Thought For the Week by Rev Hilda Warwick
As we journey through Isaiah 17 we find ourselves considering two images at the start of this text. Israel moving from glory, a place once celebrated to a low place, a place of prosperity to a place in the ravages of war. Both Israel and Syria are devastated, by this loss of glory, but in this passage the concern is for Israel who now find themselves under judgement, a trouble caused because they looked away from God, disregarding His governance and His requirements. Preoccupied with its own achievements and mesmerised by its own religious assurances. This passage carries with it both a warning and a reminder. God invites us to remember, where here Israel had forgotten the source of its blessings.
Israel now refocuses its gaze, redirects its attention, and begins the path of return. Disregard for God, leads to self-destructive policy and Israel had forgotten its identity and the source of its support for life in the world.
There is a theme of repentance and return to God, away from the preoccupation with things that Israel had produced through its own inventiveness.
However the text also refers to more than political conflict and reminds us that there is also a larger arena of cosmic dispute .The nations here are in opposition to Yahweh’s rule, but in the end His governance will prevail.
However if this is a place of deep threat, it is also a place of sudden transformation .The text witnesses to the astonishing turnaround. A reversal without explanation .Is that not often how God works? Turning things around when we least expect, in ways we don’t always understand. The bible never explains, but attends in astonishment and deep gratitude, the place where Yahweh works newness.
So what does the passage conclude? God is powerful and faithful. Chaos may surge, but it cannot prevail. God works newness. In spite of Israel’s failings, we find again a message of grace, when Israel turns back to God. However not just for Israel, but there is a reminder too that God is the God of the nations. The creator God will not be undermined or sidelined in a world that often opposes God’s rule. In the end and through the coming of Christ, the world will finally come under God’s governance. God is faithful and comes to work a radical reversal, made possible through Christ. In the end the world will see it, even although for now we remain hopeful and expectant for newness and restoration.
God is Israel’s only guarantee, no other alternatives will bring the life and wholeness that God offers and that we long for in our own lives.
Prayer – Heavenly Father , as we look towards a world that appears to be in chaos , may we constantly be reminded that You are working out your purposes , in the detail of our lives , through the power of Your Spirit and the gift of Your Son .