Thursday, April 28
Reader: “The holiness of God”
Response: “will be displayed by his righteousness.”
Scripture: Isaiah 5:11-17
What sorrow for those who get up early in the morning
looking for a drink of alcohol
and spend long evenings drinking wine
to make themselves flaming drunk.
They furnish wine and lovely music at their grand parties—
lyre and harp, tambourine and flute—
but they never think about the Lord
or notice what he is doing.
So my people will go into exile far away
because they do not know me.
Those who are great and honored will starve,
and the common people will die of thirst.
The grave is licking its lips in anticipation,
opening its mouth wide.
The great and the lowly
and all the drunken mob will be swallowed up.
Humanity will be destroyed, and people brought down;
even the arrogant will lower their eyes in humiliation.
But the Lord of Heaven’s Armies will be exalted by his justice.
The holiness of God will be displayed by his righteousness.
In that day lambs will find good pastures,
and fattened sheep and young goats will feed among the ruins.
Isaiah’s ministry spanned the years 740-701 BC. In this section of Scripture Isaiah warns of coming judgment against Judah for its unfaithfulness to God. The warning you just read is the second of six pronouncements. This particular woe (“what sorrow”) has to do with the indulgent lifestyle on display by Israel and Judah. The first sentence cites the love of pleasure and lack of any self-control. At this point, Israel and Judah are partying societies with no concern for and even a denial of ever facing God. There is no godly influence or concern anywhere to be seen. I’m reminded of an apropos line from Psalm 30:6 “Nothing can stop me now.” The Jewish society in Isaiah’s day sounds a great deal like the one in which we live.
Our world is consumed with all kinds of pleasure seeking stimulants. Go to any large city at 2 AM in the morning and the second sentence in the reading for today is most likely a description of what you will see. Our societies have worldly heroes and very secular cultural icons admired by millions. Many business and entertainment leaders are consumed with themselves, their power, and their desire to control society. There is corruption in our governments at all levels. Like Judah and Israel, our world has come off the rails without knowing it. The thinking of the prophets of old, and frankly of many followers of Christ today, is, how can someone not think about God? We have a job to do. Pray for repentance for our world’s unbridled arrogance and foolish ways.
The middle section of our passage about the “grave licking its lips” and “humanity will be destroyed” is frightening. Without repentance, the course is set. Eternal death awaits. Death has been described as “the uninvited guest to every home.” The grave has a voracious appetite. Everyone enters it, the powerful, the weak, the wealthy, the pauper, the famous, the unknown, the proud, the humble, the arrogant, the cynic. . . The grave is non-selective and accepts, or rather demands all attend. For the rebel, God who had been ignored, will be seen and honored for who he is. Every knee will bend before the Creator and giver of life, willingly or unwillingly. The glorious truth is that Jesus Christ, the Son of God, has swallowed up the grave itself forever! The glory of the resurrection!
PS. In Isaiah’s words to his people, judgment is coming. Part of those words came to pass in Isaiah’s lifetime; Israel was crushed and hauled off to Assyria in 722 BC as slaves due specifically to their rejection of God. Isaiah’s message was clear: you cannot flaunt disobedience to God and escape God’s judgment . . . ever. As a result, many citizens of Israel died in Assyria and never saw their homeland again. Judah’s judgment came 136 years later in 586 BC when they were exiled to Babylon. It was not until 1948 AD that Israel was again returned to its homeland as a free nation.
The irony is that as the people of Israel, Judah, and people in our world chase after everything seeking fulfillment, the answer to their search is found in coming to the One they are running from. Note today’s music.
Music: “Come” Dan Forrest
Father in heaven, who hast brought us to this day, let the peace of Thy love descend upon us. May every stormy passion be subdued, every unquiet thought cast out, every earthly care and anxiety forgotten that in the calm of Thy loving Presence we may find a remedy for our souls’ unrest, and in Thy lovingkindness an answer to our every need; for the sake of Thy Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
―Source Unknown, The Quiet Corner, p.91