Isaiah 23

Isaiah has a vision of the fate of Tyre. It’s perhaps the ultimate meditation on sheer materialism. They had no great political power, but were the merchant hub of the ancient world. David and Solomon had a fond relationship with them as the source of the timber for the temple. 

But their wealth can’t protect them. It is all God’s.

I live in a society obsessed with wealth, comfortable with social stratification based on wealth more than I can ever recall. 

Earning power is seen as the ultimate moral measure. If you earn more, you deserve for everything to be better. 

I need to inject God’s sensibility into my relations with poor people, giving them dignity and treating them as equals. If I share my relative prosperity, I am not being generous. 

The fact that I’ve been given discretion over the use of the material possessions I have does not imply that they are mine, they are God’s and my influence over anything is an example of God’s mercy.

Pray for wisdom and mindfulness. My money is not mine to waste.

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Isaiah 22

Jerusalem is lumped in with all the other prophesies about other towns, clearly I was in the right track yesterday about it losing its specialness.

The specialness it retains its from better knowledge. It will be judged, but the people should have known better!

So the practical preparations they did to be ready for the coming seige: fix up the water supply, and enjoy normal life while they could (eat and drink, for tomorrow we die)… were wrong.

They should have repented. They should have fought tho outnumbered, in the strength of God, instead of dying by starvation in seige, and then bring captured.

The stark choice is reflected in the careers of two of the high ranking government officials at the time.

Sheba was corrupt and self serving, and used his wealth to fashion and grand tomb for himself that he would never get to use. What a perfect example of a dumb approach to eternity, relying on your own strength.

Elaim was a godly man who God gives the “keys of David” to, he is a secure place to hang your trust, a secure “peg”, like a strong coat hook.

Hang your hopes on God, not your own strength.

The painful learning that what we can see, touch, hear around us is not the most important thing. This is the lesson of the fall of Israel and the difficult writings of the prophets.

Isaiah 15

Ok, we’re entering a section of dire predictions for neighbours of Israel.

Moab will have attacks on its major cities at night, and commerce will fail. The suffering caused by the broken economy is sketched in with sad detail.

Israel has connections with Moab, even though they are enemies.  David was related to people from Moab, via Ruth. And further back, they are related to Lot, the brother of Abraham.

But their judgement will be absolute. Israel can count to the promise that a remnant will be saved, not so Moab.

Perhaps I should use this series of prophesies to think about power structures today that will not survive, to think about God’s rule.

God rules despite division-bating conservatives, who just want to divide and sow hatred. Who appeal to people’s base instincts with lies that cover a self serving agenda. They will be bought low!

Leviticus 11

And… dietary rules.  Rather a jarring progression from the death in the last chapter, but here we are.

There really isn’t much scientific basis to the rules, though the pork restriction, for example, it did protect them from some parasites that we don’t see much any more.  Careful cooking also can fix it.

I read the wikipedia article on the modern “leviticus diet” based on all this which appears to have been a sham scheme to sell branded supplements and viewed dubiously by nutritionalists.  Its not a bad diet, its just that a number of the restrictions don’t necessarily add to its health properties.

Its about obedience, being set apart, external and self discipline, pure and simple, I think. And of course for christians the idea of adopting a leviticus diet doesn’t really jibe with the vision of Paul where God invited him to eat all the “unclean” stuff, which he later turned into his “eat whatever, as long as you don’t offend people” advice.

Judges 8

People will worship anything but God.

The powerful tribe of ephraim were jealous that gideon has so much military glory with his mere 300 men, they wanted to be part of the glory. So the point that God chose a leader and army that was intentionally weak, to show that the victory was god’s was rather lost on them. They worshipped their own ego and arrogance.

Gideon refused to be made king, the people wanted him to have the glory. He took some gold from victory and made an ephod, priestly item showing dedication to God, instead. So his family worshipped that object. It became a snare to them, the commentary sadly notes.

He died a hero, but the people quickly reverted to worshipping baal. They had learned nothing.

Even as he pursued the remnant of the army he defeated, his own people would not help him. It’s an incredibly sad chapter with harshness and faithlessness everywhere. 

Yahweh was not concrete, not an observable object. Not tangible. The OT is all about the power of the true God, which is not an idol. It would culminate in god being made flesh so he had a tangible form. Jesus, God who walked this earth.

And it’s still true. Even after entering our world as a tangible figure in history, people will worship anything but God.