Ah, Isaiah 6: the temple vision. I remember first learning about this passage in Sunday school in Charlotte, NC, which means that for my first encounter with it, I couldn’t have been older than five years. Everything is new at that age, but as I get older, I run the risk of getting inured by familiarity with passages like this. But even if you’re reading it for the first time, if you don’t take the time to visualize it or read it attentively, you can gloss over it without getting the impact of Isaiah’s vision. If you “keep on looking, but do not understand” (6:9), the words remain mere words on the page.
There are some things that it’s bad to be good at. For example, it’s bad to be good at getting drunk.
I often lead with a song, and this post’s gotta get written, so let’s go with that. Jan and Dean’s 1963 hit single “Surf City” depicts a fictitious town of surfing and partying that boasts “two girls for every boy.” The Israel-to-come of Isaiah’s prophecies boasts an even higher ratio of seven to one. Isaiah states, “For seven women will take hold of one man in that day, saying, ‘We will eat our own bread and wear our own clothes, only let us be called by your name; take away our reproach!'” (4:1). But this is no surf party, no cause for rejoicing. If the desperation of the women didn’t give it away, flip back to the previous chapter and read Isaiah’s prediction: “Your men will fall by the sword and your mighty ones in battle” (3:25). Why are there so many women compared to the men? It’s because some 85% of the men have been slaughtered in war.
I can’t read Isaiah 3 without thinking of Johnny Q. Public’s song “Women of Zion.” Isaiah 3 ends with a denunciation of the daughters of Zion’s arrogance, saying that God will strip them of their beauty and ornamentation. I’m pretty sure it influenced Peter’s exhortation to humility for women in 1 Peter 3:1-6, but it also inspired Johnny Q. Public to write a musical interpretation of the passage with ludicrously literal lyrics. Consider the chorus: “Bald women, should’ve been humble; Bald women, should’ve been smarter; Bald women: you’re bald because you’re bald.” Sheer genius.
If the central topic of Isaiah 1 was the rebellious sons of Israel, chapter 2 focuses on their pride and its consequences. But before that, it takes a moment to ask what a future with actual humility would look like.
I often go into the background of the Biblical passages I’m reading, but you don’t need to break out a six-volume history of the ancient Near East to get something out of the Bible. In a matter of lines, Isaiah sets the tone for the message he’s delivering from God to Israel: “Sons I have reared and brought up, but they have revolted against Me” (1:2). You don’t need to know a thing about Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz and Hezekiah; Isaiah tells you all you need to know. They’re kings of Judah, and Judah is a nation of rebellious sons.
Today’s Chocolate: Lily’s 55% Cocoa Almond Dark Chocolate Today’s Passage: Exodus 20:8-11, Deuteronomy 5:12-15 and related passages Welcome, everyone, to the conclusion of our survey of the Sabbath in the Bible. Before we tie a bow on this one, I wanted to step back and take a look at everywhere we’ve been, ask, “What’s the takeaway from here?” […]