December 12, 2015


Isaiah 8:5-8, 11-18

There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God. . . . God is within her, she will not fall.

—  Psalm 46:4-5

This passage delivers bad news while it reminds Isaiah’s listeners of God’s ever-present goodness. The people of Jerusalem had sought alliances with the kings of other nations instead of trusting in God. Now they are accused of rejecting the gently flowing waters of Shiloah, the stream that brought water into Jerusalem, the city of God.

Water was important for a city threatened by foreign invasion. Unlike the major powers of the day, Jerusalem was not built on a major river. Its water supply was a spring called the Gihon, whose waters came into the city through a channel called Shiloah. It must not have seemed like much to a city under siege.

But Jerusalem had more than water. As Psalm 46 sings of streams in the city of God, it promises, “God is within her, she will not fall.” Though not a mighty river, Shiloah was a sign that God was with them. In rejecting Shiloah, Jerusalem rejected God.

The “gently flowing waters of Shiloah” became a sign that God is often present to us in ways that may not seem obvious. God is with us in the birth of a child called Immanuel (see Isaiah 7:14; 8:8; Matthew 1:23). God shows his love for us in the life and death of his Son, Jesus. These are signs that God is with us, even when we feel most vulnerable.

Ever-present God, help us to trust that your grace is sufficient for us, that we may always place our confidence in you. Amen.

About the author — Norman Visser

Norman Visser has served as a pastor of churches in Ontario, Nova Scotia, and South Dakota. He states that while he is “not known for waiting patiently,” he is “working on it.” Norman and his wife, Marcia, have three children.

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