Advent Devotion: Be a Part of the Redemption
Monday, December 4, 2017
Isaiah 64:1-9 is a part of a larger prayer of communal lament. The author’s world seems bleak, imbued with violence and disaster. The first part of Isaiah’s prayer recounts God’s mercy, recollecting the ways God delivered Israel from its enemies and its own indiscretions. However, here in verses one through nine, we find Israel’s appeal for redemption.
In ancient Israel redemption was more than a lofty notion; instead it was that which occurred in the family system. Redemption was signified by the next of kin who held as their responsibility the task of maintaining the security, sanctity, and future of the family. The responsibility was never more crucial than when family was compromised by death and loss. The legal and cultural ideal of redemption helps us understand Israel’s concept of God as redeemer more broadly, and specifically in this text. God is one who is closely related to Israel. There is an anticipation that God will show up in times of despair, loss, threat, and anxiety to secure Israel’s future. The author appeals to God not to be distant, but instead to “tear open the heavens and come down” (v.1).
In the wake of racial tragedies in places like Charlottesville; natural disasters in Puerto Rico, Houston, Iran, etc.; and all manner of divisiveness and disaster that has torn at the fiber of the world in which we live, now is the moment when many of us are looking for God to tear open the heavens and come down.
We all want to experience God intimately in the midst our broken world. We must remember that God’s redemption is not lofty. God has ripped open the heavens and come down, and God continues to rip open the heavens and come down. As God works in and through each of us who believe, God is working to secure the future of all God’s children. Remember that we are all called to participate in God’s redemption of the world.
Rev. Yolanda Norton
SFTS Assistant Professor of Old Testament