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From the Front Porch: A Great Salvation

September 11, 2011 2 comments

King Hezekiah on a 17th century painting by un...

Image via Wikipedia: King Hezekiah, in a 17th century painting.

SUMMARY: Ten years ago today, the United States went through the dark days of 911.  Moreover, throughout our lives, nearly all of us have had our dark days — our moments of despair and suffering.  Yet, as a nation and as persons striving to serve God, Isaiah’s words in 9:6-7 echo throughout the ages reassuring us that a loving God, through his creative, redemptive power, will deliver us.

It’s the eighth century (B.C.E.) and Israel, now a divided Hebrew kingdom, was in terrible shape. Threatened by foreign enemies and internal corruption and decay, the entire nation, north and south, was in danger of swift, imminent and inevitable destruction. Once united under the monarchy of Israel’s famous King David, the country was torn asunder by political strife into two kingdoms, Israel to the north and Judah to the south. Now, centuries after David’s death, the jealousy and internal strife between Israel and Judah–blood relatives to each other–signaled the end of Israel as a nation.

In a series of prophecies presented to Judah’s King Ahaz, Isaiah warned that unholy political alliances with hostile foreign powers coupled with the social and moral decay of the nation (Isaiah 9:18-20) could spell only disaster for the Kingdom of Judah. It seems almost axiomatic to political history that moral corruption increases a nation’s vulnerability and subjects it to the attacks of its enemies. Such was the case in Isaiah’s day.  Back then, prophets theorized that war and defeat by an enemy was a consequence of social injustice and moral decay. Indeed, Isaiah warned, Judah is about to go through some very dark moments in its national history.

Yet, despite knowing that Judah’s demise was imminent, Isaiah saw hope for the kingdom’s salvation in God.  In a marvelous, elegant passage often read in Churches throughout Advent and Christmas, Isaiah talks of a God  who is a “Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:6, NRSV). Indeed, Isaiah understood God as a great Creator who, through the ascension of a great king who heart was bent on serving God (Hezekiah), would eventually reverse the course of Judah’s history and thereby be the kingdom’s salvation (Isaiah 9:6-7).  But before Judah could reach the glory days of Hezekiah, the leaders and people had to endure the terrible agony and dark days of judgement.

Ten years ago today, the United States went through the dark days of 911.  Moreover, throughout our lives, nearly all of us have had our dark days — our moments of despair and suffering.  Yet, as a nation and as persons striving to serve God, Isaiah’s words in 9:6-7 echo throughout the ages reassuring us that a loving God, through his creative, redemptive power, will deliver us. As we look to God to intervene in our personal situations or to right wrongs in our society or even reverse the course of our history, our darkest moments (both personal and collective)  are opportunities to think about the moral choices that we make and realign ourselves with His purposes for our lives. While none of us like the dark days of trial and suffering, we can expect that God hears our prayers and has a plan for our deliverance.  The Light ahead that belongs solely to God should give us hope and the perseverance through our struggles. We, with Isaiah, can affirm, even in our darkest moments, “I will wait for the Lord….and I will hope in him” (Isaiah 8:17, NRSV).

From the Front Porch: The Power of One!

August 2, 2011 2 comments

Ezechias-Hezekiah was the son of Ahaz and the ...

Image via Wikipedia

Sometimes, when we are beset with life’s troubles, it’s easy to imagine that we face them alone. In the Bible, there is a story about good King Hezekiah who learned that Sennacherib, the Assyrian King, was planning to sack Jerusalem. Now Hezekiah was no fool. He knew he was severely outnumbered by the Assyrian troops. He made all the necessary preparations to defend Jerusalem. When the Assyrian King wrote a letter to the people telling them to give it up because they would be destroyed, King Hezekiah encouraged the people to be strong and have courage, for the power of God is mightier than the power of the greatest army on the face of the earth. That’s a good thing for us to remember — when we face a sea of trials and troubles, the power of ONE is greater than our greatest troubles.

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