Posts Tagged ‘Book of Isaiah’

I have been on many mountains in the world, and most are much more beautiful and majestic than the smallish Mt Zion where Jerusalem is today.  But fewer mountains have seen the drama this mountain has witnessed.

As with many ancient sites, which of the elevations is Zion is disputed—but it doesn’t matter. Abraham was there, as were Isaac and Jacob. David was there and the first temple was there. And Nebuchadnezzar and Herod and Jesus were there.  On Pentecost, Peter preached there and Paul was there and the Romans destroyed its buildings and made it a little taller with its own rubble.

God has history with this mountain!  So Isaiah uses it to prophecy about the future for God’s people.

Isaiah 2:1-5  “Come, let us go up to the mountain of the LORD”

While a physical return to glory for the mountain of the Lord is a seductive and tempting understanding, if we went that route, I think we would be standing with the apostles near that mountain, saying, “Lord, and now will you restore the kingdom to Israel?”  And He would be again frustrated with my lack of understanding.

The mountain to which we should be and will be drawn is the mountain of the Lord, to His presence. Instead of worrying about the place, let’s focus on why people want to go there:  “He will teach us His ways, so that we may walk in his paths.”  Peace will reign because He will judge with righteousness.

This mountain of the Lord draws all nations!  It’s glory is the presence of the Lord—not its history, not its political significance, not its own majesty.

“Come, let us walk in the light of the Lord.”

Isaiah 2:6-22  “Stop trusting in man who has but a breath in his nostrils.”

While the future marches toward Zion and the beauty of worshipping His holiness there, the awful truth is that most people—even those who think they know all about God—are marching to a different tune and are running to mountains, but not to Zion.

They are fleeing to the rocks, hiding in holes, hoping caverns and caves will shelter them instead of Zion.  They fear judgment; they fear the Day of the Lord.  Why?  What have we done?

  • We are superstitious
  • We seek spiritual power from sources other than God
  • We trust in silver and gold—“there is no end to their treasures . . . .”
  • We trust in our own power to protect and defend ourselves—“no end to their chariots.”
  • We substitute other things for God in our lives.
  • We bow down to the work of our hands. ‘

I’m not a Hebrew scholar, but I just read that the word translated majesty when used for God is the same word but translated as pride when used for people.  This is a great lesson, i.e.,  that man’s pride is primarily his attempt to claim divine majesty.

A day of reckoning is coming!   Isaiah calls it the Day of the Lord and it’s a pretty frightening day if you have pretended to be God your whole life.  It will be one of those moments when all of those lies we tell ourselves will be exposed as self-deception. It will be a moment when the trinkets of false power—including fake spiritual power—will be “thrown away to the rats and bats (v. 20) as we run to hide from the truth.

God is rising to shake the earth!  The destruction of these quakes and tsunamis will make what we see on the news seem nothing because not only will the earth itself shake, but every mountain that we have built to compete with the mountain of the Lord will be shaken until it is just a pile of dust.

So choose a mountain!  Choose the mountain of the Lord, rush to it to learn to walk in the light of the Lord!   Or choose yourself a good hole in the ground to hide in, a cave that God cannot find, that’s so dark that God’s light can never penetrate it  . . . .

Wait a minute—everlasting darkness—that’s Hell, isn’t it?

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I personally am going to be spending time with Isaiah for a while. My interest is not driven by anything external, like teaching a class or even pursuing a particular question or theme; rather, I’m interested in just listening to the Word—just listening—and hearing what He says to me today.  Sharing with you will help me understand better what I’m hearing, so I hope you’ll look forward to Fridays.

Chapter 1: 1-4 – “I reared up children and brought them up, but they have rebelled against me.”

I really love my kids. I loved them when they were little and bouncing on us in bed. I loved playing ball with the boys and going to Emily’s music events when they were teens—and I love them even more now as adults.  I can only think of one occasion in recent years when I thought I had really offended one of them, and I was appalled! I could not rest until I had gone and apologized—which proved to be unnecessary, but I didn’t care. I would have done anything in my power to restore what I perceived to be a tiny chink in our relationship.

What pain God our Father must feel who has given us life, reared us up, guarded us, fed us, and loved us in every conceivable way—what pain He must feel at his children’s rebellion, “children given to corruption” (v.4).  How much pain do the parents of these recent shooters feel?  Just the pain of the loss of your children would be horrible, but put on top of that the pain of their victims for whom every parent would feel responsible, and then to add a child’s resentment and rebellion toward you would be almost unbearable.  God’s pain did not start on the cross!

Chapter 1: 5-9 – “…only wounds and welts and open sores.”

Many speculate that any remains of Sodom and Gomorrah—the two ancient symbols of total depravity—lie at the bottom of the Dead Sea—death, death, and more death!  Isaiah appears to write to a remnant which has survived. I once read a fictionalized version of Jesus bringing Lazarus out of four days of rotting in his tomb, which conjectured about how nauseating his skin appeared and how frail he was as he recovered from death.  I doubt that is really what happened with Lazarus, but it might be the condition of this wounded and sore remnant in Israel.

Chapter 1:10-17 – “When you spread out your hands in prayer, I will hide my eyes from you.”

If Isaiah’s readers thought they were going to get off with just the threat of becoming like Sodom and Gomorrah, they were wrong. Isaiah begins the next section by addressing them as “you rulers of Sodom.”  Their worst nightmare was more than a dream! It was already reality!

And their religious rituals were MEANINGLESS!  Worse, they were offensive—“my soul hates . . . “—God will not hear their many, many prayers because they left their prayer shawls on the pew and went out the door and did more evil.

Stop doing wrong, learn to do right!  What part of these seven words do we have trouble understanding???

Chapter 1:18-20 —  “If you are willing and obedient.”

We used to sing an old hymn based on verse 18 “Though Your Sins Be As Scarlet.” We don’t sing or talk much about our sins any more—too bad, because it is hard to understand that you are made white as snow unless you know what scarlet and crimson mean!

Chapter 1: 21-28 – “Zion will be redeemed with justice.”

Your beautiful little baby girl . . . has become a harlot. She has no hope within herself of ever breaking out of her filthy life—but the LORD ALMIGHTY loves her—and me—enough to purge us of evil and redeem us with justice.  Purging may be painful, but so was justice!

Chapter 1: 29-31 – “like an oak with fading leaves”

These last verses of Chapter 1 are addressed to those who continue to rebel. Ultimately, they will be broken and perish (v.28), but even before that they will be ashamed and disgraced.

A beautiful oak tree is a splendid tree.  We were recently in New Zealand and visited Hobbiton, one of the outdoor sets for Lord of the Rings and the coming The Hobbit movies. Bilbo’s hobbit home sits under a beautiful oak tree, as described by J.R.R. Tolkien, so Peter Jackson, the director, had to produce a hobbit hole with a beautiful oak tree above it for verity in his films. Everything was perfect about this particular site in New Zealand except no oak tree! Fortunately, they found a beautiful oak tree about five miles away, so they cut it down, stripped its leaves, carefully dismembered it into hundreds of fragments, transported it all to the set, then reassembled the oak tree with nuts and bolts.

Of course the beautiful oak tree had no leaves—because it was dead, so 250,000 artificial oak leaves were shipped in from Japan and carefully attached to the tree—individually—to make the tree appear to be alive.

The beautiful oak tree of LOTR rotted, however, and the leaves faded in the decade between LOTR and The Hobbit, so that they were removed and replaced with an artificial trunk/branches and new leaves for the second film.

Those who rebel and resist the love and the purging of the LORD ALMIGHTY are like dead oak trees, which sometimes can be bolted together and life faked for a while, but eventually will rot and fade because they are dead.

The mighty man will become tinder and his work a spark; both will burn together with no one to quench the fire.

Isaiah, you frighten me! 

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