7 “Before she goes into labor,
she gives birth;
before the pains come upon her,
she delivers a son.
8 Who has ever heard of such things?
Who has ever seen things like this?
Can a country be born in a day
or a nation be brought forth in a moment?
Yet no sooner is Zion in labor
than she gives birth to her children.
9 Do I bring to the moment of birth
and not give delivery?” says the Lord.
“Do I close up the womb
when I bring to delivery?” says your God.
10 “Rejoice with Jerusalem and be glad for her,
all you who love her;
rejoice greatly with her,
all you who mourn over her.
11 For you will nurse and be satisfied
at her comforting breasts;
you will drink deeply
and delight in her overflowing abundance.”
Points of Interest:
Image of the Day–Quick labor
The pregnancy might have seemed like it lasted forever, but now that the time has come things move quickly–so quickly that, delightfully, there’s no time for any labor pains or for labor at all. We skip straight from pregnancy to birth. I think this is another reference to the Garden of Eden story, in which painful labor is one of the repercussions of Adam and Eve succumbing to the serpent’s temptation (Genesis 3:16). So, the lack of labor pains is one more sign–like lions and lambs becoming friends, and people living to a 100–that we’re moving toward a new and better world, one that’s more like the world God always intended.
Mixed Metaphor of the Day–Babies congratulating mom on their own birth
Of course, it’s not an actual baby who is being born here at all. It’s twins: new heavens and a new earth. So, in a way, we’re all being born into a new experience of life. That leads to a funny change of roles for us in the last two verses:
God: Congratulate Zion. You know she’s had a rough time of it for a while. But the most exciting thing happened. She just had twins.
Us: Wow, already. It seems like that happened so fast. What are the baby’s names?
God: You. You’re the babies.
Taking it Home:
For our city: My guess is that you don’t have to look very far or very hard in our city to find something that seems heartbreaking or unfair or just altogether not that great. I want this new heaven and new earth for our city, and gosh darnit I want it quickly. Ask God to make our city more like heaven. Ask God for all the joy, satisfaction, abundance, and healing that is characteristic of heaven to be characteristic of our city. I’m reminded of Jesus’ most popular saying as we he walked around the Ancient Near East, which in modern day terms would probably read something like ‘@GreaterBoston get ready #heavenishere.’ As you go through your day today, in whatever part of the city you are in, as frequently as you can look around you, soaking up the sights and smells, and ask God for heaven to be here more profoundly right in the midst of them.