Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Jubilee for North Korea

Every week Juhyang Community Church in Chuncheon, South Korea has a prayer meeting for North Korea. Locally these prayer meetings are known by the name Jubilee. I have been privileged to be part of these prayer meetings, and despite my inability to speak Korean fluently they have been a blessing.

Yesterday afternoon we met together and prayed for North Korea using Isaiah thirty-five as our inspiration. The first thing that struck me about this passage is its powerful imagery. The imagery used in this chapter is one of transition--transition from a wilderness to a garden, from winter to spring, from death to life. It is a picture of resurrection and new creation.

Korean Cherry Blossoms
I have recently been enjoying the warm weather here in Chuncheon and utilizing a new bicycle that given as an answer to prayer. Watching the flowers bloom and new life appear has been a joyful experience. With the sights and smells of spring in mind I was able to step into this chapter which begins with blooming flowers.

This passage is clearly a messianic passage alluding to the coming of Jesus. In verse two it says, "They shall see the glory of the LORD, the majesty of our God," which dovetails quite nicely with John 1:14, "And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth." Isaiah announces the coming of God as a savior--as is so well articulated in Roy Hession's book, We Would See Jesus, (free eBook) Jesus' name is the truncated form of 'Jehovah Saves.'

Following this promise there are a list of signs that will occur when the Messiah is revealed. The blind will see, the deaf will hear, the lame will walk and the mute will speak. When questioned by John the Baptist as to whether he was the Messiah, Jesus replied, "Go and tell John what you hear and see: the blind receive their sight and the lame walk, lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear, and the dead are raised up, and the poor have good news preached to them." (Matt 11:4b-5)

The chapter's latter verses are dedicated to the image of the Highway of Holiness. This is the path by which those redeemed by the Lord will return to Zion. "And a highway shall be there, and it shall be called the Way of Holiness... the redeemed shall walk there. And the ransomed of the LORD shall return and come to Zion with singing; everlasting joy shall be upon their heads; they shall obtain gladness and joy, sorrow and sighing shall flee away." This image captures the joy of those saved by Jesus. They have been redeemed by Jesus and set free from their sins, and their feet have been placed by the Lord on the highway to Zion--that is to the restoration of all things.

I felt that this passage was especially good for reflecting on the nation of North Korea--which for the tenth consecutive year has topped Open Doors' World Watch List of nations where it is the most difficult to live as a Christian. This week (the 24rd to the 30th) is North Korean Freedom Week, please make sure to pray for North Korea--pray that they will experience the joy of encountering the risen Lord.