Tuesday, December 13, 2016

A world that needs to be made new

A fly on thorny branch
Image: Pixabay
TODAY’S SPECIAL: Isaiah 7:17-8:2

TO CHEW ON: “It shall happen in that day,
That wherever there could be a thousand vines
Worth a thousand shekels of silver,
It shall be for briers and thorns.” Isaiah 7:23

Our reading today is more prophecy of the variety we read yesterday. A quote from The Bible Panorama explains about prophecy and this passage:

“God’s prophecy is often like looking at a range of mountains or a series of clouds, some of which are close and some distant. It is sometimes difficult to distinguish one range or series from another.
(Isaiah 7:10-16 - yesterday’s reading) " Here there are specific prophecies which God gives to Ahaz as a sign. The widest and furthest sweep of prophecy concerns the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ as Messiah. He will be born of a virgin, and that is a sign of God sending His Son… Isaiah 7:17-25: "Here the closer prophecies concern the invasion of Judah by other countries. When Judah is invaded and taken into captivity, it will be very hard to survive and earn a living. Previously fruitful occupations and places will become wastelands” - The Bible Panorama - Accessed through Biblegateway.com.

While prophetic passages like Isaiah 7 are hard to understand completely, not to speak of difficult to apply, they do paint a general picture that we readily see is dire. The details of the difficulties prophesied over Judah here bring to mind aspects of God’s ways with mankind through history.

1. “The Lord will whistle for the fly … and for the bee” - Isaiah 7:18.

This reminds us of God’s sovereignty over nature, even in its broken, potentially destructive state. Humankind is also part of that nature (some Bible scholars interpret “fly” and “bee” to refer to invading armies from Africa and the Euphrates).

2. “…thorns… It shall happen in that day / That wherever there could be a thousand vines … / It will become briers and thorns … / You will not go there for fear of briers and thorns” - Isaiah 7:19, 23, 24, 25.

Here we have a harsh reminder of the old curse of the fall spoken to Adam: “Cursed is the ground for your sake; / … Both thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you” - Genesis 3:17,18.

3. “… the Lord will shave with a hired razor… / The head and the hair of the legs, / And will also remove the beard” - Isaiah 7:20.
Shaving hair and plucking the beard were signs of dishonor applied to slaves. They serve as a reminder of our troubled world and how we abuse each other. The plucked beard also recalls a detail Isaiah prophesied about Messiah’s treatment: “I gave My back to those who strike, / And My cheeks to those who pull out the beard” - Isaiah 50:6.

4. “For curds and honey everyone will eat who is left in the land" - Isaiah 7:21,22.
Cottage cheese made from the milk of one cow and two sheep (Isaiah 7:21), plus honey! Not exactly rich fare is it? This speaks of the diet of deprivation.

These reminders of our fallen world give us every reason to celebrate the incarnation of the One who has promised to banish the curse of fallen nature and mankind, and to make all things new -  Isaiah 65:17-25; Revelation 21:1.

Dear Father, when I’m in the thick of this world’s snags, problems, and darkness, I will lift my eyes to the hope of Your promise of renewal. Amen.

Unless otherwise noted all Scripture quotations are taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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