Orthodox Mission – Hyde Park, Chicago

Meditation on Thursday and Friday Readings of Isaiah (42&45)

Isaiah 42: 5-16

Thus says the Lord: who made the heaven and fixed it, who established the earth and the things in it and who gives breath to the people upon it and spirit to those who tread it. I the Lord God called you in righteousness and I will take your hand and give you strength and I have given you as a covenant of a race, for a light of nations to open the eyes of the blind to lead out those who have been bound and those who sit on darkness from prison. I am the Lord God, this is my name; I will not give my glory to another nor my virtues to carved idols. See, the things from the beginning have come, and new things, which I am declaring, and which have been shown us before they are declared. Sing to the Lord a new hymn you his dominion ; glorify his Name from the extremity of the earth, you who go down to the sea and sail it, you islands and you who inhabit them. Let the wilderness be glad and its villages, its hamlets and the inhabitants of Kedar. Those who inhabit the rock will rejoice, from the peaks of the mountains they will shout; they will give glory to God, they will declare his virtues to the islands. The Lord God of powers will come forth and crush war, he will rouse zeal and cry out against his enemies with strength. I have kept silent, shall I also keep silent always and forbear? I have endured like a woman in childbirth, I will amaze and wither at the same time. I will make mountains and hills and all their grass wither. I will make rivers into islands and dry up pools. And I will bring the blind by a way that they did not know, and I will make them tread paths of which they had no knowledge. I will turn darkness into light for them and their crooked places into straight. I will do these things and I will not desert them.

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God makes himself known to Israel as an example to all, as an instruction in a miracle. The miracle is the opening of the gates of perception to see God, the one before the beginning of things. The miracle is to know a true name of God, a name that calls all the ends of the earth to rejoicing and  a final peace and strength, to come into his light singing a hymn to the one who gives light and knowledge.

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Friday: Isaiah. 45: 11-17

Thus says the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel who made the things that are to come: Ask me about my sons and about my daughters, and about the works of my hands command me. I made the earth and mankind upon it; I with my hand established the heaven, I gave commandment to all the stars. I raised him up with righteousness to be king, and all his ways are upright. He will build my city and turn back the captivity of my people not with ransoms nor with gifts, says the Lord Sabaoth. Thus says the Lord: Egypt has toiled and the merchandise of the Ethiopians, and the Sabeans, lofty men, will pass over to you and will do reverence to you and make their prayer by you; because God is in you and there is no God beside you. For you are God and we did not know, the God of Israel, the Saviour. All those who oppose him will be put to shame and will walk in shame. Keep a feast of dedication to me you islands. Israel is being saved by the Lord with an eternal salvation; they will not be put to shame nor will they be turned back again for ever, says the Lord Almighty.

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In the immediate surrounding context of this reading, Cyrus is mentioned as king (45:1), but here the king is a sign for the coming worship of God by all the nations. While Israel is central because of the God he worships, all nations come to know “there is no God beside you.” All the nations and any heavenly guardian they have is a son or daughter of God: whether it be angels, kings or queens. God made the heavens and every true star shines with his light in the spiritual firmament. God is through Cyrus rebuilding his city. This rebuilding is the image of God’s salvation and splendor. In its midst is the temple which God rebuilds in three days, the body of Christ. For this reason the nations “will do reverence to you and make their prayer beside you; because God is in you.” This salvation is “an eternal salvation” because it is the abiding presence of God among humanity, bringing the light of heaven to earth to set all those in Sheol free and to dedicate the new temple of the humanity which is raised and lifted from shame to an everlasting life.