READ: Isaiah 64-66

BACKGROUND: This final section of Isaiah is a powerful vision of the future – a future secured by the Almighty God who is sovereign over all. It is a reminder of God’s power and his great love for his people. His judgment is coming for the sin of the world, and destruction is inevitable, but his salvation is real. We live in an evil and broken world, but a new perfected one is coming!

THINK: Today is All Hallows Day or All Saints Day. Which means last night was All Hallows Eve, better known to us as Halloween. And we’re all familiar with the traditions of Halloween. It is a time of jack-o-lanterns, ghosts, witches, and hobgoblins. And it’s a pretty popular and highly commercialized holiday in the United States, one that was imported long ago from Ireland. The name of the old pagan festival was Samhain, and it was held to mark the ending of the old year and the beginning of the new – the passing of summer and the beginning of winter. All of the animals were brought inside and all of the excess livestock were slaughtered and bone fires were lit with the remains.

The superstition of the time held that there was danger and vulnerability during this period. Because it was a time of transition during which people believed they were located neither in the year that had passed or yet in the year to come, they felt their spirits were endangered. Oddly enough, this superstition never fully passed on even with the coming of Christianity as the holiday was taken from the old world into the new. It remains a folk-memory in our consciousness and Halloween is a dark time where evil forces, spiritual darkness, and death are widely brought to the forefront of our collective conscience.

But All Saints Day is a day is a day of celebration! It is a day of remembrance where we recall all those who have passed on into glory before us – the “great cloud of witnesses” (Hebrews 12:1) and we celebrate the salvation that we have through our sovereign and glorious God. It is a day where we celebrate a God who holds all power and has conquered evil and death itself!

PRAY: This is a compline (bedtime) prayer of Cuthbert, a 7th century monk. I encourage you to pray it tonight – during this time of year where our culture fears the darkness – as you celebrate God’s victory over the evil and brokenness of our world and claim his peace in your life:

+ indicates that you may make the sign of the cross
Boldindicates words to be prayed out loud

 
+ (silently)
I will lie down and sleep in peace
for You alone, Lord,
make me dwell in safety.

O God and Spirit and Jesus,
the Three,
from the crown of my head,
O Trinity,
to the soles of my feet
mine offering be.
Come I unto Thee, O Jesus my King –
O Jesus, do Thou be my sheltering.
 
My dear ones, O God, bless Thou and keep,
in every place where they are.

Whoever has chosen
to make the shelter of
the Most High
their dwelling place
will stay in His over-shadowing

He alone is my refuge, my place of safety;
He is my God, and I am trusting Him.
He will rescue you
from the traps laid for your feet,
and save you
from the destroying curse.

His faithful promises are your armour.
You need no longer be afraid
of any terror by night,
or the death-arrow that flies by day.

The Lord Himself if your refuge;
you have made the Most High
your stronghold.

Be my strong rock,
a castle to keep me safe,
for You are my crag and my stronghold.

I will not lie down tonight with sin,
nor shall sin
nor sin’s shadow
lie down with me.

O God of life this night,
O darken not to me Thy light.
O God of life this night
close not Thy gladness to my sight
O God of life this night
Thy door to me, O shut not tight
O God of life this night.
 
Be it on Thine own beloved arm
O God of grace
that I in peace shall waken.

Jesus, Son of Mary!
My helper,
my encircler.
Jesus, Son of David!
My strength everlasting.
Jesus, Son of Mary!
My helper,
my encircler.

The peace of all peace
be mine this night
+ in the name of the Father,
and of the Son,
and of the Holy Spirit.
Amen.

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