Isaiah 10

Will an axe boast that it is better than the one who wields it?

A condemnation of Israelites who opress the poor and vulnerable. They are bringing judgement. A metaphor of a nest of wealth, and God’s judgement like taking the eggs of a chicken.

A condemnation of Assyria, the axe, the rod by which God brings judgement.  They’ll become arrogant in their run of victory. But their turn will come to be judged too.

Cue the prediction of the return of the remnant.

Isiah does not follow a structured argument, he pweaves themes. Most of it is poetic in form.

It seems compiled from writing over a period of time responding to various events with writings and statements that return to, and build upon the same themes.

I’m feeling busy, a little down, lost in my list of things to do. Somewhat overworked and overwhelmed.

Trying to connect with the idea of Isaiah as someone who deals in extremes. He flicks from despair to hope. It’s all going to be destroyed. It will also be returned, better than it was. 

Anything but “meh”, where I am. And where his audience often we too, no doubt.

 

 

 

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Genesis 28

Grace in a shabby world. 

Jacob is no better than anyone really. He’s just betrayed God as surely as Peter did. But he is chosen. Though him will come blessing.

He is given a vision of god’s perspective. Heaven and earth linked and his angels passing between the two.

Genesis has these exultant moments of grace amongst all the petty nasty banality. God intervenes.

He’s intervened in my life too. Back to work, long hours chained to an irrelevant place so I can fund the rest of my family. But I gave been chosen, blessed.

Give me wisdom lord.

Malachi 1

Malachi is the last book of the old testament and last chronologically. Israel has been great, then exiled, broken and scattered; and then with great rejoicing was miraculously bought back and Jerusalem and the temple rebuilt.

If the opening chapter sets the tone, this book is a downer, it’s the “but…” after the happily ever after. The honeymoon is over and cracks are appearing.

God has done big things, God has been generous in grace, but the people have been small in response. They give the diseased and the useless animals for sacrifice. God gets the left overs.  They have a show of caring about God, a show of gratitude and praise, but it’s hollow. They actually don’t care, and God says it would be more honest if they just closed the temple and gave up.

For me this is practical. How much do I give to God? I live a life that is mostly work, time wise. It feeds and clothes my family but it chews up so much of my time on earth.

Help me learn as I read this lord what is really important. May I be open to seeing my faults.

Nehemiah 8

The celebration of the finishing of the wall creates various overwhelming emotions in the people. They are rediscovering their identity, having been away from Jerusalem and Jewish culture.

They start to weep as the law is read by Ezra the priest. Other priests are on hand to explain it. I like that detail, its no meaningless ritual. It’s like the spiritual version is an adopted child meeting their birth parents, they are overwhelmed.

They need to be reminded that it’s a celebration, a festival. That unleashes 7 days of joy. They pick up on a tradition of sleeping in makeshift houses, and all do that.

Every day more of the law is read, it’s a major love affair with their identity as god’s chosen people, with the word of God.

This is a timely word for me. I wax and wane on my personal devotion to reading the word here. It’s a good reminder to treasure it. It is my identity, loved by God, given his word.

Your work produced by faith, your labor prompted by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ

Not the other way around, your faith produced by work, your love produced by labor, your hope inspired by endurance.  They are excited. Its probably just a stage though.  Its definitely the other way around sometimes. He’s thanking God for it, may I be excited too.

They drank up Paul’s message like thirsty people. Their dramatic and deep conversion became so famous Paul kept getting reports of it back from strangers. We get little hint in chapter 1 why he is writing to them.

We learn they are a model church, they were idol worshippers, they were suffering severely when he came and they at once understood and embraced the message and put it into practise.

Luke 13

Such a strong theme of the urgency of our time here on earth. We are here to bear  fruit. Jesus must be God because who else would compare people to a tree that should be cut down or left another year?

Another humiliation for the Pharisees. But it is richly deserved. Jesus is healing. HEALING. And all they can see is that he is doing it on the Sabbath. They say they serve god more than anyone. But when they meet him, all they see is a threat to their position.

Jesus may have been 30 but he’s reminding us to live like teenagers. Do things from simple faith and a desire to do what’s good. Don’t think about the consequences.

Why is it that as we get older we live less and less with a sense of the shortness and urgency of our days, and more constrained by the cruft of our years. The young irresponsible attitude of living like there is no tomorrow is a literally the correct view from Jesus’ perspective. After all, he is eternal. He wants us to live like Roman candles, like flairs that burn with grace and die. No point staying unlit.

The mustard seed parable… Kingdom of God is pure potential, like a tiny seed that turns into a whole ecosystem. Kingdom of God is an activating agent… The live yeast that turns ordinary paste like flour and water into bread. He’s sort of saying it’s not a place, it’s an idea powerful enough to turn into the most concrete thing, more than earth. Powerfully transformative. You’d think from our teaching in churches that pounds and pounds of yeast was required, but a little heaven for a very long way.