Today’s reading: Isaiah 13-23, Psalm 79-80
Today, Isaiah turns his attention to pronouncing a coming judgment on Israel’s neighbors that will be a part of God’s work of restoration. Much of our reading in these eleven chapters focuses on the punishment that will be carried out on these surrounding nations for their arrogance and destructive behavior.
There is a surprising announcement at the end of chapter 19, however, about a day that is coming when Israel and its neighbors will all worship God together. These verses offer a hopeful example of a world that begins to fulfill the vision cast in Isaiah 2. Reading the Bible from cover to cover as we are doing, it is the first time we hear of nations outside Israel worshipping the LORD.
Isaiah tells us that Egypt, Assyria, and Israel will be united, no longer fighting with each other, and will become a blessing to God. The kingdom of Assyria encompassed what is today large portions of Syria, Turkey, Iran, and Iraq. Buried in the middle of today’s reading, then, is the anticipation of a day when there will be peace throughout the Middle East.
Sadly, we have yet to see this vision fulfilled more than 2500 years later. This is not God’s fault, of course. It is because human arrogance and destructive behavior persists; and this behavior is not limited to the actions of leaders in that part of the world. Many nations, including our own, have contributed to the continued violence and unrest in the Middle East because of their own special interests in that region.
And so, we are still waiting. While we wait, let us pray. . .that we will all learn to care more about God’s interests than our own, so that one day the vision might be fulfilled not only for the Middle East, but for the whole world.