Compassion and Fire!

Scripture reading for August 4th: Isaiah 63-66

“Oh, that You would rend the heavens and come down, that the mountains would tremble before You!  As when fire sets twigs ablaze and causes water to boil, come down to make Your name known to Your enemies and cause the nations to quake before You!” (Isaiah 64:1-2)  Isaiah longs for God to appear on the earth and reveal His glory and power.  He envisions the mountains quaking at God’s revealed presence.  He can see the glory of the Lord appearing as a consuming fire that causes the wicked to quake in fear.

Earlier in his prophesy, Isaiah has envisioned the coming of the Redeemer as the “servant of the Lord” who would suffer and bear the sins and iniquities of His people.  (Isaiah 52-53)  God would come in compassion and mercy and deal with man’s deepest predicament:  separation from God!  Now, Isaiah prays for God to come in judgment of the wicked and in mercy to His people.

God answered Isaiah in the form of several prophetic words.   God assured His people that He would act on their behalf to save them.  He would also deal harshly with those who would forsake Him to run after gods of good luck and fortune.  (Isaiah 65:11-12)    God assured his servants that they would be cared for in the midst of judgment.  (Isaiah 65:13-14)  He promised to restore Jerusalem as a joy and delight to His people and remove the sound of weeping and crying from it forever.  (Isaiah 65:18-19)  In fact, a new heavens and new earth would be made that would endure forever! (Isaiah 66:22)

This same God who is a Father to His people will come in a different way to His foes.  “See, the Lord is coming with fire, and His chariots are like the whirlwind; He will bring down His anger with fury, and His rebuke with flames of fire.  For with fire and with His sword the Lord will execute judgment upon all men, and many will be those slain by the Lord.” (Isaiah 66:15-16) Not only will God’s many enemies be slain, but they will be tormented by worms and fire forever!  (Isaiah 66:24) God is indeed compassionate and merciful to those who are humble and contrite and tremble at His word.  (Isaiah 66:2) He is also an impartial judge to those who resist and rebel!  Whose side will you be on, the many or the few?

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