We Withhold From Ourselves

We Withhold From Ourselves

Matthew 13:10-15

The disciples came to him and asked, “Why do you speak to the people in parables?”

He replied, “Because the knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of heaven has been given to you, but not to them. Whoever has will be given more, and they will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what they have will be taken from them. This is why I speak to them in parables:

“Though seeing, they do not see;
    though hearing, they do not hear or understand.

In them is fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah:

“‘You will be ever hearing but never understanding;
    you will be ever seeing but never perceiving.
For this people’s heart has become calloused;
    they hardly hear with their ears,
    and they have closed their eyes.
Otherwise they might see with their eyes,
    hear with their ears,
    understand with their hearts
and turn, and I would heal them.’

 

The Disciples of Christ asked why he was teaching the masses in parables, which for many, were difficult to understand.  They wondered why Christ did not tell all the followers and all the leaders of his coming, his purpose, and the secrets of the Kingdom of Heaven. Continue reading

Silent Dogs

Silent Dogs

Isaiah 56:9-12

All you beasts of the field, come to devour—
    all you beasts in the forest.
His watchmen are blind;
    they are all without knowledge;
they are all silent dogs;
    they cannot bark,
dreaming, lying down,
    loving to slumber.
The dogs have a mighty appetite;
    they never have enough.
But they are shepherds who have no understanding;
    they have all turned to their own way,
    each to his own gain, one and all.
“Come,” they say, “let me get wine;
    let us fill ourselves with strong drink;
and tomorrow will be like this day,
    great beyond measure.”

The heading of these verses in the English Standard Version of the Bible is “Israel’s Irresponsible Leaders”.

Isaiah is speaking to Israel who has stop walking in the way of the Lord.  Isaiah is pointing out that their deviation from God and righteousness is coming from the top down.  He is speaking of leaders who have turned from doing what is right for the people and are only doing what is best for the leaders’ own benefit.  And of course if you have read some of my previous posts you will know that I see this ancient commentary on society as being as relevant today as it was thousands of years ago. Continue reading

Where Does Salvation Lie?

Where Does Salvation Lie?

Isaiah 44:9-20

All who fashion idols are nothing, and the things they delight in do not profit. Their witnesses neither see nor know, that they may be put to shame. Who fashions a god or casts an idol that is profitable for nothing?  Behold, all his companions shall be put to shame, and the craftsmen are only human. Let them all assemble, let them stand forth. They shall be terrified; they shall be put to shame together.

The ironsmith takes a cutting tool and works it over the coals. He fashions it with hammers and works it with his strong arm. He becomes hungry, and his strength fails; he drinks no water and is faint.  The carpenter stretches a line; he marks it out with a pencil. He shapes it with planes and marks it with a compass. He shapes it into the figure of a man, with the beauty of a man, to dwell in a house.  He cuts down cedars, or he chooses a cypress tree or an oak and lets it grow strong among the trees of the forest. He plants a cedar and the rain nourishes it.  Then it becomes fuel for a man. He takes a part of it and warms himself; he kindles a fire and bakes bread. Also he makes a god and worships it; he makes it an idol and falls down before it. Half of it he burns in the fire. Over the half he eats meat; he roasts it and is satisfied. Also he warms himself and says, “Aha, I am warm, I have seen the fire!” And the rest of it he makes into a god, his idol, and falls down to it and worships it. He prays to it and says, “Deliver me, for you are my god!”

They know not, nor do they discern, for he has shut their eyes, so that they cannot see, and their hearts, so that they cannot understand.  No one considers, nor is there knowledge or discernment to say, “Half of it I burned in the fire; I also baked bread on its coals; I roasted meat and have eaten. And shall I make the rest of it an abomination? Shall I fall down before a block of wood?”  He feeds on ashes; a deluded heart has led him astray, and he cannot deliver himself or say, “Is there not a lie in my right hand?”

The English Standard Version of the Bible titles these verses: The Folly of Idolatry”.

Isaiah speaks of how we take man-made objects and give them powers they do not possess.  We turn them into false gods that meet our human expectations.  We do this today just as it was done in the time of Isaiah.  It is done within the conventional organized religions, where symbols are professed to deliver us from evil.  And there are those who claim that some man-made objects can possess evil powers.  These are obvious examples of idolatry.  But many of us fall to the folly of idolatry in a more subtle manner. Continue reading

Expectations of False Gods

Expectations of False Gods

Isaiah 51:7-8

On a high and lofty mountain
    you have set your bed,
    and there you went up to offer sacrifice.
Behind the door and the doorpost
    you have set up your memorial;
for, deserting me, you have uncovered your bed,
    you have gone up to it,
    you have made it wide;
and you have made a covenant for yourself with them,
    you have loved their bed,
    you have looked on nakedness.

Isaiah starts Chapter 51 of his book with this verse:

Listen to me, you who pursue righteousness, you who seek the Lord….

Isaiah prophesied about the pending destruction of Judah and the Jews being carried off into captivity by the king of Babylon.  Those captured and enslaved will be the lucky ones, the others are set to be destroyed by pestilence, famine and the sword. Continue reading

Seeing Is Not Believing

Seeing Is Not Believing

Isaiah 11:3-5

And his delight shall be in the fear of the Lord.
He shall not judge by what his eyes see,
    or decide disputes by what his ears hear,
but with righteousness he shall judge the poor,
    and decide with equity for the meek of the earth;
and he shall strike the earth with the rod of his mouth,
    and with the breath of his lips he shall kill the wicked.
Righteousness shall be the belt of his waist,
    and faithfulness the belt of his loins.

Isaiah is speaking of the Messiah.  If you read further into chapter 11, specifically verses 6 through 9, you will read about the peace that the Messiah will bring to the world.  What I wanted to write about is what Isaiah is saying in verses 3 through 5, and how they apply to the present, especially with all the technology and how easy it is to manipulate the truth. Continue reading

A Pot Among Earthen Pots

A Pot Among Earthen Pots

Isaiah 45:9-12

“Woe to him who strives with him who formed him,
    a pot among earthen pots!
Does the clay say to him who forms it, ‘What are you making?’
    or ‘Your work has no handles’?
Woe to him who says to a father, ‘What are you begetting?’
    or to a woman, ‘With what are you in labor?’”

Thus says the Lord,
    the Holy One of Israel, and the one who formed him:
“Ask me of things to come;
    will you command me concerning my children and the work of my hands?
I made the earth
    and created man on it;
it was my hands that stretched out the heavens,
    and I commanded all their host.

Before I sat down to write this post I read some commentaries about theses verses, in order to get a better understanding of what Isaiah is saying, and to whom these words are directed.

Isaiah is speaking to the Jews who are grumbling against God.  They are complaining about how God has allowed them to be taken into captivity before sending them salvation.  Some of them are wondering why God didn’t just cut out all the drama and turmoil of being enslaved by foreign invaders and just save them from being captured in the first place. Continue reading

Hard Headed

Hard Headed

Isaiah 48:4

Because I know that you are obstinate,
    and your neck is an iron sinew
    and your forehead brass,

This is Isaiah summing up man.

In Isaiah 48, Isaiah is telling the Israelites how God has shown them miracles, brought them out of bondage, and informed them of the consequences of their actions.  God reminds them that all the things told to them and shown to them have come to pass.  The Israelites knew of the consequences of their actions and chose to ignore them, they turned to man-made idols for their salvation. Continue reading