March 21, 2015.
Daily Reading: Isaiah 56-61.
Background: Isaiah 51-55.
Concepts and Connections.
The gathering of foreigners: The opening of this chapter is very interesting, especially for those who are not of a Jewish lineage. Often we think of Old Testament ideology as being completely against any other peoples who were not of the Lord. This smites can be witnessed by the first centuryJews who would have little, if any, dealings with foreigners. They did not even associate with the Samaritans, who were partially Jewish. However, this was no the full intent of God. The Jews were supposed to be a light to the world, not a sect that was cut off from them and had absolutely no dealings with them. The Lord has always made provisions for foreigners who were proselytes to the Holy One of Israel. Here we see the oracle assuring the foreigner who keeps the way of the Lord a good standing with God. Further, it is said that God’s house would be called a house f prayer for all nations. This seems to be reference to the Christian age, where the gospel of Jesus set lose the bounds of race and culture, and invited all who would come into the family of God, gathering those besides who has already been gathered (the children of Israel). Here we see that this is not a new idea that God had around the time of Jesus, but rather a characteristic of God that has remained unchanged.
But the children of Israel didn’t seem to get this concept. Even when Jesus came, they still did not associate with Gentiles, nor would they be more than willing to do afterwards for a while. Here we see the magnifying glass turned on the watchmen of Israel, the leaders, for they had led the people into a false hope and were spreading this hope across the land when in reality, how for Israel as a powerful physical nation was quickly demising due to their lack of faith.
Contrasting hearts: In this chapter, we get a tale of two types of hearts, one full of idolatry and self-righteousness, and the other of a humble and contrite spirit. The first heart type do not even notice when the righteous are taken away or perish. They worship the form of idols and are right in their own eyes. The Lord had held his peace with them for a long time, but His patience was running thin. This heart is contrasted with the humble and contrite heart in which the Lord delights. Though it was the sin of man that had made Him angry, His anger would not last forever. The Lord would heal His people and once again look favorably on those who were called by His name. But there would be no rest for the wicked.
False religion: In this chapter we get a sense of the false religion that Israel was practicing, even without their knowledge, and what true religion looks like. The people could go on going through the motions and pretending to be a people of God, but their schemes were not looked on favorably by the Lord God. He would choose those who righteously fast and follow what He had set forth to be His people and to bring close to Him. They would not be left forsaken. The oracle promises redemption to those who follow God with their heart.
Evil, oppression and judgment: It was Israel’s in and transgression that had separated them from the Lord their God, not anything else that they might have wanted to blame it on. He looked out amongst His people and saw the oppression and evil that was being done and His heart was broken. However, there was still hope. If Israel would turn from their wicked way and repent to follow the Lord once again with their heart, He would restore them. He would again look favorably on them and grant them success. The Lord has always looked favorably on repentance, no matter how bad the person or nation. This is a good lesson to remember.
Future glory: Contrasting with the chapters prior to this one and with the situation that the children of Israel were in during this time, the oracle talks of a time where once again the glory of Israel would be restored. They would bask in the wealth of nations and all people would see the glory that had been set upon the children of God. The Lord is said to be their light, both sun and mood, and no more night would come. This sounds much like a depiction of the resurrection, where things will be set back as in the beginning, and God will once again dwell amongst the sons of men. What a glorious day that will be.
Favor from the Lord: Continuing on with the idea of the last chapter, the spirit of the Lord was upon the Lord’s servant here to bring good news to the poor, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor and the day of vengeance for all those who mourn. Glory was coming for those who called upon the name of the Lord. God has always loved justice and hated wrongdoing, and in this time of judgment, all vengeance for the oppression that was prevalent throughout the land would levied out appropriately. Then those who are in the Lord will rejoice in Him, being adorned as a bride for her Husband, imagery that mimics the church’s relationship with Christ.
Tomorrow’s Reading: I Corinthians 11.
Grace and peace.