Squandered opportunities – Friday, 2nd week in advent – Isaiah 48:17-19

Squandered opportunities – Friday, 2nd week in advent – Isaiah 48:17-19

In the past chapters we have heard of Babylon’s final fate. But the very idea of a peoples fate has turned Isaiah’s attention on Israel. It has put Israel under the microscope. Is Israel so much better than other countries just like are we better than others? No, they are not. The only difference is that God has a purpose for Israel, just as He has a purpose for you and me.

Isaiah chapter 48 almost seems to be a sermon that Isaiah gave to the Israelite exiles in Babylon as they worshipped in a synagogue on a day of penitence. These verses are the most confrontational against the gods of the nations. But the Lord here is not talking only to the heathen nations, he is also talking directly to the Israelites. They should know better than to worship heathen gods and idols.  

God’s children were being stubborn. Though all were not guilty, the whole community was judged as one community. Many still stood firm against Yahweh and clung to idols, and did not want to respond to him under any circumstances. Of the rest, some were sincerely worshipping God while others were going through the motions of worship. Their outward expressions of faith were hollow and untruthful.

While the people invoke God’s name they have a personal agenda, an outcome they were looking for; they lay claim that they are God’s people but by their behaviour they were no a different from those who do not invoke God’s name. There should have been some evidence of salvation but somehow the message does not match the manner. The fruit of their lives outside the sanctuary is nothing like the guise of godliness in the sanctuary.  The Lord  makes it clear, he can neither be deceived nor tolerate such hypocrisy (verses 4 and 8).

“Even the best teacher fails, when his pupils are unwilling to learn and God is lamenting this reality in verse 18. He was the teacher who taught the Israelites for their own good (verse 17) who lead them where they ought to go and yet they paid no attention to Gods commandments ( verse 18). The tragedy of Israel could easily have been avoided; but the prophet reminds her that all of her past history was one unending tragedy of squandered opportunities. This, of course, places the responsibility of Israel’s tragic state squarely upon the people themselves.

Contrary to popular opinion that suggests “there’s no point dwelling on the past” we are taken to  the past to contemplate what could have been or what is as a result of choices made. The reason for this is to learn how to go forward. Sure things could have been different. Too often we tend to look at what could have been and the ground lost because what we failed to be. God does not pretend it did not happen. The way forward is to face the past, as God does by outlining what could have been in 48:17-19. History is a great teacher. Teaching from the past, God offers hope by giving a glimpse of what can be (48:20-21)

God really wants us to pick the right road – the road that lines up with His great plans for us. And He can see what’s on all the roads out there. He can see which one is best, and He wants to let us know.

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3 thoughts on “Squandered opportunities – Friday, 2nd week in advent – Isaiah 48:17-19”

  • The way forward is to face the past. Thank you
    Fr Warner for the wonderful explanation

  • SQUANDERED OPPORTUNITIES is the plain truth applicable to each human being, community or nation.

    And as imperfect as we are, it is so important for us all to learn from our past while fully placing our future in God’s plan for us..

    History is truly a great teacher. Facing the past will certainly caution us of our future behaviour..

    Thankyou and God Blesss You Fr. Warner 🙏

  • Thank you Fr. for the explanation
    Dissatisfaction is very true. We always want things out way, although we know God’s ways are not our ways. His plan is great for us.

    I pray that I will be able to understand what God wants of me.


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