Friday, February 09, 2007

Isaiah 22 - Dead men walking

Let’s start a discussion of chapter 22 with verse 2:

2 Thou that art full of [noise], a tumultuous city, a joyous city: thy slain men are not slain with the sword, nor dead in battle.

Isaiah’s vision of Jerusalem is a vision of death, both spiritual and temporal.  It is terribly disappointing to him to see his people, who have been privileged to receive a long string of prophets, spoil their opportunity for salvation through their frivolity, greed, and lust.    Israel is already dead because they will not humble themselves in weeping and sackcloth. Instead they are living it up while they can.  Their iniquity is so severe that the Lord points out to Isaiah that death is the only thing that will stop it.

14… Surely this iniquity shall not be purged from you till ye die, saith the Lord GOD of hosts

The world around us is an accelerating top of stimulation and pleasure seeking.   I admit that sometimes I feel panicked when I see a better property, bigger house, nicer car, better career, etc.   I need to understand that this gut-level selfishness will destroy me if I do not master it.  I take heart in the prescription described by Isaiah in this chapter:  deep, soul-searching repentance and profound humility.   This repentance is the key to the power and grace of the Savior Jesus Christ, who is fastened as a “nail in a sure place” (v23) upon which hangs “all the glory of his father’s house” (v24). 

I feel to quote one of my favorite parables in conjunction with this chapter.  It is found in Luke 18:9-14:

9 And he spake this parable unto certain which trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others:

10 Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican.

11 The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican.

12 I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess.

13 And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner.

14 I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.

I testify of the truthfulness of this saying.  Heaven has ever been with me when I’ve been able to acknowledge my faults and honestly plead for mercy.   May we all find life as we approach God in repentance and humility.




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