Lost In The Fog
The imagery in this verse is very familiar to me. Living by the sea, the mornings are often draped with heavy fog and mist. On those mornings the air is hushed and still. From the depths of the gloom, you can hear the fog horns of the big ships and the ferries warning each other of their whereabouts. Everything feels closed in, heavy, and eery. This is the metaphor that the prophet uses here in this verse.
The prophet in this section of the Book of Isaiah is addressing the Judeans just before they were about to be liberated from their Babylonian captivity. The Judeans had been conquered and exiled to Babylon because they had fallen away from God. They had lost sight of what God had done for them and they had become lost in the fog of idol worship. Over the long dark time of their captivity they had begun to come back to the Lord. But at the same time the prophet is warning them not to make the same mistakes that had brought them into exile in the first place, that is, following other gods. Today’s passage comes at the end of a long satire on the worship of idols (verses 9-20). The prophet writes, “Those who fashion idols are all nothing, their precious works are of no avail…This thing in my right hand—is it not a fraud?” Worshiping idols (of any kind) is like a fog that separates and blinds us from the sun of the One True God.
Are we not often lost in the fog of our own mistakes, our own idols? Wandering in this fog, we are only able to see our own desires, we act only on behalf of our own selfish interests, not seeing or caring about the terrible consequences of our actions on others. We are like ships in the fog, unable to see the dangers all around us. And still, God, like the sun, is above all this fog. He sees through it and he is moved by his love, to redeem us from our offenses. The prophet, speaking for God, tells the people, “I have swept away your offenses like a cloud, your sins like the morning mist.” But he adds a further admonition writing, “Return to me, for I have redeemed you.”
This final sentence carries a whole new significance for Christians, for it recognizes that God has done something for us that is beyond our wildest imaginations; he has redeemed us through the death and resurrection of his only begotten Son, Jesus Christ. He redeemed all of humanity from the hopeless fog and exile of sin and death. But this is not a gratuitous gift. It is a gift that requires our willing response. We are challenged to recognize that though we have been redeemed from the fog of false gods, we are still capable of backsliding, of falling off the wagon. The final redemption has been accomplished. It happened once, for all time, and for all people. He will not take it away. Now, it is up to us to make the conscious, humble effort to “return” to God joyfully and willingly every day. For those who believe, this duty is a matter of joy. To return to the light of God, to experience and realize that the clouds and mist of sin have been swept away, is the source of our joy. Knowing this, is it not be the height of foolishness to return to the fog, rather than to continue joyfully into the fresh, cleansing wind of God’s mercy?
Lord, we desire with all of our being to return to you every day in thanksgiving for the loving kindness you have shown us in Christ Jesus. We give you our joyful thanks for sweeping away the clouds and the blinding mists of our failings. Give us the graces we need to always seek to do your will before all else. We ask this in the name of Jesus. Amen!
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