“No compassion … every mouth speaks folly”
Four times, the first three being in today’s reading of Isaiah 9, the prophet’s message is, “For all this his anger is not turned away and his hand is stretched out still” (verses 12,17,21; 10:4). It is a condemnation against those who speak “in pride and in arrogance of heart” (verse 9) of all they will do in their own strength to recover from their disasters and restore the things that have gone wrong in Israel. They say, they will rebuild “the bricks that have fallen, but we will build with dressed stones; the sycamore have been cut down, but we will put cedars in their place” (verse 10).
The nation refused to see that it was the Lord who had caused these disasters, but their thoughts were on rebuilding and even making things better than they were previously; they did not see that God’s anger was still there, his hand was stretched out for further punishment because “the people did not turn to him who struck them, nor inquire of the LORD of hosts” (verse 13).
We noted the extreme result of their attitude – “the LORD will have “no compassion [even] on their fatherless and widows; for everyone is godless and an evildoer, and every mouth speaks folly (footnote: ‘disgraceful things’)” (verse 17). Our Lord is not endlessly compassionate; Israel had taken his blessings for granted! Their hearts were filled with “pride and arrogance”.
There is a solemn lesson in this today; four years ago near where we live the people experienced dreadful forest fires covering large areas with great loss of property, nearly 200 died – in the three summers since then there has been great concern in case extra hot weather could cause a repeat. We have not seen any inclination to pray to God about these concerns. Other massive disasters have occurred in the world since then – God’s anger is not turned away!
Presently the world is nervous about the ‘health’ of the ‘God of Mammon’ as financial uncertainties make the world anxious: in a later chapter in Isaiah we will see implications about the ultimate failure of money.
But for those who look for light in the darkness what marvellous light is to be found in today’s chapter! “For unto us a child is born … and the government shall be on his shoulder … of the increase of his government and peace there will be no end … to establish it and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time forth and forevermore. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will do this” (verses 7,8).
Let us all see the light in the darkness. Let us all realise how much we need the light that only God can provide!