By Dr. Judy Fentress-Williams
When we are under duress, our sense of community is often lost. The prophet Isaiah delivers oracles of judgment against Babylon, Moab and Philistia – and in the midst of this judgment is a word of promise for the small nation of Judah. Isaiah’s prophecies reflect a world view of winners and losers, victors and victims. The inhabitants of Judah were often in the role of being a potential victim and were most likely encouraged to hear that their powerful enemies would be taken down. Within the larger context of Isaiah, however, the message broadens somewhat. It is not only Judah’s enemies that will fall, but Judah herself. God plans to take Judah down as a precursor to rebuilding the nation. One wonders then if God has similar plans for Judah’s enemies as well.
As long as we view the world from the perspective of our own location and our own concerns we will forever be cut off from the larger perspective of the God of creation. If Judah’s story doesn’t end with punishment, perhaps it is not the end for others, even when they are our enemies. Psalm 30 asserts that God’s anger “is but for a moment/ his favor is for a lifetime.” To what extent might that promise extend to others?
To what extent is our understanding of God’s saving work in the world limited to our communities and experiences?
How does our understanding of God’s saving work change when we consider we are simply one part of a larger story?
We are grateful Lord that you desire to be in relationship with us. Thank you that your love extends not only beyond our short-comings, but beyond our world views so that your plan of salvation might be achieved.
Dr. Judy Fentress-Williams is Professor of Old Testament at the Virginia Theological Seminary in Alexandria, Virginia.