Out of the Silence

Opening Prayer

Lord, draw near to me as I meet You in Your Word today.

Read Isaiah 65:1–7,17–25

Isaiah 65:1-7

“I revealed myself to those who did not ask for me;
I was found by those who did not seek me.
To a nation that did not call on my name,
I said, ‘Here am I, here am I.’
2 All day long I have held out my hands
to an obstinate people,
who walk in ways not good,
pursuing their own imaginations—
3 a people who continually provoke me
to my very face,
offering sacrifices in gardens
and burning incense on altars of brick;
4 who sit among the graves
and spend their nights keeping secret vigil;
who eat the flesh of pigs,
and whose pots hold broth of impure meat;
5 who say, ‘Keep away; don’t come near me,
for I am too sacred for you!’
Such people are smoke in my nostrils,
a fire that keeps burning all day.

6 “See, it stands written before me:
I will not keep silent but will pay back in full;
I will pay it back into their laps—
7 both your sins and the sins of your ancestors,”
says the Lord.
“Because they burned sacrifices on the mountains
and defied me on the hills,
I will measure into their laps
the full payment for their former deeds.”

Isaiah 65:17-25

17 “See, I will create
new heavens and a new earth.
The former things will not be remembered,
nor will they come to mind.
18 But be glad and rejoice forever
in what I will create,
for I will create Jerusalem to be a delight
and its people a joy.
19 I will rejoice over Jerusalem
and take delight in my people;
the sound of weeping and of crying
will be heard in it no more.

20 “Never again will there be in it
an infant who lives but a few days,
or an old man who does not live out his years;
the one who dies at a hundred
will be thought a mere child;
the one who fails to reach a hundred
will be considered accursed.
21 They will build houses and dwell in them;
they will plant vineyards and eat their fruit.
22 No longer will they build houses and others live in them,
or plant and others eat.
For as the days of a tree,
so will be the days of my people;
my chosen ones will long enjoy
the work of their hands.
23 They will not labor in vain,
nor will they bear children doomed to misfortune;
for they will be a people blessed by the Lord,
they and their descendants with them.
24 Before they call I will answer;
while they are still speaking I will hear.
25 The wolf and the lamb will feed together,
and the lion will eat straw like the ox,
and dust will be the serpent’s food.
They will neither harm nor destroy
on all my holy mountain,”
says the Lord.

Reflect

If God seems far away, who moved?

A friend much taller than me (not difficult!) stood immediately behind me in a group and said, “Has anyone seen Emlyn?”! I couldn’t have been closer yet he didn’t see me because he looked
over my head. In yesterday’s reading God seemed far away, somewhere in the heavens, separated from his people (64:1) and silent (64:12). But today God breaks the apparent silence and speaks for himself. He had always been near them, reaching out to them (2). As Paul told the pagans in Athens, “He is not far from any one of us” (Acts 17:27). Yet in their obstinacy, his
own people hadn’t seen or heard him. Instead they had given in to pagan superstition (3–5), inviting his judgment (6,7). Thankfully, there was a faithful remnant who would be rewarded—see what God has ready for his servants (13–16).

The past is not the end, however. Things will change (16). Ahead is something so wonderful that the memories will be erased (17). God will not just “rend the heavens and come down” (64:1)—he “will create new heavens and a new earth” (17) with a new Jerusalem, the place where God dwells (18)! In contrast with the gloom of the past is the promise of delight and joy (18), abundance (21), satisfying work (22), family (23) and peace (25).

Apply

Think about the distance between you and God. Could you come closer to him? He longs to answer you (24).

Closing prayer

Lord, You promised, “Before they call I will answer; while they are still speaking I will hear (24). I hold on to this promise as I bring my requests to You.

Syndicated via Scripture Union. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Terry Schneider