"Lord, be gracious to us; we long for you. Be our strength every morning, our salvation in time of distress."
Isaiah 33:2

Isaiah33 2Think of the scariest moment went you have ever went through. When you felt your heart drop or sick to your stomach. I’ve had a few. One that comes to mind was when I was driving in pitch black through the smoking mountains. There were no signs and very few cars. My GPS kept on going in and out. I took a few wrong turns. I felt sick in the pit of my stomach. Imagine living like this every single day. Imagine multiplying the anxiety ten times as much. This is how Hezekiah and his people felt under the oppressive rule of King Sennacherib. Their anxiety intensifies as the Assyrian army lays siege over their city. At this time of great agony, Isaiah offers a prayer for God to be their salvation in times of trouble.

Isaiah 32:1-20

Practicing justice. When you think of the Holy Spirit empowering believers, what comes to mind? Extraordinary gifting such as the ability to heal, speak in tongues or prophesy about someone (1 Cor 12 &14)? Or perhaps to preach the gospel with boldness and efficacy even in the presence of real danger, to drive out evil spirits, and do extraordinary acts (Mk 6:6-13)? Or maybe the Spirit gives us assurance of our election as God’s children (Eph 1:13-14, Ro 8:14-16) and furthermore regenerates our hearts so that we are able to resist sin and undergo character change (Gal 5:16, 22-23)? These are all wonderful truths about the Holy Spirit. However, it might shock you to know that perhaps one of the most important characteristics of being empowered by the Spirit has to do with practicing justice. In fact, I would submit that living out the gospel and sustaining our church community may hinge on our understanding and practice of the concept of justice.

Isaiah 31:1-9

We all have emotions, doubts and real problems. Our capacity to both express and feel emotion is a God-given gift. And problems are an unavoidable facet of living in a reality in which things can go well, wrong or something weird in between. And doubts arise because we’re constantly working with incomplete knowledge of just about everything. In all of this, we have a strong tendency to become self-focused and perhaps even a bit nihilistic. God seems to hold very little practicality for our lives as well as our communities. We tend to want to focus on our own ingenuity or perhaps some other method of dealing with reality. Isaiah was attempting to address a similar problem as this in his day. Solomon’s temple, the religious and spiritual crown jewel of Israel was located in Jerusalem, the capital of the kingdom of Judah. Even still, much like the northern kingdom, those in Judah had failed to part ways with their former polytheistic practices. Isaiah likened this to functional atheism, because the idols that they worshiped were not truly gods; they were only created, inanimate objects which were made in the image of man. Isaiah understood the Assyrian invasion as the LORD’s judgement upon their idol worship. But this judgement was also meant to be redemptive, a means by which the LORD would bring his people back to Him.