by Barry Newton
According to one of my professors, who earned his doctorate at Hebrew Union, the rabbis claim every forecast of doom upon God’s people also contains a message of hope. This view of God certainly seems to be the case in the verbal mural of Isaiah 24-27. In the midst of doom, a message of hope exists.
> Isaiah 24 opens with the scene and stench of doom descending upon Judah for breaking God’s everlasting covenant. (Isaiah 24:5-6). “Look! The LORD is stripping and destroying the land, turning it upside down and scattering its inhabitants … The land will be completely stripped, completely plundered. … Therefore a curse is devouring the land, and its inhabitants are punished for their guilt. It is why those living there waste away, …” (Isaiah 24:1,3,6). CJB Following God’s judgment upon the land, only a remnant would remain (24:6) with Jerusalem “left in ruins” (Isaiah 24:10).
> Nevertheless, in the midst of this darkness comes a message of hope for the remnant to seize. The LORD would cause a reversal of fortunes.
> Echoing themes already established in Isaiah, God would turn the capital of Judah’s oppressors, Babylon, into “a heap of rubble, … never to be rebuilt” (25:2), while Jerusalem would be exalted hosting a typical Ancient Near Eastern kingly banquet as the LORD would visibly reassert his rule (Isaiah 24:23; 25:6).
> With Babylon’s demise, death’s march is halted, tears give way to joy and the reproach borne by God’s people is removed (24:8). Accordingly because of his great deeds, God would be revered even by the ruthless nations (25:3) and Judah appropriately would break forth in praise to God “in that day.” Isaiah 26:1 As in Ezekiel 37, dead Israel comes to life (Isaiah 26:19).
> The devastation his people would experience would not be like what God would eventually pour out upon their oppressors (Isaiah 27:7). God’s people would again take root (27:6) and their guilt would be atoned (Isaiah 27:9).
So, how do you describe God? About 100 years ago a common perspective seems to have claimed that God was a vengeful, angry God eager to zap sinners. Conversely, a seemingly current prevalent view about God has swung the pendulum to the other extreme epitomizing God as love, period.
Paul presents a more balanced view of God, “consider therefore the kindness and sternness of God” (Romans 11:22). Certainly the principles of judgment and hope are woven together in the gospel as well (Romans 2:16; 1 Corinthians 15:1-2 ).
The basic principle of the rabbis’ dictum rings true for the gospel. God will judge again. Yes there is a day of doom coming, but through Christ, God offers us the message of real hope.
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