2 On that day the branch of the LORD shall be beautiful and glorious, and the fruit of the land shall be the pride and glory of the survivors of Israel. 3 Whoever is left in Zion and remains in Jerusalem will be called holy, everyone who has been recorded for life in Jerusalem, 4 once the LORD has washed away the filth of the daughters of Zion and cleansed the bloodstains of Jerusalem from its midst by a spirit of judgment and by a spirit of burning. 5 Then the LORD will create over the whole site of Mount Zion and over its places of assembly a cloud by day and smoke and the shining of a flaming fire by night. Indeed over all the glory there will be a canopy. 6 It will serve as a pavilion, a shade by day from the heat, and a refuge and a shelter from the storm and rain.
Our weather is so different from the people of the biblical Holy Land. We want the sun and the blue skies. We know we need the clouds and some rain, but we usually prefer sunny days. If we lived in a desert, we would be thankful for the clouds. With our huge supply of artificial light, we are less mindful of how dark it can be at night, and frightening, if the stars are not shining. Doesn’t the difference between their world and our world help to explain why these images were so meaningful? God was inspiring the prophet Isaiah to proclaim the day of the Lord that will usher in a new era in which God will provide shelter for his people.
What images would we use to describe the shelter we wish God to provide? One image could be of a watchmaker. Here is an idea: “I am the Lord your God, and I will create the clock of time that watches over your life. It will run at the right speed, neither too quickly for those who are older, nor too slow for those who are younger. It will mark the time in your life so that you can enjoy the life that I am giving to you and find purpose in it.”
Here is another idea, that of a computer filter: “I, am the Lord your God, and I will filter out all the unnecessary messages you are receiving in your life. I will keep them far from you so that you can focus on your loved ones and the important messages you wish to receive from them, and to send to them.”
We have homes and other strong buildings that protect us from the weather. We have electric lights that enable us to see in the dark. We can lose control of our calendars, our clocks, and our times. We can focus on the trivial and lose sight of what is truly important. As we experience this Advent season leading up to Christmas, may we all permit God to guide our lives in such a way that we use our time wisely and focus on our loved ones in the days ahead.
Dear Lord God, thank you for sending your Son to us as our Savior. May each one us accept his guidance and your guidance for our lives. Thank you for these times in our lives, and the people with whom we get to share them. In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.