16 Yahveh, in distress they have approached you; they poured out an whispering prayer, feeling your discipline upon them. 17 Like a pregnant woman at the time of giving birth, she writhes; she cries in her labor pains. So we were because of your presence, Yahveh. 18 We became pregnant, we writhed; we produced wind. We cannot bring about deliverance to the land, and no residents of the world are born from our efforts. 19 Your dead will live; my corpse will rise. Wake up and sing for joy, dust dwellers, for your dew is dew of light and the land will resurrect its ghosts. 20 Go, my people, enter into your chambers and shut your door behind you; hide for a little, a little while, until wrath has passed over. 21 Because, watch! Yahveh –about to emerge from his place to punish the iniquity of the resident of the land against him, and the land will disclose her blood and will no longer cover her slain.
He brings life
Isaiah uses two figures of speech to describe his people’s inability to help themselves in the midst of their crisis. They face annihilation by a foreign enemy because of God’s judgment for their immorality. But they are not able to affect the means of their own deliverance.
- When they weakly offered last-minute prayers, it was like coming to the point of delivering a child, only to produce wind.
- When the land around them was full of ghosts, so there was no hope of a deliverer emerging from among the people, God steps in and says that he is going to raise the dead.
By means of both figures of speech, Isaiah reminds his people that no matter what their condition, God is not helpless. When he so chooses, he will fulfill his promises. We cannot force him to act. He is under no obligation to regard our feeble attempts at last-minute repentance in order to prevent his judgment. But neither can we prevent him when he wants to raise the dead. The LORD stands as a constant island in a sea of uncertainties. The wise thing to do is put our trust in him, even when our situation seems hopeless.
LORD, we are watching. We trust you to bring life into our barrenness and deadness.