Scripture: verse 22
I have blotted out your transgressions like a cloud and your sins like mist;
return to me, for I have redeemed you.
Observation: This verse comes immediately after a mocking description of idolatry: a man might cut down a tree, use half the wood to cook his dinner, and carve the other half into a statue, which he worships as his god. It defies all logic (not to mention the laws of thermodynamics) to think that we can be rescued by the works of our own hands, and yet, time and time again, that is exactly what we believe.
And then God calls for Israel to return to Him. Israel is not His people because they did not worship idols. Israel was just a stupid as everyone else, and tried over and over to create its own deliverance. But God redeemed them. The difference is not that they never sinned, but that God erased their sin.
And today we do the same thing. We may not worship wooden idols, but we put our faith and our hope in our careers or our families or money or education or other things that we know are made by humans and therefore fallible. And time and time again, God wipes away our sin and calls us back to Him.
I can’t fix myself. No matter how organized and assertive and pro-active and educated I am, everything that I do comes from me. Which means it will be exactly as broken or as whole as I am. Only God can come from the outside and make me whole.
Application: God is calling. Let Him in.
Prayer: Father, I praise you because you defy the laws of thermodynamics. I praise you because you are not subject to entropy. I praise you because you are always bigger than yourself, because you can draw on your own might to fix all of creation. Thank you for redeeming me. Help me to hope in you. Amen.
Scripture: from verse 6
Look what happened to the people
to whom we fled for help…
How will we escape now?
Observation: In this chapter, God had Isaiah walk around naked and barefoot for three years. Never let it be said that God is especially worried about dignity 🙂 He did this as a warning: the people of Israel were relying on Egypt for help and protection, but Egypt would be stripped of their power and glory and led away naked. Israel would be dismayed because the source of help they were relying on had been destroyed.
Israel’s mistake, of course, was relying on Egypt to save them in the first place, when God was bigger and closer and considerably more willing and able to deal with the problem.
We can’t stand on our own. The world is too big and too unpredictable for any person to be truly self-sufficient. The only question is where we will turn for help.
When we turn to humans we generally feel that we are retaining some dignity. They are our equals, after all, and we each have something to bring to the table. Asking God for help requires considerably more humility: the knowledge that He is above and beyond anything that we can offer. We don’t get to pretend that we are capable of forging our own way and protecting ourselves when we turn to Him. It’s hard to do.
But in the end, all humans will fail. We have no dignity and no strength except for what God has given us. So we might as well get the hard part out of the way and rely on the Source of Sources.
Application: Ask God for help rather than humans. He’s more reliable.
Prayer: Father, thank you for giving me help when I need it. Help me to know when I am relying on human power when I should be turning to you. Amen.
Scripture: from verse 2
…the mountain of Adonai’s house
will be established as the most important mountain.
Observation: This is speaking of the days to come, when God’s glory will be clear to everyone, and everyone will go to Him. Mountains and hills were generally places of worship in biblical times, so the prophet may be referring to the community or structure of the worship of the Lord rather than a literal mountain, but that isn’t terribly important.
I mostly loved the imagery here, to be honest. I love mountains – the strength of them and the coolness and the quiet and the wind and the clear view and the feeling that you’re actually accomplishing something as you hike up. And I like translating that to worship: the feeling of God’s huge implacable strength, the inner quiet that finally allows me to really listen, the currents of God’s Spirit and the clear perspective and the mixed work and joy of knowing God. It’s just peaceful. I love it.
Application: Um. Yeah, no idea here. Learn to worship, I guess.
Prayer: Father, I love you. I love coming to your mountain. Help me climb to you. Amen.
Scripture: from verses 16 and 17
I pray that from the treasures of His glory He will empower you with inner strength by His Spirit, so that the Messiah may live in your hearts through your trusting.
Observation: So. The goal of this prayer is for the Messiah to live in our hearts. Two things are apparently required for that to happen: for us to trust, and for us to have inner strength. I’m not certain why we need inner strength in order for Messiah to live in us, but I guess it’s because Messiah changes us, and we need the strength to cooperate with those changes and not turn away. The Holy Spirit gives us the strength we need from the treasures of God’s glory. Possibly because God is strong, possibly because God made me and has the ability to upgrade me, and possibly because the reward of God’s glory helps us be strong. Though I’m disinclined to believe that last one, since it assumes we have the strength on our own, and we don’t.
Application: Trust in Him, since apparently there’s not much else we can do. Use the strength He gives us.
Prayer: Holy Spirit, please empower me so that Yeshua can live in my heart. Please give me the courage to belong to Him. Amen.