Isaiah 33-34 and 2 Thessalonians 1
I am excited to dig deeper into God’s word with you this week as we go through some chapters in Isaiah, 2 Thessalonians, and 1 Timothy! I have to be honest with you… I am never “looking forward” to writing these devotions when the time comes. However, I am always so surprised and happy with how God speaks to me while I write to you, so each year when the wonderful Marcia asks for writers, I will never turn her down! I imagine that this year will be no different
We are going to start this week off in Isaiah, chapters 33 and 34. The first chunk of Isaiah is mainly discussing destruction, purification (not really a fun process), and God’s vengeance. What I find so interesting about the prophecies of the Old Testament is that we often look at them through the lens of our current age, yet so many of these destruction prophecies seem to apply to our world across generations and generations. People have been going through cycles of brokenness throughout all of existence! These prophecies to broken people in Isaiah’s day applied in the moment just as much as they apply to our lives today. Thankfully, the prophecy of hope will also apply!
In chapter 33 Isaiah is describing a sad, sinful, and broken world. There are destroyers, traitors, broken agreements, despised cities, no ways to travel, and human life has been disregarded. Sounds pretty familiar to me. In verse 10 God starts to speak, and OH MAN does it get exciting. From this perspective Isaiah describes God essentially smack-talking the kingdoms of that day and putting them in their place, under Him, and shares how His people (the righteous) will be blessed and safe, also in their place as citizens to a just and majestic King. We are told that everyone who dwells in this Kingdom will be forgiven of all their sins (v. 24). Visualize that AMAZING day and tell me it’s not something you want to be part of!!
In chapter 34 Isaiah explains all the emptiness and evilness that will be in Edom, a nation “set apart for destruction” (v. 5) after God has had His day of vengeance. This idea can seem confusing, especially if we don’t take the overall context into account. Here’s a quick recap of what we know about Edom based on the Bible: God had given the land to Esau, the nation of Israel and the nation of Edom were active enemies, Isaiah prophesied about Edom’s destruction (as we see here) and multiple other books of prophets describe the same eventual ruin, Edom was attacked multiple times, and this prophecy eventually came to pass when King Amaziah slaughtered the nation in 2 Chronicles, even though the people were not officially wiped out until King Herod (that guy that tried to kill Jesus as a baby) died. While this still doesn’t completely answer my questions of “Why Edom?”, it does give that much more credibility to the prophets and to God following through with what He says he will do. In my quick research of Edom to provide the recap, I came across some notes of people who had more recently traveled to the ruins of Edom and described the deserted space filled with ‘unclean’ wild animals, just as God says it will be forever, from generation to generation (v. 17).
We also see God’s consistency in judgement in our verses from 2 Thessalonians today! We are told that God will show vengeance to those who don’t know Him and to the people who afflict His righteous citizens (v. 6 & 8). Our broken world has not changed, and neither has God’s opinion on how to handle it.
I am not going to pretend that God’s plans and purpose for the world always make sense to me. But I am always convinced that God follows through on everything He says, and I do trust that it all has a plan and purpose, even when it doesn’t make sense. Our world has always been broken (since the fall of man that is…), and God has always had a plan, and that plan has always included a way out for the righteous. How lucky are we to be living in the age of brokenness that has the opportunity to experience salvation in such a grace-filled way?
The rest of this week we will continue to dive into scripture and see that our brokenness isn’t all that new, and our hope is closer now than ever!
-Sarah (Blanchard) Johnson