Scripture: from verse 3
An ox knows its owner
and a donkey its master’s stall,
but Israel does not know [Me]…
Observation: A lot of Isaiah is about Israel not following God, and the bad things that come of that. Humans are really bad at following God, so that’s not exactly surprising.
What struck me here was the sense of familiarity. These days when we talk about knowing something, we often mean a very intellectual, head-based knowledge: being able to recite facts and theories about it. Don’t get me wrong, facts and theories can be very beautiful and I love knowing them. But that’s not the type of knowledge being discussed here.
Oxen and donkeys don’t have the brainpower to comprehend legal ownership or the details of architecture. If they did, I suppose we couldn’t treat them as property. But they know where they belong. They are familiar with one place – with the smells and sounds and the angle of the sunlight and the taste of the water – and they know that that is home. They return to it when they are tired or sick or scared, not because they understand that their owners will feed them and care for them, but because that is where goodness occurs. That is home.
That’s how God wants to be for us. He’s willing to teach us facts about Himself, and those are big and beautiful and dazzling. But what He truly wants is for us to recognize Him as home. To return to Him when we are tired or hungry or scared, instinctively searching for His shelter and care. To know what He feels like, not just to study His nature.
Application: Get quiet. Be with God.
Prayer: Father, thank you for being home for me. I’m sorry that I don’t always take the time to recenter myself in you. Help me to be quiet and feel your presence and guidance more often. Amen.
Scripture: from verse 17
See that you complete the task you were given in the Lord.
Observation: This is a reminder that Paul addresses to a specific person, but it applies to all of us. We are set a task. We have to complete it.
It’s easy to leave spiritual work half-done. If our work is to pray or to love or something like that, we may not see concrete results from our work. There may not be a physical sign that we are finished. So we tend to assume that we have finished as soon as we’ve done anything, when God may be calling us to keep going.
All we can do is wait for God’s peace to release us. If we are to pray, we keep praying. If we are to love, we keep loving. If we are to write or dance or eat or talk, we keep going until we are finished. We are accomplishing a great deal in the spiritual world as we do His will, and He can see it even when we cannot.
Application: Have patience and keep going. Wait for God to tell you what to do.
Prayer: Yeshua, thank you for giving me tasks to complete for you. Help me to be patient and persevering and accomplish what you want me to accomplish. Amen.
Scripture: verse 2
Keep persisting in prayer, staying alert in it and being thankful.
Observation: The Bible tells us to keep praying over and over again. Which isn’t unreasonable, given that it is our main form of communication with the Maker or the Universe.
But staying alert in prayer seems a little different. I’m not certain what it means, to be honest. It implies activity and arousal and expectation. That nor only should we constantly be praying, but we should also be constantly paying attention to our prayers. Constantly looking for things to pray about, and constantly listening carefully for God to speak or guide or point His finger.
I’ve found I can learn a lot by praying. As I pray, God prompts me to pray in a specific way or over a specific aspect. Usually I can’t get it out of my head until I’ve prayed for it. After I’m done, half the time I realize that I hadn’t considered that element important before, or hadn’t even realized it was there. I didn’t know my friend was worried about an upcoming wedding until I prayed for her to be at peace. (I don’t think she did either!) I didn’t realize how jealous I was of my sister until I was praying about it. God uses our prayers to give us new information, if we’re willing to let Him.
I’m still learning about this. Sometimes I push too hard and fool myself, or I get scared and get stuck. But I keep going. God is good.
Application: Pray about everything, especially whatever you’re thinking about. Let God push your prayers around.
Prayer: Father, thank you for hearing my prayers. Thank you for giving me a line of open communication. Help me to listen to your prompting as I pray, and to use the knowledge I gain to better love people. Amen.
Scripture: from verses 16 and 17
I keep asking…the Father of Glory to give you a spirit of wisdom and revelation so that you will have full knowledge of Him.
Observation: Sha’ul (Paul) prayed for us to understand God. For us to have “full knowledge” of God. Kinda like “full throttle,” I suppose – opening up a source of power that can launch us into greater and greater speeds.
It says in Proverbs that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. It also says that we should seek wisdom more than riches. (Admittedly it also points out that wisdom will lead to riches, so it’s not as if we’re sacrificing much on that account.) I think this is why – because with divine wisdom and revelation we have full knowledge of God, and with full knowledge of God we can do anything.
Application: Seek wisdom. Watch for it and cling to it whenever you do find it. Learn more about God.
Prayer: Father of Glory, give me a spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that I may have full knowledge of you. It says right here that this is a good thing to ask for, so I’m asking. Teach me to know you, and teach me to recognize wisdom when I see it. I want to know your truth, God, so please reveal it. Amen.