Let the oppressed see it and be glad;
you who seek God, let your hearts revive.
Isaiah announces to Jerusalem that they are saved. Paul will use this passage to encourage missionaries (See Romans 10:15). As did Handel, in a passage in his Messiah, How beautiful are the feet.
Notice the tension underlying the passage, a tension that exists on into our time. God is king; yet, we don't always live like it.
Their ancestors had seen God act in their lives at the Red Sea. Was God absent during their captivity?
What holds us captive? What hides the presence of God from us?
Isaiah calls to the Judean people in exile, "Break forth together into singing, you ruins of Jerusalem; for the Lord has comforted his people, he has redeemed Jerusalem" (51:9).
Allen & Williamson in their Preaching the Old Testament point out that this instruction by Isaiah to celebrate their release from captivity and their return to Jerusalem comes at a time when they are still under the control of Babylon and Jerusalem is a devastated city.
Advice to new Christians: When you lived in the dark, you couldn't see, but, now that the light is on, you can. Consider what people do when they think no one can see them. Well, you can see now, and you can be seen.
Tangent: Light does help us see more and better. In addition, it enables growth. I'm thinking about the flowerpots I have on the windowsill. I see more blooms there than if I had put them somewhere else. Try to find out what is pleasing to the Lord.
This advice can be useful to us old Christians, as well. We should be aware of what the Lord wants us to do and not to do. We should, but do we live as if we did? The advice in this letter sounds rather relevant to our own era--don't waste your time, don't get drunk. Rather, the letter tells us, be filled with the spirit. Sing praises and give thanks. Give thanks at all times and for everything in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Of course, not every bad thing that happens to us is our fault, but we really do bring some of it on ourselves. Of course, not every good thing that happens to us is due to our own efforts, but how we live really does affect what happens next.
If we are filled with the Spirit, we're not leaving room for non-Spirit things.
Then we get to the part about the Christian household. Remember that this description fits the social order of their time. We need to try to understand how to fit the underlying message to our own times and ways.
Wisdom is too high for fools;
in the gate they do not open their mouths.
Prayer for Today: O Lord, our God, fill us with your presence. Open our eyes to your light. Guide us into right behavior. Remind us always of the gifts you have provided for us and remind us how you wish for us to use them. Amen.