The vision of Isaiah son of Amoz, which he saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem in the days of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, kings of Judah. Hear, O heavens, and listen, O earth; for the Lord has spoken: I reared children and brought them up, but they have rebelled against me. The ox knows its owner, and the donkey its master’s crib; but Israel does not know, my people do not understand. Ah, sinful nation, people laden with iniquity, offspring who do evil, children who deal corruptly, who have forsaken the Lord, who have despised the Holy One of Israel, who are utterly estranged! Why do you seek further beatings? Why do you continue to rebel? The whole head is sick, and the whole heart faint. From the sole of the foot even to the head, there is no soundness in it, but bruises and sores and bleeding wounds; they have not been drained, or bound up, or softened with oil. Your country lies desolate, your cities are burned with fire; in your very presence aliens devour your land; it is desolate, as overthrown by foreigners. And daughter Zion is left like a booth in a vineyard, like a shelter in a cucumber field, like a besieged city. If the Lord of hosts had not left us a few survivors, we would have been like Sodom, and become like Gomorrah. Isaiah 1:1-9 (NRSV)
Vision is what allows us to perceive the world around us. Proverbs 29:18 says where there is no “vision”, the people perish (KJV). This is one of the times where our english language translates two different kinds of terms, revelation, and sight into the same term. It is not without reason. A person, or more specifically a group of people who have no revelation will stumble around like someone who has no physical vision.
Jesus, noted the same when he said ““The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are healthy, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eyes are unhealthy, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness!” (Matthew 6:22-23 NIV). Part of our vision is how we view ourselves, and if our view of ourselves if full of darkness, we will see darkness everywhere else as well.
This darkness is the state of the nation to which God sent Isaiah the prophet. The phrase of John Bradford “There, but for the grace of God, go I.” The nation was a mess, riots had broken out, cities were on fire, and it was on the verge of being taken over by foreignors. Isaiah told God’s people that they were rebelious, that their whole head was sick and their heart feint. They lacked soundness… and the only reason they had not suffered the punishment of Sodom and Gomorrah was that God’s grace still guarded them. I do not need to tell you that we are not much better. Your eyes probably see as much darkness as my own. Hear though three points of hope we have.
- The problem, as Isaiah states it, was not just bad behavior. It was that they did not know their master. That may be hard to swallow in a very politically divided context, but remember, the master of the people here was God Himself. God is the one these people had left, not their political and religious leaders.
- The solution was not just fixed behavior, but a new vision… a clearer, truer picture of who we are and what the world around us is. We cannot get this vision from a place of blindness, but in seeking healing and new vision, we can find new hope right where we are. God can reveal directions to a better tomorrow.
- Our hope is grounded firmly in God. It is He who holds back the consequences we are not facing, but may indeed be putting ourselves in the path of and may indeed deserve. From beginning to end, our Hope is in God and nothing else can compare. That is the true meaning of Advent and of Christmas.
How do you see the world today?
How do you see yourself?
How do you see God?
glimpses of truth thou hast for me;
place in my hands the wonderful key
that shall unclasp and set me free.
Silently now I wait for thee,
ready, my God, thy will to see.
Open my eyes, illumine me, Spirit divine!