This post is part of a Bible study project a friend and I are trying. We’re studying the major prophets and posting new blog entries about our insights every two weeks. For the specific model we’re following (if you can call it that) and some background, feel free to check out our first posts here (hers) and here (mine).
This week Crystal and I focused on the first 12 chapters in Isaiah. My notes are long. I felt like every other verse provoked a question. What I really came away with, though, were some heart reflections.
The theme that emerged for me was one of divine opportunity. Over and over we’re invited to listen, repent, act. I usually falter at that “act” part. Isaiah’s own call in chapter 5 involves his confession of unworthiness, his sanctification and, subsequently, his decision to offer himself for God’s work. He could have gone away after being forgiven with nothing more than good intentions, but he stepped up. He invested.
In chapter 7, when Syria and Israel threaten Judah, God does an incredible thing. He speaks to Ahaz (v. 10). After Isaiah prophesies and tells Ahaz not to be afraid – that their enemies will be defeated – that what Ahaz must have is faith – then God tells Ahaz to test him. Not ” Hey, God, if you’re real, could you let this attack just kinda not happen?” God tells Ahaz to make his request “…deep as Sheol or high as heaven.”. Think about that for a minute. This is an offer to wipe out Ahaz’s doubt – in God’s existence, power and personal concern for His people. And the man PASSES! Can you fathom a more awesome gift? And yet… don’t we pass these opportunities up all the time? Why are we afraid to lose our doubt? Based on the passage, I infer that God spoke through Isaiah, but we aren’t specifically told how Ahaz receives this message. Is is possible that God just whispered it to Ahaz’s heart? Does it matter how he got the message? I think God speaks to us in subtle ways all the time. And I know I justify my way out of doing the things to which I’m called… more often than I care to admit.
The corruption of God’s people is established and lamented again and again in these chapters. God is angry. He offers them ultimate peace and happiness but the incentive doesn’t seem to be enough. Doing what is good and right is, apparently, too great a sacrifice. These people, too, could have chosen to love and honor, but failed. God reassures them that despite the coming hardship and destruction resulting from the choices of the people, a remnant IS good and will prevail (Chapter 10:20-34). This is reassuring in part because it reinforces the fact that we can choose what is right. Our desire to sin is strong, but we still have free will. We can resist that pull.
Listen. Repent. Act.
…hey, Crystal… I beat you this week! 😉