Archive for the ‘Isaiah 10’ Category

Building Up the Common Good, Part I   1 comment

Above:   Cedars of Lebanon, 1898

Image Source = Library of Congress

Reproduction Number = LC-DIG-matpc-11736

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Blessed Lord, who caused all holy Scriptures to be written for our learning:

Grant us so to hear them, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them,

that we may embrace and ever hold fast the blessed hope of life,

which you have given us in our Savior Jesus Christ,  who lives and reigns

with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

The Book of Common Prayer (1979), page 236

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Isaiah 11:1-10

Psalm 72:1-7, 18-19

Romans 15:4-13

Matthew 3:1-12

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In TANAKH:  The Holy Scriptures (1985) the first word of the reading from Isaiah 11 is “but.”  This is an invitation to back up into Isaiah 10, where one reads of God cutting down arrogant Assyrian forces.  The metaphor at the end of Isaiah 10 is cutting down the cedars of Lebanon.  That makes sense if one knows the background of that portion of scripture.

The prophet uses the term Lebanon trees ironically:  Assyrian kings boasted in inscriptions that they cut down these mighty cedars on their heroic journeys to despoil the forests of Lebanon to obtain wood for their building projects in Mesopotamia, but here Assyrians themselves become the ax’s victim.

The Jewish Study Bible, Second Edition (2014), 789

Then we arrive at our reading from Isaiah 11.

But a shoot shall grow out of the stump of Jesse,

it begins.  This is a prophecy of a time when an ideal king will rule justly and the society will be peaceable.  This is similar to the high hopes in Psalm 72.  Matthew 3:1-12 evokes this prophecy of Isaiah (in spirit, at least) and has St. John the Baptist apply it to Jesus, whom he baptizes in 3:13-17.

Romans 15:12, which follows a call to think about others first ad to work for the common good, quotes Isaiah 11:10.  The Pauline point is plain:  God seeks for all people to praise, follow, and set their hope on Him.  The family of God is diverse; some branches of it dislike other branches–even consider some of them to be heretical at best.  Some individuals within that family cannot or will not get along with other members thereof.

This has always been true.  Nevertheless, the divine mandate to work for the common good, to put other people before oneself, has never ceased to be relevant.  For nearly two millennia we have had a role model–Jesus, who went so far as to die.

May we love one another as we love ourselves, recognizing that the common good is indeed that to which God calls us in society.  Building ourselves up by exploiting others violates divine commandments and provokes the anger of God, as it should.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MARCH 14, 2018 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF FANNIE LOU HAMER, PROPHET OF FREEDOM

THE FEAST OF ALFRED LISTER PEACE, ORGANIST IN ENGLAND AND SCOTLAND

THE FEAST OF HARRIET KING OSGOOD MUNGER, U.S. CONGREGATIONALIST HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF NEHEMIAH GOREH, INDIAN ANGLICAN PRIEST AND THEOLOGIAN

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Adapted from this Post:

https://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2018/03/14/devotion-for-the-second-sunday-of-advent-year-a-humes/

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Instruments of God   1 comment

Circular Saw

Above:  A Circular Saw

Image in the Public Domain

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The Collect:

O God, through suffering and rejection you bring forth our salvation,

and by the glory of the cross you transform our lives.

Grant that for the sake of the gospel we may turn from the lure of evil,

take up our cross, and follow your Son,

Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord.  Amen.

Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 47

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The Assigned Readings:

Isaiah 10:12-20

Psalm 119:169-176

John 7:25-36

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Does an ax boast over him who hews with it,

Or a saw magnify itself above him who wields it?

As though the rod raised him who lifts it,

As though the staff lifted the man!

–Isaiah 10:15, TANAKH:  The Holy Scriptures (1985)

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I long for your salvation, O LORD,

and your law is my delight.

–Psalm 119:174, The Book of Common Prayer (1979)

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Such is the attitude of an instrument of God who knows that he or she is one and embraces that fact.  It is the attitude of Jesus in John 7:25-36, but not that of Samson in Judges 15:16 or the Assyrian monarch in Isaiah 10:12-20.  The Book of Isaiah does not condemn hostile nations whom it understands as functioning as agents of God for being instruments of God’s judgment, but it does condemn them for other offenses, such as arrogance and faithlessness.  Israelite kingdoms receive condemnation for the same sins in the Hebrews Scriptures.

God continues to use people and institutions as agents.  The proper attitude of an agent of God toward God is one of humility and, depending on the circumstances, gratitude.  All that we have comes from God, directly or indirectly, so our ability to do anything positive comes from God.  May we respond gratefully and humbly to God whenever we have an opportunity to help others.  May we do the most (via God) for those around us, for their benefit and divine glory.

JUNE 6, 2015 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF HENRY JAMES BUCKOLL, AUTHOR AND TRANSLATOR OF HYMNS

THE FEAST OF SAINT CLAUDE OF BESANCON, ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST, MONK, ABBOT, AND BISHOP

THE FEAST OF WILLIAM KETHE, PRESBYTERIAN HYMN WRITER

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Adapted from this post:

https://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2015/06/06/devotion-for-wednesday-after-proper-19-year-b-elca-daily-lectionary/

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Self-Imposed Exile   1 comment

Above:  Assyrian Empire

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Blessed Lord, who caused all holy Scriptures to be written for our learning:

Grant us so to hear them, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them,

that we may embrace and ever hold fast the blessed hope of everlasting life,

which you have given us in our Savior Jesus Christ;

who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,

one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

The Book of Common Prayer (1979), page 236

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The Assigned Readings:

Isaiah 10:12-27, 32b-34

Psalm 33 (Morning)

Psalms 85 and 91 (Evening)

2 Peter 1:1-21

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Some Related Posts:

2 Peter 1:

http://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2010/11/07/last-sunday-after-the-epiphany-year-a/

http://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2011/07/23/week-of-last-epiphany-monday-year-2/

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/07/23/week-of-proper-4-monday-year-2/

The Remnant:

http://taylorfamilypoems.wordpress.com/2011/08/09/the-remnant/

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You have been gracious to your land, O LORD,

you have restored the good fortune of Jacob.

You have forgiven the iniquity of your people

and blotted out all their sins.

You have withdrawn all your wrathful indignation.

Restore us then, O God our Savior;

let your anger depart from us.

Will you be displeased with us forever?

will you prolong your anger from age to age?

Will you not give us life again,

that your people may rejoice in you?

–Psalm 85:1-6, The Book of Common Prayer (1979)

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For very soon My wrath will have spent itself, and My anger that was bent on wasting them.

–Isaiah 10:25, TANAKH:  The Holy Scriptures

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But without [goodness, understanding, self-control, perseverance, devotion, and kindness to brothers with love], a person is blind or short-sighted, forgetting how the sins of the past were washed away.

–2 Peter 1:9, The New Jerusalem Bible

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God will destroy the Assyrian Empire, Isaiah told his audience.  Not only that, a remnant of Judah will return and God’s anger will run its course.  One might flip forward to Isaiah 40 and read:

Comfort, oh comfort, My people,

Says your God.

Speak tenderly to Jerusalem,

And declare to her

That her term of service is over,

That her iniquity is expiated,

For she has received at the hand of the LORD

Double for all her sins.

–Isaiah 40:1-2, TANAKH:  The Holy Scriptures

Divine anger which led to the destruction of Assyria will end.  Divine anger which led to the Assyrian and Babylonian Exiles will run its course.  But Assyria did not rise again.  In contrast, exiles from Judah did return to their ancestral homeland.

The author of 2 Peter told his audience to lie in goodness, understanding, self-control, perseverance, and devotion, and to be kind to one’s Christian brothers (and sisters) in love.  By so doing, he wrote, the knowledge of Jesus Christ would be neither ineffectual nor unproductive.  Yet without them, one forgets that God has washed our sins away.

If we live as if God has not forgiven certain sins, we go about our lives entrapped in our ignorance and illusions.  We become prisoners of a lie, or at least a misunderstanding.  We live in a self-imposed exile.  This is most unfortunate.  What might we do for God if we were living as the free people we are?

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

DECEMBER 9, 2011 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF THE HOLY MEN OF THE OLD TESTAMENT

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http://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2012/02/22/devotion-for-december-4-lcms-daily-lectionary/

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Posted August 5, 2012 by neatnik2009 in 2 Peter 1, Isaiah 10, Psalm 33, Psalm 85, Psalm 91

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The Web of Humanity   1 comment

Above:  Credit Mobilier Scandal Editorial Cartoon from 1873

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Blessed Lord, who caused all holy Scriptures to be written for our learning:

Grant us so to hear them, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them,

that we may embrace and ever hold fast the blessed hope of everlasting life,

which you have given us in our Savior Jesus Christ;

who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,

one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

The Book of Common Prayer (1979), page 236

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The Assigned Readings:

Isaiah 9:7/8-10:11 (depending on versification)

Psalm 122 (Morning)

Psalms 40 and 67 (Evening)

1 Peter 5:1-14

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Some Related Posts:

Isaiah 9-10:

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/09/15/week-of-proper-10-wednesday-year-2/

1 Peter 5:

http://lenteaster.wordpress.com/2010/10/29/forty-third-day-of-easter-seventh-sunday-of-easter-year-a/

Where Cross the Crowded Ways of Life:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2011/06/26/where-cross-the-crowded-ways-of-life/

Jerusalem:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2010/08/01/jerusalem-by-william-blake/

O Lord, You Gave Your Servant John:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2010/08/06/o-lord-you-gave-your-servant-john/

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Ha!

Those who write out evil writs

And compose iniquitous documents,

To subvert the cause of the poor,

To rob of their rights the needy of My people;

That widows may be their spoil,

And fatherless children their booty!

What will you do on the day of punishment,

when the calamity comes from afar?

To whom will you flee for help,

And how will you save your carcasses

From collapsing under [fellow] prisoners,

From falling beneath the slain?

Yet His anger has not turned back,

And his arm is outstretched still.

–Isaiah 10:1-4, TANAKH:  The Holy Scriptures

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Humility towards one another must be the garment you all wear constantly, because God opposes the proud but accords his favour to the humble.  Bow down, then, before the power of God now, so that he may raise you up in due time; unload all your burdens on him, since he is concerned about you.

–1 Peter 5:5b-7, The New Jerusalem Bible

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The reading from Isaiah spells out doom for Israel (the northern kingdom), Judah (the southern kingdom), and the Assyrian Empire.  Embedded among that gloomy news is yet another condemnation of economic injustice.  If I seem to beat this drum often in my devotional posts, I do; so do the texts from which I write many devotions.  The repetition of this theme ought to tell us to pay attention, correct our ways, and reform our legal, economic, and political systems accordingly.

Each of us bears the image of God.  This, I am convinced, constitutes the best basis of equality and mutual respect and humility.  God cares for all of us, so we ought to care for each other, not to use each other for selfish goals.  As the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., reminded us,

…injustice anywhere is injustice everywhere.

What happens to my brother or sister affects me, for my brother or sister and I, although physically distinct, are not as separate as we might seem.  We are all connected to others, so what affects one person has consequences for others.

May we, by grace, make them positive effects.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

DECEMBER 3, 2011 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF JOHN OWEN SMITH, UNITED METHODIST BISHOP IN GEORGIA

THE FEAST OF SAINT FRANCIS XAVIER, ROMAN CATHOLIC MISSIONARY IN ASIA

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Adapted from this post:

http://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2012/02/22/devotion-for-december-3-lcms-daily-lectionary/

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Against “Majestic Pride and Overbearing Arrogance”   1 comment

Above:  A Map of the Neo-Assyrian Empire

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Isaiah 10:5-16 (TANAKH:  The Holy Scriptures):

Ha!

Assyria, rod of My anger,

In whose hand, as a staff, is My fury!

I send him against him an ungodly nation,

I charge him against a people that provokes Me,

To take its spoil and to seize its booty

And to make it a thing trampled

Like the mire of the streets.

But he has evil designs;

For he means to destroy,

To wipe out nations, not a few.

For he thinks,

After all, I have kings as my captains!

Was Calno any different from Carchemish?

Or Hamath from Arpad?

Or Samaria from Damascus?

Since I was able to seize

The insignificant kingdoms,

Whose images exceeded

Jerusalem’s and Samaria’s,

Shall I not do to Jerusalem and her images

What I did to Samaria and her idols?

But when my Lord has carried out all his purpose on Mount Zion and in Jerusalem, He will punish the majestic pride and overbearing arrogance of the king of Assyria.  For he thought,

By the might of my hand I have wrought it,

By my skill, for I am clever:

I have erased the borders of peoples;

I have plundered their treasures,

And exiled their vast populations.

I was able to seize, like a nest,

The wealth of peoples;

As one gathers abandoned eggs,

So I gathered all the earth:

Nothing so much as flapped a wing

Or opened a mouth to peep.

Does an ax boast over him who hews with it,

Or a saw magnify itself above him who wields it?

As though the rod raised him who lifts it,

As though the staff lifted the man!

Psalm 94:5-15 (1979 Book of Common Prayer):

5  They crush your people, O LORD,

and afflict your chosen nation.

6  They murder the widow and the stranger,

and put the orphans to death.

7  Yet they say, “The LORD does not see,

the God of Jacob takes no notice.”

8  Consider well, you dullards among the people;

when will you fools understand?

9  He that planted the ear, does he not hear?

he that formed the eye, does he not see?

10  He who admonishes the nations, will he not punish?

he who teaches all the world, has he no knowledge?

11 The LORD knows our human thoughts;

how like a puff of wind they are.

12  Happy are those whom you instruct, O Lord!

whom you teach out of your law;

13  To give them rest in evil days,

until a pit is dug for the wicked.

14  For the LORD will not abandon his people,

nor will he forsake his own.

15  For judgment will again be just,

and all the true of heart will follow it.

Matthew 11:25-27 (An American Translation):

At that time Jesus said,

I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, for hiding all this from the learned and the intelligent and revealing it to children.  Yes, I thank you, Father, for choosing to have it so.  Everything has been handed over to me by my Father, and no one understands the Son but the Father, nor does anyone understand the Father but the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.

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The Collect:

O Lord, mercifully receive the prayers of your people who call upon you, and grant that they may know and understand what things they ought to do, and also may have grace and power faithfully to accomplish them; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

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The Assyrian Empire was brutal, a regime built on force, coercion, and violence.  There were, in fact, successive Assyrian Empires, so I must be precise in my language.  Mesopotamia has been home to neighboring civilizations and a succession of empires since ancient times.  Keeping track of them can be challenging.  The Assyrian Empire of this day’s text from Isaiah was the Neo-Assyrian Empire.  It had begun to expand its borders and influence by 856 B.C.E.  All of the hard work of conquering and oppressing people ended by 605 B.C.E., with the division of the empire between the Chaldeans/Neo-Babylonians, the next great empire in that region, and the Medes, who, along with their senior partners, the Persians, eventually conquered the Chaldeans/Neo-Babylonians and formed an even greater empire.

Empires rise and fall, but life goes on, as does the work of God.  And, for us, living daily should constitute far more than merely completing a succession of tasks, errands, and chores; it should be prayer and a series of acts of worship.  This thought has been on my mind recently, as I have watched the video Canadian politician Jack Layton’s funeral repeatedly.  Layton’s pastor quoted the late leader of Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition as saying that he (Layton) considered how he spent each day as an act of worship.  Such living leaves no room for the ruthless violence for which the Assyrians were notorious.

The text does require some explanation.  First, Calno, Carchemish, Hamath, Arpad, Samaria, and Damascus were cities the Assyrians had conquered.  And there is a bilingual pun in the text.  (I adore plays on words!)  We read “I have kings as my captains!” in verse 8.  The note in The Jewish Study Bible explains:

Heb[rew] “sar” is cognate to the Akkadian word for king.  Vassal kings did serve the Assyrian king as military commanders or captains.

Double entendres aside, the point of the reading is that hubris led to the fall of Assyria.  Hubris, of course, is that which goes before the fall.  It puffs one up unduly and leads one to become and remain overconfident.  It is something to guard against in the life of any empire or nation-state.

We, as individuals, ought also to avoid hubris.  We all need God; if we are wise, we will acknowledge and accept this without hesitation.  Jesus went to those who were ready to accept him and to embrace his message.  Pride did not hold them back, so they benefited from him.  More could have done the same if they just surrendered their hubris.

Pride can be difficult to surrender.  Sometimes circumstances leave us no choice, but it is better to live simply, humbly, and in the light of God voluntarily.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

SEPTEMBER 15, 2011 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT CATHERINE OF GENOA, MYSTIC AND HUMANITARIAN

THE FEAST OF SAINT CYPRIAN OF CARTHAGE, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP

THE FEAST OF DANTE ALIGHIERI, POET

THE FEAST OF JAMES CHISHOLM, EPISCOPAL PRIEST

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Adapted from this post:

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/09/15/week-of-proper-10-wednesday-year-2/

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Posted April 18, 2012 by neatnik2009 in Isaiah 10, Psalm 94

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