Category Archives: Isaiah 21-30

Isaiah 30:14-33

Scripture: from verse 26

…and the light of the sun will be seven times stronger,
like the light of seven days [in one]…

Observation: The passage begins by pointing out that if the people of Israel want to be strong and safe, all they have to do is turn to God and rest in Him.  The problem is not that God has been demanding anything especially difficult from them, but that they are unwilling to surrender agency enough to trust Him.

God says that someday they will come back and let Him heal them.  Among other blessings that happen at that time, the sun will be seven times brighter than it is now.

I can’t imagine this is literal.  If our sun (a dwarf star) were suddenly replaced by a subgiant star, I’m fairly certain the ecosystem would be devastated and life as we know it would come to an end fairly quickly.  Of course, God does promise a new heaven and new earth someday, but this doesn’t seem to be about that.

However, the number seven generally means completion and perfection and wholeness.  So what we have here is the promise of a new kind of light.  Not just a new color or intensity, but something that is intrinsically and fundamentally different and more complete.  Something completely outside our experience.

I don’t know what that will be like.  But I like thinking about it.  I suspect it will be even wilder and more mysterious than the light we have now, which is saying something.  It might be able to do more than just reveal surface appearance – maybe it will be able to reveal truth or fight oppression.  I’m mostly glad to know that God hasn’t run out of surprises.

Application:  I cannot possibly be expected to be practical with such a cool new subject for speculation.

Prayer: Father of Light, I praise you for being infinite, for always having a new idea or a new facet or a new form to reveal.  Help me to walk in your light.  Amen.

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Isaiah 30:1-13

Scripture: from verse 1

The rebellious children…make plans, but the plans are not Mine.

Observation:  The more fool them.  Jeremiah 29 says that God has plans for us and that His plans are for good, to give us a future and a hope.  The problem with making our own plans is that they are much less likely to lead to a future and a hope.

It isn’t impossible, of course, since there are infinite plans to be made and infinite futures to reach.  But life is a chaotic system, and the more we ignore the elements of God’s plan, the less likely our plan is to work out well.  Astonishingly enough, we aren’t as good at planning as He is.

The plans God was speaking of involved alliance (very expensive alliance) with Egypt, which had wealth and power and might and wasn’t actually willing or able to do much in the way of supporting Israel.  We have a bad habit of running around trying to find people who can help us (or who we think we can manipulate into helping us) when God has help already planned out.

In Israel’s case, if they turned back to God He’d stop sending the attacks and troubles that they needed help with in the first place.  God can address the root of our problems when we can’t even see it.  We treat the symptoms, but usually only God can go in and cure the disease.

Application:  Make His plans yours, instead of the other way around.

Prayer:  Father, I praise you because you can see all the strands of time.  You are the only one who can reliably chart a course through life.  Thank you for planning a good future for me.  Help me to follow your plan instead of my own.  Amen.

Isaiah 29

Scripture: from verse 9

If you make yourselves stupid, you will stay stupid!
If you blind yourselves, you will stay blind!

Observation:  This passage is about the people of Israel who pay lip service to God but mostly live as if He doesn’t exist or can’t see them.  God later compares them to a pot saying that its maker didn’t make it and has no discernment.  It’s not that they don’t know about God – they just don’t really think He sees them and knows them and is relevant to their plans.

The result is situations of dramatic irony.  If they asked God for guidance and relied on His wisdom, they could make really good choices.  But as it is, they make the best choices they can with the information they are willing to acknowledge, and God is left sitting helplessly like the movie audience watching the ditsy blonde walk into the creepy building.  She’s the only one who doesn’t know it’s a bad idea, but she does it anyway.

Application:  Assume God has useful input.  Ask for it.  Don’t wait for Him to prove that He’s stronger than you (as God says He will in verse 14) as that’s often a rather unpleasant process.

Prayer:  Father, I praise you for having far more wisdom and knowledge than I have.  Thank you for guiding me when I ask you to.  Help me to follow you, and bless me.  Amen.

Isaiah 28

Scripture: verses 5 and 6

On that day, AdonaiTzva’ot [Lord of Hosts]
will be a glorious crown, a brilliant diadem
for the remnant of his people.
He will also be a spirit of justice
for whoever sits as a judge,
and a source of strength for those
repelling enemy attacks at the gate.

Observation:  God is beauty and glory and wealth for the people who have turned to Him after lots of war and hardship and desolation.  They have no dignity left, so He is their dignity for them.  At the same time, He is also Justice and Wisdom for those who are making hard decisions, and Strength for those who are fighting a hard fight.

In other words, when we turn to Him, He is exactly what we need.

He is rest when we are tired and wisdom when we are confused and direction when we are lost and beauty and interest when we are bored.  We tend to assume that God is good at fixing a certain set of problems, but that for some things we’re on our own.  But just because God is propping up the entire universe doesn’t mean He can’t also take the time to help me figure out how to teach my daughters to share their toys.  (Not that I’ve succeeded in that one, but I think we’re getting better.  At least a bit.)

Praying about everything isn’t a cop-out.  It isn’t a way of dodging the real issue or hiding my head in the sand.  (Well, I suppose it might be, if I’m also avoiding doing what I know I’m supposed to do.)  It’s the best and most reliable course of action.  For everything.

Application:  What haven’t you asked Him about yet?

Prayer:  Yeshua, I praise you because you are everything to everyone.  Your identity is not limited to one set of attributes or problems.  Thank you for providing for all of my needs.  Help me to see where I haven’t asked for help yet, and to turn to you.  Amen.

Isaiah 27

Scripture: from verse 5

unless it takes hold of My strength,
in order to make peace with Me

Observation: Very confusing passage.  God is talking about His vineyard (presumably His people) and says that He has no anger against it, but if it grows weeds and thorns He will destroy it, unless it takes hold of His strength to make peace.  Another translation turns these three states (at peace, growing thorns, and making peace) into three different possible futures, which seems a little more logical but isn’t necessarily right.

It rather reminds me of Genesis 32.  Jacob was alone and worried all night, and he wound up wrestling with a man who turned out to be God on the riverside.  The man asked to be let go, and Jacob said that he would not let go until God blessed him.  God changed his name to Israel, saying that Jacob had struggled with God and man and had won.

We hear a lot about the need to be meek and submissive before the Lord.  But every so often we get these hints that God doesn’t mind the occasional shouting match, as long as we are directing our energy towards Him.  Sometimes it’s okay to have thorns, as long as you are clinging tight to God.

Application:  Focus on God, even when you are angry.

Prayer:  Yeshua, I praise you because you are strong enough to allow us to challenge you.  Thank you for offering your strength and your peace.  Help me to cling tight to you, even when I’m being thorny.  Amen.

Isaiah 26

Scripture: from verse 8

The desire of all our soul
is to remember You and Your name.

Observation: …which is a bit ironic, really, since we don’t know God’s Name.  But that’s neither here nor there.

Hebrews 4 talks about how all God asked of the Israelites was that they trust Him (the verb used is often translated “obey” but the Greek says “trust” or “believe”), but they could not trust Him and were unable to enter His rest.

The problem with brains, of course, is that they forget about God.  No matter how many times God tells me that I am valuable and holy and protected, I still turn around and get insecure and guilty and scared.  When I forget God, I mostly get confused about life.  When I remember Him, then I remember where I am and where the world is in relation to Him, and everything sets itself straight.

Application: Remember His name, enter His rest.

Prayer:  Father, I praise you because you are the Proper Perspective through which I can see myself and my circumstances clearly.  Thank you for telling me who I am and who you are.  Help me to remember to trust you, even when life is scary and confusing.  Amen.

Isaiah 25:6-12

Scripture: from verse 6

On this mountain AdonaiTzva’ot (Lord of Hosts) will make for all peoples a feast of rich food and superb wines…

Observation:  There’s a number of wonderful promises here: that God will swallow up death forever, that He will open our eyes to see clearly, that He will wipe every tear from our eyes.  But…I like this one.  Maybe I’m just hungry.

My family recently had our Strawberry Shortcake Day – we went out in the morning to pick strawberries, and then in the evening we had strawberry shortcake for dinner, with fresh whipped cream and shortcakes my sister and brother had made the day before.  Each year we invite some of our favorite people, and we all have our strawberry shortcake and sit on the porch and eat and talk and eat some more.

This verse is a promise of that kind of meal.  Not just food eaten to keep from being hungry, but a meal that combines the sensory pleasure of good food with the harmony and connection of being with people who love each other.  The rich cream and the soft breeze and the warm sun and the happy conversation and the long satisfying drinks of tea or wine or homemade lemonade and the knowledge that there is nowhere to go and no one to impress and I might as well just relax.

There’s no magic on earth that can make that happen for everyone, for all time.  But God can.

Yeshua said that the peacemakers will be called children of God (Matthew 5:9).  It’s not an arbitrary designation – by creating peace, we are doing God’s work.  Strawberry Shortcake Day would not work these days if Mom hadn’t taught us to appreciate it and work together to make it happen each year.  She started it, and now it’s our job.

And when we live at peace with those around us, we help God make this feast for all nations.  We help create the harmony that makes food into a meal.  We help Him make Strawberry Shortcake Day for everyone.

Application:  Live at peace with those around you.

Prayer:  Yeshua, thank you for making peace.  Thank you for making harmony between humans possible, and for promising to finish your work someday.  Help me to respond to others out of peace.  Amen.

Isaiah 25:1-5

Scripture: verse 4

For You have been a refuge for the poor,
a refuge for the needy in distress,
shelter from the storm,
shade from the heat —
for the blast from the ruthless
was like a storm that could destroy a wall.

Observation:  Finally a happy chapter!!  Most of this chapter is a song of praise to the Lord.  Makes a nice break from all the doom.

Something I read yesterday was talking about the aftermath of big tropical storms – houses are gone, streets are gone, maps don’t work, the infrastructure is broken, etc.  Isaiah says that the actions of the wicked and powerful are like a tropical storm, and their victims wake up to find their entire lives just gone.

But God is our shelter.  God is the one who provides a home to those who have none, who knows exactly where we are and where we are going even when our maps don’t work, who can navigate the ever-changing order of authority because He is Order and He is Authority.  God fills in for everything we lack, because He was always our Source to begin with.

Application:  Trust God to provide for you.  He already does.

Prayer:  Father, I praise you because you are the Source of everything around me – order and shelter and family and life.  Thank you for giving me everything I need.  Help me to remember to turn to you for help and shelter when I need it, instead of trying to struggle through on my own.  Amen.

Isaiah 24

Scripture: from verse 3

The land will be…completely empty and plundered,
for Adonai has spoken this word.

Observation:  So that’s cheerful.  I’m not sure which land this refers to, but it hardly matters.

In Genesis 1, we learn that God made the heavens and the earth, and the earth was empty.  With a word, God created energy and matter and form and structure and life.  And now, with a word, He has chosen to undo some of that making.

C S Lewis pointed out that we assume that our time and energy and bodies are our own, and that this is an awfully silly thing to assume.  We did not make our bodies; we were put into them and given life and time by God, without (as far as we know) having any input into the timing or manner of that creation.  We will be taken out of these bodies at a time and place and manner of God’s choosing, and we have no way of predicting or controlling that.

All of these things that we think we control, when all of reality is God’s words.  We work within the framework of what He speaks.

Application:  Remember that He made you.

Prayer:  Yeshua, I praise you because you are the word made flesh.  Thank you for making me and making a framework in which I can live and grow and work.  Help me to recognize the sovereignty of your word.  Amen.

Isaiah 23

Scripture: from verse 18

[Tyre’s] merchandise and profits will be dedicated to Adonai; they will not be stored up or hoarded…

Observation:  This chapter was a prediction of destruction for Tyre, a major crossroads and port, for the usual pride and rebellion.  God promises at the end that Tyre will be restored as a prosperous port city, but it will be dedicated to the Lord instead of only thinking about itself.

There’s always an inclination to hoard what we have, whether it’s time or energy or money or art supplies.  Seeing the pile of surplus makes us feel safer.  But we aren’t safer: none of these things are likely to stick around if we just try to hang onto them, and God was the one keeping us safe in the first place.

I mention art supplies because I do this all the time.  I never want to use the last bit of a paint or pretty paper, because what if I never get it again?  What if I waste it?  What if I ruin it?  It’s just paint, but you wouldn’t know it from the tizzy my brain gets into.  When I did art swapping and people would include cool little cards and papers and buttons as “extras” to use in future artworks, I had to throw them out right away or I would be miserable.  Because there was only one of each thing, so I could never use any of them.  Never.  I might make something ugly, after all, and then they’d be wasted.  I think I still have a drawer of stuff I collected and couldn’t use before I realized it was a problem and started pitching them or passing them on in the next swap.

This isn’t a healthy mindset, but I know I’m not alone in it.  We keep things.  In fact, studies show that losing something makes us 2.5 times sadder than getting it made us happy in the first place.  It’s called loss aversion.  It’s crazy, but humans are crazy.

And here God shows us the way out: dedicate what we have to God.  If it’s His stuff, we don’t have to worry about wasting it.  He’ll help us manage it wisely.  And if it’s His stuff, we don’t need to worry about running out.  He’s got plenty more.  Living without fear means not hoarding what we have.

Application: Dedicate what you have to God.  Let Him take care of you.

Prayer:  Father, I praise you for being the Source of Sources, abundantly able to provide whatever I need.  Thank you for giving me everything I need and plenty of things that I want.  Help me to treat the things I have as yours, so that I can share them and invest them freely.  Amen.