Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Studying Isaiah (Part 1)

In our Facebook Bible Study we have moved on to the Old Testament and the book of Isaiah. Specifically we are dealing with chapters 1-5. To read more about our Bible Study just search this blog for posts titled Studying James and Studying Romans.

Here is the post I wrote this week:

I picked out a few verses to put some of my thoughts together…

Obviously these opening chapters have much to do with punishment of sinners, those who have turned away from God. Israel has been unfaithful and those who have disobeyed will be punished. But God is not unreasonable. He offers the hope of redemption:

 “’Come now, and let us reason together,’ says the Lord. ‘Though your sins are as scarlet, they will be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they will be like wool. If you consent and obey, you will eat the best of the land; but if you refuse and rebel, you will be devoured by the sword. Truly, the mouth of the Lord has spoken.’” (Isaiah 1:18-20)

Certainly this warning from Isaiah applies to Israel of his day, but there is also reference to a future time when other nations will be included in God’s divine plan:

“Now it will come about that in the last days the mountain of the house of the Lord will be established as the chief of the mountains, and will be raised above the hills; and all the nations will stream to it. And many peoples will come and say, ‘Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob; that He may teach us concerning His ways and that we may walk in His paths.’” (Isaiah2:2-3)

So when Isaiah writes about Israel/Zion being cleansed of evil-doers and a remnant of faithful servants will be left, we can also see the Church in that imagery:

“When the Lord has washed away the filth of the daughters of Zion and purged the bloodshed of Jerusalem from her midst, by the spirit of judgment and the spirit of burning, then the Lord will create over the whole area of Mount Zion and over her assemblies a cloud by day, even smoke, and the brightness of a flaming fire by night; for over all the glory will be a canopy.” (Isaiah4:4-5)

I think, the Church sometimes suffers a loss in her numbers, a falling away from the faith, but this could be a purging, a cleansing of the Temple, which in the end leaves the Church smaller, but more faithful. I can see this in the Church today…a cutting away of dead branches.

I especially see modernism and the intellectual elite who reject God described in the following verses:

“Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; who substitute darkness for light and light for darkness; who substitute bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter! Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes and clever in their own sight!” (Isaiah 5:20-21)

When these ideas (modernism, moral relativism) creep into the Church and lead the faithful astray, it would certainly be better to purge the Church of such false teachings and emerge smaller in number, but united in faith.

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