Wednesday of the Second Week in Advent: Isaiah 45:14-end.
Just a brief note on this one:
Thus says the Lord:
“The labor of Egypt and merchandise of Cush
And of the Sabeans, men of stature,
Shall come over to you, and they shall be yours;
They shall walk behind you,
They shall come over in chains;
And they shall bow down to you.
They will make supplication to you, saying, ‘Surely God is in you,
And there is no other;
There is no other God.’ ” (Isaiah 45:14 NKJV)
This is an awfully offensive promise in a pluralistic age.
The promise is clear: After being militarily subdued (“in chains”), the pagan nations will realize that their gods are idols, and they will confess that the only God, YHWH, is in covenant with Israel. They will “bow down” and confess that Israel was the true chosen people.
C.S. Lewis had trouble with this Biblical sentiment. He speaks of how even the beloved Psalm 23 has to include the words “you prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies” — “as though the Psalmist’s happiness could not be complete without his adversaries looking on and hating it.” Lewis speaks of it as a problem with the Psalms, a sub-Christian sentiment that was perhaps appropriate to Old Testament religion, but has no place in the New. But it is a pervasive theme in the Bible.
This is the same promise that continues for the church. Jesus says to the church in Philadelphia (Revelation 3:9): “I will make those of the synagogue of Satan — who say they are Jews, and are not, but lie — indeed, I will make them come and prostrate themselves before your feet, and to know that I have loved you.” Perhaps this is even a deliberate echo of Isaiah 45?