The prophet/teacher in today's reading is eloquent in
poetry and firm in faith. If the original hearers were
rejecting the individual's prediction of freedom from
bondage in Babylon--a release to be facilitated by
the Persian king, Cyrus--we aren't surprised that the
preacher leans on trust in God as solace. From a distance,
we can wonder at the hearers' resistance to this promise,
which we know from hind sight came to fruition. But
think about it. How often have we resisted an invitation
that implies change from what we know? Our embedded,
established lives may not be perfect, but they are familiar.
We can hear in our own hearts the complaints of the
people of Israel generations earlier--take us back to
bondage in Egypt! At least we understood it! Yet now we
stand on the cusp of Holy Week. What liberation is being
offered us? How will challenge and blessing walk hand in
Jesus, your liberation is not easy. We will lose and we will
gain. Enable our trust in you, that we may live in hope.
Isaiah 50:4-9a (NRSV)
4 The Lord God has given me the tongue of a teacher, that I may know how to sustain the weary with a word. Morning by morning he wakens-- wakens my ear to listen as those who are taught.
5 The Lord God has opened my ear, and I was not rebellious, I did not turn backward.
6 I gave my back to those who struck me, and my cheeks to those who pulled out the beard; I did not hide my face from insult and spitting.
7 The Lord God helps me; therefore I have not been disgraced; therefore I have set my face like flint, and I know that I shall not be put to shame;
8 he who vindicates me is near. Who will contend with me? Let us stand up together. Who are my adversaries? Let them confront me.
9a It is the Lord God who helps me; who will declare me guilty?