Posted by Lisa Laree to Beer Lahai Roi
I struggled with this set of verses, to be honest. Finally I figured out that if I used them in logical, rather than chronological, order, then it could make some sense.
Isaiah, of course, was a prophet in the later years of the divided kingdom, and talks about the coming judgment and the distant restoration, as well as some references to the coming Messiah. A few of these discussions include references to 'desert', so those are the ones we will look at; today's topic is judgment. I'll just list them in the order that makes the most sense, then I'll talk about it.
"Because of your sins you were sold; because of your transgressions your mother was sent away. When I came, why was there no one? When I called, why was there no one to answer? Was my arm too short to ransom you? Do I lack the strength to rescue you? By a mere rebuke I dry up the sea, I turn rivers into a desert; their fish rot for lack of water and die of thirst." - Is. 50: 1b - 2
By this, then, will Jacob's guilt be atoned for; and this will be the
full fruitage of the removal of his sin: When he makes all the altar
stones to be like chalk stones crushed to pieces, no Asherah poles or
incense altars will be left standing. The fortified city stands
desolate, and abandoned settlement, forsaken like the desert; there the
calves graze, there they lie down; they strip its branches bare. When
its twigs are dry, they are broken off and women come and make fires
with them. For this is a people without understanding; so their Maker
has no compassion on them, and their Creator shows them no favor. - Is.
27:9 - 11
"Do not be angry beyond measure, O LORD; do not remember our sins forever. Oh, look upon us, we pray, for we are all your people. Your sacred cities have become a desert; even Zion is a desert, Jerusalem a desolation. Our holy and glorious temple, where our fathers praised you, has been burned with fire, and all that we treasured lies in ruins." -- Is. 64:9-11
"You have been a refuge for the poor, a refuse for the needy in his distress, a shelter from the storm and a shade from the heat. For the breath of the ruthless is like a storm driving against a wall and like the heat of the desert. You silence the uproar of foreigners; as heat is reduced by the shadow of a cloud, so the song of the ruthless is stilled." --Is. 25: 4-5
I do realize that one can take verses from the Bible and string them together in a script that is totally out of context and completely changes the meaning, but if you go back and read the verses in their context I think you will agree with me that this sequence works.
The first two verses in this group are, basically, the pronouncement of judgment upon Judah. I think it's interesting that God points out to them that he, of course, is able to deliver his people...but he didn't do it. In fact, he invites them in 50:2 to consider why they were in the predicament they were in, because the reason was NOT that he couldn't save them. The reason was...the people had walked away from following him. Repeatedly. And after many warnings from his servants. A people without understanding.
But, as the other two verses indicate...there were a few who heard, who honored God, who threaded their way through the judgment and exile and prayed for the nation. Those, God protected in their captivity, as a refuge and a shade. The nation was not utterly obliterated. Even in the midst of judgment, there was hope, because God is a refuge for those who will turn to him.