Monday, April 11, 2016

Not Cheap Comfort

"Isaiah's new message (Ch's 40 and beyond) is for people whose whole world has been shattered.  And for people like that, cheap comfort is not only a waste of time, it is cruel.  Comfort that is not grounded in reality is no comfort at all." - Webb, p162.

And so Isaiah is for anyone who lives in a world that has been shattered.  

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Isaiah 6 and Isaiah 40

In Isaiah 6, the commission is to go to ears that will not hear and preach a message of judgment.  In Isaiah 40 a new commission is given to go and preach a message of comfort.

Friday, April 8, 2016

Isaiah's Latter Years

"As early as 712 BC, as much as twenty years before his death (simply an estimate), (Isaiah) could see that the Babylonian exile was coming (39:5-7).  It must have weighed heavily upon him, but as far a we know he did not enlarge on it in his preaching.  For most of the following fifteen years the more immediate Assyrian crisis demanded his attention and, with the accession of Manasseh, and the fierce repression that came with it, it would have become impossible for him to preach at all...It is therefore likely, ..that in the latter part of his life Isaiah was called to a new task:  to comfort God's people in words that his disciples would cherish and preserve in the dark days ahead until Israel was at last ready to hear them." - Webb, p 160.

In his footnotes, he recalls what Isaiah recorded back in 8:16-17, 

16 Bind up the testimony, Seal the law among my disciples. 17 And I will wait on the Lord, Who hides His face from the house of Jacob; And I will hope in Him.

What do we do when people will not listen to the Word, especially the warnings?  Bind them up and save them for another day will come when there will be ears to hear.

O Lord, grant us such days today!

Thursday, April 7, 2016

In Order to Test Him

"In order to test him..." - Those are the words in 2 Chronicles (32:31) that describe what God allowed to occur as recorded in Isaiah 39 with Babylon and Hezekiah.  After being healed, “his heart was lifted up” (2 Chron 32:25), Hezekiah, dazzled by the envoy from Babylon, showed them his own treasures, all of them (Isaiah 39:1-2), indicating his intention to impress and align with Babylon at all costs.  Here was the opportunity to give glory to God, but all Hezekiah revealed was his worldly riches.  There is similarity to the self-glorying declarations of Moses at the rock in the wilderness (Num 20:2-13) which also ended with consequences from the Lord.  Isaiah shows up unbidden (v3) as the Word of God often does to confront us.  God’s questions are like those to Adam and Eve (“where are you…what did these men see...where are they from”), questions that we know God already knows the answers to, but which indicate his judgment.  Hezekiah tells the truth (either in repentance or brazenly, we are not sure – v4) and then Isaiah replies with deadly calm that one day all those treasures would belong to Babylon (vv5-6), and that Hezekiah’s descendants would become eunuchs serving in the courts of Babylon (v7).  

Hezekiah’s answer in v8 leaves us all scratching our heads (v8); he doesn’t seem to care (at that moment) about the future of the country he leads.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

The Ironic Sundial Steps of Ahaz

When the shadow goes down on the “sundial of Ahaz” this is probably referring to the idolatrous altar that Ahaz had built after returning from Baal-worshipping Israel (2 Kings 16).  The sign showed that the kingdom of Judah, which was on its deathbed because of wicked Ahaz’s unbelief and idolatry, was going to be given an increase of years.  Ahaz, committed to his unbelief, had refused any sign offered by God (Isaiah 7); Hezekiah, because he believed, asked for a sign and received one (38:22).

Providence and Individual Human Life II

"To make us who we are, he must control our heredity.  So he has given us the parents we have, and their parents, and their parents.  And to give us the parents we have, God must control many of their free decisions, such as the free decisions of Jeremiah's parents to marry, and their parents, and their parents...

...Negatively, God's purposes exclude many free decisions that would otherwise be possible.  Since God had planned to bring Joseph to Egypt, his brothers were, in an important sense, not free to kill him, though at one point in the story they planned to do so...Nor could the Roman soldiers have broken Jesus' legs when he hung on the cross, for God's prophets had declared otherwise." - Frame, ST, p155.

My only thought about this is that Frame doesn't go far enough.  How could God have controlled "many of their free decision"?  Would He not actually have control of every single free decision we have ever made?

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Hezekiah and Jerusalem - the Looming Similarities

How are the stories of Hezekiah's illness and Sennacherib's attack linked?  They are both in crisis and in both stories, a salvation is granted.  Assyria is struck a blow and sent away.  Hezekiah's illness is struck a blow and sent away as well.  In Hezekiah's reprieve we learn explicitly that it is temporary.  He is granted an additional 15 years.  Jerusalem's reprieve will also be temporary.

"In short, the fall of Jerusalem in 587 BC is already beginning to loom up on the horizon of the narrative; it will come into direct view at the end of chapter 39, and dominate the scene from there on.  Chapters 38 and 39 are not (as they might at first appear) a digression from the main drama, but an introduction to its second major movement." - Webb, p155.