Scripture: Isaiah 26:20-21
I know many of you are asking, “Why has God allowed the coronavirus to ravish the world?” You are wondering, “Why am I confined in my house?” “Why does God allow houses of worship to be impacted?”
If you’re not asking these questions, I am asking them for you. I don’t claim to know the answers to these questions. In my search for answers to these questions, I did find it on television. The CNN pundits didn’t know the answers. I didn’t hear it on the radio. The answers were not found in astrology. In my opinion, certainly, our elected oﬃcials didn’t know.
The answers to our deepest questions can be found in God’s Word. If we search long enough and seek God’s voice, God will speak. The Lord showed me Isaiah 26:20-21, Living Bible Version: “Go home, my people, and lock the doors! Hide for a little while until the Lord’s wrath against your enemies has passed. Look! The Lord is coming from the heavens to punish the people of the earth for their sins. The earth will no longer hide the murderers. The guilty will be found.” Go home.
Isaiah 26 is a prophetic word from the Lord, through the prophet Isaiah, to God’s people — Israel. In this three-part prophetic word of prophecy, Isaiah delivered a word of hope to the people.
Part 1, Isaiah 26:1-15, is a song of praise for God’s deliverance. It is preceded by another song of praise in chapter 25. A song of praise celebrates God’s deliverance from judgment. This was a prophecy to assure the people of God’s future blessings. This song of praise assured the people that they would be delivered.
That right there ought to say something to someone. No matter what you are going through, if you are a child of God, you ought to have a song of praise for God’s deliverance.
The three Hebrews boys (Daniel 3) in the fiery furnace had a song of praise for God’s deliverance. “King, O king, we will not bow down and worship your idol. Our God is able to deliver us from the fiery furnace. But, even if God doesn’t, our God is still able.”
Daniel, in the lion’s den (Daniel 6) had a song for praise for God’s deliverance. The Lord sent an angel to shut the lion’s mouth. He sang a lullaby to the lions and made a pillow out of them.
Queen Esther (Esther 4) had a song of praise for God’s deliverance of her people: “If I perish, I perish!” You must have a song of praise for God’s deliverance.
Part 2, Isaiah 26:16-18, Isaiah spoke to the Lord on behalf of God’s people. Isaiah’s case for the people to the Lord in verse 16 reads, “Lord, in their distress they sought for you. When your punishment was on them, they poured forth a whispered prayer.”
In Judges 6:6, Israel cried out to the Lord for help because of the Midianites’ oppression. Israel lived in caves and dens in the mountains. When Israel planted crops, the Midianites, Amalekites and other eastern neighboring nations came and destroyed their crops and plundered the countryside. They took all their sheep, oxen, and donkeys. These enemy hoarders stayed until the land was completely stripped and devastated. Israel lived in abject poverty.
This same thing is happening to Black America. We are losing our neighborhoods. Is it gentrification or greed? Our people live in the streets. We can’t even buy toilet paper and bottled water.
Only 10 at a time can assemble in our houses of worship. We could lose our church buildings and the land they sit on. If churches can’t pay the mortgage or rent, the lending institutions will foreclose on the buildings and landlords will evict tenants. If church members can’t work, tithes and oﬀerings won’t come into the church.
God’s church is not the building. It’s the people in the building. Doors to the church will remain open because we will continue to worship the Lord our God!
But, the Lord not only wants our worship, God wants our work. The church — the people of God -are called to serve others. When people are hungry, give them something to eat. When people are thirsty, give them something to drink. When people are homeless, invited them in. When people are naked, clothe them. When people are sick, looked after them. Call them. When people are in prison, visit them. This is what the church looks like!
We don’t want to lose our building. So, please pay your tithe and oﬀerings — whatever you can. We don’t want anyone to go without food, so let your church family know your need. Let the church be the church!
Isaiah’s continued to present Israel’s case to the Lord in verse 16 and 18: “How we missed your presence, Lord! We suﬀered as a woman giving birth who cries and writhes in pain. We too have writhed in agony, but all to no avail. No deliverance has come from all our eﬀorts.”
But, the Lord allowed the Midianites to harass Israel because the people of Israel began once again to worship other gods. Church people — bishops, popes, presiding elders, pastors, ministers, stewards, deacons, trustees, choir members, ushers, pew members — we better check ourselves before we wreck ourselves!
If we want God to do something in this situation, the church better obey the word of God found in 2 Chronicles 7:13-14: “When I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or command locusts to devour the land or send a plague among my people, if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.”
Then, God’s eyes will be open and God’s ears will be attentive to our prayers. Go home!
Part 3, Isaiah 26:19-21, Isaiah spoke a word of reassurance to God’s people. “Yet we have this assurance: Those who belong to God shall live again. Their bodies shall rise again! Restoration will come! O people, God is going to open our graves and bring us up from them.”
God is going to restore our land — starting with the family, friends, church family, community, city, state, United States, the world, humanity! This is our hope!
Those who dwell in the dust shall awake and sing for joy! For God’s light of life will fall like dew upon them! It is God’s desire to always be in covenant relationship with His people.
Isaiah called the nation to repentance and to faith in a holy, all-powerful God. “Go home, my people, and lock the doors! Hide for a little while until the Lord’s wrath against your enemies has passed. The Lord will punish the rulers, the authorities, the powers of this dark world and the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. The Lord will punish and the kings on the earth below. They will be herded together like prisoners bound in a dungeon; they will be shut up in prison.”
No matter what you’re going through, (1) reprise: sing a song of praise for God’s deliverance, (2) repent: cry out to the Lord; pray and ask for forgiveness, and (3) relax: relax your body, mind and soul.
Go home. Stay home. Rest. Stop worrying. Listen to your to your body. Listen to the Spirit saying, “The battle is not yours. It’s the Lord’s!”
Go home. Stay home. Be at home. Read your Bible, relate to your family, renew old friendships, reconnect with neighbors, live righteously before God and let God restore your soul.
The Rev. Dr. Mary S. Minor is the senior pastor of Brookins-Kirkland Community AME Church, 3719 W. Slauson Ave., in Los Angeles, (323) 296-5610.