Thus says the LORD,
“Where is the certificate of divorce
By which I have sent your mother away?
Or to whom of My creditors did I sell you?
Behold, you were sold for your iniquities,
And for your transgressions your mother was sent away.
“Why was there no man when I came?
When I called, why was there none to answer?
Is My hand so short that it cannot ransom?
Or have I no power to deliver?
Behold, I dry up the sea with My rebuke,
I make the rivers a wilderness;
Their fish stink for lack of water
And die of thirst.
“I clothe the heavens with blackness
And make sackcloth their covering.” Isaiah 50:1-3)
If you’re in time out you probably know why you’re there. In the midst of their punishment, the Israelites had started to think that God had abandoned them forever. God asked them a series of pointed questions to let them know that there was a good reason for their suffering: they were being disciplined.
The break in the relationship between God and Israel was not because God had sent them away, but because they had turned away from him. What part of infidelity did they not get? Were they not paying attention? Were they not listening to the prophets who compared Israel to an adulterous wife chasing after other men in her insatiable lust? They were in the mess they were in, far from God, because they had put themselves there. They had done all of this on their own.
But, to imagine that God was unable to save his people regardless of the mess they had created for themselves, was just as silly. He reminded them of past care –when they had faced the impossible and God had come through for them. Drying up the sea references the Red Sea crossing by Moses and the Israelites. Turning rivers into a wilderness likely refers to the time when the Israelites, under Joshua, crossed the blocked up Jordan River to go conquer the Promised Land. There was nothing that was too hard for the God who made everything and keeps the universe functioning. Even though the ancient Israelites had but a limited understanding of how big the universe was, or how it worked, they knew enough to recognize that it was far beyond anything that human beings could accomplish. Thus, if their problems were all but human sized, then God, who does God sized things, would find their problems easy to handle. No problem we create, no matter how large it seems to us, is large to God.