ISSL Reflections January 29 2023 Joel 2:21–27 Post 3

VII.
This passage begins with “Do not fear … Do not fear … be glad, and rejoice.”

What “evidence” does the prophet offer that the people should “… be glad, and rejoice”?

VIII.
Joel 2:21-27 (New Revised Standard Version Updated Edition)

Do not fear, O soil;
       be glad and rejoice,
       for the Lord has done great things!
Do not fear, you animals of the field,
       for the pastures of the wilderness are green;
the tree bears its fruit;
       the fig tree and vine give their full yield.

O children of Zion, be glad,
       and rejoice in the Lord your God,
for he has given the early rain for your vindication;
       he has poured down for you abundant rain,
       the early and the later rain, as before.
The threshing floors shall be full of grain;
       the vats shall overflow with wine and oil.

I will repay you for the years
       that the swarming locust has eaten,
the hopper, the destroyer, and the cutter,
       my great army that I sent against you.

You shall eat in plenty and be satisfied
       and praise the name of the Lord your God,
       who has dealt wondrously with you.
And my people shall never again be put to shame.
You shall know that I am in the midst of Israel
       and that I, the Lord, am your God and there is no other.
And my people shall never again be put to shame.

IX.
The people had previously experienced a time of scarcity. The prophet is encouraging them to expect a time of plenty.

And not just a time of “… threshing floors … full of gain…” and “… vats [overflowing] with wine and oil.”

But a time when the people “know that [God is] in the midst of Israel.”

How do you think the renewed productivity of the harvest encourages Israel to trust God has not departed from them?

How about you? What encourages you to trust in the nearness of God?

charles
{ubi caritas et amor, Deus ibi est}

ISSL Reflections January 29 2023 Joel 2:21–27 Post 2

IV.
As you spend time with this passage today, take notice of all the mentions of what is found in nature.

V.
Joel 2:21-27 (New Revised Standard Version Updated Edition)

Do not fear, O soil;
       be glad and rejoice,
       for the Lord has done great things!
Do not fear, you animals of the field,
       for the pastures of the wilderness are green;
the tree bears its fruit;
       the fig tree and vine give their full yield.

O children of Zion, be glad,
       and rejoice in the Lord your God,
for he has given the early rain for your vindication;
       he has poured down for you abundant rain,
       the early and the later rain, as before.
The threshing floors shall be full of grain;
       the vats shall overflow with wine and oil.

I will repay you for the years
       that the swarming locust has eaten,
the hopper, the destroyer, and the cutter,
       my great army that I sent against you.

You shall eat in plenty and be satisfied
       and praise the name of the Lord your God,
       who has dealt wondrously with you.
And my people shall never again be put to shame.
You shall know that I am in the midst of Israel
       and that I, the Lord, am your God and there is no other.
And my people shall never again be put to shame.

VI.
What did you notice?

Rain, soil, pastures, wilderness, animals, trees, fruit, vines, etc.

If weather permits, spend some time outside today. What do you see? What do you hear? What do you smell?

What do you feel?

Does anything you see, hear, smell or feel bring you a sense of what you might call holy?

charles
{ubi caritas et amor, Deus ibi est}

ISSL Reflections January 29 2023 Joel 2:21–27 Post 1

I.
Joel hears and relays the word of God to the people,

You shall know that I am in the midst of Israel
       and that I, the Lord, am your God and there is no other.

How is the presence of God described in this passage?

II.
Joel 2:21-27 (New Revised Standard Version Updated Edition)

Do not fear, O soil;
       be glad and rejoice,
       for the Lord has done great things!
Do not fear, you animals of the field,
       for the pastures of the wilderness are green;
the tree bears its fruit;
       the fig tree and vine give their full yield.

O children of Zion, be glad,
       and rejoice in the Lord your God,
for he has given the early rain for your vindication;
       he has poured down for you abundant rain,
       the early and the later rain, as before.
The threshing floors shall be full of grain;
       the vats shall overflow with wine and oil.

I will repay you for the years
       that the swarming locust has eaten,
the hopper, the destroyer, and the cutter,
       my great army that I sent against you.

You shall eat in plenty and be satisfied
       and praise the name of the Lord your God,
       who has dealt wondrously with you.
And my people shall never again be put to shame.
You shall know that I am in the midst of Israel
       and that I, the Lord, am your God and there is no other.
And my people shall never again be put to shame.

III.
As you spend time with this passage, what recollections of God’s presence come to mind for you?

How do you notice God both in nature and in your own experience?

charles
{ubi caritas et amor, Deus ibi est}

ISSL Reflections January 22 2023 Isaiah 58:6–10 Post 3

VII.
We have spent time this week considering fasting and how it calls attention to behaviors we should not practice and behaviors we should practice.

Keeping in mind the lifestyle recommended here, pay attention to two other images presented here, that of light, and that of a yoke.

VIII.
Isaiah 58:6-10 (New Revised Standard Version Updated Edition)

Is not this the fast that I choose:
       to loose the bonds of injustice,
       to undo the straps of the yoke,
to let the oppressed go free,
       and to break every yoke?
Is it not to share your bread with the hungry
       and bring the homeless poor into your house;
when you see the naked, to cover them
       and not to hide yourself from your own kin?
Then your light shall break forth like the dawn,
       and your healing shall spring up quickly;
your vindicator shall go before you;
       the glory of the Lord shall be your rear guard.
Then you shall call, and the Lord will answer;
       you shall cry for help, and he will say, “Here I am.”

If you remove the yoke from among you,
       the pointing of the finger, the speaking of evil,
if you offer your food to the hungry
       and satisfy the needs of the afflicted,
then your light shall rise in the darkness
       and your gloom be like the noonday.

IX.
What yokes do you hear the prophet calling on the people to break?

What kinds of yokes do you encounter that the prophet might call on you to break or help to break?

Do you have any experience of the kind of light that can “rise in the darkness” even as yokes you see others bearing or you bear paint the world in so many shades of “gloom

charles
{ubi caritas et amor, Deus ibi est}

ISSL Reflections January 22 2023 Isaiah 58:6–10 Post 2

IV.
Take some time to read (and probably reread) this passage from Isaiah.

Think of it as being spoken to you. As this is addressed to you, what holds your attention the most. You might think of it as what has the most depth for you and will not release your attention.

V.
Isaiah 58:6-10 (New Revised Standard Version Updated Edition)

Is not this the fast that I choose:
       to loose the bonds of injustice,
       to undo the straps of the yoke,
to let the oppressed go free,
       and to break every yoke?
Is it not to share your bread with the hungry
       and bring the homeless poor into your house;
when you see the naked, to cover them
       and not to hide yourself from your own kin?
Then your light shall break forth like the dawn,
       and your healing shall spring up quickly;
your vindicator shall go before you;
       the glory of the Lord shall be your rear guard.
Then you shall call, and the Lord will answer;
       you shall cry for help, and he will say, “Here I am.”

If you remove the yoke from among you,
       the pointing of the finger, the speaking of evil,
if you offer your food to the hungry
       and satisfy the needs of the afflicted,
then your light shall rise in the darkness
       and your gloom be like the noonday.

III.

Is it something to “fast” from, that is to let go of? Or is it something that calls you to some action?

Why do you think it holds your attention?

charles
{ubi caritas et amor, Deus ibi est}

ISSL Reflections January 22 2023 Isaiah 58:6–10 Post 1

I.
This week’s focus passage begins with a redefinition of what kind of fast is acceptable to God.

As you begin your time with these words, take note of what the people are called to eliminate from their lives.

II.
Isaiah 58:6-10 (New Revised Standard Version Updated Edition)

Is not this the fast that I choose:
       to loose the bonds of injustice,
       to undo the straps of the yoke,
to let the oppressed go free,
       and to break every yoke?
Is it not to share your bread with the hungry
       and bring the homeless poor into your house;
when you see the naked, to cover them
       and not to hide yourself from your own kin?
Then your light shall break forth like the dawn,
       and your healing shall spring up quickly;
your vindicator shall go before you;
       the glory of the Lord shall be your rear guard.
Then you shall call, and the Lord will answer;
       you shall cry for help, and he will say, “Here I am.”

If you remove the yoke from among you,
       the pointing of the finger, the speaking of evil,
if you offer your food to the hungry
       and satisfy the needs of the afflicted,
then your light shall rise in the darkness
       and your gloom be like the noonday.

III.
Now that you have paid attention to what the fast will be, let’s read this again and this time take note of what the people are to do, that is what actions the people of God are called to practice.

charles
{ubi caritas et amor, Deus ibi est}

ISSL Reflections January 15 2023 Isaiah 48:3–8a, 17 Post 3

VII.
Can you remember hearing,

“Why are you always so hardheaded?”

Did you hear someone say it to someone in your presence? Was it said to you? Did you say it to someone?

Why was it said?

What was the intent of the question?

Was it said in anger? Was it said to criticize, or shame, or embarrass or hurt? Or might it have been descriptive and the intent been to correct or instruct or in some manner to “help”?

Hold those questions as you read this passage and see if you can grasp something of the prophet’s intent?

VIII.
Isaiah 48:3–8a, 17 (New Revised Standard Version Updated Edition)

The former things I declared long ago;
       they went out from my mouth, and I made them known;
       then suddenly I did them, and they came to pass.
Because I know that you are obstinate,
       and your neck is an iron sinew
       and your forehead brass,
I declared them to you from long ago,
       before they came to pass I announced them to you,
so that you would not say, “My idol did them;
       my carved image and my cast image commanded them.”

You have heard; now see all this;
       and will you not declare it?
From this time forward I tell you new things,
       hidden things that you have not known.
They are created now, not long ago;
       before today you have never heard of them,
       so that you could not say, “I already knew them.”
You have never heard; you have never known;
       from of old your ear has not been opened.
For I knew that you would act very treacherously
       and that from birth you were called a rebel.

Thus says the Lord,
       your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel:
I am the Lord your God,
       who teaches you how to succeed,
       who leads you in the way you should go.

IX.
If you take notice of a few words of Jesus recorded in Matthew 5:22 we hear him telling the crowd to be very careful about being angry with another or insulting another or calling another a “fool”.

Do you find these words from Isaiah are spoken to show how the Redeemer might teach and lead or are they close to calling another a “fool”?

Maybe there are times some of our foolishness should be called out?

If so, how do we discern when to be so confrontational?

charles
{ubi caritas et amor, Deus ibi est}

ISSL Reflections January 15 2023 Isaiah 48:3–8a, 17 Post 2

IV.
Can you recall someone who struck you as “obstinate”?

Maybe even someone you would characterize as having an “obstinate” personality?

For that matter, might someone think you could be “obstinate”?

Apparently God has reason to see his people as being “obstinate” at times.

… I know that you are obstinate,
and your neck is an iron sinew
and your forehead brass … (Isaiah 48:4)

V.
Isaiah 48:3–8a, 17 (New Revised Standard Version Updated Edition)

The former things I declared long ago;
       they went out from my mouth, and I made them known;
       then suddenly I did them, and they came to pass.
Because I know that you are obstinate,
       and your neck is an iron sinew
       and your forehead brass,
I declared them to you from long ago,
       before they came to pass I announced them to you,
so that you would not say, “My idol did them;
       my carved image and my cast image commanded them.”

You have heard; now see all this;
       and will you not declare it?
From this time forward I tell you new things,
       hidden things that you have not known.
They are created now, not long ago;
       before today you have never heard of them,
       so that you could not say, “I already knew them.”
You have never heard; you have never known;
       from of old your ear has not been opened.
For I knew that you would act very treacherously
       and that from birth you were called a rebel.

Thus says the Lord,
       your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel:
I am the Lord your God,
       who teaches you how to succeed,
       who leads you in the way you should go.

VII.
The Message translation renders verse 4 as –

I know you’re a bunch of hardheads,
obstinate and flint-faced,

The New English Translation offers,

I know how stubborn you are.
Your neck muscles are like iron
and your forehead like bronze.

Additionally, the New English Translation in a note offers,

“The image is that of a person who has tensed the muscles of the face and neck as a sign of resolute refusal.”

What evidence does this passage offer for such a characterization of the people?

And even more importantly, why would God continue to have any hope in what such people could be?

charles
{ubi caritas et amor, Deus ibi est}

ISSL Reflections January 15 2023 Isaiah 48:3–8a, 17 Post 1

I.
Notice how this selection from the Prophet Isaiah ends,

Thus says the Lord,
       your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel:
I am the Lord your God,
       who teaches you how to succeed,
       who leads you in the way you should go.

As you read this passage, what kind of people does “the Holy One of Israel” redeem?

II.
Isaiah 48:3–8a, 17 (New Revised Standard Version Updated Edition)

The former things I declared long ago;
       they went out from my mouth, and I made them known;
       then suddenly I did them, and they came to pass.
Because I know that you are obstinate,
       and your neck is an iron sinew
       and your forehead brass,
I declared them to you from long ago,
       before they came to pass I announced them to you,
so that you would not say, “My idol did them;
       my carved image and my cast image commanded them.”

You have heard; now see all this;
       and will you not declare it?
From this time forward I tell you new things,
       hidden things that you have not known.
They are created now, not long ago;
       before today you have never heard of them,
       so that you could not say, “I already knew them.”
You have never heard; you have never known;
       from of old your ear has not been opened.
For I knew that you would act very treacherously
       and that from birth you were called a rebel.

Thus says the Lord,
       your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel:
I am the Lord your God,
       who teaches you how to succeed,
       who leads you in the way you should go.

III.
How are the people The Lord redeems described?

Do they seem to you like people who deserve redemption?

What might we think they deserve?

charles
{ubi caritas et amor, Deus ibi est}

ISSL Reflections January 8 2023 Isaiah 43:1–4, 10–12 Post 3

VII.
As you have read this passage did you notice, “You are my witnesses, says the Lord, and my servant whom I have chosen so that …”?

So who are we? So what follows if we are chosen servants?

As you return again to the passage, pay attention to what it might tell us about who we are as those “formed” by The Lord.

VIII.
Isaiah 43:1-12 (NRSVue)

But now thus says the Lord,
       he who created you, O Jacob,
       he who formed you, O Israel:
Do not fear, for I have redeemed you;
       I have called you by name; you are mine.
When you pass through the waters, I will be with you,
       and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you;
when you walk through fire you shall not be burned,
       and the flame shall not consume you.
For I am the Lord your God,
       the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.
I give Egypt as your ransom,
       Cush and Seba in exchange for you.
Because you are precious in my sight
       and honored and I love you,
I give people in return for you,
       nations in exchange for your life.

Do not fear, for I am with you;
       I will bring your offspring from the east,
       and from the west I will gather you;
I will say to the north, “Give them up,”
       and to the south, “Do not withhold;
bring my sons from far away
       and my daughters from the end of the earth—
everyone who is called by my name,
       whom I created for my glory,
       whom I formed and made.”

Bring forth the people who are blind yet have eyes,
       who are deaf yet have ears!
Let all the nations gather together,
       and let the peoples assemble.
Who among them declared this
       and foretold to us the former things?
Let them bring their witnesses to justify them,
       and let them hear and say, “It is true.”

You are my witnesses, says the Lord,
       and my servant whom I have chosen,
so that you may know and believe me
       and understand that I am he.
Before me no god was formed,
       nor shall there be any after me.
I, I am the Lord,
       and besides me there is no savior.
I am the one who declared and saved and proclaimed,
       not some strange god among you;
       you are my witnesses, says the Lord, and I am God.

IX.
What do you hear about those The Lord forms as His people?

What sense do you have that The Lord is about the work of forming you as His … servant … His witness … His child …? What else?

charles
{ubi caritas et amor, Deus ibi est}