December 12 Advent Devotion

Isaiah 4:2-6

The Day of the Lord – as many of the prophets called it – comes with righteous fire and cleansing. Indeed, those of us not in Zion will be left out of it, according to Isaiah. The daughters of Zion will be washed and the bloodstains will be cleansed from Jerusalem. Then, Mount Zion will be completely remade and there will be heavenly protection for all of her inhabitants.

But we’re not in Zion, are we? No, really. Are we in Zion? Was Zion only Jerusalem? Are only people who live, work, play, and exist in Jerusalem going to be saved when the Day of the Lord arrives? How do we, as modern Christians read this text? It sounds awfully judgmental. “You don’t live in Zion,” the street preacher cries out, “so you will see God’s spirit of judgment and spirit of burning!” Judgment, after all, was a key phrase for most – if not all – of the prophets.

At least Isaiah brings in beauty. “On that day the branch of the Lord shall be beautiful and glorious, and the fruit of the land shall be the pride and glory of the survivors of Israel.” And the prophet states it right in the beginning of these verses. There will be beauty. And the fruit of the land shall be the pride and glory of the survivors of Israel. So at least there’s that, right?

The truth of the matter is that these verses are hard to digest. The prophets were mad. They were mad at corruption in their home land. They were mad that priests and kings were taking advantage of the populace and leaving the unfortunate out to dry. The prophets held a righteous rage in which they used the Day of the Lord to indicate others were really messing things up. Their anger is not pleasant, but it does come from a place of caring for others. The verses of the prophets make us uncomfortable and wary of what should come when God’s judgment does come…

Maybe we should wonder why these verses fill us with unease… because none of these reasons sound familiar, do they?

–Cameron Highsmith

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