Hi friends! Today's lesson is planned for Monday, January 4th. Monday is always one of my favorite days of the week. I find it to be my productive day and I challenge myself to be more productive each passing Monday. Many people lament Monday's because the weekend is officially over. But we are not most people, we are disciples of Jesus the Christ! Everyday as a disciple of Jesus is a day to be excited for - another day of opportunity to engage with, grow with, and love God more. Let's get started on that by reading some scripture together now!
Scripture to Read
Questions to Consider
What does this teach me about God?
What does it teach me about humanity?
What does it reveal to me that was happening in culture at the time of this prophecy?
What does this teach me about "being prophetic"? How was that changed since we began reading Isaiah (if at all)?
- My Thoughts -
A few years back I read the book "Half Truths" by Rev. Adam Hamilton, senior pastor at the Church of the Ressurection in Leawood Kansas. Half Truth's investigate the flawed theology behind some of the popular and well meaning phrases. Things such as "God won't give you more than you can handle" or "If God said it, I believe it, that settles it" or "hate the sin, but love the sinner." However, the one I want to focus on today is "everything happens for a reason." In the book Hamilton talks about how "everything happens for a reason" works when we consider it in line with rules and lawbooks, or any situation where cause and effect is applicable. If you follow God's covenant, you go to the promised land and if you don't you go to the not so promised land. Simple enough. But this quickly becomes a problem when we say this in respect to tragic things such as war, school shootings or even this pandemic. Would God really cause such things to prove a point? If so, who would dare love a sick and twisted being such as that? The problem with everything happens for a reason is that it takes out the signifiance of personal responsibility from anything. If God has some divine and cosmic plan where everything I do is preordained by God than nothing I do is "bad" because it's part of a larger plan. In other words, I no longer have a drive or goal to be a good person.
I think that this is what is happening in Isaiah's prophecy for 18 - 22. He is listing off all the cities and communties that failed to do what was asked of them by God and giving them the "effect" of their "cause". Scriptures like this one might seem pretty scary, imagining that God is going to punish us for failing....but I find that scriptures like this one are a great juxtapostion to the power of grace revealed in the atonement of Jesus. We don't face exile because Jesus took our exile for us. We don't face devastation because Jesus took on that devastation for us. Which leads me in the concluding thoughts on everything happens for a reason.
Because of Jesus there is no more "cause and effect" when it comes to God's law. God saw that wasn't working for the Hebrew people and came to die for their sins instead. So we must move beyond such thinking and take on the responsibility of the grace we have been freely offered. God's given us the freedom to make the choice and live as His holy people. To live not with fear of destruction, but with hope of renewal for all the world. I find that to be a better way to read Isaiah anyways :)
Praise be to God, the God who gives me life, not death. Praise be to God, the God who gives me grace, not shame. Praise be to God, the God who gives me hope, not despair. Praise be to the God of peace, of light, of life, and of life everlasting. Amen and amen!