Earlier in this chapter of Isaiah, God stated how his people had gone to Egypt for help without asking him if that was the right thing to do (verse 2), and he described them as a “children unwilling to hear the instruction of the Lord” (verse 9). Then the passage shifts to talking about the coming redemption. In verse 18, both God and his people are waiting. “Therefore the Lord waits to be gracious to you, and therefore he exalts himself to show mercy to you. For the Lord is a God of justice; blessed are all those who wait for him.” In advent, the church assumes a posture of waiting, preparing to celebrate the mystery that God became a human. Through Jesus’s life, death, and resurrection, God has shown mercy and grace to us. He faces the brokenness of this world with us. Chapter 30 of Isaiah also discusses God’s judgement. When Jesus came as a person to earth, he came to face God’s judgement with the people of God; “he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities” (Isaiah 53:5).
Verse 21 stuck out to me from this passage: “And your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, ‘This is the way, walk in it,’ when you turn to the right or when you turn to the left.” I suppose this verse looks forward to the New Testament when Jesus came to earth to bring the shalom (peace) of God’s kingdom, and how after Jesus ascended into heaven, the Holy Spirit came to be with the people of God. The guidance this verse speaks of offers encouragement to me. As I go about my life in Durham, I don’t quite know what I am doing, what I am supposed to do, and what it looks for the kingdom of God to come into my broken life and this broken world. But, God has come to be with his people and to tell a story of redemption that goes beyond what God’s people can do or imagine themselves.
God, help us this advent season to discern what would you would be telling us, and help us truly know that you “wait to be gracious” to us.
Emma Friesen, ’22