Consequences and hope

Today’s Reading: Isaiah 3:1-5:30, 2 Corinthians 11:1-15, Psalm 53:1-6, Proverbs 22:28-29

It is striking to me that Isaiah presents dire consequences for disobedience and arrogance, and at the same time, presents a future of hope and redemption. This is clear in comparing Isaiah 3 and 4. Starting in Isaiah 3, the results of corrupt leadership are presented.

24 Instead of smelling of sweet perfume, she will stink.
    She will wear a rope for a sash,
    and her elegant hair will fall out.
She will wear rough burlap instead of rich robes.
    Shame will replace her beauty.
25 The men of the city will be killed with the sword,
    and her warriors will die in battle.
26 The gates of Zion will weep and mourn.
    The city will be like a ravaged woman,
    huddled on the ground.

Then in Isaiah 4, the promise of a redeemed future is also presented, a place where anyone would go and live, given the choice and opportunity.

But in that day, the branch of the Lord
    will be beautiful and glorious;
the fruit of the land will be the pride and glory
    of all who survive in Israel.
All who remain in Zion
    will be a holy people—
those who survive the destruction of Jerusalem
    and are recorded among the living.
The Lord will wash the filth from beautiful Zion
    and cleanse Jerusalem of its bloodstains
    with the hot breath of fiery judgment.
Then the Lord will provide shade for Mount Zion
    and all who assemble there.
He will provide a canopy of cloud during the day
    and smoke and flaming fire at night,
    covering the glorious land.
It will be a shelter from daytime heat
    and a hiding place from storms and rain.

So there we have the contrast. Do we face this same choice today? I believe we do, as all people have faced this choice throughout the ages. We can follow God faithfully and care for His people, or we can wander off His path to one that makes more sense to us right now. This leads to inevitable consequences of loss and hopelessness, as described in Isaiah 3. Is this tendency to wander the same thing as original sin? I believe it is.

At the same time, I believe that God is ready, willing and able to redeem and restore us if we repent and return to Him. The resulting shelter and hiding place will become our home, but only after he cleanses the land. Sounds harsh, doesn’t it? If this pattern of consequences, repentance and restoration appeared only in Isaiah, I would focus on other things today, but this is the same pattern that we can see throughout the Bible (both the Hebrew Bible and the New Testament) and it is the pattern we will observe as we move through the prophets. And they will always point to the hope of restoration.

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