Thursday, April 16, 2009

Judah and Megan

As I study Isaiah, I am astounded at the parallels between my life and the condition of this chosen nation of Judah. God made great promises to His people through His covenant with Abraham. He would make them a great nation. He told them that He would bless the nation so that they would be a blessing. His favor would rise upon the Hebrew nation. God said He would make the nation great if they worshiped Him and sought Him in obedience and if they did not create their own gods and bow down to them.

Fast forward to Isaiah, a little over a thousand years later, after the nation of Judah has broken the covenant with the Lord. Still God’s chosen nation, Judah has fallen. After a series of wicked and disobedient kings, Judah finds herself in danger of attack from other nations. The Lord in His mercy holds out one more opportunity for Judah to be obedient when He says to King Ahaz through His prophet Isaiah, “Ask for a sign from Me. I will show up.” Ahaz, in his arrogance says to God that He will not ask for a sign, but instead, he develops an alliance with Assyria. The nation falls because it has relied on its own understanding and strength rather that God’s promises. God uses various wicked nations to “smite” Judah and bring her down. He ravages His chosen nation, bringing it to its skinned and broken knees. The other nations of Babylon, Syria, Moab, and Ethiopia trample all over Judah. Judah’s high places where she has worshipped other gods are brought down. Her self-made walls are dashed to pieces. Her houses are demolished. Her palaces are made to ruins. Her cities are deserted, and her people are dispersed to various corners of the world. Is it the end for Judah? She deserves to be ended. She failed to honor the Lord. She sought other gods. She made alliances with other nations. She grew more and more prideful and corrupt. Other nations grew and gained power over her. Her people became prisoners of war. They became victims of the enemies. But God allowed these enemies to overpower her because He had a greater purpose. Only through her downfall would she be able to see that God is God over all. God was God over the nations who sought to destroy Judah. All that happened to her passed through His hands. How could God allow such destruction and desolation? Because He knew that only through this breaking would His beloved nation see His power and return to Him.

The God of the universe brought the evil nations down. The nations that he used to humble Judah would be destroyed. Babylon would be utterly cast down. The Medes, who had no pity, would be dashed and demolished. God was in control the entire time, even when it seemed that He had turned His back. Isaiah mourned at the destruction of his people, reflecting God’s own grief. God brought a rod to bring about healing. There was great hope and promise in this destruction. He would destroy every ounce of self-reliance so that His nation would come to a place of total dependence on Himself.

Peering into the future, Isaiah sees an incredible promise. In Isaiah 26, which is an apocalyptic vision, he says with great victory and hope that God has ordained peace from this chaos. He says that “the former tyrant masters are dead, they shall not live and reappear; they are powerless ghosts, they shall not rise and come back. Therefore, You have visited and made an end of them and caused every trace of their supremacy and memory of them vanish and perish.”

Hallelujah! What a promise! I have been Judah. I am God’s daughter, His beloved, who raised up idols and sought to worship false gods. I stepped into captivity willfully in my rebellion and deception. I have been ravished by the enemies. I have been almost destroyed, stricken, and brought to my knees. I have cried out for death in the pain of my self-made devastation. God wept. He anguished. But He allowed it, because in His total omniscience, He knew that He would restore when I was broken.

He has destroyed my enemies. Every trace of their supremacy has dissolved into total worship of my risen King. This vision of the future found in Isaiah 26 reveals ribbons of hope for my present situation. He has called my name. I will rise from the ashes. He has delivered me from my masters and tyrants. They have no more power, just as the oppressive nations will have no more power over Judah. God is Lord of all. He always has been even when I wasn’t aware, when I couldn’t see beyond my prison walls. He brings the oppressors to dust and He establishes His strong city.

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