We have been away for awhile on a short mission trip with our youth to Pike County Kentucky. The trip was very successful with 10 youth and 6 adults participating in a variety of projects including building a handicap ramp, doing remodeling in a church, working in a thrift store clothing give-away project, sealing a church parking lot, doing repair on senior citizen homes. The youth were great. Jessica Robb led our evening study time and did an absolutely great job. Chandler Meierarend brought his guitar and provided some great musical accompaniment. We met some great youth from Pittsburgh, interacted with some wonderful mountain folk, saw some incredible Eastern Kentucky scenery, witnessed the hand of God. We had no cell phone or internet contact. It was great.
We are moving out of the Books of Wisdom and into the writings of the prophets and none is better known or more widely read than Isaiah. Isaiah is thought to have ministered in Judah for nearly 60 years during the reign of both good and not so good kings.
Isaiah was born to a family of nobility and was well respected in the courts of the kings and by the people of Judah. That was a good thing because his message was not a fun one to deliver or to recieve. Imagine a preacher trying to bring America back from the brink of destruction by telling our leaders that they are perverted and hard-hearted; that the nation had accepted sinful ways and practices as normal and that our courts favored the rich and those with influence. What would happen if this preacher told them that the economic downturn and ecological problems were the result of God's desire to drive them back to a more righteous lifestyle. How do you think that would go over? And if that wasn't enough, he added that the beatings would continue even to the destruction of the nation if repentence and a return to righteousness didn't come about soon.
Isaiah was even berating the church folks by telling them that their worship was hollow and was unacceptable. Folks who were giving their tithes and offerings were doing so with wrong motive. Sin was even acceptable to the church folk. What if God sent one to us to say that we had become to calloused toward pornography, that the plight of poor folk was unacceptable, that the homeless, teen pregancy, lack of healthcare, our care of the elderly, all were part of the downward spiral of our national status and eventually our nation would die by the sword of a rising power. So said Isaiah to the rulers of Judah even predicting the destruction of Jerusalem.
Are their lessons for us to learn personally and nationally? As you read, make the comparisons. Is God speaking to our nation? Have we been blessed hugely by God? Is their an expectation that we will respond righteously? Is our nation on a slippery slope. Perhaps, but Isaiah also brings a word of hope. Zion will be redeemed by justice, her repentant ones by righteousness. Where do we begin? We begin with our personal behaviors as we seek to walk faithfully as God has instructed us by his holy scriptures and we become an influence in our communities; an influence for righteousness and equality. As John Wesley said, we become a people who are holy of heart and holy of life.
See you Sunday. God bless you.