I copied the passage in Sharpie and stuck it to our closet with a picture of an imposing, glorious, and very established mountain. We look at it daily. It prickles and penetrates my heart because we feel like we're living with some very strong mountains in our family. I am just waiting for them to land at the bottom of the sea, somewhere near all my sin. I laugh when I look at the words, certain that they are the reality and wondering what they mean and if it will happen today or tomorrow or...
well, just how much longer will we have to wait?
Yesterday, I was reading and praying and soaking in God's words through the prophet Isaiah. Words of hope, rebuke, justice, restoration, comfort and promise. And I came across this:
"Fear not, you worm Jacob,
you men of Israel!
I am the one who helps you, declares the Lord;
your Redeemer is the Holy One of Israel.
Behold, I make of you a threshing sledge,
new, sharp, and having teeth;
you shall thresh the mountains and crush them,
and you shall make the hills like chaff;
you shall winnow them, and the wind shall carry them away,
and the tempest shall scatter them.
And you shall rejoice in the Lord;
in the Holy One of Israel you shall glory."
Definitions of thresh, crush, winnow and scatter include: thrash; deform, pulverize, or force inwards by compressing forcefully; violently subdue; remove things from a group until only the best ones are left; throw in various random directions.
What can God mean here? I cannot pretend to get this. I'm only on the front end of starting to explore. But what I read, stops me. I ran in the bedroom and re-read the Mark passage. I ran back to the couch and looked at Isaiah. I ran back and looked at Mark and held up and re-read Isaiah.
I get that I'm told to speak and believe. Honestly, even that felt wild enough...
But is Isaiah saying that I have the opportunity to join in violently subduing, deforming, pulverizing and winnowing these same mountains?
The repeated theme of clearing land, making straight, flat, evened ground is talking about making way for God. Jesus himself is the way (the path), the truth, the life; he is how we come to God. And a primary route is through repentance. Remember at the beginning of the gospels, John yelling in the wilderness? He said, 'Repent! Prepare the way of the Lord!' This is good news!
The Mark and Isaiah passages are strikingly similar. There's the acknowledged tragedy, the call to faith in God and then the proposed action which involves long-established, natural, enormous land structures being utterly demolished. Does anyone else notice that this is crazy?!! It's super easy to be familiar and unhearing. But it's also stupid to be so familiar that we're not blown over by this. (And I think this is part of the point that God is trying to communicate in both of these contexts.) Why are we so casual about this concept?
So, like I say, I don't get it. But I want to. My questions are these: What is going on here? And how can I join in?