Lord , you are my God; I will exalt you and praise your name, for in perfect faithfulness you have done wonderful things, things planned long ago. You have made the city a heap of rubble, the fortified town a ruin, the foreigners’ stronghold a city no more; it will never be rebuilt. Therefore strong peoples will honor you; cities of ruthless nations will revere you. You have been a refuge for the poor, a refuge for the needy in their distress, a shelter from the storm and a shade from the heat. For the breath of the ruthless is like a storm driving against a wall; and like the heat of the desert. You silence the uproar of foreigners; as heat is reduced by the shadow of a cloud, so the song of the ruthless is stilled. On this mountain the Lord Almighty will prepare a feast of rich food for all peoples, a banquet of aged wine— the best of meats and the finest of wines. On this mountain he will destroy the shroud that enfolds all peoples, the sheet that covers all nations; he will swallow up death forever. The Sovereign Lord will wipe away the tears from all faces; he will remove his people’s disgrace from all the earth. The Lord has spoken. In that day they will say, “Surely this is our God; we trusted in him, and he saved us. This is the Lord , we trusted in him; let us rejoice and be glad in his salvation.” The hand of the Lord will rest on this mountain; but Moab will be trampled in their land as straw is trampled down in the manure. They will stretch out their hands in it, as swimmers stretch out their hands to swim. God will bring down their pride despite the cleverness of their hands. He will bring down your high fortified walls and lay them low; he will bring them down to the ground, to the very dust. – Isaiah 25:1-12
This passage represents a welcome departure from the very specific prophecies about countries and people in the Middle East region. It starts at the very beginning with God: “Lord , you are my God; I will exalt you and praise your name, for in perfect faithfulness you have done wonderful things, things planned long ago.” It provides a compelling picture of a God who was, is, and is to come. A God who was in some way present, and maybe even responsible, when cities are destroyed yet these same cities honor and revere Him.
Throughout all the turmoil and destruction prophesied in Isaiah up to this point God was a “refuge for the poor, a refuge for the needy in their distress, a shelter from the storm and a shade from the heat”. This passage reveals once again the dual nature of God — the lion and the lamb at the same time. He both brings the storm and provides shelter from it. This is both comforting and confusing. It brings up the philosophical question “why is the storm necessary” if God is going to shelter us from it anyway? or stated another way “why is there evil in the world if God loves us?”
This is philosophical deep water to be sure. The understanding I have come to is that this duality is a necessary part of the spiritual cycle. We cannot appreciate, or even fully understand, the shelter without the storm. The same spirit that loves what is good and righteous must be able to hate what is evil and unjust. The ruthless of the world, through free will, sometimes seem to win but “the breath of the ruthless is like a storm driving against a wall”. In the end God wins and love wins.
As we toil in this land of oblivion here on earth we try to keep our spirit connected to the spring that is God. It is easy to get discouraged as waves and breakers buffet our souls, but God, Immanuel, is with us. The “heat is reduced by the shadow of a cloud, so the song of the ruthless is stilled”. The ruthless may continue to “sing”, but God will provide us with shade along the way. The passage then turns to an amazing “reflection of Him” when it describes the form that the “shelter from the storm” and “shadow of a cloud” will take.
“On this mountain he will destroy the shroud that enfolds all peoples, the sheet that covers all nations; he will swallow up death forever.” What an amazing word picture for what Jesus came to accomplish through the cross. He removed the veil between us and God and He swallowed up death forever. We still have a choice whether to accept the “Cloud” and shelter offered. Those who choose to accept God, and His Son Jesus, will “rejoice and be glad in his salvation”, but those who choose to be free of God will be like Moab in this passage. They will be “trampled in their land as straw is trampled down in the manure. They will stretch out their hands in it, as swimmers stretch out their hands to swim. God will bring down their pride despite the cleverness of their hands”. Swimming in manure…not a pretty picture indeed. I prefer to accept the “shelter in the storm” and live in the shadow of the “Cloud”.
Prayer: God You provide shelter during stormy times. Help us to use these times to know and love You more deeply.