A friend of mine who is a salvation army officer told me a story about preaching while dealing with her son discovering he was going blind. She described the experience as her own words sounding to her like “blah blah blah”.
This is a beautiful chapter.
By the way, it’s striking how much is prophesy is poetry. Very little prose. Advertising copy counts as poetry these days I suppose, but it’s not the go-to form for press conferences. Trump, funnily enough, talks in a poetic kind of way: not factually accurate, but full of resonance and emotional truth for his supporters. He is always a salesman. And God must always “sell” his message of love to us, because we have skeptical hearts.
First section is a picture and promise of god’s love. Short term, healing, restoring, reviving. Described as a three day process, that people have said parallels Easter.
Then living in god’s presence, compared to the sun rising and seasonal rains in winter and in spring.
Beautiful. Then a section on the emptiness of Israel. It is despairing. Their love for god is like morning mist or disappearing dew compared to the constancy of the seasons in the previous passages. They fall back into the prostitution of other god’s so fast.
That is why God must use the cutting words of the prophets. Priests are likened to bandits, lying in wait to trap travelers. Key verse:
I desire mercy, not sacrifice,
and acknowledgment of God rather than burnt offerings.V6
Which leads me back to my friend, who was sufficiently spooked by the experience of preaching her hollow sermon that she stepped back from teaching for a while.
The externals are meaningless if the inside is hollow. The pandemic is exhausting my brain. And I’m still a sinner, as it turns out. But God can forgive if I stay alive to the Spirit. Stay alive.
I pray about my response, focus. Don’t obsess on information to the extent that it overwhelms my mind. Stay in the moment with the Lord and with those around me.
And lord, keep the vulnerable safe.