The first part of today’s chapter reiterates the theme begun in the previous chapter: Christ’s sacrifice covers our sin once for all, a single act making restitution for humanity’s evils and failings. It does what repeated sacrifices of bulls and goats could not do. It pays for the misdeeds of the spirit, not merely those of the flesh. So, let’s get into the latter half of the chapter, where we will find things interesting and new.
They say a picture is worth a thousand words, so here’s an extra-long post for today! This doodle comes to you courtesy of the generous sponsorship of Dwight Knoll via my Patreon.
Here’s David’s psalm of penitence again. I forgot to mention something yesterday, though. As I’m typing up these posts, I often stream Switchfoot’s album Where the Light Shines Through, front to back. As I was listing off the various “clean-related” words that David uses, I fired up the album, and the very first track came on: “Holy Water.” The song is as much about sanctification, being set apart for a purpose and receiving anointing with the “holy water” of the Holy Spirit, as it is about cleansing from sin. But with opening lines like “Wash the dust off dirty wheels, / Give me the waters that could help me heal,” I couldn’t help but be struck by the parallels. The confluence was in fact so striking that I forgot to mention it, whoops.
Today we flip back to the Triad study with a new theme and a new passage for the week. We’re looking at Psalm 51, which the authors of the study chose to illustrate God’s grace as it leads us to repentance, and which David wrote in response to his sin of adultery with Bathsheba. It’s a plea for cleansing and renewal, a desire to be set right.
Here’s your summary of Isaiah 34: the first half is a bloodbath and the second half is a wasteland. Put on your hip waders and let’s dig into the gritty details.
If you haven’t read the oracles of judgment in Isaiah 13-23, you’re in luck: the twenty-fourth chapter functions as a summary of judgment against the whole earth. I do recommend reading Isaiah 13-23; it may contain unfamiliar history and uncomfortable punishment, but not every Bible passage has its significance and value right on the surface. That said, the very first verse of today’s chapter will catch us up to speed if necessary: “Behold, the Lord lays the earth waste, devastates it, distorts its surface and scatters its inhabitants” (24:1). God will visit his wrath on everybody and his brother.
You’ll find the final mentions of the Sabbath in Leviticus in the twenty-sixth chapter. It’s an “I have set life and death before you, choose life” situation, where God lays out the blessings that Israel will reap from obeying his commandments and the penalties they’ll suffer if they don’t. The passage opens by recapitulating the prohibition on idolatry, then adds, “You shall keep My sabbaths and reverence My sanctuary; I am the Lord” (2). Here the Sabbath is tied to reverence for God’s space and rejection of the worship of other gods. As an emulation of the example set by God in creating the world, it’s a way of joining him in one’s rest. The Sabbath is serious business.