Cush (v.1, probably today’s Sudan), and Egypt, were places to be envied, yet were still measured by YAHWEH and found wanting: the beauty, the water, the agriculture and gardening (v.5) all come from the unacknowledged Creator, Father God. Here’s another nation worshipping elsewhere, about to be judged, subdued, subjugated. We hear lots of sounds here: a clamour of nations, the aggressive talk, whirring wings of Cush, the trumpet blast (v.3). But the LORD remains quiet (v.4); watching.  People are going about their business, enjoying the fruits of harvest and seed-time, in farm and garden, but destruction and judgement will come to the most powerful of countries. The fertile and the cultivated will become wild, over-run by grazing animals and pests, all fruitfulness gone. Ultimately, Cush will be subdued by the Almighty and bring tribute to God instead of God’s people bringing tribute to it.

These chapters warn of what is to come: judgement is on its way.  Isaiah’s contemporaries watched as Assyria destroyed Israel and took its people into captivity, and as once powerful allies were swept away. The whole landscape was about to change. It was time to turn back to God – to acknowledge that, as Isaiah says later on, HE is the one in charge of it all.  These countries, whose geography, climate and success had been given by God, but who couldn’t see Him, would be destroyed AND God’s special, Promised Land would be over-run and His people judged, as surely as the surrounding countries were.

We might look at other lands and governments now with something like envy – all of it will ultimately be judged – not on its success but on its response to The One and Only.  And if God judges those who don’t know him like this, how much MORE does He expect from me?  How much more hurt and angry was He, or is He, as He sees the way His chosen people DON’T meet the mark?  Israel and Judah’s sin was the sin of hedging their bets – ‘yes, we know we are the special people, chosen by grace, ransomed, healed, restored, forgiven, but these Asherah poles may have something in them too – look at Cush – maybe it’s that other religion that’s working for them!’  Jesus’ blood will never fail us – YES – but we will all be called to account, as those living after Jesus’ work of redemption. We are most definitely The Redeemed, but we will be asked to give an account (1 Corinthians 3.12-15, 2 Corinthians 5.9-10). There will be a judgement.

 

 

 

 

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Praise God that in Jesus, he has taken the judgement for us. Pray that this knowledge might inform our choices today. Amen.

June 2017
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