Now we come to the 18th day of our Lenten journey, God bless you as you travel the path to the Cross and to our Lord’s resurrection. Our reading from scripture is Isaiah 11:10-12:2.
And in that day there shall be a root of Jesse, and he that shall arise to rule over the Gentiles; in him shall the Gentiles trust, and his rest shall be glorious.
(let me pause here, after just one verse. I’m using the LXX of the Old Testament, which differs often from the Hebrew version, the one used in Protestant bibles. This is one place where the difference is important. The word “rest” at the end of this verse, “and his rest shall be glorious,” the word rest is ἀνάπαυσις, which Jerome (mid 4th to early 5th century) translated into Latin as “tomb,” or “sepulcher” - et erit sepulchrum ejus gloriosum. It makes sense that he would call the tomb a place of rest, but this also shows us that Jerome saw this passage as a prophesy of Jesus Christ, and specifically that the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem would be the center of the proclamation of the gospel to the Gentiles. “in him shall the Gentiles trust, and his rest (his sepulcher) shall be glorious.” The Church of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem is indeed glorious, and I hope that every Christian will be able to visit it someday. To continue:)
And it shall be in that day, that the Lord shall again shew his hand, to be zealous for the remnant that is left of the people, which shall be left by the Assyrians, and that from Egypt, and from the country of Babylon, and from Ethiopia, and from the Elamites, and from the rising of the sun, and out of Arabia. 12 And he shall lift up a standard for the nations, and he shall gather the lost ones of Israel, and he shall gather the dispersed of Juda from the four corners of the earth. 13 And the envy of Ephraim shall be taken away, and the enemies of Juda shall perish: Ephraim shall not envy Juda, and Juda shall not afflict Ephraim. 14 And they shall fly in the ships of the Philistines: they shall at the same time spoil the sea, and them that come from the east, and Idumea: and they shall lay their hands on Moab first; but the children of Ammon shall first obey them.
And the Lord shall make desolate the sea of Egypt; and he shall lay his hand on the river with a strong wind, and he shall smite the seven channels, so that men shall pass through it dry-shod. 16 And there shall be a passage for my people that is left in Egypt: and it shall be to Israel as the day when he came forth out of the land of Egypt.
And in that day thou shalt say, I will bless thee, O Lord; for thou wast angry with me, but thou hast turned aside thy wrath, and hast pitied me. Behold, my God is my Savior; I will trust in him, and not be afraid: for the Lord is my glory and my praise, and is become my salvation.
We sing the last part of this passage during the Compline service in the first four days of Great Lent, rendered by St. Andrew of Crete as (this is the English translation): “He is my Helper and Protector, and has become my salvation. This is my God and I will glorify Him, the God of my fathers, and I will exalt Him for gloriously has been been glorified.” Even though in the Compline we mostly sing about our sinfulness and utter desperation, the canon begins with words of restoration. The first words are words of hope! Our repentance is never an end in itself, but always leads to forgiveness, mercy, restoration. In fact, this entire passage from Isaiah is a foretelling of the prophesy to come, the prophesies of restoration in the second half of the book. God has been angry, as the prophet says, because of our sin, but has turned aside His wrath and has had pity on us.