by Rev Hilda Warwick
We continue our journey through Isaiah and as always there are surprises and paradox when we take time to have a closer look.
Here is a passage that invites us to think about a future whereby God, will reach the nations.
This passage invites us to look beyond the circumstance to the One who engineers the circumstances to bring about His ultimate concern, the salvation of the world. The nations are on God’s heart, and here He is using what seems like a disaster to change the course of the tide and widen the circle of love to include those that we don’t always expect to be included.
In Isaiah’s vision, Egypt finds itself overcome by internal disorder, external oppression, and natural disaster. Its famous asset of Egyptian life was the Nile, which had a crucial role in agriculture and economy. When that failed Egypt’s religion and advisors were helpless to stop the decline. It is to this that Isaiah makes reference. He challenges human wisdom and the temptation to look to Egypt’s expertise, rather than relying upon God.
This is not about gloating over its downfall but learning the importance of where we place our trust. Israel is being reminded that it needs to trust in God alone as the source of their guidance.
Further through the text, it also points to the incredible turnaround of the Egyptian nation. It speaks of a time when Egypt and Assyria will be one in life and worship. God’s intention was to include the nation of Egypt, seen in words used like, my people, my handiwork, my inheritance. This is a breath-taking realisation that God is for all nations and longs for them to come to Himself. The series of oracles in chapter 19 moves from “terror” to a vision of reconciliation, describing for Egypt what would be its own salvation history. Even although the fulfilment of this was not realised, it expresses a conviction that God is committed to such a vision. There is an invitation to look forward to a day when such nations will have their own encounter with God, even as Israel experienced. It’s a vision whereby former enemies are drawn into commonality and speaks of the God who gladly cherishes, welcomes, delivers and heals all peoples. The people God cares about are the nations. He is widening the circle of love.
Father as we look around our world, we see places of division. When we look to You, we see possibility of healing and reconciliation for all nations. May you remind us that with You all things are possible. Help us to be instruments of healing and hope, to all we meet. In Jesus name. Amen