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Tuesday, July 25, 2017

The Path to Peace (Isaiah 31-34)

He has in his hand 100 mL of reactor coolant. On the lab table sits a beaker with a small metal chimney. The teenage sailor's job requires him to deftly turn the 100 mL bottle into the metal chimney on the beaker. So long as the lip of the bottle is quickly under the top of the chimney, physics will prevent any coolant from spilling out. Hesitation results in radioactive fluid spilling over the chimney, onto the lab desk, and the relatively modest rad levels notwithstanding, spilling the fluid will result in an "spill" announcement and sounds of the ship's general alarm.

The sailor needed to trust in gravity and physics and smoothness. Isaiah discusses the need to trust, writing, "Woe to those who go down to Egypt for help, who rely on horses, who trust in the multitude of their chariots and in the great strength of their horsemen, but do not look to the Holy One of Israel, or seek help from the Lord."  Isaiah 31:1. It is not easy to trust so completely in that which is unseen.  
Curiously, Isaiah makes it clear that this call to trust in the unseen reaches the whole world. In Isaiah 34:2 he writes, "The Lord is angry with all nations; his wrath is on all their armies. He will totally destroy them, he will give them over to slaughter."  Note, too, that God's wrath is against nations, no just individual sinners.

The path to peace is provided well in Isaiah 32:16-17.  "The Lord’s justice will dwell in the desert, his righteousness live in the fertile field. The fruit of that righteousness will be peace; its effect will be quietness and confidence forever."  The process begins with JUSTICE.  You cannot have righteousness with justice, and justice does not permit inequity.  You will not achieve the divine quiet confident existence otherwise.

For the one in power, this seems insane.  However, like the sailor who timidly turns the bottle and ends up essentially pouring radioactive liquid into a very small chimney leading to a spill, the one who tries to give up only some power for justice will not achieve righteousness.  It requires a reckless faith.  Abandoning rational reliance in favor of faith.

Have you ever had to abandon rational thought to do what is right?  What paradoxical life lessons have you learned that others may not believe?


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