Fr. James' Lectionary

The Lectionary is both a reading program for completing all of Holy Scripture on a one year schedule, and a daily comment on a portion of the day's reading wedded to a poem to give an added perspective on the theme.

Location: Amherst, Virginia, United States

Friday, January 13, 2006

Heavenly Origins

Daily Readings
Psalm 11 Genesis 12 Isaiah 13 Acts 11

Daily Text: Isaiah 13

Heavenly Origins
What occurred in Isaiah 6 with the LORD in ‘heaven’ and the hem of his garment in the temple is repeated here. That the LORD is the prime mover is everywhere in scripture assumed. In chapter 6 it is God’s holiness. In chapter 13 it is again God’s holiness at issue. This time, however, God’s holiness is affronted by human sinfulness. Can God’s own creation be an affront and escape? The answer is clearly, ‘No.’ In Genesis, Noah alone is holy and God destroys the creation with one exception. In Isaiah 13 God destroys, not the creation, but the sinners that are fouling God’s creation. Babylon is the primary object, but not Babylon alone. In one of these five prophecies (13:6-8) Jerusalem is probably the original object and it may have been 587 B.C.
The Day of the LORD is a reoccurring theme in scripture, in Amos, Isaiah, Zephaniah, and with the Second Coming in the New Testament. Those who serve righteousness in their lives survive, those who serve evil are destroyed, regardless of nationality, and the prophet, or the editor, go from nation to nation with easy grace—it matters not. It is God’s world, and from this world is expected devotion and godly behavior.

The Destruction of Babylon

Lift up a banner on the lofty hill;
Let the loud trumpet every valley fill;
Call forth the tribes whose arms can wield the sword,
And let the chiefs and nobles hear the Lord!
“I, the Almighty, call; by my decree,
Ye are my ministers; go, fight for me!”—
Whence that deep roar, like thunder heard afar,
Or nations fiercely crowding to the war?—
‘Tis the tumultuous rush of countless bands,
That flock to execute the Lord’s commands;
With eager joy from climes remote they come,
Far as the extremest verge of heaven’s vast dome.
Howl, howl, O Babylon, and shriek for fear;
Howl! for the dreadful day of God is near.
Then hearts shall melt, arms faint, and strength decay;
Courage, like morning dreams, shall fade away,
With dread each man his fellow shall inspire,
And every eye dart forth consuming fire.
The firmament shall mourn in gloomiest night;
Nor sun, nor moon, nor stars shall shed their light;
The heavens shall tremble, the firm earth shall move,
At the fierce anger of the Lord above.
A man more scarce than purest gold shall be;
Not Ophir’s precious wedge more rare than he,
As flies the timid lamb or hunted roe
To its own herd—swift shall the stranger go.
For who remain shall die—not costliest gem
From the impending doom shall ransom them;
All, all must die. Proud Babylon shall stand
No more—a waste like tainted Sodom’s land.
On its cursed site shall spring no pasture green,
Nor Arab’s tent nor shepherd’s fold be seen;
Thither shall ravenous desert-beasts repair,
And owls shall shriek and satyrs gambol there.
In those gay halls, where minstrel notes now swell,
Shall howling wolves and hissing serpents dwell.

Collect for the Day
Kindle in us a passion for righteousness. Grant us the vision to see that only justice can endure, and that only in being just to one another can we make our lives acceptable to You. [471:686, Gates of Heaven]


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