Thursday, 7 July 2016

From 3000 years ago... a free gift

There's been far too much news lately- and then along comes the Chilcot enquiry (at last), turning our attention straight back to a string of decisions that took this country into war a few years ago. Iraq was already suffering, but as the man who pulled down Saddam's statue put it,
 '“Saddam is gone, but in his place there are 1,000 Saddams.” 
So yet again, the law of unintended consequences shows what happens when one massive decision goes horribly wrong if there's been no significant plan for working out what to do afterwards.
So... here's a free gift to counter all that News slapping us in the face, with 3000 years-worth of perspective. If you're not familiar with the Bible, don't worry. Just allow these ancient words to wash over you like poetry. Try reading them aloud, perhaps to the background of something playing in the background (Rodrigo's Guitar Concerto, 2nd movement?)


The story behind this passage is of a people forced into exile, torn away from their beloved home (the city of Jerusalem), captured and destroyed by the powerful Babylonian Empire. What do they turn to, now? Where can they find hope? Isaiah offers a new way of understanding what is going on. Isaiah was a prophet, a spiritual leader offering challenge and comfort to his people, trying to make sense of the history happening around him, speaking truth to power and frequently getting into trouble for saying the unspeakable. His words proclaim a deeper truth, more powerful than any ruler or empire or international community. Dr Martin Luther King used them in one of his most powerful speeches.

Enjoy. You're welcome.


 Isaiah 40 (New International Version - UK) 
Comfort for God’s people
    says your God.
Speak tenderly to Jerusalem,
    and proclaim to her
that her hard service has been completed,
    that her sin has been paid for,
that she has received from the Lord’s hand
    double for all her sins.
‘In the wilderness prepare
    the way for the Lord;
make straight in the desert
    a highway for our God.
Every valley shall be raised up,
    every mountain and hill made low;
the rough ground shall become level,
    the rugged places a plain.
And the glory of the Lord will be revealed,
    and all people will see it together.
For the mouth of the Lord has spoken.’
    And I said, ‘What shall I cry?’
    and all their faithfulness is like the flowers of the field.
The grass withers and the flowers fall,
    because the breath of the Lord blows on them.
    Surely the people are grass.
The grass withers and the flowers fall,
    but the word of our God endures for ever.’
    go up on a high mountain.
You who bring good news to Jerusalem,
    lift up your voice with a shout,
lift it up, do not be afraid;
    say to the towns of Judah,
    ‘Here is your God!’
10 See, the Sovereign Lord comes with power,
    and he rules with a mighty arm.
See, his reward is with him,
    and his recompense accompanies him.
11 He tends his flock like a shepherd:
    he gathers the lambs in his arms
and carries them close to his heart;
    he gently leads those that have young.
    or with the breadth of his hand marked off the heavens?
Who has held the dust of the earth in a basket,
    or weighed the mountains on the scales
    and the hills in a balance?
13 Who can fathom the Spirit of the Lord,
    or instruct the Lord as his counsellor?
14 Whom did the Lord consult to enlighten him,
    and who taught him the right way?
Who was it that taught him knowledge,
    or showed him the path of understanding?
    they are regarded as dust on the scales;
    he weighs the islands as though they were fine dust.
16 Lebanon is not sufficient for altar fires,
    nor its animals enough for burnt offerings.
17 Before him all the nations are as nothing;
    they are regarded by him as worthless
    and less than nothing.
    To what image will you liken him?
19 As for an idol, a metalworker casts it,
    and a goldsmith overlays it with gold
    and fashions silver chains for it.
20 A person too poor to present such an offering
    selects wood that will not rot;
they look for a skilled worker
    to set up an idol that will not topple.
    Have you not heard?
Has it not been told you from the beginning?
    Have you not understood since the earth was founded?
22 He sits enthroned above the circle of the earth,
    and its people are like grasshoppers.
He stretches out the heavens like a canopy,
    and spreads them out like a tent to live in.
23 He brings princes to naught
    and reduces the rulers of this world to nothing.
24 No sooner are they planted,
    no sooner are they sown,
    no sooner do they take root in the ground,
than he blows on them and they wither,
    and a whirlwind sweeps them away like chaff.
    Or who is my equal?’ says the Holy One.
26 Lift up your eyes and look to the heavens:
    who created all these?
He who brings out the starry host one by one
    and calls forth each of them by name.
Because of his great power and mighty strength,
    not one of them is missing.
    Why do you say, Israel,
‘My way is hidden from the Lord;
    my cause is disregarded by my God’?
28 Do you not know?
    Have you not heard?
The Lord is the everlasting God,
    the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He will not grow tired or weary,
    and his understanding no one can fathom.
29 He gives strength to the weary
    and increases the power of the weak.
30 Even youths grow tired and weary,
    and young men stumble and fall;
31 but those who hope in the Lord
    will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
    they will run and not grow weary,
    they will walk and not be faint.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Any requests of subjects for future posts in 2016? No idea too stupid for consideration. And yes, I know I am a bad writer, so don't bother saying that unless you can write something better. But maybe there's a topic buzzing around in your head that you'd like to see covered... because I've got a keyboard here, it's loaded with letters, and I ain't afraid to use it.