NEW REALITY FOR SURVIVORS
Lord of Christmas. Your breath is mercy and Your arms are grace. I pray I may be reborn in the spirit of Christmas.
Read ISAIAH 10:20–27
The Remnant of Israel
20 In that day the remnant of Israel,
the survivors of Jacob,
will no longer rely on him
who struck them down
but will truly rely on the Lord,
the Holy One of Israel.
21 A remnant will return,[a] a remnant of Jacob
will return to the Mighty God.
22 Though your people be like the sand by the sea, Israel,
only a remnant will return.
Destruction has been decreed,
overwhelming and righteous.
23 The Lord, the Lord Almighty, will carry out
the destruction decreed upon the whole land.
24 Therefore this is what the Lord, the Lord Almighty, says:
“My people who live in Zion,
do not be afraid of the Assyrians,
who beat you with a rod
and lift up a club against you, as Egypt did.
25 Very soon my anger against you will end
and my wrath will be directed to their destruction.”
26 The Lord Almighty will lash them with a whip,
as when he struck down Midian at the rock of Oreb;
and he will raise his staff over the waters,
as he did in Egypt.
27 In that day their burden will be lifted from your shoulders,
their yoke from your neck;
the yoke will be broken
because you have grown so fat.[b]
New International Version (NIV)Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
‘Not to us, LORD, not to us but to Your name be the glory, because of Your love and faithfullness … All you Israelites, trust in the LORD’.1
There are several things Isaiah wants his readers to know, and these become clear to us as we work through these verses. First, although a positive future is envisaged and should be an encouragement to all who remain faithful, nevertheless God will use other powerful nations to bring about Israel’s destruction, and there will be no doubt that this is God’s judgment, which will be both overwhelming and righteous (22). Second, there will be those who will come through this, but they will be just a remnant. Third, this remnant will not necessarily all be righteous people. Verse 20 makes it clear that they are those who have in fact relied on the powerful nations in the past, but will in the end come to rely on God. Fourth, don’t think that because God has used these powerful people it means that those forces are themselves righteous. Far from it: their destructiveness does bring about God’s purposes, but that doesn’t make it intrinsically right, and they themselves will in turn face God’s fierce judgment for their policies. Although we may all disagree on exactly who God may be using in today’s world to bring judgment, we must be very careful about assuming that if God is using someone’s actions to judge another, that means that the actions taken are in themselves righteous!
We, of course, need to remember that the church is not a nation and no nation today, not even one founded on Christian principles, stands as the people of God. That doesn’t mean that there are not lessons for us in Isaiah’s message. Paul urges us ‘in view of God’s mercy’ (that is, recognizing that our own salvation comes freely from God’s grace) to nevertheless offer ourselves as ‘a living sacrifice’ not conforming to ‘the pattern of this world’.2
Consider your own country. What national policies might invite the punitive hand of God?
Lord, I pray for Your empowerment. I can’t act justly, love mercy, or walk humbly with You, unless You enable me.
1 Ps 115:1,9 2 Rom 12:1,2