8 Then your light will break forth like the dawn,
and your healing will quickly appear;
then your righteousness will go before you,
and the glory of the Lord will be your rear guard.
9 Then you will call, and the Lord will answer;
you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I.
“If you do away with the yoke of oppression,
with the pointing finger and malicious talk,
10 and if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry
and satisfy the needs of the oppressed,
then your light will rise in the darkness,
and your night will become like the noonday.
11 The Lord will guide you always;
he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land
and will strengthen your frame.
You will be like a well-watered garden,
like a spring whose waters never fail.
12 Your people will rebuild the ancient ruins
and will raise up the age-old foundations;
you will be called Repairer of Broken Walls,
Restorer of Streets with Dwellings.
13 “If you keep your feet from breaking the Sabbath
and from doing as you please on my holy day,
if you call the Sabbath a delight
and the Lord’s holy day honorable,
and if you honor it by not going your own way
and not doing as you please or speaking idle words,
14 then you will find your joy in the Lord,
and I will cause you to ride in triumph on the heights of the land
and to feast on the inheritance of your father Jacob.”
For the mouth of the Lord has spoken.
Points of Interest:
Image of the Day—A new and better flashlight
We’ve talked a few times now about God’s strong feelings in 50:10-11 that, as we walk in the dark, we should trust God’s guidance instead of turning on our flashlights. In today’s passage, God reveals that we’re not meant to walk in darkness forever. God is making us a better flashlight–and I don’t mean that God is making a better flashlight for us, but God is making us into flashlights. God will remove our temptation to grab for the flashlight by giving us righteousness that shines like a beam of light out in front of us. If we come with our own headlights, no dark road is of any concern to us ever again.
Today’s Answer to a Previous Question—How is God both guide and rear guard?
In 52:12, God promises to go ahead of us, and also to guard our backs. I wondered when we read that passage whether God planned to bounce back and forth from front to back, or had figured out some other way to provide for protection both front and back. Here we get our answer. With the new light God has made us into, we serve as our own column of light in the front, and God is the column of smoke in back.
Superhero Name of the Day—Restorer of Streets with Dwellings
God’s choices don’t exactly roll off the tongue–maybe they have more of a ring to them in the Hebrew–but I love the idea of God coming up with a string of superhero nicknames for us: Repairer of Broken Walls; Paver of Potholes; Provider of a Fresh Coat of Paint. Our superhero ability: taking half-finished building projects on eerily empty streets and turning them into vibrant neighborhoods.
Throughout our reading, God has been talking about turning the old, empty husk of Jerusalem into a new, full, world-embracing city called ‘Zion.’ Here, God recruits our help in doing so, and grants us the power to accomplish it. This is the passage where we become agents in the big things God is up to.
Big Idea of the Day—Things go best when God supplies our needs
Getting involved in God’s plans is conditional, though. God would be happy to have us on board if we can stay away from cheating, slandering, and otherwise undercutting others. Even more than avoiding mistreating others, God is on the lookout for partners who choose to be generous toward others, even when it looks like there’s not enough to go around.
God promises us that we’re actually better off when we share. It’s like there are two different, side-by-side realities: a sun-scorched land and a well-watered garden. We decide which one we live in by how we treat others. If we fight with tooth and claw, we live in the sun-scorched land. If we are kind and generous, we get the well-watered garden.
As long as we believe God, the choice is a no-brainer. In the hard-scrabble world of the sun-scorched land, there’s not enough in the first place, and we end up dividing the small amount there is–or, worse, spilling it as we fight for it. In God’s garden, there’s more than enough to go around; if there’s anything you need, just ask and God is happy to supply it.
Taking it Home:
For you: How do you feel about the prospect that God is guiding you? I say I believe it, while simultaneously wishing God’s guidance looked and felt more like Google Maps–showing me the overview, the turn by turn, and also, most importantly, how long the whole journey will take. Take some time to reflect and pray about your relationship to God’s guidance: how has God guided you in the past? how do you sense God guiding you now? is there something specific you are looking for guidance on? Try asking God to guide you, while simultaneously thanking God for already doing so.