We are reading what is referred to as First Isaiah, chapters 1-39. Last week we read 1-12 which includes the remarkable vision of Isaiah in the Temple, his call to ministry and his commissioning as a prophet of God. This week, we read 13-39 to finish the section grounded in the events of the destruction of the nation of Judah.
Here is Isaiah of Jerusalem, watching his beloved city and holy Temple suffer devastation by the armies of Babylon. He weeps as his beloved people are slain by the hundreds and thousands. He rails as a remnant is carried away in chains; captives in a far away land.
The bald, honest emotion of Psalm 137 makes us suck in our breath:
O daughter Babylon, you devastator!
Happy shall they be who pay you back
what you have done to us!
Happy shall they be who take YOUR little ones
and dash THEM against the rock!
First Isaiah endures the agony while persistently calling out for repentance and renewal. Is it possible that God will relent and save his people? Is it conceivable that God could forsake them and abandon the covenant?
First Isaiah is filled with dramatic visions of the Holy given for the people through the prophet. The visions are apocalyptic and symbolic, peppered with bizarre images that point to realities beyond human comprehension.
We also begin reading the apocalypse of Revelation, another amazing work of visions and startling proclamations. Another work that pronounces both judgment and hope.
Living in The Story blog for Week 37