“The Lord, who rules and protects Israel, the Lord Almighty, has this to say”.
Isa 44:6 GNB
When outward circumstances are at their worst it takes real stature to encourage others, to rise above the gloom, and to light a candle in the dark. Sometimes a general has to rally his defeated troops. A political leader has to point his co-workers forward after a defeat at the polls. A coach has to pick his team up after an unexpected loss.
Isaiah was called by God to fill that role for the exiles in Babylon. He did not do it by smooth talk. He did it by directing their faith to God – whom many thought had been left behind in Jerusalem. So he reminded them about the nature of God. Only faith can engender faith in others. Only hope can point people out of the morass of despondency, depression and defeatism in which they so often find themselves. And Isaiah reminded them of who their God was. Despite being under the rule of the Babylonian emperor he reminded them that over and above the foreign emperor was the eternal God, and it was he who ruled them. If they were afraid of the likely invasion by the Persians and the mayhem that was likely to cause, their eternal God was the one who protected them, and had done so from the day he first called Abraham.
Christians often look out at a grim world. Cruelty abounds. Sinfulness is rampant. Economic forces offer little by way of hope. Civil unrest erupts in many parts of the world. It is time to listen to Isaiah again. His message is as pertinent now as it was two and a half thousand years ago: God still rules and protects. Hallelujah!
Lord, shine through the gloom and rekindle my faith.