Today's devotion from Isaiah 17-19.
Surreal. The prophet paints a picture that almost seems to have more in common with Salvador Dali than an Old Testament Prophet. How could there be a day in which Egypt would join hands with Assyria and Israel? How could there be a day in which God would be receptive of the prayers of the Egyptians? How could there be a day in which God would heal those who had been so hard and oppressive toward His people?
While the answer may not be presented in today's reading, we know the answer. We know Jesus.
This may seem shocking to us after having seen so many prayers for destruction directed toward Israel's enemies, but the ultimate goal of God is not annihilation, but redemption. W. A. Criswell, that well known Baptist pastor, wrote of this prophecy, "What a glorious prophecy! Christ will include in His millennial kingdom the children of Ishmael, the Arab world. They will repent and will trust I the Lord and be saved. They will bow down to the Lord and pledge allegiance to the great King. For the love of God is broader than the measure of man's mind, and the heart o the Eternal is most wonderfully kind." (Criswell, Isaiah, 127)
It is easy to wish for destruction on our enemies. I remember September 11, 2001. I remember watching the destruction wreaked on the innocent that morning. I remember anger and rage. Unfortunately, I do not remember praying for Christ to be made known among the terrorists responsible.
Admittedly, we live in a tension. God used both physical war and supernatural wonder to accomplish His ultimate plan of restoration and salvation. Therefore, it is understandable that we will be confused when we find ourselves in the inner workings of His plans. As participants in His sovereign will, sometimes we find ourselves caught up in necessary war, and sometimes we find ourselves mobilized as missionary instruments of divine grace. Tension.
Ultimately, we should cling to this picture, and long for the day when all makes sense. We should look for that day when every tribe and tongue proclaims the greatness of God around His throne. On that day, the tension will be gone and sacred sanity will be restored...along with all creation.