“40 Days and 40 Nights of God’s Word”
DAY 23: AUGUST 14
ISAIAH 17 – 54:17
I mentioned a few days ago, when we were doing the Solomon readings, that I had to skim through most of the proverbs because the material was so dense. Each line really required a study in itself, which isn’t suited to our current “quick ‘n’ dirty” read-through mode.
Today’s reading is likewise dense, but O Mama! There was no way I wasn’t going to slow down and savour every morsel of what God is feeding us through Isaiah. So instead of the anticipated few hours I’d scheduled for this reading, I took the whole day. Sometimes you just gotta.
- Jesus, as I said before, is all over Isaiah. We can see from today’s reading why Jesus favoured this prophet and also why he chose to read a passage from Isaiah at the synagogue in Nazareth when he outed himself as the Messiah. God revealed to Isaiah more about Jesus and the Kingdom than he did to anyone else, and Isaiah also wrote more eloquently about Jesus and the Kingdom than did anyone else. Even in a translation of a translation of a translation, the power of God’s Word is so forceful, it’s at times overwhelming. I always come away from a reading of Isaiah completely exhilarated and with a deeper insight into Jesus and spiritual Zion.
- Along with descriptions of Jesus and the role he would play as Messiah, Isaiah also gives us a run-down of what will happen to those who either fight against Israel or defy God. It isn’t pretty. Reading the passages about what will ultimately happen to Israel’s enemies (even though in the interim they seem to prosper in their evil and get away with it), I couldn’t help but think of those who say they believe in God and yet give only part of themselves to him, holding the rest back. I couldn’t help thinking that these people, by holding part of themselves back, are essentially defying God and are enemies of spiritual Israel. Do you think that people who hold part of themselves back from God, giving it to the world instead, will secure a place in Heaven? That is not a rhetorical question; that is actually a “yes” or “no” question, and the answer is a resounding “NO!”. We’ll read later in Acts what happens to people who claim to love God and follow Jesus but hold part of themselves back. They end up no different than God’s enemies.
- God told Isaiah to get naked and barefoot and walk that way FOR THREE YEARS as a sign against Israel’s enemies, and he did it. We need to be as willing as Isaiah to do whatever God tells us and for whatever length of time. The alternative is losing our place in Heaven. If it means getting naked and walking barefoot for three years, we get naked and walk barefoot for three years, but only if GOD tells us to do it. Personally, I don’t think God will ask any of us to do that. Just before I was reborn, God gave me the choice to forgive or not to forgive, making it very clear that choosing to forgive was the right choice and would lead to the better outcome. What I’m saying is that God didn’t ask me to walk naked and barefoot for three years. That was just for Isaiah. But God might give you the “to forgive or not to forgive” choice, because God doesn’t answer the prayers of people whose hearts are hardened by resentment.
- I’m looking forward to the Isaiah grand finale tomorrow and the start of the book of Jeremiah. Jesus also quoted extensively from “Jeremy”, as you’ll see as we make our way through the book over the next few days.
So what are your thoughts on Isaiah? Do you find the scripture exhilarating, or are you stuck thinking what’s up with God that he made Isaiah walk naked and barefoot for three years? God made his prophets do a few bizarre things (wait until we get to Ezekiel!), but everything was for a purpose and a sign, and was meant either to get his people back on track or to warn their enemies, or both. God knew the more outrageous the sign, the more impactful it would be.
Has God made you do anything crazy yet? If not, watch out for it. The more you say you want to give everything to God, the more he’ll test you to see if you really mean it. As Mary, at the wedding in Cana, said of Jesus: “Whatever he says to you, do it”. Just make sure it’s God you’re hearing from, not some other spirit.
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