Orthodox Mission – Hyde Park, Chicago

5th Monday of Lent Meditation, Isaiah 37: 33-38 & 38: 1-6.

Thus says the Lord concerning the king of Assyria: He shall not enter this city, nor shoot an arrow against it, nor come before it with a shield, nor cast up a siege ramp against it. But by the way that he came, by the same he shall return ; and he shall not enter this city. Thus says the Lord: For I will defend this city to save it, for my own sake and for the sake of my servant David. Then an Angel of the Lord went out and struck down one hundred and eighty-five thousand in the camp of the Assyrians. When morning dawned, they were all dead. Then King Senachereim of Assyria turned and departed and dwelt in Nineve. As he was worshiping in the house of his tutelary god Nasarach, his sons Adramelech and Sarasar struck him down with swords,  and escaped into the land of Armenia. His son Asordan succeeded him. It came to pass at that time that Ezekias became sick and was at the point of death. And the prophet Isaias, son of Amos, came to him, and said to him, “Thus says the Lord: Set your house in order, for you shall die. You will not live”. Then Ezekias turned his face to the wall, and prayed to the Lord, saying, “Remember, Lord, how I have walked before you in truth with a true heart, and have done what is pleasing in your sight”. And Ezekias wept bitterly. Then the word of the Lord came to Isaias: Go and say to Ezekias, “Thus says the Lord, the God of your father David: I have heard your prayer, and I have seen your tears. See, I am adding fifteen years to your time. I will deliver you and this city out of the hand of the king of Assyria and defend this city”.

++++++++

God saves his city. The city is an image of the Church, which is preserved by not just “an angel of the Lord,” the Lord himself, the “Angel of Great Counsel.” But the city and the Church is not saved for the sake of some institutional greatness, but God says it is “for my own sake and for the sake of my servant David.” David is a human king, and his kingdom a human kingdom, but God is saving David’s kingdom to be the earthly beginning of his rule that overthrows the powers of this world. God is saving the city as the kingdom of God, over which Christ reigns as the divine “Son of Man” that Daniel speaks of: “I saw in the night visions, and behold, with the clouds of heaven there came one like a son of man, and he came to the Ancient of Days and was presented before him. To him was given dominion and glory and kingdom, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve him; his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom one that shall not be destroyed. “(Dan 7:13-14) Daniel, in his  vision is very “anxious” and “alarmed.” Ezekias (Hezekiah) is also disturbed knowing his life and his kingship will end. He does not fully realize—or perhaps he only begins to realize—that it is the marvel of God’s power, not his power or life that saves the city. He is depressed. Having seen God’s power over life and death, he does not have the faith to face his own death, and he weeps. He repents. So we also are confronted by our weakness, and we learn that it is not our power, our control that gives life. God gives life. He has the power to save the city, the world and fallen citadel of our own life and soul. We must cast ourselves on his mercy in our weakness and failure to believe, “I believe; help my unbelief!” (Mark 9:24) We must even give over our own “soul,” the things and even the people we love most and ask God for mercy, the mercy that he has shown to the city of the Church, which sees him reigning supreme, the one who suffered with us and, in his resurrection, gave hope to our bitterest tears.