Level the Playing Field as Seen Through Isaiah
Fill every valley;
level every mountain.
The hills will become a plain,
and the rough country will be made smooth.
Then the glory of the Lord will be revealed,
and all people will see it.
The Lord himself has promised this. – Isaiah 40: 4-5
Taken literally this passage from Isaiah describes how God might reshape the Earth and mend it to his will. It conjures imagery of destruction and devastation. What Isaiah is describing is less of physical restructuring the Earth and instead is pointing to a future ideal. Isaiah is describing the Kingdom of God.
Writing to people living in exile, Isaiah and other prophets describe the characteristics of the Kingdom. Jesus himself also stressed what the Kingdom should look like and described what Kingdom behaviour is.
What we read in Isaiah is a leveling of the playing field, where each individual will be provided for equally. Every valley shall be filled, every mountain brought low, hills will become a plain and rough country made smooth. Isaiah is not describing terraforming, he is writing about how society has created different tiers. There are people who are wealthy and many people who are poor. Within the Kingdom of God this is not equitable.
Isaiah points to a different future where this will change. Not so that the rich or elite need to be humbled, but because the poor, the lame, the crippled, the widows and the orphans need to be lifted up. God is interested in a level playing field. God desires circumstances which care for all people. The message of scripture is clear, yet it has not been heeded. We very often assume that God wants to provide a level playing field for ‘us’. Scripture is read as if we were the important aspect in the dialogue. While we are important to God, so is everyone else!
Throughout time various movement have arisen due to injustice. The Black Lives Matter movement seeks to bring attention to the discrimination that one community is facing. They campaign nor for more rights, but an equal footing. It requires calling out the disparity in order to receive equality. Feminism arose as a movement because women were not properly respected and that needed to change. These two examples are only just two issues that require attention and my description of them is very general. Isaiah reminds us that God is interested in equality for all people.
How equality will be reached will differ from case to case, from generation to generation. What Isaiah describes a time when God will be with us. When we will be equal with one another. However, we should not wait for God’s arrival. We are pointed towards a changed future. A future that will be better for all people. It is incumbent upon us to start that change now.