Orthodox Mission – Hyde Park, Chicago

Isaiah 3rd Week Reading and reflection

Thus says the Lord: On a mountain of the plain raise a standard, lift up the voice to them: do not fear, comfort with the hand ; open up, you rulers. I give order and I bring them; giants are coming to fulfil my wrath, rejoicing at the same time and insulting. A voice of many nations on the mountains, like that of many nations, a voice of kings and gathered nations. The Lord Sabaoth has commanded a nation in arms to come from a land far away, from the furthest foundation of heaven, the Lord and his armed men, to destroy the whole inhabited world. Howl, for the day of the Lord is near, and destruction will come from God. Because of this, every hand will grow feeble, and every human soul will quail. And the elders will be troubled, and pangs will grip them, like those of a woman in child-birth ; and they will mourn one to another and be amazed and change their face like a flame. For see, the day of the Lord is coming without healing, of wrath and anger to make the inhabited world a desert and to destroy sinners from it. For the stars of heaven and Orion and all the host of heaven will not give light, and when the rises there will be darkness and the moon will not give her light. And I shall command evils for the whole inhabited world and for the ungodly their sins; and I shall destroy the arrogance and the arrogance of the lawless I shall humble. And those that are left behind will be more precious than gold tried by fire ; and a man will be more precious than the stone of Souphir. For the heaven will be enraged and the earth be shaken from its foundations through the wrath of the anger of the Lord Sabaoth on the day when his wrath attacks.

In this vision, the Lord of Hosts decides to destroy the whole “inhabited world.” The term used for “inhabited world” (οἰκουμένη) is distinct from the world which God created. The Greek term used for God’s creation is “cosmos” (Gen. 2:1). This distinction is important because it shows that God is coming to destroy our human construct of the world and not His good creation. This is why the reading ends with a few remaining people who will survive after the elimination of evil. They will not just survive, but “be more precious than gold tried by fire,” and “more precious than the stone of souphir.” The people who survive the fire, are those who have loved God and reflected God’s blessing in the midst of fire and destruction and thus withstand God’s destructive wrath. Once the idolatries and oppressions of Babylon are removed, the shining, precious stones are revealed. Although this looks very violent, what is really happening here, is a dramatic process of refinement. Babylon and those powers who oppose God’s love for the world are the dross that has to be removed so that the golden Image of God, which is Christ, can shine and illuminate the world with the eternal brightness of God.