What a beautiful prophecy! Isaiah delivered this hope of restoration just in time. The first 34 chapters of the book of Isaiah delivered the message of judgment on both Israel and Judah for rejecting God. These positive words would have been like a breath of fresh air.
Yet there are still many today who reject God for one reason or another. It’s tragic. I can’t imagine walking through this life without God by my side. Not to experience the hope, the joy, and the unconditional love would leave such an empty place.
I have the song “Comfort Ye My People,” from “The Messiah,” running through my head now. While this is a tenor solo, and I was an alto, I treasure precious memories of singing with my dad in our church choir growing up. Handel’s Messiah has a special place in my heart. The words of Isaiah in this passage are clearly the inspiration for that musical selection!
How do these words speak to you today wearing your “Advent Lenses”? We probably recognize the “someone” shouting in the wilderness, to be John, centuries later from when these words were written. “Clear the way through the wilderness for the LORD!” I’d like to think that we, too, can be messengers trying to clear through the “gunk” in this world to make a way for Jesus to be known.
I got goosebumps just reading the first two verses! As we read through these texts during Advent, I’d like you to do so using the “lens” of Jesus is coming. For us, we are waiting for Jesus to come back. Oh, what a joyous day that will be! The nations will most certainly tremble!
These verses just magnify God’s power yet keep him relatable. He’s not an untouchable God. Sometimes I forget how wonderful it is to have God working for me! “For since the world began, no ear has heard and no eye has seen a God like you, who works for those who wait for him!”
Chapter 65 would have been an incredibly positive place to end this prophetic book. There we saw what appears to be God’s plan to return his people to the beautiful world of peace and harmony, just as he originally created. But our world is full of sin, and final words were necessary to emphasize our need for a relationship with God.
I’m not a Biblical scholar or historian, but I do know the first audience hearing these words in post-exilic times were experiencing hardship, division, and indifference toward God. To get their attention here, God sends this message through the prophet. “I will bless those who have humble and contrite hearts, who tremble at my word. But those who choose their own ways—delighting in their detestable sins—will not have their offerings accepted.” That’s a pretty clear message.
I remember I was in 5th grade when I learned the word “utopia.” It was social studies, and we were examining ancient civilizations. I remember being mesmerized by the word, wondering what “utopia” would mean for me. Wikipedia defines it as “an imagined community or society that possesses highly desirable or nearly perfect qualities for its citizens.” When I read today’s passage, “utopia” was the word that came to me.
God promises to create a new heaven and new earth. From the sounds of it, it will be glorious – so wonderful that people won’t miss the old! As Isaiah’s first audience was finally free from captivity, these words must have held such hope for the future. They were returning to their home, Jerusalem. In reality, they would find it in shambles. Quite the fixer-upper! Would these words have encouraged or led to disappointment?