(Re)Build the Wall!

Isaiah 58:1-12 – The Fifth Sunday after Epiphany – for Sunday, February 5, 2017

“They will rebuild ancient ruins on your account; the foundations of generations past you will restore. You will be called Mender of Broken Walls, Restorer of Livable Streets.” (Isaiah 58:12)

The Western (or “Wailing) Wall in Jerusalem…

Was Isaiah 58:12 labeling God as the Mender of Broken Walls and the Redeemer of Livable Streets? After all, it’s capitalized in many translations . . . include the Common English Bible I use for lectionary readings.

Or was the Mender and Redeemer reference to those who truly, faithfully followed God’s will?

Mostly likely, the “label” stands for God’s faithful followers. This part of Isaiah—or more broadly speaking, the Old Testament’s prophetic tradition—involves the “return” of the Israelites to God’s covenant. In the case of passages from a book like Jeremiah, a return may be literal, as some of the concerns relate to physically trekking back home from exile in Babylon. Return is also metaphoric. How easy it was, and how often it happened (then or now), to turn away from God.

The 58th chapter in Isaiah is a strident call to return to honoring God.

Why? Because this was happening:

Yet on your fast day you do whatever you want

And oppress all of your workers.

You quarrel and brawl and then you fast

You hit each other violently with your fists. (Is. 58:3)

But let there be a “return” to God by: Continue reading →