In a contest between a map and a GPS, I would choose a GPS 90 percent of the time. Oh, I still get lost. I misjudge the “1000 feet” and turn left into one-way mazes. But it is still better than trying to read a map. I have trouble getting my bearings and holding them the correct direction. My right turns into my left and the world is spinning (or at least the paper).
But recently I have begun to appreciate the ability to see the big picture. Like in Isaiah. Chapters 15 – 17 contain oracles or “burdens” that Isaiah prophesied against the neighbors: Moab and Damascus. These were both powerful countries, Damascus representing Syria. Look through Kings and you will find Syria harassing Israel and Judah quite a bit. Moab had a bad history from the start, when Lot’s daughter took matter into her own hands to start a family.
These chapters remind me of Beowulf or other epic lyrics. Moab is filled with wailing, weeping, chaos. The productivity of the land is gone, the joy is gone. The gods they cried to are defeated. And it would be in just three years. How was Israel to respond? By giving them shade and protection. Justice would come, righteousness would be established. Those who called on the Lord as King were called to bear witness to the world.
Damascus was an ancient powerhouse in the Middle East. Yet it would become a heap of ruins. The remnant of Syria would be like the glory of Israel…which brought Isaiah to describe the downfall of Israel. Gleanings would be all that is left. On the farm, that is the last piece of fruit that is too high to reach. And they would finally look to their Maker.
The nations may thunder and challenge and roar, but God will rebuke them and they will turn tail and run as fast and as far as they can.
These chapters felt like a winding country road. But the directions are easier to see when you step back. God showed Israel that no, their neighbors would not get away with sinful lifestyles. But they could impact them for good. So often I begin comparing my life with those around me. And complaining about it. But when I step back and look, I am blown away by God’s patience for me.
God, thank You for maps that show details within the structure of a big picture. And thank You for Your care for all the people of the world, and how You use those around us to teach us about how You work. Please help me to see Your plan better and stop complaining when my little GPS recalculates. Amen.