Thursday, October 19

Isaiah 25:1-9 (ESV)

God Will Swallow Up Death Forever

25 O Lord, you are my God;
    I will exalt you; I will praise your name,
for you have done wonderful things,
    plans formed of old, faithful and sure.
2 For you have made the city a heap,
    the fortified city a ruin;
the foreigners' palace is a city no more;
    it will never be rebuilt.
3 Therefore strong peoples will glorify you;
    cities of ruthless nations will fear you.
4 For you have been a stronghold to the poor,
    a stronghold to the needy in his distress,
    a shelter from the storm and a shade from the heat;
for the breath of the ruthless is like a storm against a wall,
5     like heat in a dry place.
You subdue the noise of the foreigners;
    as heat by the shade of a cloud,
    so the song of the ruthless is put down.

6 On this mountain the Lord of hosts will make for all peoples
    a feast of rich food, a feast of well-aged wine,
    of rich food full of marrow, of aged wine well refined.
7 And he will swallow up on this mountain
    the covering that is cast over all peoples,
    the veil that is spread over all nations.
8     He will swallow up death forever;
and the Lord God will wipe away tears from all faces,
    and the reproach of his people he will take away from all the earth,
    for the Lord has spoken.
9 It will be said on that day,
    “Behold, this is our God; we have waited for him, that he might save us.
    This is the Lord; we have waited for him;
    let us be glad and rejoice in his salvation.”

Reflection

I tried to go to an early morning exercise class. I spent thirty minutes driving in the dark and rain, unsuccessfully navigating road construction detours, before I gave up and went home. I was irritated, and also aware of how much worse things could be. Listening to stories of murder and natural disaster aftermath on the radio, I knew it was a luxury to drive around aimlessly in unused exercise clothes while my family slept safely at home. I had to remind myself of the many reasons I should be grateful to God.

The first half of today’s reading is like that. It testifies to all the ways God has helped in the past: “You have done wonderful things . . . have been a refuge to the poor, a refuge to the needy in their distress, a shelter from the rainstorm and a shade from the heat . . . you subdued the heat with the shade of clouds; the song of the ruthless was stilled.”

The second half is about what we can hope for in God: “On this mountain the Lord of hosts will make for all peoples a feast of rich food . . . he will swallow up death forever . . . the Lord God will wipe away the tears from all faces, and the disgrace of his people he will take away from all the earth.”

I find myself impatient to get to the complete peace of the mountaintop feast, which blinds me to the shelter I’m already being given. It happens in ministry, noticing where people and solutions are needed rather than where God has already provided. It happens at home, noticing messes and mistakes rather than effort and improvement. I appreciate the way Isaiah reinforces where my focus belongs: “O Lord, you are my God; I will exalt you, I will praise your name.”

Prayer

Loving God, as we wait for the fullness of your kingdom, grant us grateful and patient hearts. Help us realize our many blessings so that we may share them with others. In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.

Written by Kristen Schmid Schurter—Director of Spiritual Gifts Ministries ksschurter@stjohns-springfield.org