A Christmas Dialogue on Isaiah 45: “I am God; there is no other.”
The following is an imaginary dialogue between the soul and God which draws out the meaning of a powerful text used to prepare for Christmas during the Advent season, Isaiah 45:6-12, 19-22. The complete passage appears at the end of the dialogue. To set the stage, consider Isaiah 45:22: “Turn to me and be saved, all the ends of the earth! For I am God, and there is no other.”
Soul: You claim to be God, yet you are both arrogant and petty, demanding our worship and obedience.
God: Judging as if there are many options, this may seem true. But there are no options: there is no other God but me. I formed the light and created the darkness. Everything that is, I made. When I say “I am the Lord”, this is no grasping claim. This is reality, the way things are. Apart from me, there is nothing. Your reality is in me; your happiness is in me. I am the Way.
Soul: I suppose you enjoy lording it over people, then, and playing your little games for your own benefit.
God: Petulance? Is it I who do evil? I have created all things good, including you. My will is that the skies should rain down righteousness, that the earth should open and salvation may sprout forth. I have made everything that is good and given it to you, that you may be fulfilled in me and find joy. Why would you reject this?
Soul: Because, as usual, it is all about you. Everything has to involve you. Everything has to come to you!
God: To discuss this, we must know who we are. I have told you who I am. Do you understand who you are? Is it not foolish to argue with your creator? Does a pot know enough to argue with the potter? Should a man say to his father and mother, “You should have made me some other way.” Is it wise to question me about my children or command me concerning what I have made?
Soul: But I am somebody too. I am my own person. I can strike out on my own path if I choose.
God: Yes, for I have made you free. But it would be foolish because there is simply no other way to seek fulfillment, to find happiness. That’s the reality. I made the earth and created man upon it. It was my hands that stretched out the heavens, and I command all that is in them. Again, I am not exalting myself or just claiming to be great. I am who I am, the real and only Lord of all. Were it otherwise, there would be nothing.
Soul: Well, none of that is obvious to me, so I guess you didn’t fashion things so well after all!
God: Yet I have not hidden these things nor said them in secret. It wasn’t I who told you to look for me in confusion, shutting me out and then pretending my answers cannot be found. I am the Truth. Have I not always declared what is right?
Soul: But hardly anyone agrees, you know. Everyone says there are many ways to fulfillment and happiness. Even if what you have said is painfully clear, you have no monopoly on truth, for all your boasting.
God: I suggest you gather together all those who follow other ways and let them make their case before me. You will find that they bow to non-existent gods and put their trust in things that cannot save. I have explained this tirelessly from the beginning. It should be enough for you that there is no god besides me, but be consoled that I am who I am. For I am good, and I will save all who turn to me in their need.
Soul: Oh, it is so nice of you to think of others! I suppose you just want everyone to be happy!
God: Yes! This is what I have been saying. Turn to me and be saved, all the ends of the earth! For I am the Life. I am God, and there is no other.
Soul: Easy for you to say! Wear my shoes for awhile, and see how you like it. Empty yourself of your great glory just once! You say I should put myself into your hands. Well, why don’t you put yourself into my hands. I say you are a braggart and a bully. Make yourself vulnerable!
God: There you speak deeper wisdom than you can possibly know. In the fullness of time, what you demand will come to pass. I will begin, even as I made you begin, in vulnerable innocence, begging for your affection, reaching out my arms for your love. Then you will choose. Will I become a man of sorrows? Will I be wounded by your transgressions? Will you make me heal you with my blood? Be assured that I will come. But when I come, you must choose.
Text of Isaiah 45:6-12,19-22:
“I am the Lord, and there is no other. I form light and create darkness, I make weal and create woe, I am the Lord, who do all these things. Shower, O heavens, from above, and let the skies rain down righteousness; let the earth open, that salvation may sprout forth, and let it cause righteousness to spring up also; I the Lord have created it.
“Woe to him who strives with his Maker, an earthen vessel with the potter! Does the clay say to him who fashions it, ‘What are you making?’ or ‘Your work has no handles’? Woe to him who says to a father, ‘What are you begetting?’ or to a woman, ‘With what are you in travail?’. . . Will you question me about my children, or command me concerning the work of my hands?
“I made the earth, and created man upon it; it was my hands that stretched out the heavens, and I commanded all their host. . . . I am the Lord, and there is no other. I did not speak in secret, in a land of darkness; I did not say to the offspring of Jacob, ‘Seek me in chaos.’ I the Lord speak the truth, I declare what is right.
“Assemble yourselves and come, draw near together, you survivors of the nations! They have no knowledge who carry about their wooden idols, and keep on praying to a god that cannot save. Declare and present your case; let them take counsel together! Who told this long ago? Who declared it of old? Was it not I, the Lord? And there is no other god besides me, a righteous God and a Savior; there is none besides me.
“Turn to me and be saved, all the ends of the earth! For I am God, and there is no other.”
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