The Shape of
By Steve Bell
Beloved Canadian songwriter
and musician Steve bell
reflects on the advent
oracles of Isaiah
(Isaiah 2:1– 5, 7: 10–16,
11:1– 10, 35:1– 10).
Irecently stumbled upon an online essay reflecting on the four advent oracles of Isaiah. I was immediately intrigued by the use of the word “oracle” – first, be- cause it sounds somewhat pagan and
new-agey, and second, because it evokes feelings darkly subterranean and mysterious.
Quick research found the word to be
disappointingly harmless. An oracle, as it
turns out, is simply a prophetic utterance.
Nevertheless, the word still carries foreboding tones of danger, presumably arising from an unearthed knowledge from
the forbidden depths. Oracles are (at least
as Hollywood portrays them) “too hot to
handle,” and are therefore sequestered
and reserved for a very chosen few.
But I found the Isaiah oracles them-
selves to be familiar and safe enough. One
of them speaks of a coming age when na-
tions, in search of wisdom, will stream
to the mountain of the Lord. Another is
confident of a day when warriors will
beat their weapons into gardening tools.
Yet another predicts the radical safety and
relational ease symbolized by a wolf lying
peacefully with a lamb. And finally, we are
told of a virgin giving birth to a child who
will lead us.
Nations Will Stream to the
Mountain of the Lord
But take a closer look at the first oracle.
There’s a trip switch hidden in the relationship between the words “stream” and “
mountain.” The oracle claims that nations (in
search of wisdom) will stream to the mountain. I presume the oracle initially assumed
the mountain to be a metaphor for the city
of Jerusalem with all her grand, nationalistic
aspirations. Christians would understand
Jerusalem to be a metaphor for the height
of Christian truth and God’s sovereign rule.
I’ve been to Jerusalem, and it is, topographically, a high point in the land.
Things don’t generally stream to the high
points. They generally stream away.
This oracle speaks of a radical reversal of
nature – not only nature out there, but our
own inner logic or compass as well. Simply consider humanity’s reasonable fears
and need for security. Then consider the