Isaiah 51:17-23

This is the second of three ‘’Awake, awake!’’ references that come in the space of two chapters (51, 52). The first one was a prayer, asking God to do something (51:9). But in the next two references God responds by telling Jerusalem to do something (51:9, 52:1). In a sense, a prayer for revival is one in which we ask God to ‘wake up His power’. Of course God’s power is never sleeping, but, at times, it can feel like it is. So we ask God to show His muscular ‘’arm’’. Then, in revival, God wakes up His church. Only once in these two chapters does the church ask God to wake up, but twice, God tells His church to wake up. God doesn’t need waking up. It just seems to us that He does. But His church does require an awakening. We are so often like Peter and John on the Mount of Transfiguration: ‘’very sleepy’’. Only when we become ‘’fully awake’’ will we see Jesus’ ‘’glory’’ (Luke 9:32). What kind of impact would a fully awakened church have on this nation; indeed on this world? May God have mercy on us for being so dopey!

God tells Jerusalem and its people to wake up because it’s a new day. They had ‘’drunk from…the cup…’’ of God’s ‘’wrath’’ (17). This is like a cup of strong wine that overwhelms the drinker and makes him ‘’stagger’’. However, all that was in the past. Their enemies would now be made to drink from that bitter cup (22, 23).

‘’You’ve drunk the cup GOD handed you, the strong drink of his anger. You drank it down to the last drop, staggered and collapsed, dead-drunk. And nobody to help you home, no one among your friends or children to take you by the hand and put you in bed. You’ve been hit with a double dose of trouble – does anyone care? Assault and battery, hunger and death – will anyone comfort? Your sons and daughters have passed out, strewn in the streets like stunned rabbits, Sleeping off the strong drink of GOD’s anger. The rage of your God. Therefore listen, please, you with splitting headaches, You who are nursing the hangovers that didn’t come from drinking wine. Your Master, your GOD, has something to say, your God has taken up his people’s case: ‘’Look, I’ve taken back the drink that sent you reeling. No more drinking from that jug of my anger! I’ve passed it over to your abusers to drink, those who ordered you, ‘Down on the ground so we can walk all over you!’ And you had to do it. Flat on the ground, you were the dirt under their feet.’’ The Message.

It is a wonderful gospel truth that no-one in the world need fear drinking the cup of God’s anger, if they put their trust in Jesus who drank it to its dregs for them upon the cross (Matthew 26:39). This passage says that with God there can be a new day and a second chance. Ultimately, all new beginnings in the gospel stem from the cross.

Prayer: I may not know, I cannot tell, what pains He had to bear; but I believe it was for us, He hung and suffered there. Thank you Jesus.