Isaiah 11: On that day . . .
“Isaiah wrote during a period of upheaval and general unrest, as the Assyrian Empire was expanding and the northern kingdom of Israel facing decline and imminent disaster. Judah [in the south] was also vulnerable, although her destruction was ultimately to come at the hands of a later power, Babylonia . . . Isaiah’s primary ministry was to the people of Judah, who were failing to live according to the requirements of God’s law. But he prophesied judgment not only upon Judah but also upon Israel and the surrounding nations. On the other hand, Isaiah delivered a stirring message of repentance and salvation for any who would turn to God. (Zondervan 1051)
In reading today’s Noontime we see that only a stump or remnant of David’s dynasty will remain, and this remnant will be in exile; but from this stump will rise the Messiah, the saver of all peoples. Also in today’s reading we hear that the word of God will first be lost on those originally chosen, and will then find more fertile soil in the gentile nations. This is a story of disaster giving bloom to fruit – of rejection giving birth to glory. It is the story of Jesus’ coming and interaction with humankind. Harm will be turned to good. Hate will convert to love. Rejection will be overridden by restoration. All that has sought to divide will itself be conquered. All that has been self-seeking will capitulate to union. Emmanuel – God among us – will rule. Emmanuel – God amidst us – will save.
We can take comfort from these words when we find ourselves in situations that seem irredeemable. We can also find consolation for the times when we feel devastating loss. God is constantly looking to restore all that is good. God is consistent in his love and in his insistence in love being the only power which ultimately survives the chaos of our existence. The message is clear: On that day, the root of Jesse, set up as a signal for the nations, the Gentiles shall seek out, for his dwelling shall be glorious. On that day, the Lord shall again take it in hand to reclaim the remnant of his people . . .
We often think of the day of Christ’s coming as some distant time in the next life, but as we recently reflected on God’s power to control all time for all good, we realize that that day may be today or any day. That day is the day that God wills. As members of God’s body we come together in the hope that each day may be that day, that all days may be days when we clearly feel and see Emmanuel among us.
Rather than put our hopes in a distant day when things may come right, when hard hearts may eventually be softened, let us place our hope in this day. And let us petition our God that each day may be that day. Let us ready ourselves each morning for his coming. Let us walk with him through each day. And each evening as we lay our heads on pillows to slip into sleep, let us thank him that this day has – in some way or other – been that day.
ARCHAEOLOGICAL STUDY BIBLE (NIV). Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan, 2005. 1051. Print.
A favorite from November 7, 2009.