know what Christ did on our behalf. He endured so much so he could forgive our sins. Does that mean we won’t sin now? Unfortunately, no. Though we still sin, our relationship with God is restored by God’s gracious, undeserved love. We are forgiven sinners, justified by God’s grace alone through faith in Jesus the Messiah.