These Are The Things I Will Do
Today's lectionary text comes to us from the prophet Isaiah 42:14-16, which reads:
14 For a long time I have held my peace,There is so much I love about this strange passage. God is speaking here to the people of God through the prophet.
I have kept still and restrained myself;
now I will cry out like a woman in labor,
I will gasp and pant.
15 I will lay waste mountains and hills,
and dry up all their herbage;
I will turn the rivers into islands,
and dry up the pools.
16 I will lead the blind
by a road they do not know,
by paths they have not known
I will guide them.
I will turn the darkness before them into light,
the rough places into level ground.
These are the things I will do,
and I will not forsake them.
God is responding to all of the hardships that God's people have endured---specifically those who are vulnerable and on the margins. And what a response!
The prophet purports that God is saying:
"I've been silent, and held back while all of this stuff is going on, while the Babylonians do their thing, while destruction and desolation occur to the Holy City and the Temple... but no longer."
And I love what God says about breaking that silence, "...now I will cry out like a woman in labor, I will gasp and pant."
Then God declares God's sovereignty over all of Creation. There is nothing not even the power and magnitude of the mountains themselves that will stand in God's way as God reaches out a hand of rescue to "the blind."
What is meant by "the blind?" Here the prophet is demonstrating God's preference for those who are helpless and hopeless---those who need to be led, who need to be shown the way.
The inference here is that at one time God may have felt far away when all of the calamity struck God's people, but God was not far at all. In fact, God declares God's plans to lead the hopeless and helpless in ways they never could have imagined, and to bring light to their darkness.
This is some straight up good news, isn't it? "These are the things I will do," God declares, "and I will not forsake my people."
Have you felt a bit like God may have taken a powder over the last few weeks? Has it felt a bit like God wasn't really in charge or in control? That God has fallen silent?
Don't be so sure about that. I for one am going to choose to live into the hope expressed here in this passage--hope in a God who finally declares, "Enough!"
Live into that hope with me. We need a bunch of it right about now. Let's live into that hope and begin envisioning what God is going to do to make all of this right, to bring hope to the hopeless and rescue to those who cry out for help.
Live into that hope, and may the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you now and always. Amen.