Monday, May 19, 2008

Isaiah 40

Okay, it's gotten to the point where I either dream of the sermon the minister is gonna give or one of the Scriptures I happen to study during the week tend to be the ones the minister sermonizes on.

So I definitely feel God is with me and the holy spirit is touching me and teaching me.

This morning I got up and opened the Bible to Isaian 41. So I read Isaiah 40. Okay, I'll read Isaiah 41 later today. But I read chapter 40 because it's one of my absolute favorite chapters. The others are Isaiah chapter 6 and Isaiah chapter 53.

So there I am reading along and suddenly I had to stop at the end of verse 2.

Isaiah 40
Comfort for God's People
1 Comfort, comfort my people,
says your God.
2 Speak tenderly to Jerusalem,
and proclaim to her
that her hard service has been completed,
that her sin has been paid for,
that she has received from the LORD's hand
double for all her sins.

Now, is it me? Focus on the line "double for all her sins." Have we been reading this line to mean double punishment? Or does Isaiah mean it as pointing to grace? Does he mean double blessings for all her sins?

I'm one of those people who really dislikes assumptions. Especially assumptions made by those of us as we read the Bible. I'm the one who annoys ministers by saying, "Wait a second! That's an assumption! The Bible says the rich young ruler went away sorrowful because he had much riches. It doesn't say he went away NOT intending to follow Jesus. Maybe he was sorrowful because he WAS going to follow Jesus. We just don't know."

I'm the type to say, "Okay, where does it say Delilah was a harlot and evil and a Phillistine? She might've been a nice Jewish farm girl for all you know!" Or I'll say, "What're you talking about 'three wise men'? Where the heck does it say there was three of them?" I'm the type to say, "And why exactly do you think Gabriel is an archangel? Where does it say so?"

Yes, my friends, I am a pill even in church groups. I cannot tell you how many times I have annoyed the heck out of someone by saying, "Well, you're assuming that. And the church has assumed that for 2000 years. Could you be wrong?"

So here I am, pondering the word "double." Thinking about God's personality, I find myself thinking, "Would God actually be so apologetic as to say to sinful Israel, 'yeah, I punished you...more than you deserved. I'm kinda unfair like that'???" I think not.

Next, the line comes in a verse that is talking about God's comfort. Okay, we humans might comfort someone else by saying, "I am so wrong, I shouldn't have punished you so bad." But God isn't human.

Of coure I have to go study the line in the original Hebrew but I am suspecting that Isaiah is talking about the power of the gospel restoration. For our great sin, what has God done? He has graciously given us so much more good.

I totally believe that when one is reading the Bible and something jumps up in one's mind that one has never considered before that it's the wonderful sweet holy spirit talking to you and enlightening you. I think he wants me to ponder this verse today. Maybe my pastor will talk about restoration next sunday...who knows? maybe he'll talk about something that connects to another verse that will be brought to my mind in the next few days. In the meantime, gonna ponder how graciously our God restores us....and how he gives us so much more than what we have lost. We really must ponder the love of God more. St Paul warned the Corinthians against saying, "Oh, so God gives us so much good because we have sinned, let us sin even more so that even more grace can flow!" I can understand how, when one fully understands God's grace, one can think such a thing. But as St Paul said, "yes, God is loving and gracious...but God forbid that we should do such a thing!"
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