Paul really likes his metaphors. In this chapter, he’s hardly introduced one metaphor when he moves on to another: a metaphor-shark swimming in the stream of consciousness, never stopping. He’s got three metaphors here: a letter of commendation, the stone tablets of the old Law, and Moses’ veil.
Sometimes I give Paul a hard time, but if there’s one thing I can appreciate about him, it’s his predilection for metaphors. And in this, the third chapter of 1st Corinthians, he’s got three of them for us: feeding a baby, doing agriculture, and building a house.
In junior high, my dad introduced me to Archimedes’ spiral, or the “goat on a rope.” If you take a compass and draw a line where the distance of your pencil from the center point equals the angle between your compass and the x-axis, you get this line. Or to put it in mathematical terms, it’s the polar coordinate equation r = θ. My dad told me that life is like Archimedes’ spiral: as you live and grow, you keep coming back to similar points in your life, but further out on the spiral. Say you’ve read a psalm before, and then you read it again. The second time around, you’re reading it on a more distant loop on the spiral. It’s a new experience–but it’s similar to the old one.
Conveniently, Psalm 102 summarizes itself in its own epigraph: “A Prayer of the Afflicted when he is faint and pours out his complaint before the Lord.” In physical misery and shame before his enemies, the psalmist remembers God’s eternal nature and appeals to his longstanding faithfulness. This is a complex psalm, with several moves in and out of darkness, and I don’t expect to unpack all its intricacies in today’s post–but let’s see what I can dig up.
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.
Now we’re actually ready for Isaiah 45. As happens entirely too often, now that I’ve gotten out my reading shovel and dug into the passage, I’m not sure what to carry back out for the blog post. But when in doubt, ask what the passage teaches you about God. There’s a bit in the beginning about God using King Cyrus of Persia without his knowledge, but the meat of the passage concerns God’s strength and how his provision for Israel will show that strength to the foreign nations, so let’s take a look at that.
Greetings, all you Black Friday blog-readers. I’m writing live from scenic My Grandmother’s House, as indicated by the different plate and tablecloth. I wanted to get a post up on Thanksgiving, but after spending half the day driving, and then Thanksgiving dinner and checking out the Christmas lights display…well, the post didn’t happen. But here I am again, back today with Isaiah 40. The chapter begins with a command from God: “Comfort, comfort my people,” (40:1), so let’s take a look at the comfort he proposes.
In third grade I got the chicken pox. Right around day four, the itching became nigh-intolerable. I remember laying on the floor in pain that afternoon, just outside the upstairs bathroom. I was nowhere near the edge of death, my chicken pox was hardly as severe as Hezekiah’s life-threatening illness, yet I recall wanting to die so that the itching would stop. Did I actually pray for God to end my life? I don’t remember. But I’m glad he didn’t grant my wishes, because if he had, I wouldn’t be here today, eating chocolate and reading Hezekiah’s song and writing a blog post about it.
In this chapter, as in many other places, Isaiah contrasts God’s stability with man’s insecurity. He prays, “O Lord, be gracious to us; we have waited for You. Be their strength every morning, our salvation also in the time of distress” (33:2). And he expects that, in time, God will deliver his people from the uncertainty and threats around them. “He has filled Zion with justice and righteousness. And He will be the stability of your times, a wealth of salvation, wisdom and knowledge” (33:5-6), Isaiah prophesies. There is societal stability in God’s justice and wisdom, his moral and noetic goodness, his omnibenevolence and omniscience; where God is king, he brings peace.
God’s still going on about the Egypt thing–still admonishing the nation of Israel for allying with Egypt for protection and failing to trust the Lord of Creation. Get it together, Israel! Get it all together, put it in a backpack, all of it, so it’s together!