People of Zion, who live in Jerusalem, you will weep no more. How gracious he will be when you cry for help! As soon as he hears, he will answer you. Although the Lord gives you the bread of adversity and the water of affliction, your teachers will be hidden no more; with your own eyes you will see them. Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.” Then you will desecrate your idols overlaid with silver and your images covered with gold; you will throw them away like a menstrual cloth and say to them, “Away with you!” He will also send you rain for the seed you sow in the ground, and the food that comes from the land will be rich and plentiful. In that day your cattle will graze in broad meadows. The oxen and donkeys that work the soil will eat fodder and mash, spread out with fork and shovel. In the day of great slaughter, when the towers fall, streams of water will flow on every high mountain and every lofty hill. The moon will shine like the sun, and the sunlight will be seven times brighter, like the light of seven full days, when the Lord binds up the bruises of his people and heals the wounds he inflicted. – Isaiah 30:19-26
This passage is an assurance that if the people of Israel call for Help God will answer, but they must make the call. I am reminded of a scene from the JRR Tolkein’s Return of the King. The Beacons of Gondor were a means of calling for help if Minas Tirith was under attack. In the movie depiction of Return of the King Denethor refuses to ask for help from Rohan because his pride and self-focus will not allow him to ask for help. I think that is what the people of Israel need – His help – and they need to ask for it.
God is just waiting for the call, and as soon as He gets it He will come to aid of the people of Israel. It sounds like help, “the teachers”, has been in front of the people of Israel the whole time, they just haven’t had the eyes to see them. As a result, they have been partaking of the “bread of adversity and the water of affliction”. Things have been hard and the walls of protection have been shattered into shards of pottery. The very water they have been taking has caused them affliction. That is probably because they have been drinking up evil like water rather than thirsting for the living water that God offers.
As a water scientist I have been in many situations where people were drinking “waters of affliction” in the form of water contaminated with pathogens that make them sick. Many times they are unaware of the microbes in the water that are making them ill and often come up with other explanations for their illness. I suspect that the people of Israel are adept at blaming everything but themselves for the afflictions that result from their decision to disconnect themselves from the spring of God’s love.
God is promising to lead the people if they are willing to be led, “Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.” This kind of following is sometimes hard and requires that we trust in a path which we sometimes cannot see. In the end it seems God will win and He will “send you rain for the seed you sow in the ground” and “streams of water will flow on every high mountain and every lofty hill”. This is hope for the hopeless. Our thirst will be quenched and we will find what we pursue, but we must first make the call for help.
Prayer: God help us to acknowledge our need for You and call out to You for Help.