Our Bible readings today provoked lots of thoughts. Isaiah 33 is quite a mix and could be regarded as 2 or 3 short sections. Verse 2 is a delightful prayer, ideal for the start the day, “O LORD, be gracious to us; we wait for you. Be our arm every morning, our salvation in time of trouble”. A hymn we sing has the line ‘we have no other arm to lean upon’ – and our daily reading and meditation on God’s word should cause us to appreciate the unlimited strength of that arm.

How much the people needed the arm of the Lord in the troublous times of Isaiah, when “the envoys of peace weep bitterly” (verse 7). That is also the case today, if not in weeping, at least in frustration. Isaiah observes that “trembling has seized the godless” (verse 14) which is happening in some places today – but it takes our thoughts to the plight of the godless Israelites in Judges. Many of these were worshipping God’s of human imagination, especially Baal and “made for themselves the dens that are in the mountains and the caves and the strongholds” (6:2) and Gideon “was beating out wheat in the winepress to hide it from the Midianites” (verse 11).

Back in Isaiah we are buoyed by the positive vision of verses 5 and 6, “The LORD is exalted, for he dwells on high; he will fill Zion with justice and righteousness, and he will be the stability of your times, abundance of salvation, wisdom and knowledge; the fear of the LORD is Zion’s treasure”.

When good kings such as Hezekiah and Josiah came to the throne, or good judges controlled Israel, there were times of stability but Isaiah is seeing beyond this to a time when “He (and she) who walks and speaks uprightly … and shuts his eyes from looking at evil … will see no more the insolent people … your eyes will see Jerusalem, an untroubled habitation, in immovable tent … there the LORD in majesty will be for us … the people who dwell there will be forgiven their iniquity” (verses 15,19-21,24).

They will experience “a harvest of righteousness” which has been “sown in peace by those who make peace” during their lives – as we read in James 3:14. And how do we sow in peace now? James tells us, “the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits …” (verse 17). Let us ‘sow’, and in due time we will ‘reap’.