Thought for the Day : Tuesday 24 November

Thought for the Day by Malcolm Heath (St Michael’s)

Readings: Isaiah 40:12-26 and Revelation 14:14-15:8

The imagery in the book of Revelation often seems weird. Indeed, it often is weird. But there is a core of clarity in the song sung by those who sing ‘the song of Moses, the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb’:

Great and amazing are your deeds, Lord God the Almighty!
Just and true are your ways, King of the nations!
Lord, who will not fear and glorify your name?
For you alone are holy. All nations will come and worship before you,     for your judgments have been revealed.

Revelation 15.3-4

The King who rules all nations by His justice and holiness will ultimately draw all nations to Him because He is just and holy.

It isn’t easy to trace God’s rule of justice and holiness in the nations’ unruliness today. It wasn’t easy in Old Testament times, either. For centuries Assyria had been the dominant power in the turbulent and brutal power politics of the ancient Middle East. But then, suddenly, it wasn’t. Internal rivalries and external pressures led to the rapid collapse of Assyrian dominance. The power vacuum was filled by Babylon. The Kingdom of Judah, a distinctly minor power, tried to secure its independence from Babylonian control by cosying up to Egypt—a misjudgement that led to the destruction of Jerusalem and its Temple, and mass deportations. But Babylon’s dominance lasted less than a century before the Persians seized control. Judah did not regain its independence, but exiles were free to come home from Babylon if they wished and—above all—work could be started on a new Temple. 

Reflecting on this astonishing change in Judah’s fortunes, the prophet’s exuberant poem bombards us with rhetorical questions that challenge us to grasp God’s unique creativity, justice and wisdom. Who measured the waters and marked off the heavens? Who taught Him justice and knowledge? To whom will you liken God, or what likeness compare with Him? Who? Who? Who?

In each case the answer must be: God alone. The modern world’s brutality and turbulence cannot ultimately triumph over the justice, holiness and faithfulness of God.     

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