Isaiah 44:1-4 (NRSV)
By John Grimm
What names do we go by? Some of us have nicknames. Some of us are known by our middle names. We are known by our name.
God uses several names when he is talking to his people. Israel and Judah, though designating the northern and southern kingdoms, are used in the prophets. We are familiar with Zion, which typically refers to Jerusalem. We call the land of Israel the Holy Land. Here we read God calling Israel both Jacob and Jeshurun. The name Jacob goes back to the time before Jacob wrestled with God and won.
Jeshurun. That is not a name we know for Israel. God knows it. He is letting Israel know that the same God who blessed them in Deuteronomy (32:15), is the same God who blesses them through Isaiah’s prophecy. What a word of promise for Israel as they are facing dry ground and have little hope for their offspring!
How does God speak with us? Do we hear God speaking our names? Do I hear God speaking my name, a name that only God and those close to me use?
Lord, thank you for speaking through the prophets. Thank you for speaking to us. It is by listening to you that we find how well you know our situations. You give us reassurance and promises for what is happening in our lives. You do know us! In the name of Jesus Christ, may we find all the blessings you have for us. Amen.
Jeremiah 50:17-20 (NRSV)
Israel is a hunted sheep driven away by lions. First the king of Assyria devoured it, and now at the end King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon has gnawed its bones. Therefore, thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel: I am going to punish the king of Babylon and his land as I punished the king of Assyria. I will restore Israel to its pasture, and it shall feed on Carmel and in Bashan, and on the hills of Ephraim and in Gilead its hunger shall be satisfied. In those days and at that time, says the Lord, the iniquity of Israel shall be sought, and there shall be none, and the sins of Judah, and none shall be found, for I will pardon the remnant that I have spared.
By John Grimm
Israel and Judah had sinned tremendously. Their sin was enough that God took them out of the Promised Land! Once their punishment was complete, the Lord sent them back to the Promised Land, its pasture. What they had to go through because of their sin was severe. However, because the kings of Babylon and Assyria exceeded their mandate from God to punish Israel and Judah, now God was going to punish them.
We understand God punishing us for our sins. We do reap what we sow. However, when the sins of others impact our lives, then we see injustice. Knowing God has pardoned us for our sins, through the blood of Jesus Christ, we can begin to live just and righteous lives. What a joy this news is!
Do we have faith enough to get through God punishing us for our sins? Do we have enough faith to endure when the sins of others cause us to be treated unjustly? Will our faith last until we hear from the Lord that our iniquity is no more?
Lord, we have sinned. You know us. You know our sins. We admit that we have hurt ourselves and others. Thank you that we find forgiveness in the blood of Jesus Christ. May those who are harming us now find that their sins can also be forgiven by the power of Jesus’ death and resurrection. In the name of Jesus Christ, we pray we and those who harm us may be among those you spare. Amen.