Isaiah 26

Woah, a chapter that goes some unexpected places.

A description of God’s City, walls made of salvation, the strongest stuff there is. Gates town open to all nations. To the dead.

A height metaphor is used to talk about the proud and pompous being made low and the humble lifted up, but not reversed, made straight, made even.

Isaiah is always this two edged sword, can’t damn without hope, no hope without contrasting fate of those who do not listen. It’s always a plea.

The contrast here is with the outcome of people’s trust in their own strength, which looks like it’s going to deliver but ultimately can’t. Amusingly it is compared to a woman writhing with birth pains who ultimately delivers a fart. What a great way to think about so much of the Ted talks etc, humanism has great goals, but only humans to execute them.

The birth metaphor extends to God raising the dead in him for his City, the ground giving them up. The City of Salvation is not tied to earthly life spans, its eternal forwards and backwards.

God is solid, God is real, God produces children for his labours, true justice, true rescue, lasting comfort.

In the meantime this promise “God will keep you in perfect peace if your mind is set on him”

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Joel 1

A poem about a disaster, waves of locusts destroying all the crops.  I get the impression is an urgent warning, they are imminent. On the northern border, and have destroyed wild pastures there.

Chapter 1 runs through something like the stages of grief, from the disbelief (has anything like this ever happened?) initial shock (wake up, wake up! It’ll all be gone) realising the implications, grieving.

All done with wonderful vivid language: forget figs, the trunks of the fig trees are white because the bark is gone. New wine is being snatched from the lips of drunkards sleeping off the old, cattle and sheep wandering about aimlessly with no crops, olive oil failed, trees withered… like our joy.

And the cry of anguish and the wail to God. The people, the flocks even the panting wild animals, all run out of options but to cry to God.

Got it. I see people there in the news, it happens to friends, and I myself have felt at times I’m there, even though my objective circumstances were not as bad. The place of utter seemingly inevitable disaster, absolutely zero resources other than a voice to cry to God.

Next chapter!

Genesis 11

The story of the tower of babel is one of my favourites. Genesis reads like my first bible story book, separated by genealogies. Creation, Noah, tower of babel.

It is a tribute to the massive energy of humans that God is impressed, even concerned, by the tower. As high as it is though, he has to come down to see it.

On balance God thinks it’s better to have that energy diluted, so he breaks communication. It is a comment on man’s propensity to sin. It reminds me of Jesus’ teaching on earthly authorities, how they are established for our protection, so we don’t kill each other in opportunistic anarchy.

God had to keep reigning in his broken creation to give us space to know him. Left to our own devices, unfettered, in dense concentrations like cities, we achieve marvels, but also have the propensity to destroy each other.

Of course as the modern world has progressed, both the height of buildings and the brokenness of communication is being challenged by our ingenuity again. I am actually incredibly inspired by suggestions that the internet is probably the greatest anti poverty tool ever invented. Google, with hubris, initially called their translation service babelfish, after Douglas Adams (and genesis).

But it’s worth also fearing, the internet hasn’t stopped the world being thrown into the greatest refugee crisis we’ve ever known. The humanist view says better understanding and communication will inevitably improve the world. This story is more cynical. John Lennon wondered if we could imagine no war, just a brotherhood of man. We can’t, it seems.

Father the sadness of the broken world is overwhelming. The reality of how much we need you makes all the silliness of our culture seem all the more shallow. Help me be a burning light for you.

And then we get carefully set out the family line of shem and of terah, all leading to Abram.  Not much to comment here, except that the lifespans are getting shorter the further away from Genesis we get.  We are in an era where they are getting longer. People will routinely start living past 100 again.  Perhaps they will eventually meet up with these biblical figures, which here are around 200.  And of course, we are looking at a family line of Gods interaction with the world.  The family line tht will see the Israelite nation founded and chosen by God, and eventually bring forth the messiah.