ISSL Reflections May 9, 2021, Isaiah 29:13-24 Post 3

In the Scripture passage we read this week, what did Isaiah see and hear in his day that led him to believe the people were not on the path of covenant life with God?

Maybe we could make a list. Here a few things I notice –

The people’s personal investment in their worship practices were lacking something –

these people draw near with their mouths
and honor me with their lips,
while their hearts are far from me,
and their worship of me is a human commandment learned by rote; (Isaiah 29:13)

Some spend more time thinking about doing harm than doing good –

For the tyrant shall be no more,
and the scoffer shall cease to be;
all those alert to do evil shall be cut off (Isaiah 29:20)

What people often regard as the smart ways to get ahead not always lasting –

The wisdom of their wise shall perish,
and the discernment of the discerning shall be hidden. (Isaiah 29:14)

People can no longer look to find justice in the courts –

those who cause a person to lose a lawsuit,
who set a trap for the arbiter in the gate,
and without grounds deny justice to the one in the right. (Isaiah 29:21)

Isaiah’s disappointment with the people is not just about things “religious” or what we often call “spiritual” but extends to every part of life including what the folk think are the “smart” ways to live and behave and seeing justice done for all people not just those with power to force their “justice” on others lacking resources and power.

What else do you see that gives Isaiah cause to weep for the people and to call them to the way of the covenant?

What does Isaiah offer as the way to bring the people back to the covenant?

You turn things upside down!
Shall the potter be regarded as the clay?
Shall the thing made say of its maker,
“He did not make me”;
or the thing formed say of the one who formed it,
“He has no understanding”? (Isaiah 29:16)

… and maybe …

On that day the deaf shall hear
the words of a scroll,
and out of their gloom and darkness
the eyes of the blind shall see.
The meek shall obtain fresh joy in the Lord,
and the neediest people shall exult in the Holy One of Israel. (Isaiah 29:18-19)

How are these words from The Prophet actualized –

they will sanctify the Holy One of Jacob,
and will stand in awe of the God of Israel.
And those who err in spirit will come to understanding,
and those who grumble will accept instruction. (Isaiah 29:23-22)

Might Isaiah’s observations fit not just in Isaiah’s day but maybe in our day also?

How does God call me to live as part of the Kingdom of God?

Take a moment more to read these words in The Message translation and notice what they bring to mind for you –

Isaiah 29:13-24 (The Message)

“These people make a big show of saying the right thing,
but their hearts aren’t in it.
Because they act like they’re worshiping me
but don’t mean it,
I’m going to step in and shock them awake,
astonish them, stand them on their ears.
The wise ones who had it all figured out
will be exposed as fools.
The smart people who thought they knew everything
will turn out to know nothing.”

Doom to you! You pretend to have the inside track.
You shut God out and work behind the scenes,
Plotting the future as if you knew everything,
acting mysterious, never showing your hand.
You have everything backward!
You treat the potter as a lump of clay.
Does a book say to its author,
“He didn’t write a word of me”?
Does a meal say to the woman who cooked it,
“She had nothing to do with this”?

And then before you know it,
and without you having anything to do with it,
Wasted Lebanon will be transformed into lush gardens,
and Mount Carmel reforested.
At that time the deaf will hear
word-for-word what’s been written.
After a lifetime in the dark,
the blind will see.
The castoffs of society will be laughing and dancing in God,
the down-and-outs shouting praise to The Holy of Israel.
For there’ll be no more gangs on the street.
Cynical scoffers will be an extinct species.
Those who never missed a chance to hurt or demean
will never be heard of again:
Gone the people who corrupted the courts,
gone the people who cheated the poor,
gone the people who victimized the innocent.

And finally this, God’s Message for the family of Jacob,
the same God who redeemed Abraham:
“No longer will Jacob hang his head in shame,
no longer grow gaunt and pale with waiting.
For he’s going to see his children,
my personal gift to him—lots of children.
And these children will honor me
by living holy lives.
In holy worship they’ll honor the Holy One of Jacob
and stand in holy awe of the God of Israel.
Those who got off-track will get back on-track,
and complainers and whiners will learn gratitude.”

{ubi caritas et amor, Deus ibi est}

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