Tale of two cities
"See how the faithful city has become a prostitute... Afterward you will be called the City of Righteousness, the Faithful City.” Isaiah 1. 21 & 26
Excited to begin a new preaching series on Isaiah - the 5th Gospel, so-called because of its illuminating and prescient references to Jesus and his mission to judge the world and usher in the Kingdom of God. It also offers a searing critique of 8th-7th century BC Judah which bears uncanny similarity - and therefore relevance - to the state of society today. I was inspired to return to this Old Testament classic through the teaching of sometime local resident and retired CoS minister, Peter White.
In chapter 1, which Peter reckons was written last by way of an introduction to the whole book, the prophet provides a flavour of his message: exposing the depth of corruption into which the nation has sunk, describing the judgment of God if they do not repent of their wicked ways and the promises of God, which await them if they make the necessary changes and reform. At the heart of this chapter is the metaphor of two cities, which are actually the same but offer a glimpse of Jerusalem as it appeared to God in Isaiah's day and how it is destined to look in response to God's judgment.
Many are painfully conscious of suffering and injustice in our own place and time. Isaiah's prophecy is in the Bible because it continues to speak to us; more precisely, God continues to speak to us through the Book of Isaiah. So we are presented with the same alternative as the Jews of the 7th century BC: stumble on as we are in collusion with sinful humanity, facing the consequences, or live as citizens of God's Kingdom - which exists wherever his will is done - and be counted among those who will reside eternally in the New Creation, as citizens of "the Faithful City"...