Striking but healing — Isaiah 19-21

It was impossible to believe, when I was a kid: “This hurts me more than it will hurt you,” and “I’m doing this for your own good.” Punishment for bad behavior always was unpleasant to me as the punished and (in my own childish logic) unfair. In soberer retrospect, I now understand. Because my parents loved me corrective action was required, no matter how painful it was going to be for both of us. In today’s continued reading of the portion of Isaiah prophesying judgment on the nations around (19-21) this is the continued theme.

“The LORD will strike Egypt, striking but healing; so they will return to the LORD, and He will respond to them and will heal them.” Isaiah 19:22 — One of my favorite verses from the Bible is Romans 8:28, which promises that God can bring good out of even grievous things. I believe it, but it wasn’t always easy to believe — especially trials, testings, consequences of wrong doing, disappointment, discouragement, etc. But the truth is that they do strengthen and heal. A farmer was trying to get produce to the market in a wagon pulled by a mule. As mules are famous for doing, it randomly stopped and refused to move, no matter what the farmer had tried to do. The farmer’s neighbor passed by on the same road and asked if he needed any help. “Yes, but I don’t think you can do anything; I’ve been trying for an hour to get this mule to move.” “Let me try,” said the neighbor, and he pulled out a 6 foot long 2×4 out of the back of his wagon, reared back, and smacked the mule with the 2×4 right between the eyes. The mule staggered, but the neighbor grabbed the reins and pulled the mule along easily. “I just needed to get his attention,” said the neighbor with a wink. Sometimes God needs to get our attention, too.

““Now behold, here comes a troop of riders, horsemen in pairs.” And one said, “Fallen, fallen is Babylon; And all the images of her gods are shattered on the ground.”” Isaiah 21:9 — I noted this passage primarily to point out that it is used again in Scripture (Revelation) as a reference to how God will faithfully punish evildoers. Babylon takes on the meaning, then, of a world force of evil — but one which will never stand.

“The oracle concerning Edom. One keeps calling to me from Seir, “Watchman, how far gone is the night? Watchman, how far gone is the night?” The watchman says, “Morning comes but also night. If you would inquire, inquire; Come back again.”” Isaiah 21:11, 12 — When troubles come, we always want to ask when it will end. The night here represents troubles and trials, and the question posed by the folks of Seir boils down to “When will the trouble end?” The watchmen (prophets) tell them, “Soon,” but also that there will be a string of “nights” — that night will follow day in a cycle. And so it is with our lives, too. Thanks be to God, however, we’re promised a place without night, because the LORD will be our eternal light (Rev. 21:25). Isn’t that good news?

See you tomorrow, Lord willing.

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About parklinscomb

I'm a minister for the church of Christ in Manchester NH where I've worked since the 1970's. I'm a big fan of my family, archaeology, the Bible, the Lord's church, and Gander Brook Christian Camp.
This entry was posted in Bible commentary, Christianity, Old Testament and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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