by Barry Newton
Have you seen God at work in your life and in the lives of those around you? If you were to poetically express the power of God to either bless or discipline, what descriptive language would you employ to adequately convey the Creator’s workings?
Wading through the dramatic language of Isaiah, should cause us to become accustomed to the vivid and cosmic expressions of the prophets. Instead of a straightforward and perhaps bland “pride goes before a fall,” we flip a page of Isaiah to discover the king of Babylon aspiring to ascend into heaven but finding himself cast down like a falling star to the depths of the grave (Isaiah 13:12-17).
This powerful conquering king did not merely subdue nations, rather, he shook the earth and turned it into a desert (Isaiah 14:16-17). What wonderfully graphic language.
If such linguistic expressions reveal a mere mortal crushing his enemies, watch out when the Lord wields a nation like a battle axe to overthrow a country!
In Isaiah 34, Edom’s demise is wrapped up in the language of the stars dissolving as the blood of their dead bodies soak the mountains where they dwelt. God transforms the Edomite rivers to tar and the dust of their land into sulfur, facilitating a great bonfire of destruction. Due to the resulting human vacuum, the land becomes overrun with wild creatures.
Conversely in chapter 35, we experience poetic language revealing God blessing his people. Now the imagery reverses the language of destruction.
The desert is transformed into a fertile paradise as life-bestowing streams overwhelm parched ground. Wild beasts disappear. And because those whom God has rescued finally understand, they leap with everlasting joy as they enter Zion.
Such a portrayal of God’s judgment and blessings in cosmic terms is par for Isaiah. Underlying all of this activity rests the principle that if God chooses to bless or to discipline, he does so for a very good reason. Consequences are real for the choices we make.
While our experiences of God’s workings might not be so dramatic on the nationalistic level, God continues to be at work today. “For it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose.” (Philippians 2:13 NIV)
So what poetic language captures for you how God has worked in your life and in those around you? Perhaps more significantly since God does not override our human will, how would God commission a prophet to describe our response to his message and efforts?