Friday, September 9, 2016

Comfort My People: The Prophecies Of Isaiah, Day 73

Comfort My People:
The Prophecies Of Isaiah
Day 73

Yesterday we concluded with the sad spiritual condition of the priests and prophets. They have become worldly and have given themselves to pleasures. We begin today with their indignation at being reminded of God's rules. They are angry with Isaiah for trying to bring them back to the basics of God's law. They feel they are too sophisticated to listen. "Who is it that he is trying to teach? To whom is he explaining his message? To children weaned from their milk, to those just taken from the breast? For it is: Do this, do that, a rule for this, a rule for that; a little here, a little there." (Isaiah 28:9-10)
The priests and prophets feel Isaiah is talking down to them when he reminds them of God's word in simple terms. They are prideful, saying to themselves, "Who does this fellow think he is? We are the spiritual leaders of Israel! What can he possibly teach us? He's talking to us like we are a bunch of little kids in a Sunday school class!" 

But the fact is that these men need to be brought back to the basics. They have become worldly like those who grew up in the church, know the Scriptures, but have decided they aren't to be taken literally. They are treating God's laws as if they merely suggest how a man should live, not as if it the Scriptures are the spoken word of the living God.

Because they refuse to listen to a godly man of their own nation, God will send them captive to another nation. "Very well then, with foreign lips and strange tongues God will speak to this people, to whom He said, 'This is the resting place, let the weary rest'; and, 'This is the place of repose'---but they would not listen. So then, the word of the Lord to them will become: Do this, do that, a rule for this, a rule for that; a little here, a little there---so that as they go they will fall backward; they will be injured and snared and captured." (Isaiah 28:11-13) The priests and prophets have been mocking Isaiah's words, imitating him by babbling nonsense. The words translated "do this do that, a rule for this a rule for that, a little here a little there" are tsav latsav tsav latsav, gav lagav gav lagav, which would make a repetitive rhyme when shouted at Isaiah. It would sound like gibberish, especially coming from these men who have been drinking so much they end up vomiting on the tables, according to yesterday's passage. God is saying something like, "You will not listen to the plain speaking of My true prophets? You mock their words? Fine, I will send you to a nation whose language you do not know, and there everything will sound like nonsense to your ears."

"Therefore hear the word of the Lord, you scoffers who rule this people in Jerusalem. You boast, 'We have entered into a covenant with death, with the realm of the dead we have made an agreement. When an overwhelming scourge sweeps by, it cannot touch us, for we have made a lie our refuge and falsehood our hiding place." (Isaiah 28:14-15) The people of Jerusalem hoped alliances with other nations would keep them safe from enemies, but it was not to be. Many of their neighbors fell to Assyria and those who did not eventually fell to Babylon, just as Jerusalem would. They are trusting in a lie. Their help can only be found in turning back to God but instead they run to and fro seeking help from idolatrous neighbors. Isaiah is pleading with the people, telling them what they must do in order to continue being a sovereign nation in the world, but they scoff at him. His preaching sounds like foolishness to them. 

We still have scoffers today. As the Apostle Paul said, "For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God." (1 Corinthians 1:18) He then goes on to quote from Isaiah 29:14, "For it is written: 'I will destroy the wisdom of the wise; the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate.'" (1 Corinthians 1:19) The spiritual leaders of Isaiah's day thought they were too educated and intelligent to listen to him. We see this attitude in our own times, an attitude that says, "Only ignorant backwoods hillbillies believe the Bible is true! A man named Noah built an ark? The Red Sea parted? A fish swallowed a man? A man rose from the dead after being beaten to a pulp and then tortured on a cross? Who would believe this?" The preaching of the cross is foolishness to those who are wise in their own eyes. This is why the Bible says they are perishing. They are perishing in their sins and unbelief. They have made a covenant with death by trusting in that which cannot save. 

But to those who are being saved, the message of the cross is the power of God. Pride is not saying, "I'm not a sinner and I don't need a Savior." Humility and the recognition of sin leads to the One of whom Isaiah will speak tomorrow, the precious cornerstone of our faith.

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