“Hound of Heaven” Meditations: 25. God is coming?
Isa 40:3 In the wilderness preparethe way for the Lord
The Exile has come and gone. The Temple is rebuilt as the people return and, as more return, Jerusalem itself is rebuilt. Leaders come and teach the people and a restoration of the nation occurs, with the help of some of what we refer to as ‘the Minor Prophets’, and then it goes silent. Nothing is heard from God. Has He in fact given up on this people? Has He restored them only to leave them? The years pass, a whole century, and then another and another. Over four centuries and not a word from God. Has He given up on Israel, has He given up on this world?
But perhaps some turned to the scrolls and they scan through Isaiah’s writings. And there in the early scrolls a sentence leaps out: “The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel” (Isa 7:14). What a strange word. Immanuel. What does it mean? “God with us.” God on our side? Or something more? Strange. They scan on through the scrolls and find the somewhat negatives words of judgment give way to an historical record of a period in Hezekiah’s life and then it seems there is a lighter feel to the prophecies that follow, more signs of hope. What was Isaiah picking up from the Lord? Hope?
Hope is the word of the visionary who looks with God’s eyes into the future, who sees beyond the bumbling faith, shallow righteousness, uncertain identity and sees the sun shining through the mist. Something is coming, there a hope of a new day.Indeed there in the ongoing scrolls, after the historical account, come the words, “In the wilderness, prepare the way of the Lord.” What? Surely this is a word of hope that speaks of a possibility of God coming, a word that says get ready for Him, make the way easy for Him to come. If He comes surely there is hope of a new day, He won’t just leave us like this, for ever – will He? Surely not! But for the moment all we have is silence. We have Jerusalem again, we have our temple, we have the Law but still the squabbling goes on. The Persian Empire gets overcome by the Greeks under Alexander the Great. His kingdom is eventually divided among four of his generals. One is given the rule of Egypt with control over the Jews. More changes. A revolt occurs in Israel and eventually, Judas (Maccabeus) from a priestly family took control. Nine rulers followed him, and as time passed they became more dictatorial and corrupt. Internal strife led their leaders to ask the Roman general, Pompey, to come and restore order and thus Roman rule started. Where is God in all this? He’s there in the background waiting for the right moment. For what? To come of course