There are times that God doesn’t make much sense to us (understatement).
I think a first reading of Isaiah chapter 18, is one of those very times. I think at first it leaves us scratching our heads about the character of God.
The chapter is all a prophecy of judgment against Cush (or Kush) which Britannica.com informs me was a southern portion of the ancient region known as Nubia… which Britannica.com also informs me was an ancient region in north eastern Africa, extending approximately from the Nile River valley (near the first cataract in Upper Egypt) eastward to the shores of the Red Sea.
Back to The Bible now.
The Bible, where we so often get such a clear picture of God as a loving, compassionate and slow to anger God. He’s not like that in chapter 18 of Isaiah though.
In chapter 18, he seems sneaky, or malicious or even conniving – and strategically so.
Please note that I said seems, because there is no way that the God I believe in is actually malicious. It’s just that when you read the chapter you’re left thinking, ‘Really? Just what is God up to?”
Surely he would just execute his judgement on the nations? No?
No. He’d prefer to play them.
This is what the Lord says to me: “I will remain quiet and will look on from my dwelling place…For, before the harvest, when the blossom is gone and the flower becomes a ripening grape, he will cut off the shoots with pruning knives…”
He’ll let them think they’ll have their summer, but he’s really just waiting, and then he’ll pounce.
That sort of strategy doesn’t sound like maintaining love to a thousand generations.
But it does sound like being as innocent as doves and as shrewd as snakes. That’s how I got this chapter to work for me; to fit into my biblical framework.
This is how God deals with evil. He’s not cutesy about it, because neither are the evildoers. He has a game plan.
It’s as though he’s setting up all his artillery for maximum impact.
Because it’s not just Cush that God is bringing judgment against in the book of Isaiah. It’s Babylon. It’s Assyria. It’s the Philistines. It’s Moab, Damascus, Egypt… I could go on but I won’t.
It probably shouldn’t surprise us that when God’s got the whole world in his hands that he’s got more than one thing on the go at a time.
And yet it does surprise us; or me at any rate.
But why wouldn’t God play the evildoers when they are wreaking havoc?
“Enjoy the summer,” God says, “No really, just enjoy it…”
Is that God doing sarcasm?
Does God do that? Can he do that?
I don’t know.
If Isaiah 18 shows us nothing else, then perhaps it shows me that I don’t know as much about God as I often think I do.
Yours in delivering an understatement or two,