Isaiah 51:9, The Day God Fell Asleep

Awake, awake! Clothe yourself with strength, O arm of the LORD; awake, as in days gone by, as in generations of old. Was it not you who cut Rahab to pieces, who pierced that monster through? 

//Here, Isaiah (or more precisely, an unknown writer whom scholars call “second Isaiah”) bemoans the fact that God no longer takes an active hand in preserving his people. The Babylonians came and conquered Jerusalem, destroyed the Temple, and took the inhabitants of God’s city as refugees back to Babylon.

Was it not you, God, who pierced the monster? Who dried up the Red Sea, and made a road for your people to cross over? God, did you release us from slavery and bring us into this land only to deliver us into slavery again? Have you fallen asleep, God?

Second Isaiah dreams of the day God will awake and again bring them out of slavery back to their land:

The ransomed of the LORD will return. They will enter Zion with singing; everlasting joy will crown their heads. Gladness and joy will overtake them, and sorrow and sighing will flee away. 

In this great day (the beginning of a new age, he imagined) God would conquer old enemies and establish a new kingdom. Curiously, Second Isaiah brings the “monster” of today’s verse back to life so God can conquer him again:

In that day the LORD with his sore and great and strong sword shall punish leviathan the piercing serpent, even leviathan that crooked serpent; and he shall slay the dragon that is in the sea.  

It might be fun to talk more about this sea monster tomorrow.

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