Do not be afraid (Jer 30:10-30:11)

“Yahweh says.

‘As for you!

Have no fear!

My servant Jacob!

Do not be dismayed!

O Israel!

I am going to save you

From far away.

I will save your offspring

From the land

Of their captivity.

Jacob shall return.

They shall have quiet.

They shall have ease.

No one shall make them afraid.

I am with you!

I will save you!’

Says Yahweh.

‘I will make an end

Of all the nations

Among whom

I have scattered you.

But of you,

I will not make an end.

I will chastise you

In just measure.

I will by no means

Leave you unpunished.’”

Yahweh, via Jeremiah, said that Israel or Jacob did not have to fear or be dismayed. Yahweh was going to save them and their offspring from their captivity, even though he was far away. They would return and have peace and quiet. No one would make them afraid, because Yahweh was with them. He was going to bring an end to all the nations where the Israelites had been scattered. These countries would come to an end, but the Israelites would not come to an end. The Israelites were going to be chastised, but in a just measure, since they would not escape unpunished.

God is near and powerful (Jer 23:23-23:24)

“‘Am I a God nearby?’

Says Yahweh.

‘Am I not a God far off?

Who can hide

In secret places

So that I cannot see them?’

Says Yahweh.

‘Do I not fill heaven and earth?’

Says Yahweh.”

There seems to be 3 oracles of Yahweh about his power and presence. First God, Yahweh, is near, close, or immanent. Secondly, he is far away, distant or transcendent. People cannot hide in secret places from him, since he can see them wherever they are. Finally, he fills both heaven and earth, since God is both omnipresent and omniscient.

The coming invading destruction (Jer 5:14-5:17)

“Therefore thus says Yahweh!

The God of hosts!

‘Because they have spoken this word,

I am making my words

In your mouth a fire.

This people shall be wood.

The fire shall devour them.

I am going to bring upon you

A nation from far away.

O house of Israel!’

Says Yahweh.

‘It is an enduring nation,

It is an ancient nation,

It is a nation whose language

You do not know.

You cannot understand what they say.

Their quiver is

Like an open tomb.

All of them are mighty warriors.

They shall eat up your harvest.

They shall eat your food.

They shall eat up your sons.

They shall eat up your daughters.

They shall eat up your flocks.

They shall eat up your herds.

They shall eat up your vines.

They shall eat up your fig trees.

They shall destroy with the sword

Your fortified cities

In which you trust.’”

Yahweh tells Jeremiah about the impending destructive invasion. They would be set on fire from their mouths. A nation from far away would come upon the house of Israel. They would not understand the language of this ancient enduring nation. This nation’s mighty warriors had many arrows to hit them. They would come and eat up the food of their harvest. They would devour their sons and daughters. They would eat up their flocks, herds, vines, and fig trees. They would destroy their trusted fortified cities with the sword. Destruction was coming.

The happy reunion (Isa 60:4-60:5)

“Lift up your eyes!

Look around!

They all gather together.

They come to you.

Your sons

Shall come from far away.

Your daughters

Shall be carried on their nurse’s arms.

Then you shall see.

You shall be radiant.

Your heart shall thrill.

Your heart shall rejoice.

Because the abundance of the sea

Shall be brought to you.

The wealth of the nations

Shall come to you.”

Jerusalem should lift up its eyes. They should look around and see all the people coming together. Their sons were coming from far away. Their daughters were being carried by their nurses. There will be rejoicing because of the abundance of the sea and the wealth that they are bringing back to Jerusalem.

The confession of sins (Isa 59:12-59:15)

“Our transgressions before you are many.

Our sins testify against us.

Our transgressions indeed are with us.

We know our iniquities.

We have transgressed Yahweh.

We have denied Yahweh.

We have turned away

From following our God.

We talk oppression.

We talk revolt.

We conceive lying words.

We utter them from our hearts.

Justice is turned back.

Righteousness stands at a distance.

Truth stumbles in the public square.

Uprightness cannot enter.

Truth is lacking.

Whoever turns from evil is despoiled.”

Third Isaiah seems to have a community confession or acknowledgement of sins. They have committed many transgressions, since their sins will testify against them. They know that they have denied God. They have tried to turn away from him, as they wanted to revolt. They lied from their hearts. They have turned back justice since righteousness is now far away. There is no truth in the public squares, no uprightness. Anyone who turns from evil is attacked.

Blind darkness (Isa 59:9-59:11)

“Therefore justice is far from us.

Righteousness does not reach us.

We look for light.

See!

There is darkness.

We look for brightness.

But we walk in gloom.

We grope along the wall

Like the blind.

We grope

Like those who have no eyes.

We stumble at noon

As in the twilight.

Among the vigorous,

We are like dead.

We all growl like bears.

We moan mournfully like doves.

We wait for justice,

But there is none.

We wait for salvation,

But it is far from us.”

Third Isaiah paints the Israelite community as in a blind darkness. There was no justice or righteousness. They were waiting for light, but there was only darkness. They wanted brightness, but they only had gloom. They were like blind people groping along a wall, as if they had no eyes. They stumbled at noon as if it was twilight. They were like dead people among vigorous live people. They were growling like bears and mourning like doves. They were waiting for justice and salvation, but there was nothing near, only far away things. They were in a dark place.

The call of the prophet (Isa 49:1-49:2)

“Listen to me!

O coastlands!

Pay attention!

You people from far away!

Yahweh called me

Before I was born.

While I was in my mother’s womb,

He named me.

He made my mouth

Like a sharp sword.

In the shadow of his hand,

He hid me.

He made me a polished arrow.

In his quiver,

He hid me away.”

In this second chant of the servant of Yahweh, Second Isaiah has this servant speak about how he was called to be a prophet while still in the womb. Once again, the main theme was to listen up and pay attention, but this time the intended listeners are the coastline towns of the Mediterranean Sea, and those far away. Perhaps this alludes to the calling of the prophet Isaiah, but he is not explicitly named here. Nevertheless, this servant was named while still in the womb. He had been given a sharp tongue for his mouth, while he was hidden in the shadow of Yahweh’s hand. He was like a polished arrow hidden in the quiver of the other arrows.

 

Salvation is in Israel (Isa 46:12-46:13)

“Listen to me!

You stubborn of heart!

You who are far from deliverance!

I bring near my deliverance.

It is not far off.

My salvation will not tarry.

I will put salvation in Zion

For Israel,

My glory.”

Second Isaiah continues with the theme of listening to Yahweh. These stubborn hearted people were far from deliverance. However, Yahweh was going to bring his deliverance soon, since it was not far away. He was going to put salvation in Zion and glorify Israel. Salvation was at hand.

Watch out sinners (Isa 33:13-33:14)

“Hear!

You who are far away!

What I have done!

You who are near!

Acknowledge my might!

The sinners in Zion

Are afraid.

Trembling has seized the godless.

‘Who among us can live

With the devouring fire?

Who among us can live

With these everlasting flames?’”

Isaiah has Yahweh ask the Israelites to listen, just as he had done. If they are far away, can they see what he has done? If they are near, then they should acknowledge Yahweh’s might. The sinners at Mount Zion are afraid. The godless are trembling. They seem to ask how they can live with this devouring fire and these everlasting flames.

The invasion of Assyria (Isa 5:26-5:30)

“Yahweh will raise a signal

For a nation far away.

He will whistle for a people

At the ends of the earth.

Here they come!

Swiftly!

Speedily!

None are weary.

None stumbles.

None slumbers.

None sleeps.

Not a loin cloth is loose.

Not a sandal-thong broken.

Their arrows are sharp.

All their bows bent.

Their horses’ hoofs seem like flint.

Their wheels seem like the whirlwind.

Their roaring is like a lion.

Like young lions,

They roar.

They growl.

They seize their prey.

They carry it off.

None can rescue it.

They will roar over it

On that day,

Like the roaring of the sea.

If one looks to the land,

There is only darkness.

There is only distress.

The light grows dark

With clouds.”

This oracle of Isaiah probably refers to one of the various Assyrian invasions of Judah and Jerusalem between 735-701 BCE. The nation from far away may be the Babylonians who will execute God’s judgment on them. These invaders are actually acting on Yahweh’s behalf since he gave them a signal and a whistle. They are going to come speedily, swiftly, not stumbling, sleeping, or growing weary. Their loin clothes and sandals are tight and ready to go. Their spears, bows and arrows, as well as horses are on the move. They roar like a lion about to eat its prey. They roar like a sea storm about to hit land. There will be darkness and distress, as everything will be cloudy.