God's Power

Frontline Devotion for October 11, 2014 (Season of 'Time After Pentecost')

By: Gary Shaffer

Author Photo

Isaiah 25: 1-5

"O Lord, you are my God; I will exalt you and praise your name, for in perfect faithfulness you have done marvelous things, things planned long ago.
You have made the city a heap of rubble, the fortified town a ruin, the foreigners' stronghold a city no more; it will never be rebuilt.
Therefore strong peoples will honor you; cities of ruthless nations will revere you.
You have been a refuge for the poor, a refuge for the needy in his distress, a shelter from the storm and a shade in the heat. For the breath of the ruthless is like a storm driving against the wall and like the heat of the desert.
You silence the uproar of foreigners; as heat is reduced by the shadow of a cloud, so the song of the ruthless is stilled."

As I read the passage for today's devotion, I was troubled by some of the images associated with Isaiah's recounting of God's power and faithfulness. We have seen many images of cities and towns that have been reduced to a "heap of rubble" and fortified towns left in ruins. As I watch the news or read the historical accounts of our civilization, I do not often, if ever, associate the images of destroyed cities, of refugees fleeing the rubble of their homes, of children 's faces etched in fear, of the dead lying in bombed out buildings, in streets or in fields, with the power and faithfulness of God. I am war weary like many others and find little evidence that our trust in God's power, that our celebration of God's faithfulness, is meaningfully expressed through acts of war and violence, of reducing the foreigners stronghold to waste so that it will never be rebuilt. I do not see the cities of ruthless nations revering God, at least in any form that I find appropriate or reassuring. It was therefore difficult to relate to this passage in Isaiah, to echo the celebration and praise that Isaiah assigns to the marvelous things and perfect faithfulness associated with God, when the list is a recounting of cities in rubble and towns in ruins. So I struggled with what I could take away from the words of Isaiah that might resonate with my celebration of the Lord's presence in my life, with the marvelous things that I associate with power and plans of God.

The Message Bible uses the following words for verses 4 and 5. They celebrate characteristics of God's power, marvelous things, that we can all strive to emulate in our Christian discipline, "Superpowers will see it and honor you, brutal oppressors bow in worshipful reverence. They'll see that you take care of the poor, that you take care of the poor people in trouble, provide a warm, dry place in bad weather, provide a cool place when it is hot. Brutal oppressors are like a winter blizzard and vicious foreigners like high noon in the desert. But you, shelter from the storm and shade from the sun, (you) shut the mouths of the big-mouthed bullies."

I can certainly strive to witness by helping to shelter and care for the poor who often suffer from acts of oppression, of all types.

Gracious Lord, you are our God and we celebrate your presence in our lives. We praise you for the marvelous things you have done. Help us Lord to serve you in this troubled world, to shelter and care for the poor, to work to overcome the 'big-mouthed bullies" by speaking words of patience and peace and compassion. Give us courage and faith to live love filled lives that work to overcome those who oppress and demean the weak. Help us to live lives that witness to your amazing grace. Amen.