Daily Prayer Guide: Wednesday Dec 9

Bible Reading

Isaiah 52:7-10

7 How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of the messenger who announces peace, who brings good news, who announces salvation, who says to Zion, “Your God reigns.”  8 Listen! Your sentinels lift up their voices, together they sing for joy; for in plain sight they see the return of the LORD to Zion.  9 Break forth together into singing, you ruins of Jerusalem; for the LORD has comforted his people, he has redeemed Jerusalem.  10 The LORD has bared his holy arm before the eyes of all the nations; and all the ends of the earth shall see the salvation of our God.

Meditation

The prophet speaks a word of hope and redemption in a very dark time in Israel’s story. Exile, military occupation, oppression are daily realities for the Israelites at this time in their history. They have lost it all: land, temple, royal leaders, priests. Jerusalem has been sacked by the Babylonians; the temple left a heap of rubble. The burning question of the day was how long? When would Yahweh intervene and rescue them? When would his promises of a coming deliverer (see Isaiah 11) be fulfilled? Perhaps the final chapter has been written. Maybe Yahweh is done with  Israel for good.

Out of this dark time, the words of Isaiah 52 shine like bright lamp, giving the landscape a whole new set of features. Yahweh has not forgotten his promises to Abraham and to David. He is in control of their story, despite all signs to the contrary. The images in this passage are vivid. Like night watchmen standing at the gates of an ancient city, they can see in the distance someone approaching. It’s Yahweh! He’s coming, and the fulfillment of his long awaited promises are with him. He is still king. Redemption, comfort. But not just for Israel, the scope of his salvation is much, much larger. It’s for all nations.

These prophetic words form the foundation for the Jesus story in the New Testament. Israel was once again under foreign oppression (this time under Rome), and Yahweh’s promises seemed as far off as any time in the past. Onto the scene comes a young prophet from Nazareth, announcing that Yahweh’s kingdom has arrived (see Mark 1:15). But, this hope is not just for Israel, it is for all nations. The scope of Yahweh’s plan was always larger than Israel, and it is precisely in the midst of their darkest hours that his redemption was working itself out. This is part of the mystery of Yahweh’s story. It is against the backdrop of darkness and hopelessness that his redemption shines brightest. Jesus came at a very dark time in Israel’s story, and he came with a message not simply of political liberation, but with the transforming grace of God’s kingdom.

Reflection

– Think of the thrill the Israelites would experience at hearing these words, after imagining that Yahweh had finally given up on them. Where are you at right now? Are there places in your life where God’s absence is especially frustrating?

Prayer

– Name the parts of your life where it seems as if God is absent. Bring those to God.

– Ask for hope. Ask for strength. Ask for the ability to see the small ways that his presence is with you.

Written by Tim Mackie

Click here to download Week 2 Prayer Guide: Sun Dec 6-Sat Dec 12

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