Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Exploring Isaiah: The first post in which I invite you to come along and study God's amazing Word with me

My beautiful, amazing friend Jade and I recently started up a group on facebook called Exploring Isaiah, in which we are reading through the book of Isaiah (in the Bible) and discussing it as a group. I am super excited about it because there are some really neat women participating and I am sure I will learn a lot...

Anyway, I thought I would like to share here, in this place, as well. There are some of you who do not have a facebook page, and I want to be sure to include everyone who is interested. Please jump in. We are reading 2 (short!) chapters a week, in order to make this do-able for everyone. (Read: me){smile and blush}

I'll be looking for your thoughts/insights/prayers/etc. in the comments box. If you have questions, I will do my best to help, and ask those wiser than myself when it's beyond me. (There is some real wisdom in this group! Yay!)I just know YOU will teach me so much, too....(And please feel personally encouraged to share this and invite others! The more the merrier!)

So, without further ado, Isaiah chapter 1. (I'll post on chapter 2 later this week.)

Okay friends, I'm going to jump right in. I have mixed feelings on commentaries, but since we're starting at the beginning (and in order to provide a little background) I'll share a little background info I dug up.

First, the man (Isaiah) himself:
According to Chuck Swindoll, Isaiah's "eloquent literary style, distinguished Jewish upbringing, and tireless declaration of God's word have earned him the titles 'Prince of Prophets' and 'Saint Paul of the Old Testament.'" So, if you are picturing a prophet wearing camel hair and munching grasshoppers, that's not the case here friends.

I've read that Isaiah: ~was born into an aristocratic family
~had an outstanding education
~married a prophetess & had at least 2 sons
~had a ministry that spanned almost 60 years
~was martyred by being sawn in half (also see Heb. 11:37)
~was contemporary with the prophets Micah and Hosea

Any thoughts on tradition/commentaries on Isaiah's background? (Please note: the Bible itself does not tell us those things. I add them here solely for background purposes.)

Next, listen to this neat factoid I found:

The book of Isaiah presents a fascinating microcosm of the Bible itself. The entire Bible is made up of 66 books- the first 39 make up the Old Testament {which presents the law as God's holy requirement and God's judgement on His people for their inability to fulfill the law}.

The next 29 book in the Bible comprise the New Testament {which presents a new covenant, through which God offers salvation for sin as JESUS fulfills the law's requirements and offers Himself as the spotless lamb of God}.

Stay with me here:

In the same way, Isaiah divides neatly into 2 sections: 1-39 deals with judgement for sins and 40-66 deals with the comfort of salvation.

Like other Old Testament (OT) prophets, Isaiah's messages focus on a variety of time periods. {This gives authenticity to the later claims of Christ- being fulfilled prophecies from hundreds of years ago!} In a nutshell, Isaiah focuses on:
~the present (threatening captivities by Assyria and Babylon)
~the future (restoration of the nation after captivity)
~the distant future (first and second comings of the Messiah)

Now, to the text itself! (You were wondering if I'd ever get there, right? *wink) I'll make it quick. {Thanks for sticking with me!}

I'm just going to touch at what jumped out at me. Jump in wherever you want. (I'm super excited to hear YOUR thoughts and insights.)

Chapter 1:
verses 11-15 seems to hit a common theme in scripture. God does not approve of religious hypocrisy. Here was a people that was incredibly religious, but also incredibly wicked.

God has defined what true religion is (Isaiah 1:16-17) (James 1:27) and the nation of Israel was far from it. God wants our lives to line up with our lips!

The Message translates one of the verses like this: "I'm sick of your religion, religion, religion, while you go right on sinning." Yikes.

I'd also like to hit on verse 22: "Your silver has become dross, your best wine mixed with water." Seems to me that God is saying this bunch of God-dropouts (as The Message calls them) have allowed their lives to become polluted and diluted.

Vs. 25: "I will turn my hand against you and will smelt away your dross as with lye and remove all your alloy." Lye is used to make soap and alloy is a substance sometimes found in better metals that needs to be refined out in order for it to be of any value. In other words, God needs to cleanse and refine His people. Did you see verses 18 & 19? God is willing and able to take our scarlet-sin-selves and make us white as snow. {How precious is this promise of forgiveness??}

Last verse that jumped out at me from chapter 1: vs 30 "For you shall be like an oak whose leaf withers, and like a garden without water." This verse reminded me of Psalm 1:3, which is a great contrast here, illustrating just the opposite to those who shun evil and meditate (day and night!) on the law of the Lord: "He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all he does, he prospers."

A great chapter, no? What did y'all find/think about this chapter? Please share.

In Jesus,
amy danielle



{Want to join us over at facebook? We'd love to have you! Scroll down to the bottom of my page here (all the way down!) click on my facebook badge, then sent me a friend request, mentioning Exploring Isaiah (so I know it isn't spam). Hope to hear from you there (or here!)}



3 comments:

  1. Amy, for all sorts of reasons I do not do Facebook, but I will follow your posts about the readings with interest.

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  2. Really loved last night's exchange- all the more amazing to find you online at the same time! Isaiah on many hearts around me at the minute, very exciting and curious to see God coaxing so many, so far apart to read these same words in these same days!

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  3. Hi Amy, I have always loved the book of Isaiah, I am looking forward to the exchanges on FB and here! Lori

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