"You Shall See…"
Mighty God, I want to be like the psalmist: “My mouth is filled with Your praise, declaring Your splendor all day long” (Psa. 71:8).
Read ISAIAH 60:1-14
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.
“Keep God in the first place in your life. He will take you places you have never dreamed of” (Joel Osteen). Just like the Israelites, sometimes we need to look beyond our present circumstances and see the future God has for us.
Prophecy is the faithful communication of God’s word, his perspective. Usually expressed in poetic language, prophecy summons us to share that perspective and shape our lives by it. There is an inevitable link between the extent to which we are receptive to God’s prophetic word and the way we live: “Where there is no prophecy, the people cast off restraint,” Proverbs tells us (29:18), while Lamentations paints a bleak picture of periods when the prophetic voice was silent: “… guidance is no more … prophets obtain no vision from the Lord” (Lam. 2:9; cf. 1 Sam. 3:1; Amos 8:11).
How then might this profoundly hopeful, prophetic vision function, both in its original setting and today, against the backdrop of current events? As I write, these seem relentlessly hopeless: merciless civil war in Syria, renewed conflict in Gaza, record levels of unemployment in many countries, warnings of a worldwide food crisis, child abuse on an appalling scale. If scholars are right about the situation addressed by these prophesies in Isaiah, things looked similarly bleak in Jerusalem around 530 BC. Yes, the foundations of the new temple had been laid, but the returned exiles had no stomach for the grueling work of rebuilding. Life was tough, money was scarce, the political situation uncertain. Struggling to survive, people were increasingly selfish, losing sight of their identity as a community centered on worshiping God and shaped by his values (Hag. 1:3-11).
Into this situation of frightened self-interest God speaks, urging people to share his vision of another reality in which dawn replaces darkness (1-3), scattered people are gathered and welcomed (3,4,6,7), city gates stand wide because all threat of war has gone (11,12) and exhausted laborers delight in rest and new resources (10,13). That vision of hope gave and gives courage to live differently, to “live as children of light” (Eph. 5:8).
Where in the range of “darkness” (2) to “radiance” (5) are you this week? What aspects of the Christian life have lost their shine? What can help you shine more brightly?
Turn-around God, You certainly turned things around for Israel and You can do that for me. I want to shine more brightly for You.