Thursday, December 13, 2012

Isaiah 1-3

here we go again!

today's reading from the shirkers and slackers plan is Isaiah 1-3.  there are a ton of different things i could talk about here.  there's the wicked state of israel that God condemns with rightly harsh language (because it's good to use bad words for bad things).  there's the glorious hope of mercy for the repentant and God's faithful despite the actions of his faithless people.  there are certain refrains here, about the foolishness of idols; about God being the only God and only one worthy of exaltation; about taking care of orphans and widows.  two things i want to focus on:

1) God speaks of sacred and holy things that He has commanded His people to do as disdainful and repugnant to Him.  but He told them to do these things, so how can that be?  the Lord says,

“What to me is the multitude of your sacrifices?
        says the LORD;
    I have had enough of burnt offerings of rams
        and the fat of well-fed beasts;
    I do not delight in the blood of bulls,
        or of lambs, or of goats.
    When you come to appear before me,
        who has required of you
        this trampling of my courts?
    Bring no more vain offerings;
        incense is an abomination to me.
    New moon and Sabbath and the calling of convocations—
        I cannot endure iniquity and solemn assembly.
    Your new moons and your appointed feasts
        my soul hates;
    they have become a burden to me;
        I am weary of bearing them.
    When you spread out your hands,
        I will hide my eyes from you;
    even though you make many prayers,
        I will not listen;
        your hands are full of blood.” (1:11-15)

the sabbath is, as my dad would say, "number 4 on the hit parade".  the whole book of Leviticus lays out in detail the sacrifices to be made to God, the "appointed feasts", and so on.  how now does God say "my soul hates [them]"?!

it is because these things are done all for show, with hearts that are far from God.  the pharisees and scribes of Jesus day were the same (cf. Mark 7).  and so are many of us today.  i know there have been weeks were i've been far from God and have gone through the motions at church because that's "what i'm supposed to do".

and that's not ok!  it's easy to excuse things when we get together and say "oh, i've done that; everybody's done that."  and we act like that somehow makes it better!  God uses horrific language in these chapters to speak of the evil of these things and His righteous wrath against them.  so if this makes you uneasy, don't sweep it under the rug.  and if old patterns and language of this gets in the way, i'd encourage you to check out this song by switchfoot lead singer john foreman that's a paraphrase of this passage of Isaiah. (alternate version here).  if you are moved to action by this, do not finish reading this!  go do it!  no really, if God is showing you how to act in repentance, to "work out your salvation with fear and trembling", you should go do it now, lest your heart be made hard, because delayed obedience is disobedience.  seriously, this post will be here, get going!


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welcome back.  now for some of you, God may not be putting anything directly on you right now.  continue to pray for His direction.  and pray a lot!  prayer is one of the biggest ways God gets things done!  so if you haven't done anything else yet, stop and pray for whatever needs God lays on your heart right now.


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we now return you to your regularly scheduled post:

if this hasn't gotten too long for you, here's the short version of point 2)
there's a little part where God says, as part of His judgment "My people - infants are their oppressors, and women rule over them."

at first church, we just overhauled our constitution, so we've been talking about leadership a lot, and how it's not about power and control but service and responsibility.  we've also talked some about why we believe only men are called to be pastors/elders, and i know there are some out there who don't like the sound of that.

but here, God uses the fact that "women rule over them" as a derogatory thing.  He says this to rebuke His people.  why is that?  what's so wrong with this?

there's a lot that could be said on this, and if you want to go a little deeper, i'd recommend a recent sermon by john piper, or if you really want to dig in, this book (free pdf of the whole thing).  but i think the thing with this text is, how cowardly and irresponsible the men must be, that the women have to add to their duties the weight of leadership.  how wimpy and childish must the men of israel be, that their mothers and their wives have to lead them, instead of the men taking the responsibility for the direction of their families, their church and their nation?  i don't think God is calling the women out here for doing something wrong, but chewing the men out for being immature boys.

men, let's not have God lay this charge against us.  'nuff said.




lt,dr: 1) God hates people who just go through the motions, so don't do that!  when God calls you to be on mission, get going!  and 2) men, have the balls to be men and own up to the weight of leadership.  our ladies have enough on their plates.

God bless you all!
s.D.g.

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