The Promised Land is now ready and available for the Israelites at last. Sometimes it’s hard to put ourselves in the time and place we are reading about. This is one of those situations. I, for one, have never encountered warfare firsthand. I can just imagine how intense the rush of adrenaline must be.
What can we take away from these victories? To trust God’s process! Joshua knew what God had commanded Moses. Joshua was fulfilling that assignment. God was now empowering Joshua when he said, “Do not be afraid of them. By this time tomorrow I will hand all of them over to Israel as dead men. Then you must cripple their horses and burn their chariots.” Joshua understood it was his role to be God’s hands and feet, leading the army to make it happen. Joshua only needed to remember “who” was in charge. It was God.
This was an interesting passage, wasn’t it? Sometimes I feel like God is speaking right at me from the pages of the Bible. Today was not one of those days, but it could be that for you. What I did sense was that no matter where we come from, what we’ve experienced in the past, what skeletons may be lurking in our closets, God can make us new. He will bless his children.
We also are witness to a great promise. “Just as I swore in the time of Noah that I would never again let a flood cover the earth, so now I swear that I will never again be angry and punish you.” God may get angry with us, but we’ll not be punished. We have a shield of protection around us. We have Jesus.
Just to keep our bearings, Samaria was the capital of Israel, the Northern Kingdom. Jerusalem was the capital of Judah, the Southern Kingdom. Isaiah’s message today is about Israel, but we know that his direct audience was the people of Judah. God’s message wasn’t meant to taunt Judah but to protect them with critical information. If God’s wrath was coming down on Israel for their idol worship and refusal to turn to God, then didn’t it follow that those doing the same in Judah would also be subject to God’s wrath at some point? Unfortunately, this truth wasn’t as obvious to them as it is to us.
We weren’t even there, but we can take heed of the message for ourselves. We can design our faithfulness as God would deserve and/or expect. We don’t have to guess at what will please and displease God. We simply need to turn to the clues he leaves for us in his Word.
What was the first thing that went through your head when you read today’s text? For me, it was singing Handel’s Messiah with several different choirs over the years. The song “For Unto Us A Child is Born” is now running through my head. But before this glorious promise of a child, there is a time of darkness and despair. Isaiah’s words are meant to give the people a glimmer of hope, or a light at the end of the tunnel, so to speak. The promise, when fulfilled, will be bigger than anyone could have imagined.
Don’t you love these words, “The people who walk in darkness will see a great light. For those who live in a land of deep darkness, a light will shine.” I don’t know about you, but I feel like we, too, are living in a world full of darkness. There are many people who are feeling oppressed, unheard, and stifled in sharing their faith in Jesus. It seems like the darkness is taking over the land. My confidence is in Jesus, and I stand firm knowing Jesus is the light of my salvation (and yours, too). The apostle John referred to Jesus as the “light” in John 1:9, “The one who is the true light, who gives light to everyone, was coming into the world.” I love who John is inclusive here of “everyone.” Jesus came for all the world.
Paul didn’t want his readers to be in the dark. After all, they hadn’t been brought up their whole lives hearing the stories of the same ancestors Paul had. Because he wanted to figure out what their intentions truly were, he asked, “Tell me, you who want to live under the law, do you know what the law actually says?” I can just picture them looking around at each other with a blank stare. Who was going to speak up? What did they actually know other than what some Jews were spewing at them? Obviously, Paul wasn’t going to let them rely on what might be misinformation, even it if was from another Jew.
They Gentile congregation was starting to believe that circumcision was the way to be saved, not Jesus. We know that Jesus died to set us free from the law and the long list of regulations the Jews had followed for generations. Our freedom is in Christ. Paul goes back to Abraham and tells the story of Abraham’s two sons, one from his slave, Hagar, and one from his wife, Sarah.