The book of Isaiah is full of good news. I know it is the book of a prophet calling for change and delivering condemnation and rebuke to God’s people, but it is one of my favorite. Through its passages, I find I can begin to hold together the nature of the omnipotent God of history and the vulnerable, incarnated Jesus. I love it because it reveals the kind of God I desire to follow and it is loaded with the hope of redemption and the promise of new places.
I think one of the most simple and profound declarations in Isaiah comes from these verses:
“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord.
As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” (Isa 55:8-9)
And these ways of God are unpredictable and unexpected. In the chapters surrounding this verse, the God of Israel beckons the barren woman, the thirsty and poor, the foreigner, and the eunuch. Restoration and healing are promised for each of these who the religious of Israel would forget. The woman who never bore a child is instructed to make lots of room for her descendants. The thirsty and the ones with no money are offered the richest of fare at no cost. For the foreigner, the invitation into the house of prayer and the dignity of belonging is secured. And the eunuch is guaranteed that which he could never obtain – an everlasting name. Certainly these are not the ways of this world I currently know.
As I wrestle with thoughts of global poverty, national policies, justice and the role of the church, and think through issues of local need and division among the rich and the poor in Lexington, and long for the promises of something different to be realized in our time, I don’t conclude much on my own. But, I lay my anxieties of all that is lacking at the feet of this God in Isaiah – the one with the righteous ways of love, the omnipotent agenda, and the strange preferences for the least.