As a church, we are busy going through the book of Isaiah with John Oswalt as our guide (he is the author of Isaiah in the NICOT series). Oswalt points out how the themes of judgement and hope alternate. This looks as if negative alternates with positive, but Oswalt points out that one of the root meanings of mishpat (judgement in Hebrew) is order. By judging his people, God is restoring his order. He is calling his people back to himself.
This makes judgement a positive concept. This is not to say that judgement is a pleasant experience. Suffering is thoroughly unpleasant at the time and we are not required to be stoics or pretend that all is fine. When Gods hand is heavy upon us, we know it and it hurts, but the joy of belonging to God is knowing that even in judgement, God is working all things for our good.
It is clear that God’s hand is heavy upon S.A. at the present. People are ill at ease. Corruption and theft is rife and those issues are just the tip of the iceberg. The exchange rate worsened after more rumblings about the nationalisation of the Reserve Bank at the recent ANC policy conference. What will be the outcome of all this? It seems we are in for some hard times.
Be encouraged, God is restoring his order! The world is in the Lord’s hands and our little country is no exception. The current state of affairs is not by accident; the Lord is refining his people. Under the pressure, we can either whine about our circumstances or rejoice that our Lord is King.
Oswalt repeats often that in Isaiah, God’s last word is never one of judgement, but of hope. He gave us this history so that we can see that the trial of exile ended with a return to the land. He promised the return and he executed the return. Our ‘exile’ here is to prepare us for heaven and the Lord’s promises still hold true. Be encouraged and tell those who despair about our Saviour – he doesn’t take you out of the trouble, but takes you through it all the way to eternity!
For more about John Oswalt and his vimeo lessons go to http://www.francisasburysociety.com/oswalt/ or watch a 40 minute lesson on Isaiah on https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8sOiN1q9zx4 .
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The Way to True Peace and Rest by Robert Bruce. Puritan Paperback; 222pp; R55.
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How to Live as a Christian edited by Joel Beeke. Paperback; 116pp; R60.