Friday, November 16, 2012

Yahweh: The Always Unexpectedly New

I am about to do a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert (Isaiah 43:19, New Revised Standard Version, here and following).

In 588 BC, a Babylonian army destroyed Jerusalem and forced the people of Judah to walk to Babylon. Despite that disaster, Isaiah foretold that Yahweh would have new plans for his people. His history with them, and theirs with him, had not ended.  Remember that old story, from 900 years before, about Moses leading the people of Israel from Egypt through the Red Sea to freedom? History hadn't ended then. Yahweh would do something like it again. This time he would lead his people from Babylon across a well-watered desert to freedom.

Isaiah's words came true. The army of Cyrus of Persia conquered Babylon in 538 BC. Shortly afterward, Cyrus financed the return of Jews in Babylon to Jerusalem.

Who could have imagined it? Yahweh is not a god stuck in either the past or in Heaven. His arm, as the prophets enjoy saying, is not too short to save. Yes, he did great things in the past. But he remains capable of doing even greater acts of liberation today. And he does. For Jewish captives in Babylon, this meant their wholly unexpected return to Jerusalem.

Jesus was like this too. One day he sees two men, Peter and Andrew, earning their living—as they had for years—by fishing. Jesus invites them to join him. They do and, just like that, their fishing days are over (Matthew 4:18-20). Jesus speaks a new and always unexpected word and, suddenly, they are liberated from Pluto and the job they had always done and always expected to do.

Later on, Jesus is told that his friend Lazarus is dead and has been for four days (John 11:39). Even so, he tells Lazarus to come out of his tomb. Lazarus does. Jesus speaks a surprisingly new word and, suddenly, Lazarus is liberated from death as no one expected him to be.

As Yahweh explains through his prophet Isaiah, For my thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways my ways (55:8). These words hold true for us today. Jesus continues to speak his always surprising words of truth to us at unexpected times only to liberate us for him in unexpected ways.

What are our favorite liberator’s surprising words to us today? In general, that Olympianity is a religion and that we are far too Olympian to witness radiantly to him. Specifically, his words to us each day will free us from some aspect of our bondage to the six false Olympian gods so that we can witness to him: for our good and his glory.

Copyright © 2012 by Steven Farsaci.
All rights reserved. Fair use encouraged.