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
O. (Isaiah 52:13-15): This sounds like the scene from Shrek 2 — I think that was the one — where Shrek and Fiona travel to meet Fiona’s parents and the whole kingdom is eagerly awaiting what they assumed was the beautiful prince and princess. The crowd went from cheering to jaws dropping as soon as the royal couple stepped out of their cage and showed their ogre selves.
Q. (53:4): Why did Cyrus take on the burden of others’ sins?
A. This section does not describe Cyrus (who is a messiah, but not THE MESSIAH), but rather Jesus. This section is one of the clearest sections we have that explicitly lay out what God was doing in offering up Jesus on the cross: He was suffering for the sins of many, and by His suffering, we find healing.
Q. (53:4-9): Cyrus’s description sounds similar to Jesus’s. How does Cyrus, this rescuer, change the attitudes of the Israelites? Why should he even care about them?
A. See my above answer, but if the question is “why should Jesus care about them?” then that’s a good question. Why, indeed, did Jesus choose to love the people who had Him killed (both directly and indirectly)? It was because of the great love that the Trinity had for all humanity, and the realization that we were hopelessly lost on our own. With the death of Jesus, we see the paradigm completely shifted between God and man, the rift between them is bridged, and the Spirit moves into the hearts of the faithful to guide them in relationship with God the Father via the work of the Son.
O. (54:9): All of those verses that say God’s love is everlasting … Here’s proof. He’s bringing up Noah and the flood from hundreds of years and many generations ago. He never forgets!
Q. (55:2): Could we say that this is a “junk food is bad” verse?
A. Only if that junk food is salvation outside of God. This refers not to physical food, but the spiritual food from God that nourishes our souls. Jesus will tell us more about this food at a later date.
Q. (56:3): I thought we had talked about eunuchs before, but not sure. I just looked it up and it is an eye-opener for today’s culture. Long ago, a eunuch was a castrated male that guards the living quarters of women in an oriental court. Just for expanding our minds, could you tell us a little about eunuchs. Why were they castrated? How were they viewed by society? Were they slaves and forced to be eunuchs?
A. I’m sure you had fun reading about this particular cultural touchstone of ancient society. Eunuchs played an important role in ancient society (though Jews did not generally practice this type of action, it mostly refers to the eunuchs Jews would have encountered in Egypt, Babylon, etc.) and many if not most of them were slaves. They were usually castrated at a young age to prepare them for their livelihood as a slave. It gave their masters the option to allow these men to guard the chambers of women, often royalty or other important females in society. This was done to ensure that the eunuch could not rape the woman or even have consensual sex with her. In that regard, he was the perfect bodyguard for women.
Now because of the fairly obvious implications of being a eunuch, they were fairly poorly regarded among Jews, who saw children as a blessing for God and a continuing of their family line. Since eunuchs would have no family line, they were considered less than full people in Jewish society and were not allowed to participate in the ceremonial worship of God. Deuteronomy 23:1 forbid them to be part of the assembly (one reason Jews did not practice ritual castration). But the NT will have some interesting things to say about their place in God’s coming Kingdom, and they will be based upon what Isaiah is saying here.
Q. (56:6-7): These verses finally welcome God’s love to all nations. This changes the whole story that we have been reading up to this point. Thus far, the main, good characters were exclusively the Israelites, with a few exceptions. So, I would say this changes the social atmosphere of the world.
A. I suppose it does, but frankly that’s only because the Israelites were so terrible about sharing God’s actions with the nations around them. Remember, God’s choosing of Israel was never about Israel in and of itself, but for the benefit of every nation. We see a glimpse of the salvation that comes to all nations (via Jesus, who was a Jew) in these verses.
O. (57:1-2): These are extremely soothing words. Reminds me of the Psalm 23.
O. (57:6b): “They (worthless idols), not I, are your inheritance” is a nice quip.
O. (57:11): Yeah, I wonder what laws these man-made idols have decreed. Ha.
Q. (57:15): I would say that society teaches us to be brave, forward and strong. Here God calls first these with crushed spirits. So many people are “type A” personalities and driven. Where do they fall with God? Many type A’s I’m sure do a lot of God’s work. As long as they don’t step on toes, they should be OK with God? Is it just those who have suffered will be brought out of their misery first?
A. I think that this section has less to do with the “type” of personality a person has and more to do with providing healing to those people whose spirit has been broken by life’s circumstances or by others. It is a verse about healing and restoration, not personality types. But to broaden my answer, no one (regardless of personality type) who walks faithfully with God has anything to worry about when it comes to judgment.