Howl in pain! The day of the Lord is near, the day when the Almighty brings destruction. Everyone’s hands will hang limp, and everyone’s courage will fail. They will all be terrified and overcome with pain, like the pain of a woman in labour. They will look at each other with fear, and their faces will burn with shame. The day of the Lord is coming – that cruel day of his fierce anger and fury. The earth will be made a wilderness, and every sinner will be destroyed. (verses 6-9)
Read Isaiah 13:1-13
The sweep of history is littered with the rise and fall of people and nations. Ancient ruins stand as monuments to once great civilisations, and an archaeologist’s dig brings up remnants of a past life.
Chapter 6 of Isaiah begins a section of oracles against foreign nations, in this case Babylon. Isaiah foreshadows the disasters that will come upon those nations who do not acknowledge God as Lord. Isaiah tells of the absolute destruction of the Babylonian people – a destruction that has been confirmed in history. What did God’s people, the Israelites make of this? For them, the destruction of their enemies was no random event but a sign of God’s universal rule over world affairs. Their God was in control.
In today’s world, new nations and governments form with alarming rapidity. Political coups and takeovers, civil war and invasions are very much part of our world. But the message of Isaiah remains: God is in control.
When I am disturbed by the turmoil of governments and nations, remind me, O God, that you alone are the supreme ruler. Amen.
by Anne Maczkowiack in ‘Renewed Hope for each Day’ (LCA, Openbook, 2000)
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