bible blog 924

This blog provides a meditation on the Episcopal daily readings along with a headline from world news:

Another Bhutto to rescue Pakistan?

Bilawal Bhutto, son of Benazir

Bilawal Bhutto, son of Benazir

Isaiah 12:1-6

Thanksgiving and Praise

12You will say on that day:
I will give thanks to you, O Lord,    for though you were angry with me,
your anger turned away,    and you comforted me.
2 Surely God is my salvation;    I will trust, and will not be afraid,
for the Lord God * is my strength and my might;    he has become my salvation.

3 With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation.4And you will say on that day:
Give thanks to the Lord,    call on his name;
make known his deeds among the nations;    proclaim that his name is exalted.
5 Sing praises to the Lord, for he has done gloriously;    let this be known* in all the earth.
6 Shout aloud and sing for joy, O royal* Zion,    for great in your midst is the Holy One of Israel.

Sing for joy

From the prophecies of the first Isaiah (Chapters 1-39, more or less), we have this joyful psalm of thanksgiving. Someone, perhaps the prophet, more likely an editor, has inserted it at this point to complete the prophecies about “Immanuel” the royal figure through whom God will rescue his people. It’s fitting enough therefore for this day in the church’s year when we give thanks for birth of Jesus whom the church worships as Immanuel, God-with-us.

Perhaps the most important lines contain the bible word, “salvation” which in its Hebrew form (yeshua) can mean rescue, deliverance, victory and the substance of these, welfare, health. The New Testament and the Christian Church use the Greek translation, soteria (Latin Salvatio) to refer to what they believed was the comprehensive rescue of humanity by God, through Jesus Christ, whose Hebrew name is of course, Yeshua. It’s hard for the modern reader of the Old Testament to understand the word in its primary sense rather than in the special meaning given by Christianity. In its primary sense it is embedded deeply in the Jewish witness to their God. He is the one who hears the cry of his enslaved people in Egypt and comes down to rescue them. The whole story of the exodus is a celebration of God’s “salvation”, his deliverance and establishment of his people. The word occurs again and again in the stories of the Judges and of King David: God is the rescuer, the deliverer, the one who gives victory. 

drawing water in Dafur

drawing water in Dafur

The writer of the psalm expresses his trust in God as rescuer. In this context God’s rescue is his presence in Immanuel, the prince of David’s line who will lead the  people out of oppression into peace. He/she echoes the words of the song of victory at the Red Sea (Exodus 15). But a new and original note is struck with the words, “With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation.” The drawing of water is a daily necessity in the city and in the course of travelling. It is the necessary routine of life, even more than the breaking of bread. God’s deliverance is not only a dramatic action but also a continuing provision, a state of grace. God’s life-giving goodness will be available to his people over time; it will not fail; they only have to draw upon it. And that also means, they must draw upon it. Deliverance is given but it must be received. For Isaiah this daily provision would be faithful worship of the One God along with God’s justice in society, especially for the poor.

When people cast down the false Gods of our time and honour the One True God; when they work to establish communal, national and international justice, they are drawing water from the wells of salvation and they should do so with joy.

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