Uniform 08.02.2015: Looking for a Hero

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Isaiah 59:15b-21

I love superhero movies. Spider-Man, Superman, Thor, Captain America, and my favorite, Iron Man. And when several of these heroes come together, like in The Avengers, it’s SUPER exciting for me. The heroes are all flawed, frequently lonely, and sometimes arrogant and overconfident. But when the world needs them, they eventually come through every single time—even when their victory causes personal pain and suffering. That’s heroic.

I love “chosen one” books. I’ve read the Lord of the Rings trilogy and the Harry Potter series and felt drawn to the unlikely heroes, Frodo and Harry. Unlike the superheroes in some of my favorite films, these two are small, weak, and unprepared for the quests that await them. That draws me to them even more. Their humility, earnestness, and determination are inspiring and admirable. They are heroic.

At some point, most of us are looking for a hero. Maybe we find one in the awesome feats of strong super humans like Captain America and Iron Man. Maybe our hero is in the pages of some of the greatest stories ever written.

Or maybe our heroes are flesh-and-blood people who have touched our lives—a family member, pastor, teacher, or some other beloved mentor whose approach to life is steady, strong, and, well, heroic. Such individuals are heroes in every sense of the word.

But we have an even greater Hero, don’t we? In today’s Scripture, God has been waiting for a human hero to step up and ensure that justice is served. People are suffering. Those in charge are committing evil upon evil, harming others and claiming power for themselves.

God looked. God waited. God expected someone to take a stand. Isaiah 59:16 says that God was “appalled that there was no one to intervene.” We have seen this happen over and over. It doesn’t take long to make a list of the evils and injustices in our world. And who is intervening? Sometimes it’s no one. Sometimes it’s people who have their own best interests at heart. Usually, it’s not us. After all, we think, what could we do to help in such situations?

Isaiah writes that God was fed up. So God took up arms and came to execute justice. Despite the battle gear, the “wrath,” and the “requital,” however, verse 20 shows that God’s ultimate intent is to come as “Redeemer.” The focus is more on the people who are being rescued than on the ones oppressing them.

Most of us are constantly looking for a hero. The truth is that God has already done the hard work through Jesus Christ, redeeming us all from the power of evil and preparing us for something so much better. Some of us get the opportunity to follow God’s footsteps and be heroes in our little corners of the world. May we be ever thankful that God is our hero and ever aware of our responsibility to show others the way to redemption.

Discussion

1. What is your favorite hero story? What draws you to that character? Why?
2. Who has been a hero to you? How did that person touch your life and rescue you from a poor choice or a dangerous situation?
3. Why do you think God waits for a human to intervene in today’s Scripture? What does it mean to you that God ended up putting on the armor and bringing justice?
4. What are the qualities of a true hero? Do you view God as a hero? How is Jesus a hero?
5. Have you ever been a hero to someone? If so, what was that like? How can you be prepared for the opportunity to help someone find redemption?

Reference Shelf

The LORD Decides to Act, 59:15b-21

The first part of this section narrates the LORD’s displeasure and response. If vv. 16b-17 are to be understood as we have understood chaps. 44–45 and 49, these must refer to the LORD’s raising up a third Persian emperor to restore his people and his city. In this case it would be ARTAXERXES I. The chapter identifies the LORD’s intention with Artaxerxes’s military intervention in vv. 19-20.

In v. 21 the LORD addresses Artaxerxes, renewing God’s covenant with Israel with the promise that his spirit will be on the Persian. His words are those spoken first to CYRUS and renewed to DARIUS, as related in the Book of Ezra.

Against this historical background, vv. 15b-20 described the way Artaxerxes enters Palestine as the LORD’s instrument to correct the conditions portrayed in the last two chapters. Verses 18-19 indicate the Phoenician and Philistine territories that draw the primary attention of the Persians. V. 20 contrasts the way the invasion will impact Jerusalem, or at least those in Judah who turn away from rebellion.

John D. W. Watts, “Isaiah,” Mercer Commentary of the Bible, ed. Watson E. Mills et al. (Macon GA: Mercer University Press, 1995), 608.

Kelley Land, a graduate of Mercer University, has been an assistant editor for Smyth & Helwys curriculum and book since 2001. She attends church and leads an adult Sunday school class in Macon, Georgia. She enjoys reading fiction, spending time with her two daughters (ages 10 and 8), and watching television shows on Netflix. Her goal for 2015 is to tackle the bass clef on the piano.

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