They will not hunger or thirst,
Nor will the scorching heat or sun strike them down;
For He who has compassion on them will lead them
And will guide them to springs of water.- Isaiah 49:10
Scorching summer heat, burning rhetoric (on about any topic you can name) - our lives are embroiled in heat on almost every level. This must be what captivity feels like. When you’re not able to find any relief from the discomfort of what is now called your life.
In the 49th chapter of Isaiah, the second of the servant songs, an unnamed prophet tells of his beginning (The LORD has called me from the womb; from the bowels of my mother has he made mention of my name) and goes on to tell of his mission to restore the nation.
But restoration will not come from military or political force. And it will not come to the people one would most expect to “win.” It will come to the Gentiles.
The word “Gentiles” means outsiders, peoples, or nations. In today’s world, who are the outsiders? Who are the peoples or nations that don’t count from many people’s point of view?
Despite being under Babylonian rule, the Israelites were promised One who would assuage their hungers and thirst. The One of compassion would come to them, not in military might. Not after a hard-fought election. This One would find another way.
The life and teachings of Jesus have been called by some the Third Way. It is a way of approaching life very differently than through power and control. It is the way of love, justice, and equality. Acceptance of and compassion for the outsider is key. Seeing the other as a brother or sister helps us to work toward ensuring that their dignity and needs are met, because we are of one human family.
As followers of Jesus and his Third Way, we have a role to play in helping the outsiders in our community and nation find their place in the human family. With God’s help we can show the deep compassion they have gone without for far too long. We can also guide them to springs of water to slake their thirst for justice and equality.
The road will be hard and long. We may not feel equal to the task. But as the saying goes, “God does not call the qualified, God qualifies the called.”
May the cooling wind of the Spirit refresh you during these broiling days and all the days ahead.