“The Lord says to Israel, ‘The wealth of Egypt and Ethiopia will be yours, and the tall men of Seba will be your slaves; they will follow you in chains. They will bow down to you and confess, ‘God is with you – he alone is God’”.
Isa 45:14 GNB
One of the abiding problems in the Christian faith is the difficulty of mixing nationalistic fervour with true religious faith, and of distinguishing between the two. We have inherited this problem from the Old Testament.
In this verse Isaiah got really carried away. He was delighted that God was going to release the Israelite exiles from their captivity in Babylon. But so great was his faith in God and so exuberant was his excitement at the thought of getting back, and therefore of God being vindicated, that he began to dream dreams of national grandeur and glory. From being insignificant victims of Babylonian military success they would now become “top dogs”. People from other countries would stream to Jerusalem to do homage to Jehovah God, and they would bring their wealth and become servants to the Israelites. It never happened. They did go back – to ruins and poverty. And they became subservient to succeeding waves of powerful empires.
Christian believers have to try and remember that the coming of Christ brought an end to this type of faith that believes in a God whose purpose is to make “us” as a nation great – whoever the “us” might be. We cannot commandeer God and retread him as a super American, super British, South African, African, Israeli or whatever. The Holy Spirit universalized Christ at Pentecost – that is the meaning of the speaking in foreign languages. Worship him as the Christ of all humanity.
Lord, bless the people in all nations who believe in you.