Wednesday after Epiphany

Isaiah 63:1-19

A Day of Vengeance and Cry for Mercy

Epiphany means “manifestation.”  We saw this when the Christchild was made manifest to the magi, the pagan astrologers who represent the nations, you know, me and you, the people who were children of wrath and aliens to the covenants of promise before the cross and resurrection, and then in our time were given the gift of the Holy Spirit who made us believe in the only One who can save.

In the spirit of Epiphany, the Lord appears again, but in this passage as warrior and judge, the Messiah who comes to execute his great wrath upon the earth.  He comes in garments crimson red, stained with blood, the blood of his adversaries.  He did this in a winepress, which is a symbol for judgment in the Scriptures (Joel 3:13; Revelation 14:17-20).  Interestingly, the Lord says, “For the day of vengeance was in my heart, and my year of redemption had come.  I looked, but there was no one to help; I was appalled, but there was no one to uphold; so my own arm brought me salvation, and my wrath upheld me.”  The work of salvation or judgment is solely the work of the Lord.  He needs no help, but there is not one of us who could help Him, anyway.

Then Isaiah recounts the steadfast love of the Lord on behalf of His people, the compassion that He showed them, even when they rebelled and grieved His Holy Spirit.  The Lord brought them through the sea, and shepherded them through the wilderness through His servant, Moses.

But now, it seems to Isaiah that the Lord is not with them.  Isaiah pleads: “You are our Father, though Abraham does not know us, and Israel [Jacob] does not acknowledge us, you, O Lord, are our Father.”  The nation was being trampled underfoot in Isaiah’s time.  Isaiah cries, “O Lord, why do you make us wander from your ways and harden our heart so that we fear you not?”  It is a dreadful teaching from Scripture that to the extent we wander away from the Lord, to that extent will He harden our hearts in our wandering (Romans 1:18-32).  Isaiah looks over the land and the devastation, and sees that it is as if Israel had never been God’s people.

There are times in our lives we need to examine ourselves and ask if it seems we are no longer God’s people and ask “Why?”  Perhaps you might recount the deeds of His steadfast love in your life and let that bring you to repentance.  He comes to save. Return and know rest (Isaiah 30:15).

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