I was all ready to give up by the time I got to Isaiah 24!
It was verse after verse of warnings and terrible prophecy. Egypt (chp 19), Egypt and Cush (chp 20), Babylon (chp 21) , Jerusalem (chp 22) , Tyre (chp 23) , then the whole earth (chp 24) .
I should have been prepared for it, I should have known this is how it would be. The book of Isaiah is made up of two major sections. Chapters 1-39 are collectively known, by some commentators, as ‘the judgement book’. If you know Isaiah then you’ll know that the ‘comforting’ stuff doesn’t appear until 40:1. I knew that, so I shouldn’t have been so surprised by the tough stuff. But I was.
And as I mentioned, by chapter 24 I’d had enough.
Then… like a little oasis in the desert there was some refreshing cool.
“So will it be on the earth and among the nations,
as when an olive tree is beaten,
or as when gleanings are left after the grape harvest.
They raise their voices, they shout for joy;
from the west they acclaim the Lord’s majesty.
Therefore in the east give glory to the Lord;
exalt the name of the Lord, the God of Israel,
in the islands of the sea.
From the ends of the earth we hear singing:
“Glory to the Righteous One.”” Isaiah 24:13-16a
Look closely in these ‘judgement’ chapters and you still find the faithful promises. As angry as he is, God regularly drops in the promises to the remnant of believers. Our faith will be beaten, shaken and we may feel like a combine harvester has actually run over our souls. But there will be ‘gleanings.’
The Church might well look like an empty harvest field with just a few olives lying around here and there. Or a vineyard with just the odd grape remaining.
But we few who are left “raise our voices and shout for joy.”
Continue on in Chapter 24 and Isaiah returns to words of woe. The tough stuff is not over yet. But there is always a reason and an opportunity to stop and give glory to the Righteous One. We had our Harvest Services yesterday and we thanked God for all he has given us, and will continue to provide for us.
We’re a small church but few as we are,
we gave glory to the Righteous One.
So tell me… which end of the earth do you live in? Were you in church yesterday? What did you shout? What did you sing?