Random and not so random musings from a 5th generation NE Missourian who became a 1st generation Episcopalian. Let the good times roll!

Isaiah Chapter 52

Vv. 1-6: Wake up, it’s time to go

God is basically telling Israel that it is time to pack up and leave Babylon. He is saying, “Purify yourselves, clean yourself up, and let’s blow this place.”

The part that sticks in my mind is verse 3--”You were sold for nothing and you shall be redeemed without money.” In some ways, it appears that the Israelites have no value, no worth. But as God continues in vv. 5-6, it’s not that they have “no value”, it’s that God sees a value in them that is beyond money and the Babylonians have no concept of them having any value at all.

This concept speaks to the moments when I acutely feel despair and feel “valueless”. How many times do I feel I’m not appreciated? Unworthy of God’s love? Unloved in the human romantic sense? Unnecessary to the grand scheme of things in the universe? It also hearkens to the times in my life where I felt “dismissed”, or that people made judgments about me outwardly that are just plain wrong.

I always eventually come around to figuring in those cases, “They just don’t get it.” It takes me a while to get up and decide to leave my “exile” but eventually I get up and go. I leave those places. I think that is because, deep down inside, in a place in my soul that is even deeper than “the hurt place” or “the pit of despair”, there is this flickering abiding thought that God sees me as the prize in the $1.00 box of crap from the Friday Night Consignment Auction. God looks in this confusing box of dirty, disheveled items, all piled up in there, and spies the one thing that is worth much more than $1.00. It’s just that I can even get a little lost in the box of crap sometimes.

Vv. 7-12: Trust God and keep moving forward

The first part of this set of verses speaks to the simple fact that God reigns over all of us. The second set points out that this move, unlike the Exodus from Egypt, is planned, and not a “Let’s get the hell out of Dodge” operation.

The “hooks” in this set of verses for me are verse 10 and verse 12: “The Lord has bared his holy arm before the eyes of all the nations; and all the ends of the earth shall see the salvation of our God;” and “For you shall not go out in haste, and you shall not go in flight; for the Lord will go before you, and the God of Israel will be your rearguard.”

I think of “God baring His holy arm” as the outward signs of our Christian life. But whether it is a religious tattoo, or Jews laying tefillin on their arms for prayers, or someone wearing a cross, or a priest wearing a collar, it all bespeaks that need that people have a need to see “God’s holy arm” in a tangible way. We all have a need to “see” God’s salvation in a way we can appreciate in our darkest exile, and when we know we have to move from that exile. The Jews in Babylon never forgot they were Jews. They just had to have a few decades to get motivated enough to strike camp and go home. The little “signs” and little “non-coincidences” we might see in our lives are manifestations of God’s holy arm.

Verse 12 is important to me because when I have to make tough decisions, making them in a carefully planned way, and not “on the run” is preferable to snap decisions or decisions where I have to act “under the gun.” When we get around to deciding to move our lives in a certain direction, it’s important to realize that not only can God assist us in our guidance towards these endeavors (“the Lord will go before you”) but that he also “has our back.” (“The God of Israel will be your rearguard.”) These decisions may be hard, painful, and full of second-guessing, but they should not be “lonely” ones—God is there.

Vv. 13-15 The first part of the next “Suffering Servant” song

This is the beginning of the next “Suffering Servant” song, I will deal more with it in context with next week’s assignment, but even in this short intro to it, you get the notion that the servant is at least “noticed.” I like the part in v. 15, “For that which had not been told them they shall see, and that which they had not heard they shall contemplate.”

God speaks to us “out of the blue” sometimes. I think for me that is best illustrated by the day I was sitting in our beat up, dingy pews, during services, and my mind’s eye, right in the middle of Prayers of the People, saw shiny pews. The scary part is, I saw them EXACTLY as they are now in their restored state. “That which had not been told me, I saw.” What I saw was real. When it became real, by my hands restoring those pews last summer, it became MORE than real. The night I had my “George Burns as God” dream (more on that in a moment), I had not heard what George Burns as God told me, but when that dream came to me, I was forced to contemplate it. In those moments where I am “praying and falling asleep at the same time”, ideas, words, phrases, concepts pop into my head, and I have to contemplate them. What is interesting to me is these moment always come at a time I am receptive to these notions. If we never get in that receptive state, we never hear them.

Re: The George Burns as God dream I had some months back. It goes like this:

I was dreaming I was standing out in front of Trinity having a conversation with “George Burns as God”. Now, I obviously knew in my dream I was talking to God, because he looked like George Burns as God, right? Ha ha ha ha

So I ask George Burns as God what brings him to Kirksville. He says, “I hear you’ve done a lot of neat stuff to one of my places. I wanted to see it up close. It’s more fun to see it up close.” So I am showing George Burns as God all the different things I’ve fixed up in Trinity, and he is remarking on what a nice job I did with things that are tiny details. He goes, “I’m into the details too, you know. People don’t always think I am, but when you’re really into the details, you’re so far into the details that you can HIDE the fact you’re into the details, you know?” I kind of think about that one and say, “Yeah! I get it!”



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Kirksville, Missouri, United States
I'm a longtime area resident of that quirky and wonderful place called Kirksville, MO and am wondering what God has hiding round the next corner in my life.

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