A note – the last devotional was incorrectly labeled, and actually came from Isaiah 35:1-10! I had accidentally skipped the previous passage, Isaiah 34:11-17. And so I’m going to backtrack and cover the previous passage because I think it’s definitely worth it…sorry for any confusion!
11 The desert owl and screech owl will possess it;
the great owl and the raven will nest there.
God will stretch out over Edom
the measuring line of chaos
and the plumb line of desolation.
12 Her nobles will have nothing there to be called a kingdom,
all her princes will vanish away.
13 Thorns will overrun her citadels,
nettles and brambles her strongholds.
She will become a haunt for jackals,
a home for owls.
14 Desert creatures will meet with hyenas,
and wild goats will bleat to each other;
there the night creatures will also repose
and find for themselves places of rest.
15 The owl will nest there and lay eggs,
she will hatch them, and care for her young under the shadow of her wings;
there also the falcons will gather,
each with its mate.
16 Look in the scroll of the LORD and read:
None of these will be missing,
not one will lack her mate.
For it is his mouth that has given the order,
and his Spirit will gather them together.
17 He allots their portions;
his hand distributes them by measure.
They will possess it forever
and dwell there from generation to generation.
At the very beginning of this passage, it uses the word herem in verse 2, which means “devoted to the Lord in destruction”. This was a topic that we looked at in depth when we first started this devotional (over 1 year ago!!). It is not a very common word, but is hugely important and controversial because it is difficult to comprehend that a loving and just God would will the destruction of anything, especially human beings… And as we found out last year, there is no simple answer to this issue, unfortunately.
But the passage makes a subtle shift in verse 11, that the destruction referenced earlier actually results in new life, that birds and wildlife will retake that which has been destroyed, and find rest there. And the end of the passage makes it clear that this new life that emerges is no accident, but is part of the order that God had ordained. And what’s more, when we read on into chapter 35, this destruction from chapter 34 finally results in gladness, rejoicing, and joy! (35:1)
In this, we find another way to understand the concept of herem, when God destroys – that he destroys in order to create new things, or to redeem old ones. This may seem hopelessly optimistic, but there is a solid logic to it. Built into the very order of nature is the fact that all life which dies creates room and provides life to the next generation. Jesus makes reference to this idea in John 12, that a grain has to fall to the earth and die in order to produce an abundance. And this was a foreshadowing to the most important example of all, how the death of Christ results in new life for all of creation.
So when God destroys, even in our own lives, it is not the whole of the story but only part – He destroys so that He might do something new and better instead.
1. What has God destroyed in your life? What new thing is he doing through that act?
2. Sometimes God destroys things that we should have gotten rid of ourselves – is there something in your life which should be destroyed so that God doesn’t have to do it the hard way, like a sin, a grudge, a habit?
3. Even when know of God’s greater purposes, the moment that we lose something is still traumatic – so how can we keep our hearts and minds on the larger things that God might be doing?