Tuesday of Lent IV:Isaiah 42:14-21

14 For a long time I have held my peace;
    I have kept still and restrained myself;
now I will cry out like a woman in labor;
    I will gasp and pant.
15 I will lay waste mountains and hills,
    and dry up all their vegetation;
I will turn the rivers into islands,
    and dry up the pools.
16 And I will lead the blind
    in a way that they do not know,
in paths that they have not known
    I will guide them.
I will turn the darkness before them into light,
    the rough places into level ground.
These are the things I do,
    and I do not forsake them.
17 They are turned back and utterly put to shame,
    who trust in carved idols,
who say to metal images,
    “You are our gods.”

18 Hear, you deaf,
    and look, you blind, that you may see!
19 Who is blind but my servant,
    or deaf as my messenger whom I send?
Who is blind as my dedicated one,
    or blind as the servant of the Lord?
20 He sees many things, but does not observe them;
    his ears are open, but he does not hear.
21 The Lord was pleased, for his righteousness’ sake,
    to magnify his law and make it glorious.

God has something to say, and He will not be denied. Like a woman in labor, He gasps and pants until it sees the light of day. I was privileged to be present at the birth of all three of my children. I remember my hand being crushed as my wife labored. Isaiah’s words speak of God’s great desire to say these things. Notice what He must say. He will lead the blind in a path they do not know. The light will shine for them. The rough places made smooth. The idolater will be the one put to shame. This is what God feels He has to say.

But look closely at the final verses of these words from Isaiah. The servant, the one who accomplishes these things, is also blind. Is He talking about Jesus? Yes. Jesus did not skim the creation but dove into our humanity fully. As it says in Isaiah 53, He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows. In the strange mystery of God rescuing his rebellious creation, justice was made by greatest injustice and healing came through horrible wounding. This demands our faith. We will not logic our way into this mystery of God. He tells the blind to look and the deaf to listen. Reason would switch those commands. The blind can listen and the deaf can see, but God works in strange ways. Often, we must simply rely upon his promise because that is all we have. Today, in a world that seems upside-down and backwards, as reasonable people might question everything, hear and trust the words at the end of verse 16 above: I do not forsake them. God has not and does not forsake you.

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