“Be our arm every morning”

Our Bible readings today provoked a great multitude of thoughts. Isaiah 33 is quite a mixture and may be better if it had been broken up into 2 or 3 short chapters. Verse 2 is a delightful ‘prayer’ we can start the day with, “O LORD, be gracious to us; we wait for you. Be our arm every morning, our salvation in time of trouble”. There is a hymn which we sing that we have no other arm to lean upon – and our daily reading and meditation on God’s word should cause us to appreciate the unlimited strength of that arm.

How much did people need ‘the arm of the Lord’ in the troublous times of Isaiah when “the envoys of peace weep bitterly” (verse 7). How much is that also the case today! Maybe not in weeping, but at least in frustration. Isaiah observes that “trembling has seized the godless” (verse 14) which is happening in some places today – but it takes our thoughts to the plight of the godless Israelites that we read in Judges. Many of these were worshipping God’s of human imagination, especially Baal and “made for themselves the dens that are in the mountains and the caves and the strongholds” (6:2) and Gideon “was beating out wheat in the winepress to hide it from the Midianites” (verse 11).

Back in Isaiah we are uplifted by the positive vision of verses 5 and 6, “The LORD is exalted, for he dwells on high; he will fill Zion with justice and righteousness, and he will be the stability of your times, abundance of salvation, wisdom and knowledge; the fear of the LORD is Zion’s treasure”.

When good kings such as Hezekiah and Josiah came to the throne, or good judges controlled Israel, there were times of “stability” but Isaiah is seeing beyond this to a time when “He (and she) who walks and speaks uprightly … and shuts his eyes from looking at evil … will see no more the insolent people … your eyes will see Jerusalem, an untroubled habitation, in immovable tent … there the LORD in majesty will be for us … the people who dwell there will be forgiven their iniquity” (verses 15,19-21,24).

They will experience “a harvest of righteousness” which has been “sown in peace by those who make peace” during their lives – as we read in James 3:14. And how do we sow in peace now? James tells us, “the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits …” (verse 17). Let us “sow” – and in due time we will “reap”.