Isaiah 57: 7-10
7 Upon a high and lofty mountain you have set your bed, and there you went up to offer sacrifice. 8 Behind the door and the doorpost you have set up your symbol; for, in deserting me, you have uncovered your bed, you have gone up to it, you have made it wide; and you have made a bargain for yourself with them, you have loved their bed, you have gazed on their nakedness. 9 You journeyed to Molech with oil, and multiplied your perfumes; you sent your envoys far away, and sent down even to Sheol. 10 You grew weary from your many wanderings, but you did not say, “It is useless.” You found your desire rekindled, and so you did not weaken.
There is a beautiful chorus that was sung during Advent at a church I attended
called “Prepare Ye the Way of the Lord.” I did not realize at the time this chorus was
echoing the words of the prophet Isaiah (Isaiah 40]. Those words were so needed at
the time he wrote. For Israel, who was to be set apart as the people of God, had
intermarried within the pagan culture surrounding them and had adopted their
behaviors and degrading forms of worship expressly forbidden by the Lord.
The words of today’s reading sound quite harsh and vindictive. Our modern ears
are not used to hearing such strong words of judgment. Yet what was Isaiah trying
to say to God’s people through these and other such indictments found in this book?
In so many other verses throughout Isaiah there are wonderful promises much
more palatable and encouraging. Take a few moments to read Isaiah 43:18 & 19,
Isaiah 9: 6 & 7, and the beautiful, comforting words of Isaiah 41:10.
lf we really take time to meditate on the verses in today’s reading, severe as they
seem, God will speak. We can ask ourselves questions such as: where is the real
focus of my life? Is it what the world has to offer or in the promises of God? What
idols have I placed on the altar of my life? What other gods do I seek after: prestige,
Sometimes it takes strong words such as we find in this passage to wake us up to
reflect upon where we are in our own lives. The Word of God is meant; to pierce our
hearts, then to refocus us on the beautiful promises of God, which are more
permanent, more loving and fulñlling than anything we seek after on this earth.
God still calls us as believers to be set apart from the world, to he lights that shine
in the darkness. Isaiah received that call from God. In Isaiah 6:8, when God asked
whom he should send to the people, Isaiah responds, “Here I am. Send me.”
In the coming weeks, there will be many voices that clamor for our attention,
opportunities to focus on the gods we set up in place of the true God. This Advent
season, can we take time to make our relationship with God central to our
celebration, to daily say the words, “Here I am, Lord, Send me”? How richer this
season will be if we prepare for the way of the Lord in our hearts and lives.