“Your eyes will see the king in his beauty;
they will behold a land that stretches far away.”
— Isaiah 33:17 (NRSV)
Such is the promise for the people of God from the Lord their God—they will see their king in all his radiant beauty. They will see their king—we call him Jesus—because they are obedient in turning to God in harsh times.
The Disconsolation of the Oppressed
This prophecy in Isaiah foretold of a time unspeakable, where the land of the people of God would be swept away by violence. The land was part of the identity of the people of God, and they had lost it. In our time and society we must think of how it would feel to have our country, or our world, invaded and oppressed by a malevolent foreign ruler.
This prophesy speaks of a time where a heinous and devouring destroyer would come against them. But as with all the stories, when the people of God turn to God their deliverance comes nearer... indeed, the Prophet foretells of the time when the destroyer will be destroyed:
“... when you have stopped dealing treacherously,
you will be dealt with treacherously.”
— Isaiah 33:1e, f (NRSV)
Such is our hope—that whatever oppression we deal with, as we obey God, praying for our deliverance, we will be delivered at the right time, because the destroyer is destroyed.
There is a promise in Isaiah 33 that the people of God, having turned back to God, would see the Lord’s judgment; that the defiance of the evil ruler will come to naught. They will become a fire that consumes themselves (verse 11).
In verse 15, God Almighty speaks of the sort of person who will be raised: they will walk righteously and speak uprightly; they will despise the gain of oppression; they will waive bribes instead of accepting them; their ears and eyes will turn away from bloodshed and evil.
Turning Home for Hope
“For the Lord is our judge, the Lord is our ruler,
the Lord is our king; he will save us.”
— Isaiah 33:25 (NRSV)
This is our hope today. That we would call upon the Lord in his faithfulness to deliver us from whatever devours just now. That devouring situational monster that has caused us suffering—no matter how long we have been oppressed—is to be vanquished, for the Lord will save us.
Turning home for hope in the obedience that God calls us to is about recognising that in our weakness is our strength. Our rigging may hang loose (verse 23), but, in being forgiven our iniquities, God will save us from the tyranny that has been, or is, set against us.
The beauty in God’s judgment is that it prevails for the obedient oppressed. By our oppression our weakness is our strength. Wait and see; see what the Lord is doing, yes even now. The Lord is coming with a mighty vengeance.
© 2012 S. J. Wickham.