In a Little Wrath

Isaiah is one of my favourite Bible books. Its 66 chapters parallel the layout of the 66 books of the whole Bible – 39 on law and judgment and collapse, and then 27 on mercy, rescue and a new Heaven and earth.

The Second Part, chapters 40 to 66, might well be called a Fifth Gospel. In Acts 8 Philip used excerpts from the 53rd chapter to preach to a visiting dignitary from Ethiopia the foretold mission of Jesus, God’s Suffering Servant, accomplishing forgiveness of sins through the expenditure of His innocent blood. The man repented and entered into the family of Christian faith.

Now what is the middle chapter of Deutero-Isaiah? It is the 54th. And what is the middle verse? It is the 8th.

8 In a little wrath I hid my face from thee for a moment; but with everlasting kindness will I have mercy on thee, saith the Lord thy Redeemer.

God’s agenda is big. He plans to rescue a fulfilled Israel from general judgment. This Israel will include both Jew and Gentile bowing to the lordship of Jesus. The prophet Habakkuk repeats this major Bible theme in the 3rd chapter verse 2:

2 O Lord, I have heard thy speech, and was afraid: O Lord, revive thy work in the midst of the years, in the midst of the years make known; in wrath remember mercy.

And what do we see throughout the Bible record? Noah mocked and then safe in the Ark. The unbelieving world drowns in the flood. Moses’ people straightened for generations in slavery; then released while Pharaoh’s army is washed under the billows of the Red Sea. The harlot Rahab picks herself up from a miserable life of self-abuse and chooses to trust in the report of the 2 Hebrew spies right before the collapse of mighty and vicious Jericho.

Or perhaps your math tells you that the 53rd chapter is the middle and the central verse is the 6th.

6 All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.

Still an awesome revelation.


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