Isaiah 9:10, 21 NIV
"The bricks have fallen down,
but we will rebuild with dressed stone;
the fig trees have been felled,
but we will replace them with cedars."
Manasseh will feed on Ephraim, and Ephraim on Manasseh;
together they will turn against Judah.
Yet for all this, his anger is not turned away,
his hand is still upraised.
This chapter begins with hope. "The people ... have seen a great light." "You have enlarged the nation and increased their joy." Referring to the coming Messiah, "...to us a child is born." There is hope, joy and expectation, but before hope comes judgment. Before judgment comes false hope. In their arrogance the people brag, "the fig trees have been felled but we will replace them with cedars." In the face of God's warning they brag rather than repent. God, however, has a way of knocking out all the props from under us.
It makes me wonder about our own country, our own churches, our own households. Where does our hope lie? Are we always coming up with another scheme to avoid God's discipline? Do we always have a contingency plan? Do we falsely find hope where God has promised failure?
I'm not sure what our future holds. God hasn't specifically said that he will judge and destroy us like he prophecied about Israel and Judah. We are not under that same Mosaic Covenant that promised blessings and curses. But, where are we looking for our hope? We can craft contingency plans, scheme, manage, devise and manipulate, but ultimately God will be God. Whether he will judge this nation in our lifetime I do not know. That he will judge this world at some point is clear. In that judgment the world will be looking to a false Christ for false hope, believing a lie that will all come falling down around them. When God decides to judge there is no holding back his wrath.
The good news is that he started this chapter with good news.
Isaiah 9:6-7 NIV
For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given,
and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Of the greatness of his government and peace
there will be no end.
He will reign on David's throne
and over his kingdom,
establishing and upholding it
with justice and righteousness
from that time on and forever.
The zeal of the Lord Almighty
will accomplish this.
This child was born 2000 years ago. He lived, taught, died and rose from the dead. He is our hope. Contingency plans will fail. Savings accounts will dwindle and disappear. Dreams and schemes will dissipate like fog on a sunny day. Friends will fail us, or even turn against us. Our hope is in the Lord, the maker of Heaven and Earth. He can be trusted.
Father, thank you for the reminder that my hope goes beyond this life. May those reading these words find their hope in Christ as well. Father, I believe that Jesus is my only hope. I believe that you will accept me in spite of my sin because Jesus carried my sin to the cross and satisfied your justice. I thank you that in him I am accepted. I believe.
By His grace,
EFCA Northern Mtn District