Todays readings.. Judges 7&8, Isaiah 34, James 5
“BE PATIENT, ESTABLISH YOUR HEARTS”
Our chapter (34) in Isaiah today clearly has some application to our days. This is further illustrated by the way it flows into the next chapter which is so evidently a picture of life in God’s Kingdom and is often quoted and some of its verses form part of our hymns about the kingdom. The vision presented in today’s chapter has, of course, its roots in a situation in the prophet’s own time, but God causes Isaiah to extend his vision much further.
Look how today’s chapter starts, “give attention O peoples! Let the earth hear … for the LORD is enraged against all the nations and furious against all their hosts; he has devoted them to destruction … “ [v.1,2] What follows challenges our understanding! “All the host of heaven shall rot away and the skies roll up like a scroll.” We understand these words as symbolic of the leaders, those in power in the nations, the ones the people look up to! This is even clearer in the next verse where we read, “my sword has drunk its fill in the heavens…” God’s sword!
Verse 8 puts the focus on Zion, God’s holy mountain. “For the LORD has a day of vengeance, a year of recompense for the cause of Zion.” But why the reference in the next verse to Edom?
Back in Genesis 36 v.1 we learn that Esau (the brother of Jacob) starts to be referred to as Edom. There is a parallel here to Jacob being renamed Israel. One of Esau’s wives was the daughter of Ishmael (v.3). Esau had 12 sons as did Jacob and the detailed list of his descendants (v.9-43) shows they spread as far as the Euphrates (v.37)
This led us to wonder at the implication here, that, at the time of the “recompense for the cause of Zion” – there occurs a parallel to earlier events – when the “streams of Edom shall be turned into pitch” [Isa. 34 v.9] – does this show Edom is a particular object of God’s vengeance?
Then in v.16 God encourages all those who are seeking him in this time of great trouble, to “Seek and read from the book of the LORD … his Spirit has gathered them.” It is good to ignore the chapter break.
Those who are gathered will experience the time when “The wilderness and the dry land shall be glad, the desert shall rejoice and blossom … be strong and fear not! Behold, your God will come with vengeance” An inspiring exhortation for us.
Our reading in James 5 then gives us an appropriate exhortation: verses1-3 provide us with parallel thoughts. James writes about the “the miseries that are coming upon you … in the last days” and offers the powerful exhortation, “be patient, establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand.” [v.8] As the world moves into its final era of godless chaos – how essential it is that we establish our hearts.