Isaiah 42 is a long poetic reflection on God’s purpose for Israel. Today’s passage comes from a section that expresses a whole new “song” to be sung to the Lord. The people once again see God active in the destiny of Israel. They are told here of his purpose, that is, to remove all of the obstacles that hinder the exiled Jews from returning to their homeland.
Those who are lost, whether that be physically, or spiritually are, in a real way, blind. They cannot find their way. Some have been blind so long that they might not recognize the way at all without a guide. Some have been blind all along and not realized it. Plato’s Allegory of the Cave comes to mind here. They have been looking at mere shadows and calling them reality. They have never seen the light. In this passage, Isaiah speaks for the Lord when he says, “And I will lead the blind in a way that they do not know, in paths that they have not known I will guide them.” These words, of course, were directed to the Jews in exile, but it has much to say to us as well.
Because we are all sinners we are, to varying degrees, blind. We are blinded by the temptations that we give in to, or by our own egos and false pride. The worst thing is that when we are lost in the grip of false pride, we do not even realize that we are blind. But blind we are, and in serious need of a guide who is compassionate, patient and kind, slow to anger, and rich in mercy. This is the nature of God.
The world has made so many idols out of material and finite things. Those who give themselves over to these things are lost. They wander in a wasteland moving only from one illusion to another, never satisfied, always unfulfilled. But worse, if they do not let go of their false pride, become humble enough to put their hand into the hand of God, they may be lost forever. Yet, God waits. He is always ready to lead us out of our darkness. In his infinite compassion, “he is the dawn that has broken upon us to shine on those who dwell in darkness and in the shadow of death, who will guide our feet onto the paths of peace” (Luke 1:78-79). He is the only one who knows that path. He has promised to be our guide. Do we have the faith to believe him and the courage to put our hands into his, and to let him lead us out of the darkness of our ignorance and unbelief? If so, he will take us by the hand and lead us faithfully on that path that we have not known. He will guide us home. Thanks be to God!
Lord, We are lost and wish to be found. Deepen our trust in you so that we may willingly follow you out of the darkness of our sins into the light of your righteousness. We pray this in your name, Jesus. Amen!
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