Welcome to BibleBum where we are exploring the entire Bible in one year to better learn how to follow God’s instructions and discover the purpose for our lives. The BibleBum blog uses The One Year Chronological Bible, the New Living Translation version. At the end of each day’s reading, Rob, a cultural history aficionado and seminary graduate, answers questions from Leigh An, the blogger host, about the daily scripture. To start from the beginning, click on “Index” and select Day 1.
Questions & Observations
Q. I read this collection without reading the one-sentence introduction about these prophecies of Isaiah not being tied to any event. That clears up a lot, because I was really confused about what was going on. Is the key word here “yet?” They still could come true?
A. This entire section is prophecy about Judah’s impending punishment, and in the larger sense, of God restoring the world to the way it should be, with Jerusalem as its center point. The writers of both the Old and New Testaments believed that the return of God to the world (for Christians its the return of Christ) would be the end of the world, and the establishment of God’s eternal kingdom.
Q. (Isaiah 24:14-16a): This stanza stands out as a joyous time among the destruction. I didn’t understand that.
A. 14-16 are the aftermath of this great destruction. Those who survive (by God’s grace) will gather from all nations to celebrate what God has done.
Q. (24:21): What is meant by “in that day”?
A. All references to “that day” are referring to the Day of Judgment and the end of history as we know it. Both Christian and Jew (and I presume Muslim as well) believe in history ending by Divine intervention.
Q. (24:23b): This is for God to establish that He is in charge and to show them how and why He is in charge … in Isaiah’s prophecy?
A. No, this is an image of the Kingdom of God (one that Revelation will follow down the line): the natural sources of light, specifically the moon as the light in the dark, will pass away, and God Himself will be our light. The heavenly bodies will no longer be necessary.
Q. (25:1): Isaiah seems to have quite a complete vision of God — past, present and future. I do wonder if it’s hard for God to execute plans given that He may have emotional ties to things He sets to destroy.
A. He certainly does, but these ties are not like the ties you and I have. God reminds us that His ways and thoughts are NOT His, and I suspect the “emotional” consideration must take a backseat, if you will, to other considerations such as His holiness. Ezekiel 33:11 reminds us, however, that God takes no joy in the destruction of the evil, so perhaps there is some consideration to be had here.
Q. (25:7, 26:3): Here it says, “He will remove the cloud of gloom.” In several other places in today’s reading, Isaiah mentions how the despair will be forgotten through God. I would think it would be pretty hard for people to look past all of the destruction, unless it’s a vision where the evil is uprooted and there is nothing but good to rebuild from. Maybe 26:3 is Isaiah’s answer to being able to forget the despair: “You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, all whose thoughts are fixed on you!”
A. Ultimately, our vision for following God must have its origins in faith. We must trust in Him to bring us through; there is simply no other way.
Q. (26:7): I would say that this is not necessarily true after reading your answer about prayer and pain. Paul suffered, but God answered his prayers saying that His grace was bigger than Paul’s pain. So, this smooth path is not an accurate prophecy of Isaiah?
A. Be careful with tossing around phrases like that last one! First of all, Isaiah is casting a much larger vision for our world than any suffering Paul went through. It is REALLY important to note here: we must be aware of context at all times. If we go back to verse 1 of this chapter, we see that phrase you’ve picked up on, “in that day.” That means Isaiah is NOT talking about present circumstances at all. He is casting a vision for how wonderful life will be when we are given a world free of peril, pain, and difficulty (i.e. the “smooth” path). So to argue that Paul’s difficulty somehow invalidates Isaiah’s vision is to miss the point of what Isaiah is talking about.
Q. (26:19): I interpret this to mean that those who give up themselves and turn their lives over to God will rise again? Again, I’m confused as to what Isaiah is talking about.
A. He is talking about the resurrection of the dead, which is and will continue to be part of the vision that both Testaments cast as being a part of the Day of Judgment. This is a theme we will bump into repeatedly among “later” Jewish works such as Ezekiel and Daniel, so keep a look out, and don’t worry if there is confusion: all will be worked out in time.
Q. (27:4-5): So there is salvation for the prickliest of people, no matter what their sins, as soon as they turn to God for help … and stay turned?
A. All we have to do is confess and call to Him for help. That’s the heart of the gospel message. The problem we often run into is that we lack the desire to confess our sin, or to even admit that we are sinners. If we can clear that hurdle, we are most of the way towards understanding what God did for us in the person of Christ.
Q. (29:22): Again, this verse is calling on believers to have faith. If we stay true to God no matter the circumstances, we will be rewarded.
A. That’s the Good News!