Welcome to the book of the prophet Isaiah! Isaiah spans the course of about 500 years for the duration of the Babylonian exile. Isaiah is broken into 3 parts, each by a different author. Part 1 is leading up the exile from the prophets point of view as opposed to the kings from last book. This is the first 40 chapters. Part 2 is the exile itself (41-60) and part 3 (61-65) is coming out of the exile. It's a long book and that seems fitting for what felt like a really long year. In all honesty though, I have been eager to read Isaiah again. I believe that God's voice will come across like a roar. Buckle in, it's gonna get fun :)
To get an overview of what we're going to read I invite you to watch this
Scripture to Read
I highly recommend not watching this and only listening to it. The latency between the headphones and my computer caused everything to be out of sync. It's super distracting haha.
Questions to Consider
What does this teach me about God?
What does this teach me about humanity?
What are my initial reactions to the book of Isaiah? What do I hope to learn from it?
- My Thoughts -
So here comes the typical little social justice bible boi but I absolutely loved chapter 1 of Isaiah. I found it to be such a strong start. Isaiah really invokes the frustrations of God as he says "I hate your sacrifices, your songs, your gifts" in essence God is saying - I hate your worship. I imagine if I got into my angriest and most passionate preaching voice and shouted into the mic "God hates this church" you could hear a pin drop in the room. Some people would cringe with second hand embarrassment for me. Some would get upset and scowl. Some might nod in frustrated agreement. But I imagine that the people hearing Isaiah's preaching had a similar reaction. I really enjoy verses 16 and 17 because they are so matter of fact with the punctuation in my translation. Learn to do good. Seek justice. Help the oppressed. It almost sounds like an exhausted plea from God. There is a hymn towards the end of our hymnals that I've always been fond of, thought it's ironically enough, rarely sung. It's called "When the church of Jesus". It's first verse goes as follows.
When the church of Jesus
shuts its outer door,
lest the roar of traffic
drown the voice of prayer,
may our prayers, Lord, make us
ten times more aware
that the world we banish
is our Christian care.
When 2020 comes to an end in like 50 years from now (lol) I imagine that people are going to be yearning for social connection more than ever. We won't take advantage of opportunities as much. We won't be annoyed when someone sits next to us at the bar or when a place is busy. What I'm meditating on tonight is what opportunities can we as a church seize not to grow our church for personal gain but to grow God's Kingdom for the Kingdom's sake.
I invite you to pray (or sing) the rest of the hymn for our prayer today :)
1 When the church of Jesus shuts its outer door, Lest the roar of traffic drown the voice of prayer: May our prayers, Lord make up ten times more aware That the world we banish is our Christian care.
2 If our hearts are lifted where devotion soars High above this hungry suffering world of ours: Lest our hymns should drug us to forget its needs, Forge our Christian worship into Christian deeds.
3 Lest the gifts we offer, money, talents, time, Serve to salve our conscience to our secret shame: Lord, reprove, inspire us by the way you give; Teach us, dying Savior, how true Christians live.