April 27, 2011

Easter Thursday


Lectionary

Psalm 149, 150, Ezek. 37:1-14, Phil. 3:7
Psalm 147, Is. 52:1-10, Jn. 20:24

Commentary

Isaiah 52 cannot be understood apart from chapter 51, especially verses 22 and 23:

“Behold, I have taken out of thine hand the cup of trembling, even the dregs of the cup of my fury; thou shalt no more drink it again: But I will put it into the hand of them that afflict thee; which have said to thy soul, Bow down, that we may go over: and thou hast laid thy body as the ground, and as the street, to them that went over.”

The Jews have been laid low by their enemies.  They have been trodden down, and their enemies have walked upon them as the ground of the street.  God has allowed this because of the sins of the Jews, but the other nations still had no just cause to invade Israel.  Their conquests and oppression were wicked and cruel, crushing the Jews into the dust and blaspheming the Name of God, but God was neither blind to the oppressors’ sin nor unmoved by the suffering of the Jews.  In tonight’s reading He is preparing to act in a mighty deliverance for them.  Therefore, they are to awake (52:1), arise (52:2), and shake off the dust (52:2).  They are to stop being the ground for their enemies to walk on.  They are to rise up and stand upright, and shake the dust of the street and ground off themselves.  They are to put on beautiful garments, their very best, the clothes thy reserve for the most festive and joyful occasions, for they are to be delivered from their enemies and returned to the holy city.  The cup of trembling 51:22) will be taken from them and given to their enemies.  Their enemies will fear as the Jews have had to in the past.  Thus, the Jews will know God has spoken to them; they will see the revelation of His saving grace, and will know it is the work of God for them.

Verse 7 pictures messengers posted on the hills outside of Jerusalem proclaiming the good news of the coming deliverance.  The tidings are so wonderful that even the feet of the messengers are beautiful to the Jews.  Inside the city, watchmen echo the message, united (eye to eye) in the proclamation and the praise of the God of their salvation.  Even the most devastated (waste places) of Jerusalem are overcome with joy and join the song of praise, “for the Lord hath comforted His people, He hath redeemed Jerusalem.”

To make bare His arm (vs. 10) is to roll up the sleeves of His robe as a man going into battle or to physical labour where the extra material will be an encumbrance.  It pictures God preparing to accomplish the deliverance of the Jews.

Again we look beyond the setting of the Old Testament Jerusalem and see the mighty deliverance of God for all His people, bringing them into the Heavenly Jerusalem through our Lord Jesus Christ.  He bears the good tidings, and He is the good tidings.  Therefore, let His people rejoice; “Thy God reigneth.”

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