Our opening line makes me think about God from a marketing perspective. “I was ready to respond, but no one asked for help. I was ready to be found, but no one was looking for me. I said, ‘Here I am, here I am!’” In our marketing classes, we tell our students to be looking for those people who are looking for them. That’s the whole idea of attraction marketing. You want to be attractive and provide the goods or services to those who need them and want them. The image of God I have here is that he is waving his hands trying to get our attention.
How frustrating it must be for God to have given us the keys to the kingdom (in Jesus) only for us to leave them sitting on the table. It’s not just us. These prophetic words were originally directed to the Israelites, a people who was lost. That is, they were separated from God. What do we know of them? They rebelled. They were selfish. They followed other gods. Hmmm. That could be our society.
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.
Have you heard reference of the Four Apocalyptic Horsemen before? We met them up close and personal today. Our readings in Revelation thus far have set up the beautiful scene of heaven complete with its worship and splendor. As the scroll’s seals are opened by the Lamb, we are going to unleash the vision of God’s judgment on earth. It’s not a pretty sight (although I am generally a fan of horses)!
No matter what, it’s important to remember the victory belongs to Christ. That should be our focus when we see unfairness in the world, suffering, famine, wars, etc. God didn’t intend for us to have to endure such things. Yet, it didn’t take long for sin to enter the world and corrupt the beauty of God’s creation.
Jesus’ words are harsh at first — do not judge others, and you will not be judged. I’m sure we have all done it. Judge others that is. We may have thought “boy her dress is too short” or “why doesn’t he close his eyes when he prays?” or “what were they thinking?” or “why did they spend their money on that instead of giving to the church?” I could go on and on. You are probably already feeling a little guilty about something you thought about someone. We judge. We’re not supposed to.
Why not? Jesus says that we’ll be judged in the same manner. We certainly aren’t perfect. The standards we apply to others will be applied to us. God is the only one who should be judging. When we catch ourselves doing it, we should remember this passage. Jesus said, “do NOT judge!”
God has spoken. Judgment for Israel is here. All are being called out. I got the feeling that maybe some were cowering now, hoping that God would pass over them and not bring his wrath. Even some players outside Israel were brought in.
What I liked about today’s reading were the word pictures or descriptions. While it didn’t lessen the intent, it made it easier to understand. The same message only with a different “package”. The descriptors helped me to see parallels to our day.
What struck a chord with you? What questions came to your mind? I welcome your comments at the end.
I would love to have this blog be a safe place where we can enter into conversation. We didn’t bring David’s library of Biblical history and pastoral care to Mexico for nothing. I would love to use those resources to answer your questions. I’ll get the joy of watching David know exactly what book will have your answer if he doesn’t already have a nugget to share.
So please, don’t be shy. Comment below — and go back to any of the other posts and comment.
When I read verse 4, I was hit by the reality that still exists. “They spout empty words and make covenants they don’t intend to keep. So injustice springs up among them like poisonous weeds in a farmer’s field.” Ouch! God’s promises and word never fails. Not so for us all of the time. Can you remember a time when you made a promise but didn’t keep it? Maybe you said something in haste or anger, without thinking it through. Empty. What better way to cause bitterness or distrust with those involved.
Let’s also look at verse 12. “I said, ‘Plant the good seeds of righteousness, and you will harvest a crop of love. Plow up the hard ground of your hearts,for now is the time to seek the Lord, that he may come and shower righteousness upon you.’” Here it is. The nugget I’m taking away. This is what God wants from us. As we’ve said before, our purpose is to love God and others. This is a great formula to follow to make it happen. Read that verse several times and let it sink in. We have our marching orders, just like the Israelites did.
What are we waiting for?
Let’s pray. Father God, thank you for your instruction today. I love how your Word is always perfect. There is always a message for me. Now it’s up to me to heed your challenge and get to it. Cleanse my heart of things that are keeping me from you. Help me break apart the hardness that has set in so I can be open and ready for your righteousness. Don’t let my eyes be closed to the needs around me. Show me those that are ready to hear from you. Give me the words to say. I trust you will in your time. I love you Lord. In Jesus’ name. Amen.