The Word Made Fresh
1Who is this that comes from Edom,
and from Bozrah, dressed in crimson clothing?
Who is this, dressed so richly, marching mightily?
“It is I, announcing salvation, and strong enough to save.”
2“Why are your robes red, like those who tread the wine press?”
3“I have trodden the wine press alone.
None of the people would help me.
I trod them in anger and stomped on them in my wrath.
That is why their juice splattered on my clothes
and stained my robes.
4My heart longed for the day of revenge,
and the year for my redeeming help to come.
5I searched, but there were none to help.
I looked, but there was no one to join me;
so, my victory was gained by my own arm,
and my anger kept me going.
6I trampled people in anger and crushed them.
I poured their blood on the ground.”
7I will tell others about the good things the LORD has done.
I will tell about the LORD’s deeds that are worthy of praise
because of everything the LORD has done for us –
the great favors done for the family of Israel,
mercifully given to them in ongoing love.
8God said, “Yes, they are my people,
my own children who will not treat others falsely.”
And God became their savior
9during all their troubles.
It was not some other messenger or angel,
but God who saved them.
God rescued them, loved and pitied them.
God raised them up and carried them in the olden days.
10But they rebelled and brought grief to God’s holy spirit,
and God became their enemy and fought against them.
11Then they remembered the old days.
They remembered God’s servant, Moses.
They remembered that God brought them up out of the sea
with the leaders who shepherded God’s flock.
Where is the One who gave them the Holy Spirit?
Who brought them out of the sea with their shepherds?
Where is the One who gave them the Holy Spirit
12and joined them, marching at Moses’ right hand;
the One who divided the waters blocking their path
in order to create a lasting name for their God –
13the very One who led them through the deep sea?
And like a horse in the desert, they didn’t stumble.
14Like the cattle going into the valley,
the LORD gave them relief.
You led your people and made a glorious name for yourself.
15Look down, then, from heaven
and watch them from your sacred and glorious home.
Where are your zeal and strength?
Where are the yearnings of your heart and your compassion?
They are being withheld from me.
16You are our father. Abraham doesn’t know who we are,
and Israel pays no attention to us.
But you, LORD, are our father,
our redeemer of old – that is who you are.
17Why, then, do you make us wander away from you
and harden our hearts so that we have no fear of you?
Turn back for our sake –
for the sake of the tribes that are your heritage.
18Your holy people possessed the land for a little while,
but now our enemies have spoiled your sanctuary.
19For a long time now we have been like people you do not rule,
like those who are not called by your name.
1-6: During the days after the sacking of Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar, the Edomites (Israel’s neighbor to the east) raided and looted at will. Isaiah can’t seem to resist taking one last parting shot at them. These verses are presented as a confrontation between a sentinel guarding the border between Israel and Edom and an approaching figure. The guard calls out, “Who are you?” The response is simply, “It is I,” and there should be no doubt in the readers mind that this is God, the “I am” of the Torah. God has been “trampling the grapes,” so to speak, referring to the ravaging of Edom. The explanation begins with the metaphor of the wine press and ends with a graphic description of the bloodletting.
7-14: Isaiah recites the history of his people with God. God claimed them for his very own and “carried them in the days of old,” but they rebelled and became God’s enemies. Then they remembered their history, how God brought them across the Red Sea, and how God accompanied them with Moses through the wilderness.
15-19: Isaiah makes confession for his people and pleads with God for forgiveness. There is a hint (a rather typical Oriental way of thinking) that God is somewhat responsible for their troubles — has hardened their hearts so they would not so quickly and easily turn back to God.
God has brought us through many a trial – individually and collectively. There have been wars and pandemics, and although many have perished, those of us who remain are blessed. God has brought us through difficult days and bids us to walk into the future in God’s company. We sinned; God saves. Rejoice!