Part 5/5 of a set of reflections written for Ware Episcopal Church on the daily lectionary during Advent 3.
20 On that day, what’s left of Israel and the survivors of the house of Jacob will no longer depend on the one who beat them. Instead, they will faithfully depend on the Lord, the holy one of Israel. 21 A few will return, what’s left of Jacob, to the mighty God. 22 Although your people, Israel, were like the sand of the sea, only a few survivors will return. The end is announced, overflowing with justice. 23 Yes, destruction has been announced; the Lord God of heavenly forces will carry it out against the entire land.
24 Therefore, the Lord God of heavenly forces says: My people who live in Zion, don’t fear Assyria, which strikes you with the rod and raises its staff against you as Egypt did. 25 In a very short time my fury will end, and my anger at the world will be finished.[a
26 Therefore, the Lord of heavenly forces will crack a whip against Assyria,
as when he struck Midian at the rock of Oreb.
He will raise a rod over the sea,
as he did in Egypt.
27 On that day, God will remove the burden from your shoulder
and destroy the yoke on your neck.[b
Today’s text encompasses why we read Isaiah during Advent in the first place. This season acknowledges that there is pain and heartache in the world. There are breaking points where we break, and where even God breaks. There are idols to be examined and priorities to set. But ultimately, Advent is a season where we acknowledge and repent of all these things, and again turn our faces towards the promise that there will be peace.
There will be destruction and judgement, but there is also promise and renewal. Isaiah talks about this is 6:13, where God promises that those destroyed will leave a “stump” which will be holy. As Christians, we connect much of our story to that of the Ancient Israelites through Isaiah. Christ is the one who came to fulfill this promise of a child being born, and salvation being obtained.
Yet, we’re still waiting for that second coming, when there will be no more pain and grief. We’re still waiting in a world that often doesn’t feel saved, or even redeemable. Christ has come, but Christ is coming again—each year, we wait for the promise of peace to be fulfilled in this in-between time. I’m not sure I have much more to end with other than what God’s word through Isaiah tells us. Keep watching. Keep waiting. Keep your eyes fixed on the one who saves, and “on that day, God will remove the burden from your shoulder and destroy the yoke on your neck”.