Many churches throughout the world use a Bible reading schedule called a "lectionary." It's just a fancy word meaning "selected readings." Posts like this reflect on the readings for an upcoming Sunday or other Church holiday, as found in the three-year lectionary.
Warfare is an ugly thing. It involves breaking things. Political organizations, buildings, cities, families, lives. There’s more broken in a war than anywhere else. And it’s done on purpose. An ugly thing.
Isaiah 25:6-9 describes God as the warlike God. He is the one who is in charge of breaking things. It’s an unpleasant job. Yet, in God’s providence, it has to be done sometimes. The soul which sins must die. When God works to reconcile people to himself and protect them from evil, something has to happen to the evil and its servants. They are going to face destruction.
What happens in the aftermath of a war? Normally we picture a ravaged wasteland. Bodies and parts of bodies are scattered around. Things may well be on fire. Rubble is in heaps where once beautiful buildings stood. And the surviving participants have been damaged, badly. Their bodies may be broken. Mentally and spiritually they are almost certainly damaged. They have had to participate in actions which are counter to our created nature. It’s going to break things.
How does God work with this broken place? In Isaiah 25, even though we soldiers may well have covered the dead with burial shrouds, covered the remaining structures with blue tarps to contain the destruction, and begun a plan of recovery, God comes to his people. While we are grateful for a drink of clean water and something edible, God lays a table, a feast table, a table so covered with the finest of foods and drinks that it’s creaking and about to collapse.
Who is going to dine at this lavish banquet? Everyone and everything is broken. It’s all covered with burial shrouds. In verse seven that shroud is covering all the people, all the nations. What does God do?
He pulls back the shroud. We don’t want that shroud pulled back. We know what’s under it. Deadness, brokenness, corruption, pollution, stench. Not only does God pull back the shroud, but he destroys it as well.
What’s underneath? Life. Hope. Peace. Eternity. Incorruption. It is in pulling back the shroud of death that God reveals the victory he has won over sin and death. He is the victorious Lord who brings life. Suddenly, we are turned from sorrow and fear to joy and hope.
May the God of life pull back the burial shroud from our world and bring us to his banquet.
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