“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me.” Sound familiar? It’s not just the first line of today’s chapter. It’s also what Jesus reads in his hometown synagogue in Luke 4:16-21, which he concludes by telling the congregation: “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.” This is my mission, Jesus tells his hearers. God has chosen me to accomplish what Isaiah hoped for, and you are witnesses to my commissioning.
When in doubt, start with a summary: you gotta know what the chapter says before you can figure out what it means. This chapter is about God restoring Israel’s fortunes. Remember the last chapter of historical narrative we read, Isaiah 39, where Hezekiah showed the Babylonians all his wealth and Isaiah prophesied that Babylon was gonna come in and take it all? God’s prophetic message in chapter 60 is that there will come a day when Israel will have neat stuff again. Camels and gold and the respect of the nations: in time it’s all coming back.
First things first: remember that extended metaphor of the light at the end of the tunnel that I employed while discussing Isaiah 57? At the time, I felt a little odd framing the chapter that way, since it doesn’t use the words “light” or “dark” at all. But look at these lines from today’s chapter: “We hope for light, but behold, darkness, for brightness, but we walk in gloom. We grope along the wall like blind men, we grope like those who have no eyes” (59:9-10). It seems the metaphor hews a little closer to the source than expected.
Today’s chapter is about fasting. It comes as a response to Israel’s complaint: “Why have we fasted and You do not see? Why have we humbled ourselves and You do not notice?” (58:3). Remember yesterday, when God accused his people of forgetting him? Today, they’re all, “Nah, God, we remember you! We’ve been fasting and humbling ourselves! Come on, why are you ignoring us?”
Today’s Chocolate: Theo Orange 70% Dark Chocolate Today’s Passage: Isaiah 57 Hey, folks. We’re starting off in paper towel mode again, here at the Atlanta Airport. It’s 12:41 PM as I write this and I’ve got roughly an hour before my flight departs, so let’s take a look at Isaiah 57 and see what we can learn. Honestly, […]
Welcome back to Isaiah 56. Yesterday, I found plenty to say about the first verse alone (and, for that matter, the exigencies of drafting a blog post in the Chicago O’Hare Airport without a laptop). Today we’re digging into the meat of the chapter, which concerns foreigners and eunuchs and how they relate to Israel, God’s chosen people. The Sabbath, as we’ve seen, is also an important element, so let’s check it out.
As I write this on a paper towel because I forgot to pack a notebook, it’s 9:40 AM. I’m in the Chicago O’Hare Airport, en route to visit my uncle’s family in Georgia, eating breakfast and checking out Isaiah 56 in the few hours until my connecting flight. Later, I’ll type this up and post it. Until then, I’m kinda missing that backspace key, but I’d sooner gnaw off my fingers than thumb-type a blog post on my phone.
Normally, at my local Kroger, Justin’s Peanut Butter Cups are $1.59 per pack. I bought the pack shown above on sale for $1.25. I remember a time when you could buy a pack of Reese’s cups for fifty cents. Those days are long gone, but you can still get an eight-pack for $1.50, or 19 cents a cup–and I would do so on the regular, if Reese’s would step it up and get themselves on the Ethical Chocolate Companies list. The milk I drank with it–well, my recollection’s a bit fuzzier, but I think it cost a little over two bucks a gallon. I, uh, pay more attention to peanut butter cups than I do to milk.
What was the word I made up the other day? “Jewishnesses?” The Jewishnesses are pervasive in this chapter. Even as a guy fairly familiar with the Old Testament and the history of Judaism, I feel like some of these chapters will always strike me as at least a bit alien. You never really know something until you experience it: that’s a very Jewish idea. And I’ve never experienced being a Jew.
There was a time that I had this chapter memorized, and I could probably still recite a good bit of it from memory. It depicts the Lord’s Servant as suffering for the well-being of others, with a number of concrete prophetic descriptions which are fulfilled by Jesus Christ.