Isaiah 57 – Light Up Ahead (Reprise)

Isaiah 56 Bible With Theo Orange 70 Percent Dark Chocolate

Today’s ChocolateTheo Orange 70% Dark Chocolate

Today’s PassageIsaiah 57

Hey, folks. We’re starting off in paper towel mode again, here at the Atlanta Airport. It’s 12:41 PM as I write this and I’ve got roughly an hour before my flight departs, so let’s take a look at Isaiah 57 and see what we can learn.

Honestly, I started reading this passage and wondered what dungeon of invectives I’d stumbled into. After the Suffering Servant appeared in chapters 52-53, Isaiah took on a generally hopeful tenor, painting a picture of light at the end of Israel’s present tunnel–and, one might argue, at the end of the tunnel of history too. But I step into chapter 57, and suddenly it’s “But come here, you sons of a sorceress, offspring of an adulterer and a prostitute” (57:3) and “Are you not children of rebellion…who slaughter the children in the ravines?” (57:4-5). Isaiah’s censuring Israel for their idolatry and disobedience just as fiercely as he did in chapter 30. What’s with this sudden darkness? Where did the light go?

It’s still there at the end of the tunnel–Isaiah’s just taken his focus off it to reprimand God’s children for putting out the torches. Fact is, he’s already started to change his tone at the end of chapter 56. He accuses Israel: “[God’s] watchmen are blind…they are shepherds who have no understanding” (56:10-11). God has called them to a responsibility which they’ve neglected, turning “each one to his unjust gain, to the last one” (56:11). More importantly, they’ve neglected God himself. Speaking through his prophet, God asks,

Of whom were you worried and fearful
When you lied, and did not remember Me
Nor give Me a thought?
Was I not silent even for a long time
So you do not fear Me?

He gave them an identity as his people, but they’ve forgotten him. And if you don’t give a thought to the root of your identity, to the relationship with the being that gave you who you are–what happens to your identity?

But the light isn’t gone just because Isaiah took a moment to point out the darkness. He wants his hearers to remember God’s forgiveness. God says: “For I will not contend forever, nor will I always be angry; for the spirit would grow faint before Me, and the breath of those whom I have made” (57:16). Yes, he’s angry. Yes, he will punish evil, and yes, he will discipline his children–even corporally (v.17). But God also promises healing, and he still loves his people, offering them peace and calling them to leave their wickedness.

It may be dark, but it’s not pitch black. There’s a light up ahead. And in the meantime, Isaiah’s got a torch.


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