“Thus says the LORD: Maintain justice, and do what is right, for soon my salvation will come, and my deliverance be revealed.” (Isaiah 56:1)
Soon, the Lord’s salvation will come soon. One could be on the pessimistic side and say, this was written in the time of Isaiah; and the Israelites had to wait until the coming of Jesus. But even that was not salvation that came and settled on earth to stay. Because the opposite of salvation seems to be doing pretty intense business right now!
But at heart, I am not pessimistic. Actually, salvation and deliverance was always available to the Israelites, and before them to the Hebrews and those who followed that God who called out Abraham. It’s just that the message did not sink in and take root. When daily survival is one’s focus, what will come in the hereafter tends to get pushed aside. That might explain somewhat the current dismissal of authentic Christian living.
It took the personage of Jesus Christ, on earth and right next to the people, for the message that the Lord God had been trying to convey to be understood. And even then there were some who did not get it. But . . . . my supposition is that salvation and deliverance are really within easy grasp. Humanity has the tendency to look for the end result that comes with ease and is handed to them, corporately, without having to work hard. The writer of Isaiah says to maintain justice and do what is right – then salvation and deliverance will become evident. Jesus exemplified what justice and doing right looks like. Might that be the “magic” formula for salvation and deliverance? I suspect so.
“And the foreigners who join themselves to the LORD, to minister to him, to love the name of the LORD, and to be his servants, all who keep the Sabbath, and do not profane it, and hold fast my covenant– these I will bring to my holy mountain, and make them joyful in my house of prayer; their burnt offerings and their sacrifices will be accepted on my altar; for my house shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples.” (Verses 6 – 7)
Maintain justice and do what is right – that sounds like something that anyone could do. You may quibble about what is “justice” and what is “right to do” – but actually that is just quibbling to sidestep what you know in your heart of hearts should be done. The “Golden Rule” is not based on any certain strain of theology or tenets of faith. Compassion and care of another is not the monopoly of Christianity. And actually, sadly, Christianity seems to have lost its gripe on that set of attributes. On that, I confess to having some pessimism.
“Thus says the Lord GOD, who gathers the outcasts of Israel, I will gather others to them besides those already gathered.” (Verse 8)
It is hard to know, beloved reader, what of the faith beliefs that the Hebrews and Israelites had were directly from the Divine and what was created or crafted by them according to their understanding at the time. I am trying to sort through my mind what the prophets said directly about having faith in the Lord God and what the people of the Old Testament did in order to keep the faith they understood as pure and pristine as they thought they should. I think of Elijah who was “zealous” for the Lord.
Like last week, I am grappling with where this week’s scripture passage will go. I rest on the inspiration and guidance of the Holy Presence to discern where my reflections will go. And in fact, that is probably the sort of advice the called and chosen people should have heeded! Shalom & Selah!