Ironic Gifts for the LordDaily Reflection / Produced by The High Calling
At that time the LORD of Heaven’s Armies will receive gifts from this land divided by rivers, from this tall, smooth-skinned people, who are feared far and wide for their conquests and destruction. They will bring the gifts to Jerusalem, where the LORD of Heaven’s Armies dwells.
Reading between the lines of Isaiah 18, we can see that certain ambassadors from far away came with an offer of military help for Israel. Our translation refers to this place as Ethiopia, though the original Hebrew identifies it as Cush, a region south of Egypt that was much larger than modern Ethiopia. Ambassadors from Cush came down the Nile in their boats in order to enter into an allegiance with Israel. But the Lord rejected their offer, knowing that he had more than enough power to deal with countries that would attack Israel.
But then, Isaiah’s prophecy concerning Cush ends with an ironic twist. The ambassadors from Cush would bring gifts to Jerusalem, offerings for the Lord. Their gift giving implicitly recognized the Lord’s own sovereignty and power. It was almost as if the ambassadors knew of the Lord’s glory.
Have you ever thought of the irony in our giving gifts to the Lord? Everything we have is from him: our talents, our time, our money, our very lives. In a very real sense, we give back to God only what he has already given to us. In fact, we give to the Lord that which is ultimately his. Yet he is honored, not so much in what we give, but in our act of giving. In this way, we recognize his worthiness and sovereignty, much as did the ambassadors from Cush.
QUESTION FOR REFLECTION: What difference does it make to you that in giving to God you are essentially giving back what is already his?
PRAYER: Gracious Lord, you have given me more than I can possibly fathom. In fact, you have given me the opportunity and privilege of giving back to you a portion of what is really yours. It isn’t that you need my money or my abilities to get your work done. Yet you have chosen to use me and my contributions. What an honor!
Help me, dear Lord, to give to you freely and joyously, without hesitation or reservation. And when I give, may I be aware of your unique worthiness to receive all glory, honor, and power . . . and all that I am. Amen.