This is what the Lord says: “Where is your mother’s certificate of divorce with which I sent her away? Or to which of my creditors did I sell you? Because of your sins you were sold; because of your transgressions your mother was sent away. When I came, why was there no one? When I called, why was there no one to answer? Was my arm too short to deliver you? Do I lack the strength to rescue you? By a mere rebuke I dry up the sea, I turn rivers into a desert; their fish rot for lack of water and die of thirst. I clothe the heavens with darkness and make sackcloth its covering.” – Isaiah 50:1-3
The metaphors and imagery in this passage are somewhat complicated and rich with what appear to be cultural codes. God is speaking with the people of Israel metaphorically. He did not divorce them or send them away despite their lack of ability to remember and remain faithful followers. But because of their sins and rebellion they were “sold”.
I assume by “sold” God means that the people of Israel were in a sense purchased by someone else other than God. They were allowed to be owned by someone else for a time because that is what they chose by not following God. God sent many messengers to try to get them to listen and learn, but “When I came, why was there no one? When I called, why was there no one to answer?” This language is interesting on several levels. I get that God is referring to prophets, and perhaps His presence in clouds and on mountain tops, but it seems there is another layer of meaning. It is almost as if God is describing His reception when He arrives in the form of a Messiah named Jesus.
The Jews of Jesus’ day were slow to recognize and accept Him as the Messiah. they were slow to answer His call and some never accepted it. God rebukes their doubt before it even occurs: “Was my arm too short to deliver you? Do I lack the strength to rescue you?” God is saying that He will rescue those who allow themselves to be rescued. He is strong enough to rescue us by enduring the cross; and His arms are long enough to stretch around the world.
God finishes His words for the people of Israel by describing what a world without Him would be like: “By a mere rebuke I dry up the sea, I turn rivers into a desert; their fish rot for lack of water and die of thirst. I clothe the heavens with darkness and make sackcloth its covering.” A world without God’s loving hand and spirit is a place where seas dry up, we lack water to drink, and skies are full of dark clouds. This sounds like a very grim land of Oblivion that will not be a fun place to be. God gave the people of Israel a choice just as He gives all of us a choice. We can answer His call or we can continue to live in the dark — our call.
Prayer: God thank You for bringing Your light into the darkness and reaching down to provide water for the thirsty.