Saturday, December 06, 2008

Isaiah, Trust and Desire

As I mentioned in the last entry, my journey through Isaiah ended on 27 November. Hence I felt somewhat lost the next day. Ai Wei stumbled, by the grace of God, on Isaiah 30:15-26 on the morning of the 28th, and told me about it.

Looking back over the week that has been, I think it was exactly what I needed to read/hear in the transition between Camp and December, between last semester and next.

* * * * *

Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, "This is the way; walk in it." Then you will defile your idols overlaid with silver and your images covered with gold; you will throw them away like a menstrual cloth and say to them, "Away with you!"

--Isaiah 30:21-22 (NIV)

When I read these verses sometime in mid-November, the words that caught me most were 'This is the way; walk in it'. When I read the passage again on the 28th, those words retained the same power as when I first read them. I could not fail to notice the Messianic undertones in the instruction; after all, Jesus himself said, "I am the way," almost as if the prophecy was fulfilled not in some revelation but in the person of the God-man himself.

And then the strong words about idols are repeated in this short passage, as in much of the rest of the book. I thought about the verse Rachael quoted on the bookmark she gave me at the end of Camp. It was Luke 12:34, and there could have scarcely been a more timely message.

The morning of the 28th, I read Luke 12:31-34 in four versions.

"But seek his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well. Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom. Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will not be exhausted, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also."


"But seek His kingdom, and these things will be added to you. Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has chosen gladly to give you the kingdom. Sell your possessions and give to charity; make yourselves money belts which do not wear out, an unfailing treasure in heaven, where no thief comes near nor moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also."


"Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and he will give you everything you need. So don’t be afraid, little flock. For it gives your Father great happiness to give you the Kingdom. Sell your possessions and give to those in need. This will store up treasure for you in heaven! And the purses of heaven never get old or develop holes. Your treasure will be safe; no thief can steal it and no moth can destroy it. Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be."


"Steep yourself in God-reality, God-initiative, God-provisions. You'll find all your everyday human concerns will be met. Don't be afraid of missing out. You're my dearest friends! The Father wants to give you the very kingdom itself. Be generous. Give to the poor. Get yourselves a bank that can't go bankrupt, a bank in heaven far from bankrobbers, safe from embezzlers, a bank you can bank on. It's obvious, isn't it? The place where your treasure is, is the place you will most want to be, and end up being."


* * * * *

These two messages about God being the way and about seeking treasures that will last, instead of trusting in idols and building up an empire of accomplishments and worldly merits.

But more than that the verse that resonates most: "Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also." And this past week has been an intense time of asking myself just where my heart is.

Looking back, God already answered my doubts and worries with three passages from Isaiah.

"Woe to him who quarrels with his Maker,
to him who is but a potsherd among the potsherds on the ground.
Does the clay say to the potter,
'What are you making?'
Does your work say,
'He has no hands'?"

--Isaiah 45:9 (NIV)

Who am I, a mere lump of clay, that I should question my Maker and his purposes?

When I came, why was there no one?
When I called, why was there no one to answer?
Was my arm too short to ransom you?
Do I lack the strength to rescue you?

--Isaiah 50:2 (NIV)

I have not trusted God as I should have. In those times when I needed him most, I always found him to be there.

Who among you fears the LORD
and obeys the word of his servant?
Let him who walks in the dark,
who has no light,
trust in the name of the LORD
and rely on his God.

But now, all you who light fires
and provide yourselves with flaming torches,
go, walk in the light of your fires
and of the torches you have set ablaze.
This is what you shall receive from my hand:
You will lie down in torment.

--Isaiah 50:10-11 (NIV)

God's light, or the fires made by our hands?

I glanced through what I wrote on Isaiah some four years ago here.

It is said that holiness means 'set apart' or 'consecrated' for God's purposes. If this is so, then Isaiah depicts God as the Creator and Redeemer who made this world holy, and isn't going to rest until it's back that way.

It still rings true. God still consecrates and calls, still asks "Whom shall we send?", and still awaits the answer from those who are willing; "Here am I, send me."

* * * * *

In this season of Advent, I am reading Jeremiah.

No comments: