This prophet in the school of Isaiah brought God’s consoling word to the people of Israel in exile in Assyria. The roles the people have been playing in exile will be reversed when God brings them home again to their own land. As they were foreigners in a foreign land, tending the vines and flocks of their conquerors and being forced to worship in their temples, so when they are brought home, they will watch as strangers feed their flocks and worship in the restored temple of the Lord. But there will be one great change. The shame heaped upon Israel for its sins will end with their return, and the foreigners will stream willingly to the services of God and God’s people. Joy in place of shame in God’s gracious glorious exchange!
Jesus claimed this chapter as his mission statement when he returned to the Nazareth synagogue after his trial in the wilderness. (Luke 4:16ff) Thus when we grieve our social exile in this age, we can look with faith at the fulfilment of this promise in Christ. For already in our relationship with Jesus we experience the invisible homecoming, and already we see the righteousness of faith sprouting up in every nation in the universal church.
Jesus, help me believe so that righteousness sprouts around me. Amen. — RB