Hear the word of the Lord , you who tremble at his word: “Your own people who hate you, and exclude you because of my name, have said, ‘Let the Lord be glorified, that we may see your joy!’ Yet they will be put to shame. Hear that uproar from the city, hear that noise from the temple! It is the sound of the Lord repaying his enemies all they deserve. “Before she goes into labor, she gives birth; before the pains come upon her, she delivers a son. Who has ever heard of such things? Who has ever seen things like this? Can a country be born in a day or a nation be brought forth in a moment? Yet no sooner is Zion in labor than she gives birth to her children. Do I bring to the moment of birth and not give delivery?” says the Lord . “Do I close up the womb when I bring to delivery?” says your God. “Rejoice with Jerusalem and be glad for her, all you who love her; rejoice greatly with her, all you who mourn over her. For you will nurse and be satisfied at her comforting breasts; you will drink deeply and delight in her overflowing abundance.” For this is what the Lord says: “I will extend peace to her like a river, and the wealth of nations like a flooding stream; you will nurse and be carried on her arm and dandled on her knees. ; and you will be comforted over Jerusalem. – Isaiah 66:5-13
Well this is the last water-related verse in Isaiah. It has taken me a few days to get to it with the end of term exams and grading. I have been floating through Isaiah since August 25, when I reflected on God’s promise to settle the matter of our estrangement form Him. Since that day I have reflected done 71 posts on water-related passages in Isaiah and I have gained a new appreciation for truly deep water and reflections of Jesus that are found here.
Today’s passage is appropriate as it seems to describe with some specificity a people who have become estranged from God. “Your own people who hate you, and exclude you because of my name”. It also seems God has become estranged from them, “Hear that uproar from the city, hear that noise from the temple! It is the sound of the Lord repaying his enemies all they deserve”. I am a little confused by who is meant by “enemies” here. On one level it could merely be referring to one of the many conquerors of the City of David like the Assyrians.
I wonder, based on the what comes before and after this, whether this reference is intended to refer to all those who fail to follow and seek after God, including modern-day God followers like myself. God goes on to describe a way to “settle the matter” of this mutual estrangement this way: “Before she goes into labor, she gives birth; before the pains come upon her, she delivers a son. Who has ever heard of such things? Who has ever seen things like this”. This sounds very much like the mysterious and miraculous event that we will be celebrating in a week — the birth of a son named Jesus. Emmanuel, God with us, something that few people had heard of or seen prior to this time.
We are all to be glad of this blessed arrival, Jews and gentiles alike: “Rejoice with Jerusalem and be glad for her, all you who love her; rejoice greatly with her, all you who mourn over her. For you will nurse and be satisfied at her comforting breasts; you will drink deeply and delight in her overflowing abundance.” I do not think the abundance and sustenance God is comparing to breast feeding is a physical provision, but rather a new kind of spiritual relationship, the new song, that God has been singing throughout the book of Isaiah. A relationship with a God who is like a loving mother, faithful father, and saving son.
This new relationship will provide “peace like a river” and “wealth of nations like a flooding stream“. Very similar language was used in Isaiah 48:17-22 and Isaiah 59:12-21. I think the “wealth of nations” referred to here is not gold and silver, but rather is a savior that transcends all earthly things to build a bridge with our souls. This is a great way to end my float through Isaiah as it is actually where it began. God has clearly explained how He intends to “settle the matter” between us and Him. I am thankful that I can follow a God who will protect me like a superhero, save me from sin, and comfort me like my mother: ” As a mother comforts her child, so will I comfort you”.
Prayer: God thank You for all the insights you have shared with me in the book of Isaiah. I have learned much about the new song you sing for us.