Here we come to the 19th 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 13:2-13.
Lift up a standard on the mountain of the plain, exalt the voice to them, beckon with the hand, open the gates, ye rulers. 3 I give command, and I bring them: giants are coming to fulfill my wrath, rejoicing at the same time and insulting. 4 A voice of many nations on the mountains, even like to that of many nations; a voice of kings and nations gathered together: the Lord of hosts has given command to *a war-like nation, 5 to come from a land afar off, from the utmost foundation of heaven; the Lord and his warriors are coming to destroy all the world.
(Let me pause here. Today’s reading from Isaiah speaks of the final judgement, when God will, as it says, send giants to fulfill his wrath. Why do they come with rejoicing and also with insulting? We see in St. Matthew 24:31, “He will send out his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.” So when they come to divide the sheep from the goats (again, St. Matthew’s gospel, 25:31–46), they will rejoice with the believers and show no mercy to the wicked. Rejoicing and insulting. Today’s reading follows the reading from yesterday that spoke of the mercy and forbearance of God - today we hear that this forbearance has a limit, and the world will experience that limit at the final judgement. To continue:)
Howl ye, for the day of the Lord is near, and destruction from God shall arrive. Therefore every hand shall become powerless, and every soul of man shall be dismayed. 8 The elders shall be troubled, and pangs shall seize them, as of a woman in travail: and they shall mourn one to another, and shall be amazed, and shall change their countenance as a flame. 9 For behold! the day of the Lord is coming which cannot be escaped, a day of wrath and anger, to make the world desolate, and to destroy sinners out of it. 10 For the stars of heaven, and Orion, and all the host of heaven, shall not give their light; and it shall be dark at sunrise, and the moon shall not give her light.
(Let me pause here again. In St. Matthew 4:44-45 the scripture says: “But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.” Indeed the sun shines on everyone, but only until the Day of the Lord, when, as Isaiah tells us, “For the stars of heaven, and Orion, and all the host of heaven, shall not give their light; and it shall be dark at sunrise, and the moon shall not give her light.” Now to finish today’s reading:)
11 And I will command evils for the whole world, and will visit their sins on the ungodly: and I will destroy the pride of transgressors, and will bring low the pride of the haughty. 12 And they that are left shall be more precious than gold tried in the fire; and a man shall be more precious than the stone that is in Suphir. 13 For the heaven shall be enraged, and the earth shall be shaken from her foundation, because of the fierce anger of the Lord of hosts, in the day in which his wrath shall come on.
Brothers and sisters, today’s reading is like those from later in the book, from chapter 66, which we read on the very last day of Lent. I also can’t help but to remember St. Peter’s second epistle (3:2-7), that says: “… remember the predictions of the holy prophets and the commandment of the Lord and Savior through your apostles. First of all you must understand this, that scoffers will come in the last days with scoffing, following their own passions and saying, “Where is the promise of his coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all things have continued as they were from the beginning of creation.” They deliberately ignore this fact, that by the word of God heavens existed long ago, and an earth formed out of water and by means of water, through which the world that then existed was deluged with water and perished. But by the same word the heavens and earth that now exist have been stored up for fire, being kept until the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men.”
Indeed, many think that the Day of the Lord will not come, but Isaiah reminds us today that it will, and that we must prepare ourselves carefully for it.