Precept upon precept, line upon line.

March 27, 2014.

“To whom will he teach knowledge,and to whom will he explain the message? Those who are weaned from the milk, those taken from the breast? For it is precept upon precept, precept upon precept,line upon line, line upon line, here a little, there a little.”
(Isaiah 28:9-10)

I was reading through Isaiah 28 this morning, and this passage really stood out to me. I’ll have to admit I didn’t really know what it was saying. I had an idea, but further study has lead to a better understanding. I really like the teaching here, as I think there is a concept that we can take and apply to our spiritual walk as an exercise to grow in the faith.

Isaiah is in the middle of a discourse of prophecy against the Northern Kingdom of Israel who did not seem to be very accepting of his messages. In this passage he is specifically addressing children of God who should have been following the commandments. When you read verses 9 and 10, you are actually reading him repeat a common saying about himself in that time.

“Who is he teaching? Children? He is teaching rudimentary elements like he would teach a child!” That’s my not so great paraphrase of what the people who heard Isaiah were saying. Surely he wasn’t talking to them, seasoned experts in the law! But he was. These children of God who were supposed to be teaching others had drifted so far away from their Lord, and they didn’t seem to even know it. That can make some scary implications. Is that us today? Do we profess to know God, but not abide by his teachings? I know the easy answer is “no, of course not!” but I encourage us all to take a deep reflection to see if that is truly the answer. Is there a passage that we don’t like? Is there a piece of doctrine that we ignore because it is not socially accepted? All good questions for thought.

Notice what Isaiah follows this question with:

“For by people of strange lips and with a foreign tongue the Lord will speak to this people, to whom he has said, “This is rest; give rest to the weary; and this is repose”; yet they would not hear. And the word of the Lord will be to them precept upon precept, precept upon precept, line upon line, line upon line, here a little, there a little, that they may go, and fall backward,and be broken, and snared, and taken.”
(Isaiah 28:11-13)

I love the repetition used here. One of the best things about prophecy to me is the poetic nature of it. When the people ask who his talking to whom he is speaking, he uses their words against them. He is speaking to them, though they don’t want to admit it. Or if they know he is talking to them, they are openly mocking the prophet. But through Isaiah the word of The Lord comes upon them, prophesying their destruction, which would come by the hand of Assyria.

The word of The Lord would always be that to them, precept on precept, line on line. What they considered children’s doctrine, that it would remain to them, and their destruction would soon ensue because they did not regard the word of The Lord. This is both sad and somewhat frightening. How often do we think highly of ourselves, that we know all the teachings of God? How firm is our confidence in our own will to accurately interpret the bible? The Jewish leaders, those who should have indeed been experts in the law, had that false confidence. I believe it to be a dangerous place to be. Let us continue to ever grow, not counting ourselves as supreme authority on scripture, but Christ alone. Pray for his wisdom, and then so learn, precept upon precept, line upon line.

Suggested Daily Reading: Isaiah 28, Acts 17, II Timothy 3, James 1.

The Lord bless you and keep you.


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