The song of hope (16-10-20)
Bible Reading: Isaiah 55. 12 - 13
You will go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and hills will burst into song before you, and all the trees of the field will clap their hands. Instead of the thornbush will grow the juniper, and instead of briers the myrtle will grow. This will be for the Lord’s renown, for an everlasting sign, that will endure forever.”
During the ongoing Coronavirus restrictions, the outlook can look bleak, with cases on the increase again and no end in sight. In the Old Testament, God’s people spent long periods in exile under alien government restrictions. It was into these circumstances that the prophets spoke, giving both words of warning and encouragement. Here, at the end of Isaiah 55, we get a vision of hope and better times to come.
I was told a wonderful true story this week, which resonates with this passage. An elderly lady was very ill in hospital, close to death from Covid-19. One of the hospital staff went to see her, I’m not sure whether it was a chaplain or a doctor. Feeling at something of loss to know what to do to make this poor lady’s final hours more comfortable, the person began to sing ‘Amazing grace’ over her. This was a somewhat unexpected move on the part of the singer. However, the patient has gone on to make a remarkable and totally unexpected recovery. This lady is now telling anyone who will listen how at that moment she met with Jesus, and how his amazing grace has been poured into her life. She is bursting with joy and declaring the Lord’s renown.
What a wonderful reminder to us, that at some point in the future we too will go out with joy and be led forth in peace. Covid-19 will one day be overcome and our news bulletins no longer dominated by the rising number of cases and subsequent increase in deaths. Our time of exile will be ended, and we will be able to enjoy life to the full once more.
The thornbush and briers conjure up images of abandoned fields whereas the juniper and myrtle are signs of cultivation and restoration, reflecting God’s good plans for his people. And when God makes a promise, it endures for ever.
Faithful God, whose promises never fail, encourage us through your word and hold us secure in difficult times. Help us to set our eyes on the future hope which endures for ever. Amen.