Archive for March 15th, 2019

Isaiah 21: Fall of Babylon

Friday, March 15, 2019

Francesco Hayez: Destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem

Today’s reflection follows yesterday’s Noontime reading and here we see the Babylonian Captivity is a seminal episode in our Judeo-Christian history; it is an experience against which we measure many others.

A cruel site, revealed to me.  Trauma, upheaval, betrayal, suffering, turmoil – this is what Isaiah sees coming.  The conqueror will be conquered.  This is unimaginable.

I am too bewildered to hear, too dismayed to look.  Terror, shock, horror, panic, dread – this is what we fear is around the corner, up the street, in our own backyard.  We turn away confused by what we see and hear.  Nothing makes sense.

My mind reels, shuddering assails me.  We are so upset that we make ourselves ill.  This is an experience we know.  We also know that we cannot endure unless someone somehow brings us relief.  We struggle to stay afloat; we flail our arms to remain upright.  We cannot believe we are in this situation.

For thus says the Lord to me: Go, station a watchman, let him tell what he sees.  We pull ourselves together and decide that rather than fall completely to pieces we have to trust someone.  Tentatively we put out a hand to God.

And I stay at my post through all the watches of the night.  As long as nothing more happens we can stand erect watching, waiting for our deliverance.  We scan the horizons to see how God will come to our rescue.  We wait and keep watch, fearful yet hoping.

Francesco Hayez: The Babylonian Exile

Here he comes now: a single chariot, a pair of horses; he calls out and says, “Fallen, fallen is Babylon, and all the images of her gods are smashed to the ground.  We hear the news we never thought we would hear.  The impossible has taken place.  An old foe has fallen.  A former enemy begs forgiveness.  We are stunned and know how to respond as the truth of our deliverance seeps into our consciousness.

Oh my people who have been threshed, beaten on my threshing floor!  What I have heard from the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, I have announced to you.  At first we think we have miss-heard, misunderstood but it dawns on us that God has brought about the impossible.  God has answered our prayer.  And although others may encourage us to take revenge upon a vanquished opponent we choose to react as Jesus asks.  We give thanks, and we heed the words of St. Paul to the Colossians (3:12-14).

Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, heartfelt compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience, bearing with one another and forgiving one another, if one has a grievance against another; as the Lord has forgiven you, so must you also do.  And over all these put on love, that is, the bond of perfection. 

And so we pray . . .

Good and generous God, we are tempted to crush the enemy we see fallen; but we know that you call us to intercede for those who have plotted our downfall.  The enemy who wished to annihilate us has in turn been vanquished; you have saved us from destruction.  Help us to forgive as we have been forgiven.  Remind us to bless as we have been blessed.  Let us love as we have been loved.  Amen. 

A re-post from March 15, 2012.

For more reflections on The Book of Lamentations click on the images above or go to: http://tndickersondiaries.blogspot.com/2011/01/lamentations-highlights.html

Also see The Book of Lamentations page on this blog at: https://thenoontimes.com/the-book-of-our-life/lamentations-surviving-ruin/

For more on the Book of Isaiah, go to the Isaiah – God of time and Space page on this blog at https://thenoontimes.com/the-book-of-our-life/isaiah-god-of-time-and-space/

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