Isaiah is a prophet, one who sees reality as God inspires him to and who then speaks of that reality as God impels him to. Here Isaiah speaks of the changes that God will operate, and he describes those changes in three seamless stages.
At first Isaiah speaks of very clear changes in Lebanon and then gradually eases into smaller and less visible alterations: the deaf shall hear, etc. In the third stage he proclaims the end of evil: the tyrant, the arrogant, those alert to do evil, etc. shall disappear. Isaiah makes it clear that the Lord is actually working these positive transformations, right now; he announces and proclaims it in the very face of all the contrary evidence...
The last verses of this passage point to the result of God's work: the house of Jacob shall have all sorts of reasons to be healthy and fearless and to know and serve the Lord. This is something yet to come for his hearers, and it is still today only a hope (and I mean that in the theological sense, not as just a vague wish).
As Christians of today we find ourselves in much the same position. In terms of Isaiah's words, our world is becoming visibly less clean and fresh, and it needs renewal or recreation (cf. Wordsworth, "The world is too much with us"). We have all sorts of people wounded and broken in body and spirit, and not just "naturally" so, and can we say that evil men and women do not have a major hand in running our world? Jesus has come and changed everything by His living, dying, and rising, but we still wait in hope to see the fullness of His salvation.
So do Isaiah's words bring us to hope, to trusting the Lord even in our darkness and frustration? Are we willing to live the life of the beatitudes as we await the revelation of the Lord in our world?
If not, can we experience the coming feast of the Birth of Christ in any authentic way?
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