Monday, April 03, 2006

Isaiah 2 - The folly of relying on the arm of flesh

Isaiah starts this chapter by addressing it to those in the house of Isreal on the Earth during the last days.  He then issues this plea (quoting from 2 Nephi 12):


5 O house of Jacob, come ye and let us walk in the light of the Lord; yea, come, for ye have all gone astray, every one to his wicked ways.


That is quite a broad stroke to paint the children of Israel.  The phrase “all gone astray”, I think, is intended to cause every one of us to ponder seriously what is being said here and liken these scriptures to ourselves.  The verses in this chapter that caused me the most pondering were these (again quoted from Nephi):


6 Therefore, O Lord, thou hast forsaken thy people, the house of Jacob, because they be replenished from the east, and hearken unto soothsayers like the Philistines, and they please themselves in the children of strangers.

7 Their land also is full of silver and gold, neither is there any end of their treasures; their land is also full of horses, neither is there any end of their chariots.

8 Their land is also full of idols; they worship the work of their own hands, that which their own fingers have made.

9 And the mean man boweth not down, and the great man humbleth himself not, therefore, forgive him not.


As I pondered these accusations, I thought about how to interpret them, looking at the various meanings of the words and this is how I interpret these things for myself:


God has stopped interacting with us and helping us, his people, because:

-          We seek after strange philosophies and useless knowledge

-          We try to understand and prepare for the future by consulting people with specialized knowledge, such as analysts and gurus

-          We consume entertainment from public celebrities that we don’t know

-          We are surrounded and immersed in wealth and the symbols of wealth

-          We place too much emphasis on possessing items of utility- cars, machines, etc.

-          We make (or buy) objects and then devote ourselves to them.

-          Both the poor and the rich lack humilty


Flipping this around is an interesting exercise.  Here is the opposite of the above interpretation:


God will come to me and be a part of my life when:

-          I seek after revealed truth and knowledge from the “best books

-          I prepare for the future by listening to seers and seeking revelation of God

-          I seek entertainment and pleasure through association with friends and family

-          I stop fretting about money choose not to lavishly adorn myself and my surroundings

-          I treat the useful objects and machines that I buy not as status symbols, but as the tools they are.

-          I Give my time and wealth to people who need it rather than to the rich and famous, or to any thing that might catch my fancy.

-          I envy not those who have more than me, give to those who have less, and always remain grateful for what I have received.


Some of this stuff is pretty hard and takes a measure of faith because we have to let go of something we are probably clinging to.  I can think of more than a few things already that I struggle with.  But then there is this great verse at the end of the chapter, and I totally love it for the poetry:


22 Cease ye from man, whose breath is in his nostrils; for wherein is he to be accounted of?


Of what use is relying on the arm of flesh?  It is pure folly, yet I do it all the time and it is a constant temptation.  There are a few things in particular I know I can do better now which relate directly to my fear of people.  I will face my fears and take stand in favor of the Lord even though I am afraid.




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