Saturday, 5 February 2011

How long?

Sawyer (1984) sees Isaiah's cry of “How long, O Lord” (Isaiah 6:9-13) as sign of Isaiah's "love for his city" and as a pleading for his people. He links this with similar cries from other prophets and passages from the Psalms where there is the question “Wilt thou forget me for ever?” (Psalm 13:1-2, p 73).

I see such cries differently. “How long will the people not go on learning or seeing the consequences of the path they are walking?” In some respects, my cry also carries a concern for the people but I am not crying for God to stop a judgement. My cry is for a removal of their blindness, a healing of their sight.

But I also need to recognise that I don't see the consequences of sin as “the stern justice” of God or as being “contained within the nature of God” (p 74). God seeks to redeem and restore but in order for us to be redeemed, we need to see the failure of our ways and turn to repentance. We can not repent without seeing the consequences of the path that we have chosen.

The society in the time of Isaiah had chosen a path to destruction and like now, the people were blind and deaf to the calls for change (Isaiah 6:9-10). Did God close their eyes and ears or in the arrogance or confidence of the people have they marched on ignoring the warnings from God.

I put this into today's context, as the western economies again struggle to recover and yet go on believing in the economic practices that nearly crippled them. Not only do they go on believing in them, they go on promoting them and pushing them on others. Why are these people so blind that they can not see. God's judgement isn't needed. The path is already clear. The system will fail again but blindly on the people march to the destruction that lies ahead.

Yes, the prophet cries for the people not because he wants God to stop judgement but simply so the people who have shut their eyes and ears will see and hear, that they might repent and seek redemption and restoration that God has on offer.


Swayer, J. F. A. (1984). Isaiah (Vol. 1). Edinburgh: The Saint Andrew Press.

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