The Lord will rise up as he did at Mount Perazim, he will rouse himself as in the Valley of Gibeon—to do his work, his strange work, and perform his task, his alien task. Isaiah 28:21
What is God’s strange work, his alien task? It’s judgement. Allowing his people to experience devastation, war and suffering isn’t God’s normal work. Yet it’s a necessary part of his love. If someone truly loves they cannot overlook the damage that sin causes. In love, God cannot allow people to remain in their destructive, sinful ways. Love requires justice.
Quite often God chooses to delay justice in the hope that people will repent and turn to him. Throughout Isaiah and the other books of the prophets, we hear the heart of God calling people back to himself. Yet after decades of not responding to God, he allowed them to experience the desolation of being taken into exile. They lost all the material blessings that God had given them. Yet even in this God’s plan was that their hearts would respond to him again and he orchestrated their return to their homeland.
God’s normal work is to extend blessing and favour. Throughout the Old Testament God is described as compassionate and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in love (Exodus 34:6, Nehemiah 9:17, Psalm 86:15, 103:8, 145:8, Joel 2:13, Jonah 4:2). This may surprise us as many consider the God of the Old Testament angry and vengeful. Yet that isn’t how his people experienced him. In fact, Jonah complained that God was too merciful (Jonah 4:1-2).
Our hope in this life is based on justice in the next. One day all wrongs will be righted. Justice will “roll on like a river, righteousness like a never-failing stream” (Amos 5:24).