First (section of) Isaiah [Chap.1-39]
1:10-20 – excellent! Especially 16 and 17 – seek justice, correct oppression etc. versus immoral life coupled with lavish sacrifice. The noise of solemn assemblies. The perennial problem.
1:15 – answers to prayers affected by our attitude to life. The key to acceptable worship is in the heart-attitude of people.
1:23 – bribes/gifts – cf. Bill_______ on Canadian society: “not whether but how much – free lunches for a year is okay but $10,000 is a scandal”.
1:31 – their own deeds will be the end of them – idolatry will end in self-destruction.
2:3 – that he may teach us his ways – the peace or truce of covenant relationship extended to all nations – is based on God's law and our obedience to it, not human program.
2: 7-8 – bow down to wealth and ornaments equals trust in them versus God. Not condemned in themselves.
2: 12 – for the Lord has a day against all that seems “high” now and it will be put in perspective. Good assurance in days when injustice reigns and reminder that ultimately such people are only fooling themselves to think this is the way things are.
3:1-15 – beautiful passage on responsibility of leadership in social stability and that God expects this to be done and done responsibly in self-giving involvement. Anarchy is not acceptable.
3:6 and 7 – things are so bad no one wants to be the ruler and healer of this heap of ruins! Cf. what's happening in today's world. Cf. Udo Romstead, mayor of Kenora, "you start thinking office will be fun, find it's not, but by then you are addicted. Perhaps that is good, otherwise you'd never put up with public office. I enjoyed doing something for the community – somebody has to do it.”
3:15 – hunting the helpless is a breach of covenant – we've sure forgotten that!
3:16f – woman's role is behind the scenes in contributing to social breakdown by keeping the men under pressure to gain material things for them – the above social breakdown is their responsibility too and therefore they are punished. (things don't change all that much!).
5:1-7 – lovely technique using a song and hitting them with a punch line they didn't expect at a party! Note Hebrew puns.
5:8 – join house to house/field to field – often unethically – things don't change much.
5: 11-13 – self-indulgence – not noting God's works in life results in lack of knowledge of him. The hunger and thirst that follow is natural – integrated life.
5:18-23 – delightful! Vivid images!
5:18 – those who are tied to sin like a harness and pull consequences with them like a cart!
5:19 – demand God prove himself but don't believe he can or will – they'll never see it anyway – a denial of his moral rule.
5:20 –“ the advanced” – beyond moral distinctions. Lost all sense of quality living.
5:21 planning and ordering our own life and that of the community with no reference to the will of God are indeed in for some woe!
5:22 – message for the pub crowd today!
5:24 – life-giving roots nothing but rottenness and therefore no life and upper plant is so parched of sustenance that it shrinks when the heat is on.
5:25 – and is hand is stretched out still! (Yes, still).
6:5 – note the humility of this man in the face of God. It's God who makes the approach and bridges the gap.
6:8 – overused, but still potent which to me indicates its power to move people – I fear it's wasted on modern people by beating it to death like so many of our key passages.
6:9-10 – he starts knowing he would fail. For him God seems to have thought it necessary to know – for others of us he tells us the aspect of our work that are essential given the nature of our individual personality and the world we live in. For me it seems to have been a potent but open-ended nudge – potent enough to rely on as extra motivation through the sludge, open ended in that the chaos of my mind at that time seemed to have necessitated, “get walking, your mind is a mess, I'll meet you at pertinent points along the way – you're to learn by doing.”
For Isaiah it was, “who will go for me?”, for me it was a single word, “go”, accompanied with a gentle but forceful nudge. – no content, thank God! I believe the content was too subtle to be learned in relation to the Ministry to today's people, so subtle that I still haven't grasped the full nature of his lesson and message – but I'm still in school.
6:11 –“ how long Lord?”– again for me, open ended. It is irrelevant to know how long before one knows the full and exact nature of the mission – indeed, ludicrous. Like Abraham, had he asked, “how long?”– project Jesus was a couple of thousand years long, and he'd see no part of it in fulfillment – his job was to start the development of a family out of which a boy (Jesus) would stand half a chance of receiving the nurturing and guidance necessary for his saving task in the world.
[note: I later found this as only part of the picture. I now see Abraham and his descendants as the "first student brought to the front of the class by the teacher to be a demonstration" (etc) with the idea that all students (cultures) would eventually learn...and this was a good teaching technique. Jesus sent his apostles (sent ones) over the cultural wall of Judaism to the other cultures of the world with "stripped down Judaism lite for export purposes" to take salt, light, and leaven to the other cultures of the world (students in the class)...but still, Abraham started something he did not see the end of, although my perception of the size of project-Abraham in 1977 was more limited.]
Chapter 7 – is a beautiful story in so many ways – and of course throws great doubt on the “virgin birth” misquote incident in early Matthew owing to his use of LXX. To me, this doubt is assuring in that Jesus was even more God with us than if you can write half of him off as “Superman” anyway – the demands and life are even more potent to us, the challenge is even more profound.
[note:Of course, the notion of the Virgin Birth of Jesus is one of the contentious issues in current Christian theology. Some Evangelicals state flatly that if it is not true, then nothing in the Bible can be relied on. I don't take that position. As a fiction writer and poet, I know that some stories are true, and some carry truth, and that poetic technique depends on playful ambiguity in order to draw the reader into the experience personally. On the flip side, I am deeply appreciative of Evangelical Christians for sticking to the text (even if somewhat overly rigidly) and asking, "given the text, what changes best I make in order to bring my life into line with the text?" Liberals tend to write off challenging or difficult passages saying they are "interpolations" (ie. inserts into the original text by later authors), which to me is a cop-out. As someone pointed out there are 6 or 8 explanations of just how God was in Jesus reconciling the world to himself...pay your money and take your choice.]
7:2 – on losing your cool in the face of non-issues! And by doing so losing a lot more – cf. the "financial crisis" of 1976 in Keewatin and the danger of being sidetracked by it.
7:10f – on assuring ourselves of God's will in issues we face – we're not to test him needlessly, but we can ask for confirmation from more than one source. Ahaz is obviously in internal conflict about the advice he's receiving – but refuses to allow God to do the clarifying, relying on his own wit. God through Jeremiah is not content to leave the nation at the mercy of one man's mis-based self-confidence and gives the sign anyway (a long-term one at that, in the face of a short-term crisis!)
7:13 – beautiful – is it not enough that you wear out God's messengers with frustration, that you must wear out God to?! He has exhausted the patience of Jeremiah and God!
7:14f – Ahaz mouthed confidence in the promises of God to David regarding continuing support – but his actions denied that real confidence – Isaiah tells him to live out that trust in God. He has has made up his mind not to – so the very sight of assurance (the kid) becomes a sign of catastrophe. So too with Christ.
8:8b-10 – the faith they mouthed but didn't live by. Assurance of God's might in their midst.
8:1 –“with his strong hand upon me” how accurate a description of some of his dealings with us as he guides us – as a father guides his son through a thick crowd with a strong hand.
8:12f – the calling out of the remnant to separate itself as a group from the national policy, in faithfulness to God. How many times men have heard and heeded that cry to separate from national policy in fear of the real power in mankind's affairs (God).
8:16f – he is not listened to so shuts up and waits, leaving his words in a sealed envelope to be a witness for him after they come true. Then he lives out that hope and trust which the king didn't live, and his very presence and his “named sons” spoke volumes daily. Another slant on the Ministry of waiting.
8:19 – consult the dead or God? Attempt to manipulate Divine power for egotistical ends or walking relationship and trust of that loving divine power? Where does your faith and trust lie in yourself or God? No dawn of hope for those who walk that way – back to Yahweh's teaching.
9:2-7 – on accession, adopted not born. Speaks in terms of the ideal Davidic king not this particular Ahaz – like a new minister coming – great hopes, then, well maybe the next one! But always the hope.
9:6 the five names are as of Egyptian middle Kingdom's bestowing five “great names” at the time of accession – “LM” is a fragment of the last one in Hebrew. Don't make him a God but they picked beneficial traits of his type of leadership. How about ours?
9:7 – the zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this – and has done it in Christ. A la Mark's gospel the adopted son of God at accession (baptism) the Spirit of God entered with power. The birth stuff results in a copout for us (he's half God anyway see you can't expect us to live like that, he had a tiger in his tank" we're only on regular gas, not premium. The Israelite belief in Messiah was much more down-to-earth – leadership with God's power – but human – still life giving.
9:8 – God sends a power-led in word against Israel – look out! I believe God has also sent a power-laden word against our individual and collective world-life on this planet – powerful to refine with the fire of life. There is a revelation of foot in the affairs of mankind.
9:12 –“ and his hand is stretched out still”– more to come!
9:13-17 – “and a beautiful indictment of our present-day church”
9:19 –“ and the people are like fuel for the fire; no man spares his brother" – the tragedy of civil war.
10:1f – the abuse of legislative power. So too today unfortunately. Note the provisional dealings with Indian land claims and our past track records – and housing situation in Keewatin with CMH C.'s program and the towns hassles.
Chapter 10f and 11 – such great hope in the midst of a disaster situation. He always seems to be a jump ahead of the situation, and sees it in perspective.
Chapter 12 – two songs of praise to be sung on the second great return (as on the first) prays for God's salvation – still relevant today for our great returns – of God's continuing salvation.
13:12 – the “man standard” versus the “gold standard” – value through scarcity! Wasn't really what he had in mind.
14:7 – the relief at the end of tyranny.
14:25 – God has ways of doing things to let us he absolutely sure he did it.
14:32 – our answer to those who wish to politics their way along and jeopardize God's work – God has established this work.
Chapter 15 – a pitiful description of refugees of Moab when they were overrun by Arabs in about 650 B.C.E.
16:1-7 – refugees appealing to Judah get about the same amount of positive response as in our present day! Past pride and insincerity work against Moab. Note diplomatic flattery in verse five.
16:8-12 – the poet does enter into the Moabite grief at the loss of the massive than yards! Cf. today when bulldozers do the same at 27 acres an hour of arable land in Ontario -- and so few are sensitive to the loss.
17:12-14 – the prophet when the heat is on.
18:4 – a beautiful image of God how bring over sending things that really make the harvest time, (i.e. the time became right) while men below Hatch all sorts of plots to bring about their ends according to their timetable – then suddenly when God's time is right lots of things start to pop, to the chagrin of the plotters (and their death).
19:21f – amazing acceptance of Egyptians into God's people!
Chapter 20 (1-6) – the vivid ways Isaiah went about getting his message across -- three years barefoot and (half ?) naked to get a point across. Actually in a loin cloth or undergarment. And we sweat about our one-shot messages!
21:1-10 – premature counting chickens before they're hatched. Isaiah has to inform and warn them to look out now!
21:11-12 – not share yet what's up, ask later! Interesting – profit doesn't always know – the whole lesson – or all the answers – even about missing questions.
22:12-14 – inappropriate joy – basis is on celebrating our victories or lack of total defeat versus tuning in to God's activities – hear God's project itself was against them.
22:15f – tying into corrupt head of the Cabinet (actually became Secretary of State not put out – lateral transfer!?) (To me) crumpled up like a ball of paper and thrown away as useless trash.
23:1-12 – interesting panorama of ships arriving to know port and bad news -- would make a fantastic painting – I wonder if there is one? The destruction of all pride and self achievement.
23:15-18 – reluctant hope of conversion of someone you detest! (Post exilic). Conversion seen to show itself in a new direction and purpose for trade – dedication to the Lord versus to self -- thanks versus pride.
24:2 – all affected by activities of God – “high and low” alike.
24:10 – the city of Chaos is broken down.
25:6-8 – the key regarding death and the death of death in New Testament usage.
25:10-11 – graphic! Drown in a manure pit!
Chapter 25-26:6 – some lovely hymn fragments.
26:7-19 – fascinating prayer containing the oldest reference to resurrection (of the righteous only – Daniel (word?) Raised unrighteous in order to punish). Post exilic of course.
“Big country, no people – how about your promise God?”Answer: resurrect the righteous with “dew” falling on dead bodies.
26:20-27:1 – brief and hard judgment – this end of Cain 1000 times over no longer hidden – wars etc. – brother slaying – an interesting perspective.
27:2-6 – hopeful despite inordinate problems.
27:8 – Sirocco – hot desert wind equals divine judgment – “when the heat is on!”
27:9 – return to faithfulness are the terms of expiation.
28:5-6 – a powerful ideal and hope in contrast to the present symbols of “good life” a party hat versus the Lord. A walled city versus his living presence. Crown of glory – diadem of beauty – spirit of justice and strength in battle.
28:9-13 – beautiful regarding learning from God – if not straight out, then the hard way. Note lessons in Hebrew or Assyrian, but rote lessons nonetheless.
28:1-13 – a beautiful chunk of work as a unit.
28:14-22 – mocking after in trouble with God will only make the matter complete and overwhelming.
28:16 – (cf. Romans 9 and 10, first Peter 2(?)) Cornerstone of all of God's relationships with mankind and vice versa is trust. Therefore any interpretation of what building is being built – they all are based on the same rock (faith).
28:20 – beautiful proverb for a bad scene!
28:23-9 wisdom literature story regarding God's ways with mankind and therefore a pattern for them (and us) he doesn't repeat the same action (harrowing) over and over but moves on to fulfill his purpose with relevant actions (putting in his crop). In harvest he doesn't deal with all situations alike but harvests differently -- thus they should respond sometimes actively and sometimes passively to their situation in accordance with God's plan and not just bash ahead on their own – us too.
29:9 and 10 –“ when people tell their moral sense it is God's judgment to remove those senses”. The prophets and seers are useless to them (are they useless or are the people “unreading” of them – check out).
29:13 and 14 – prophet's religion is a thing of men learned by rote – therefore I will act to save and make it firsthand once more. Beautiful!
29:21 – the justice system breaks down just as it has two a great extent today.
29:16-22 – how a man's thought affects that of later men. Here is some work by Isaiah’s “school” made later and very good.
30:1 – who made a league but not of my spirit (sealed in a spirit other than that God) not so remote from today.
30:8f – very good – “speak to us smooth things” not the harsh truth. “Lying sons” who claim Sun ship but deny it with their actions.
30:17 – 1000 of you shall flee at the threat of one without God. Flipside of spiritual warfare referred to in Deuteronomy.
30:20 –“ this is the way, walk in it” will be heated. Such hope in times of confusion of_______ at the end of the second year.
32:1f – effect of God's spirit in rulers is justice and righteousness.
33:6 –“ and he will be the stability of your times” etc.
33:24 – sin and forgiveness related to health.
Chapter 34/35 – judgment results in burnt; redemption results in blossom.
37:31 – interesting – follow it up.
Chapter 38 – interesting incident regarding Hezekiah's near-death.
39:5-8 – your sons will be carried off etc. Hezekiah thought, “good! There will be peace and security in my days!"
(Later notes on Isaiah chapter 30 –)
(With: 1) –“ plans and leagues” without God's counsel.
(: 2-5) – Protection will turn out to be humiliation; shame and disgrace come as opposed to help and profit.
(With: 6-7) – no amount of money can buy what is worthless to start with.
(With: 12) – trust in and rely on oppression and perverseness – this trust will be the weak point in your defences – sudden and total collapse.
(With: 15) – returning and rest; quietness and confidence – equals Christ – your salvation and strength.
(With: 16) – speed and swiftness (decisiveness) will be route and annihilation. Exalted – he will be exalted (authorized version) – to raise/rise, be exalted, bring up, exult self, etc. (7311 inStrong’s concordance).
(With: 19) – God is gracious and answers upon hearing our cry (and waits for it)
(With: 20) – despite standard of living given to us by him – he [as Christ] will be seen by us – our teacher – and he [as spirit] will be heard by us – our guide as we step out, and in doing so make wrong turns.
(With: 22) – then we will chuck out our false gods and respond to him – the true wisdom, truth, way, light etc.
(With: 23) – he will give rain for the seed we sow and make that seed flourish into plenteousness. Lots of pasture for grazing our cattle. Excellent feed for our beasts of burden and farming. Water bubbling out of a high place while all the rest are experiencing destruction and slaughter. Very bright out on the day of God's healing.
(With: 27) – a forest fire comes – removing the negative stuff from our lives – sifting at all.
(With: 29) – a song in the midst of tumult. Gladness as in rock-solidness in a troubled time. Voiced assurance from God in the very voice and act that the evil find to be a threat. The punishment is music to our ears. It's God's battle not ours. The ultimate destination for evil is destruction of it.