8 The Lord has sent out a word against Jacob, and it fell on Israel. 9 And all of the people knew it, Ephraim and the inhabitants of Samaria in pride and arrogance of heart, saying, 10 “bricks have fallen, but we will rebuild using dressed stone; sycamore-fig trees were felled, but we will replant cedars.” 11 So Yahveh strengthened the adversaries of Rezin against him, and he provoked his enemies—12 Aram from east and Philistine from west– and they devoured Israel with the whole mouth. He has not turned away his anger in all of this, and his hand is still stretched out.
rebuilding and replanting
Isaiah calls his God Yahveh of armies. His powerful work is seen in devastated lands, engulfed in the terror of warfare, and left destroyed after the battles are done. But Isaiah looks at his own people and sees them stubbornly refusing to accept God’s message to them, a message he sent them by means of invading armies! He wants them to look at these invading pagans as a sign of God’s judgment, and turn from their paganism, idolatry and injustice. Instead, they just pick up the pieces when each battle is over, rebuild, replant, repeat.
So, God, who is always faithful to himself, picks up the same attitude. Isaiah speaks of the devastation that is going to come upon the holy land in four sections, and he concludes each section with a picture of God’s hand, still stretched out in judgment, because the people are not getting the message.
The Father of our Lord Jesus Christ is still Yahveh of armies. He wants to show us his love and grace, and bring us to the light, the way he did Galilee. But his hand can still stretch out in judgment, if that is what it will take for his own people to listen. Even though he does so with tears in his eyes, our God can still send the armies.
LORD, before we decide to rebuild again, help us to listen to find out whether the disaster was a message from you.
 9:12, 17, 21; 10:4.