for the waters have come up to my neck.
Answer me, O Lord,
for your steadfast love is good;
according to your abundant mercy,
turn to me.
(Psalm 69:1, 16)
How is your evangelism project doing? How has the world changed for the better because you are living your life according to principles that you have learned from God's Word?
Isaiah had been a prophet long enough to have learned disappointment. God did not let him give up. Instead, God expanded his job description: "You've been trying to do too little to too few."
They have known defeat, have been sent into exile, and now are being promised restoration.
They have been helped, and now they have a job to do.
Isaiah describes the role that Israel is to play: to say to the prisoners, "Come out," and to those in darkness, "Show yourselves."
As I read these verses, I am assuming that the original interpretation centered on those exiles being the prisoners and those in darkness could have also meant the exiles or it could mean the people who were left in Judah and were forced into collaboration and cooperation.
But, whoever was the first to hear Isaiah's words, many of us who have come after them need to heed them as well:
Come out of whatever it is that is keeping you from freely following God.And, let us read those ancient promises as still holding for us. As we emerge from our fears and insecurities, we will travel a path toward much blessing. We will be sustained along the way. The Lord has sent us a guide and a leader.
Quit keeping your loyalty to God a secret.
And, as we are asked to cast off our timidity about being God's people, we are to demonstrate and practice that life of care for others who just never have had a chance to hear about it before.
Doesn't this passage sound like a familiar pattern we religious people follow? First, a call to everyone to worship God including a very good reason to do so. Then, we recognize and admit that we have had disappointments, that we have had experiences that have given us doubt. And into our doubt comes the assurance that yes, God will remember to take care of us.
Doubting God's presence doesn't keep God from caring about us.
Being a Christian may mean a life-change. Christians aren't supposed to be licentious, greedy, or corrupt. Another rule: don't tell lies but speak the truth. Yes, even Christians get angry, but we are advised not to stay angry. Thieves are to give up stealing and get jobs. Rather than criticizing others, we are supposed to build them up. Rather than bitterness and anger and slander, we are to be kind and forgiving.
Wise warriors are mightier than strong ones,
and those who have knowledge than those who have strength;
for by wise guidance you can wage your war,
and in abundance of counselors there is victory.
Prayer for Today: At those times of despair when Psalm 69:2-13 describe your situation, pray verses 16-18.