Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Isaiah 44 – God Chooses Israel

“This one will say, ‘I am the Lord’s,’

another will be called by the name of Jacob,

yet another will write on the hand, ‘The Lord’s,’

and adopt the name of Israel.”

~Isaiah 44:5 (NRSV).

Identity is the resounding truth securing the legacy of life itself. What are we, and who are we, without a firm and grounded sense of self?

Israel’s identity was at crisis through most of Isaiah chapters 1–39. But from Chapter 40 the Word of comfort emanates to succour the great Israeli dream.

I’ll argue, here, that humanity is Israel as we connect Isaiah 44:1-5 and 44:6-8.

‘Adopted Back’ Into the Loving Arms of The Lord

We could be forgiven for wondering about the conditionality of God’s love — that we’d ever be given over to an evil enemy, left and stranded without a hope.

But, there’s always a big ‘but’ in that...

It’s a twisted theology, incomplete always, when we set out to accuse God of unfaithfulness — to suggest exilic parameters are somehow finalising and making errant the everlasting covenant we have with our Lord.

But the Israelites would have known such castaway hopelessness as they were carried off into captivity. However, exile was conditional only by the insistence of the people of God to remain in their rampant idolatry.

God could no more disconnect from Israel than Israel could utterly forsake their God; though their obedience wavered, their allegiance was known, for one good instance, when they were exiled. People of God cannot subsist very well in a ‘foreign’ land — one without God’s felt Presence.

The promise expressed in Isaiah 44:1-5 would’ve reconciled the Israelites felt identity. We too know we’re safest in the loving embrace of our identity in the Lord.

The Lord – Truly – Of and Over All

The biggest reassurance anyone can get about God is that there’s no god besides the Rock — “There is no other rock” (verse 8).

Being that God is irrefutably the God of all creation, all humanity comprising part of that equation, and that this Lord of lords is so poetically majestic via Isaiah, here in verses 6-8, we naturally extend Israel — God’s Covenant Nation under the now everlasting New Covenant regime — to all humankind; every nation, every tribe and tongue.

Now God chooses for us; we did not choose the Lord so much as this Lord’s chosen us (John 15:16). Though exile’s the only way we’ll learn at times, ultimately God’s not letting go.

Whether we accept it or not we’re entwined with God. God chooses Israel. He chooses us!

© 2011 S. J. Wickham.

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