A Hopeless Judgment?
Lord of Christmas, Your breath is mercy and Your arms are grace. May I be reborn in the spirit of Christmas.
Read Isaiah 9:8-17
Scripture taken from the THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION, NIV Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
“My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness” (Edward Mote). Reflect on this great truth now.
The refrain of vs. 12 and 17 (also found in 5:25 and 10:4) frames judgments both past and future. In biblical Hebrew, the “prophetic perfect” tense describes a future event that has already taken place, so certain is its outcome. It is as if the prophet looks back on what has already happened. National ruin at the hand of enemies, or perhaps an earthquake (9-11), internal political chaos (12-15) and social disorder (16,17) are God’s judgment on his disobedient people. The ironic refrain translates the very hand stretched out in saving power (Exod. 6:6) into the means of punishment until Israel repents (Lev. 26:18-24).
Such language seems too vindictive to some. Leading atheist Richard Dawkins writes: “The God of the Old Testament is arguably the most unpleasant character in all fiction: jealous and proud of it; a petty, unjust, unforgiving control freak; a vindictive, bloodthirsty, ethnic cleanser; a misogynistic, homophobic, racist, infanticidal, genocidal, filicidal, pestilential, megalomaniacal, sadomasochistic, capriciously malevolent bully.” For all Dawkins’ rhetorical flourish, he fails to see the real power and meaning of such poetic oracles. Isaiah is convinced that all history is under God’s control. Nothing, even sin, can quench God’s passionate, possessive love for his people.
Judgment and hope synergize. Yesterday’s promise of a Davidic king and light overcoming darkness is matched by today’s warnings of judgment and disaster. Only God’s prophet speaking to God’s people of God’s love could so boldly hold together such outwardly contradictory themes. Our faith in a God of love who died on the cross at Calvary for all humanity is matched only by the serious consequences of not knowing, sharing and receiving this good news. How can we today respond except in gratitude and obedience, and do all we can to make this known?
How do you think of God’s judgment? Apart from believing in the Gospel, what can be done about it?
Mighty God, my hope is built solely on the righteousness of Jesus Christ. My sins were placed on him on the cross, and his righteousness became mine. What a gift!