January 17, 2016

Sunday
Isaiah 13:1-22

Chapter 13 begins a section of Isaiah containing oracles or prophecies against foreign countries that surround Israel and Judah. Today’s reading focuses on Babylon, stating God will destroy the empire and make its lands uninhabitable. Twice in Isaiah 13 (13:6, 9), the phrase “Day of the Lord” appears. Throughout the Prophets, this is a popular phrase to describe the Lord’s judgment. As New Testament Christ-followers, we think of the "Day of the Lord” or the coming of the Lord as being a great day—something to look forward to. This passage, as well as passages in Joel, Obadiah, and Amos, would disagree. It means judgment and destruction.

So is the “Day of the Lord” good or bad? The short answer is yes. The “Day of the Lord” in the Prophets has a parallel in the Gospels. In Matthew 3:2 and Mark 1:15, John the Baptist and Jesus, respectively, tell the people to “repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand.” If you take this advice and turn from your sin and follow Jesus, the Day of the Lord will be a great day. If you are like Babylon and have not turned from evil, then it will be a day of agony.

In Isaiah, the destruction of the nations was tumultuous. The Day of the Lord described in the Prophets was devastating. That is the future for people who do not heed the message of the Gospels. Do not allow yourself or your friends, family, and neighbors to have that end. Heed the advice of the Gospel writers: “The time is fulfilled, and the Kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe” (Mark 1:15).