Summary: In Isaiah 22, Isaiah imagines Jerusalem's response to a crisis - an enemy attack. The city prepares - but forgets God.
This is an approximately daily reflection in response to coronavirus. As of 9th May, the number of people infected has passed four million and the number of deaths is 275,000. In the UK, we've passed the peak. But around the world the graph of infections against time is showing little sign of slowing. In the UK, businesses are unable to operate and large numbers of people have lost their incomes. There is huge suffering. As Christians, what should our response be? There is work to do, but our first response should be to pray.
The prophet Isaiah lived at a time when the Assyrian Empire was expanding. He foresaw a time when Jerusalem would fall and he prophesied how people would respond. We can read his prophecy in Isaiah 22. Isaiah sees the people of Jerusalem preparing for the attack they know is coming. He prophesies from a future perspective, and so writes in the past tense:
(A) They prepare (verses 8 to 10)
… you looked in that day to the weapons in the Palace of the Forest … you stored up water in the Lower Pool. You counted the buildings in Jerusalem and tore down houses to strengthen the wall. You built a reservoir …
(B) But they don’t go to God, grieving (verses 11 and 12)
… but you did not look to the One who made it, or have regard for the One who planned it long ago. The Lord, the Lord Almighty, called you on that day to weep and to wail, to tear out your hair and put on sackcloth.
(C) They despaired (verse 13)
But see, there is joy and revelry, slaughtering of cattle and killing of sheep, eating of meat and drinking of wine! ‘Let us eat and drink,’ you say, ‘for tomorrow we die!’
How does this compare to us? We are preparing, and that’s good. But do we go to God for help, grieving over what it happening? We must! This is a time for us to be passionately interceding with God on behalf of our nation and other nations, for our leaders, for NHS staff, for our communities, our families and our church. Do we despair? The NHS has not been overwhelmed, and we thank God for that. But we still have to recover economically But even if the situation looks very black, as Christians, we mustn’t despair: our God is very great.
Let’s go back to the subject of prayer for a moment. This is a time for us to be urgent in prayer. Praying on our own is very good. Let’s do that! Praying with others is even better. We can’t physically meet, but we can meet using the internet or telephone. So let’s join together in prayer, as we should.
May God watch over us all.