Scripture: Isaiah 4:2-6
Key verses: (2-6) 2On that day the branch of the LORD shall be beautiful and glorious, and the fruit of the land shall be the pride and glory of the survivors of Israel. 3Whoever is left in Zion and remains in Jerusalem will be called holy, everyone who has been recorded for life in Jerusalem, 4once the Lord has washed away the filth of the daughters of Zion and cleansed the bloodstains of Jerusalem from its midst by a spirit of judgment and by a spirit of burning. 5Then the LORD will create over the whole site of Mount Zion and over its places of assembly a cloud by day and smoke and the shining of a flaming fire by night. Indeed over all the glory there will be a canopy. 6It will serve as a pavilion, a shade by day from the heat, and a refuge and a shelter from the storm and rain.
Reflection: We choose the readings for these devotions from the daily lectionary used by many churches and denominations. There are morning and evening psalms for each day, an Old Testament reading, a Gospel Reading, and a reading from the Epistles. I usually scan all of the readings for my assigned day and see what jumps out at me, trusting the Holy Spirit to point me in a direction. Today, this reading from Isaiah is the one I can’t ignore. I can’t help but see this week’s images from Jerusalem and nearby when I read these words from centuries ago.
I don’t claim to be an expert on the situation in the Middle East. It’s complicated and messy, like so many of our political and human entanglements. And it’s clearly not a new struggle. The players may have changed a few times over, but the pain is the same. Isaiah’s vision of the end of bloodstains in a future Jerusalem is compelling. But all sides seem to think they know who should be washed away so their side can survive as the faithful remnant.
Today, let’s pray, once again, that leaders and those who follow them might seek peace in the land so many call holy. May there indeed be a canopy—a pavilion—the shade of the Lord’s care, and a refuge and shelter from all storms.
Prayer: Lord, you have called so many to sacred lands in the Middle East. We pray for peace there, and everywhere. Send your spirit to give wisdom to political leaders, comfort to those who mourn, justice where it is needed, and reconciliation between enemies. Stir in us the will to work for peace, even when we aren’t sure how. In the name of Christ, the Prince of Peace, we pray. Amen.
Author: Julie Hester
[Scripture quotations are from New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved].