Friday 18th September 2020
Isaiah 24: 4-6
The earth dries up and withers,
the world languishes and withers;
the heavens languish together with the earth.
The earth lies polluted
under its inhabitants;
for they have transgressed laws,
violated the statutes,
broken the everlasting covenant.
Therefore a curse devours the earth,
and its inhabitants suffer for their guilt;
therefore the inhabitants of the earth dwindled,
and few people are left.
This passage is in stark contrast to that of yesterday, where one could at least glean some hope from the reality of God’s holding the life of every living thing in his hand. It seems that humanity has moved so far from respecting the covenant that the apocalypse has well and truly come to devastating effect. As a later verse puts it, the gladness of the earth is banished.
Some will discern a picture of what might happen if we do not take urgent action to mitigate the effects of climate change, or globalisation, or the attitude of “because you’re worth it”. Covid-19 has focussed our attention on how rapidly events move in a connected world, upsetting complacency and engendering distress. Even deeply entrenched norms can be swiftly superseded, some for the good, others less so.
But therein lies hope. People can change when they are convinced that change is for the better, not necessarily just for themselves, but for the good of others – those at a distance as well as those close to them. People have put much of their own ordered and comfortable lives on hold to reach out to help those in greater need. People are indeed reflecting on what is truly important and what is merely convenient or enjoyable. We are told that an increasing number are discovering something of value in connecting to the various forms of on-line worship which have sprung up, presented by faith groups across the spectrum. Perhaps that too may have a lasting effect.
Expressing all this more theologically – repentance leads to fullness of life.
Maybe these words may seem utterly futile or wildly gloomy depending on what has happened in the interval between my writing this and your reading it. Only one thing is certain. Our God cares for his creation.
Lord, I believe. Help Thou mine unbelief.