By Lily Jow
September 14, 2020
Passages of the day: Click HERE to read today’s passages.
We have all heard that we are in unprecedented times! This entire year has been filled with unprecedented events. I keep saying to my kids, “I have never in my life seen…” whether it is the concerns over COVID, the massive lighting storms, the raging fires, the orange sky and now the ash, there has been such devastation and destruction on so many levels. It can leave us wondering at times, what God might be doing.
As we read Isaiah 15:1-18:7 we see such a scene of devastation and desolation, people fleeing from their homes salvaging whatever they can in their flight for refuge. The people of Moab were confused, weeping, wailing and in distress. Sadly, this sounds all too familiar to the recent events of our California Wildfires. So many have fled with such suddenness, with little time to spare and losing all of their possessions. When disaster strikes, how we respond is critical but who we run to is even more important. In scripture, we see how the people of Moab cried out to their false gods, their Asherah poles and we know that all of their supplications were poured out in vain. Isaiah 16:6 reads, “ We have heard of Moab’s pride how great is her arrogance! of her conceit, her pride and her insolence; but her boasts are empty.” Perhaps you entered this year “pre-COVID” with strong faith. Yet, I would imagine that as the months have passed, times of questioning and struggle have been inevitable. Wondering what is going on and also wondering what is our response to all of this devastation.
The verses in Isaiah 17:4-7, are both sobering for us and also a picture of God’s grace.
4 “In that day the glory of Jacob will fade;
the fat of his body will waste away.
5 It will be as when reapers harvest the standing grain,
gathering the grain in their arms—
as when someone gleans heads of grain
in the Valley of Rephaim.
6 Yet some gleanings will remain,
as when an olive tree is beaten,
leaving two or three olives on the topmost branches,
four or five on the fruitful boughs,”
declares the Lord, the God of Israel.
7 In that day people will look to their Maker
and turn their eyes to the Holy One of Israel.
8 They will not look to the altars,
the work of their hands,
and they will have no regard for the Asherah poles[e]
and the incense altars their fingers have made.
Have you stopped to wonder what was the “fat” on Jacob’s body that was wasting away? What about in our own lives? What areas are excessive, indulgent and causing our spirits to waste away? It is sobering to read that the reapers will harvest, and only some gleanings will remain. Only a couple olives are left after an olive tree has been beaten. It may seem harsh, but God will allow the hardships of life and the devastations to bring correction and an opportunity to repent. Repenting is not just an acknowledgment of our sin but it is an opportunity for heart change and for us to turn towards Jesus. God’s grace is written all over these verses, as He allows remnants to remain, they will look to their Maker and turn their eyes to the Holy One. In no way am I saying that God causes pandemics or fires; rather, He will use the devastation and destruction for good. Only a Holy God can take the destruction in our lives and turn it for good. During these last 6 months, we have been forced to pause, take stock of our lives and wrestle with comforts and freedoms removed. I can’t help but feel that we aren’t supposed to hold on to the “good old days” but surrender to what God is doing in the future. He may be shedding off the excess fat, and it may hurt, but God will rebuild out of the remnant that has turned toward Him. Don’t we want to be a part of that?
We also see that the people of Moab were confused, wailing and in distress when their false gods fell flat. The passage in Gal 1:1-24 only reiterates this problem. Particularly in verse 6-7, the Apostle Paul stresses the importance of adhering to the gospel of Christ and not being thrown into confusion as some try to pervert the gospel. Where do we twist the truth of God’s word to suit our comfort? Do we like the verses about God’s love for us but ignore that God has full authority to also judge? Psalm 58:11 reminds us that God judges the earth.
And if Gal 1:1-24 highlights the problem, then Proverbs 23:12 certainly offers us the perfect solution, “Apply your heart to instruction and your eyes to the words of knowledge.” In fact, it is our only reliable response during these unprecedented times.
Apply your heart to instruction and your eyes to the words of knowledge.
— Proverbs 23:12
Prayer to start with: Even though we face such unprecedented times, may we focus our dependence on you alone Oh God. You are always at work and we can claim victory in You. May your will be done, even if trimming is required. May we continue to have your Word instruct us, knowing that it is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness.