Looking at that list initially I thought to myself "Shoot, what have I gotten myself into??" But I went ahead and read anyway and it truly took me only about 15 minutes.
Starting this project today I am seeing how difficult this may become.
First of all, I did this reading in my backyard in my pajamas because Wednesdays are my days off from the little things I do during the week. I'm realizing that there are 365 days ahead and I hope that I stay faithful to the task no matter how comfortable a space I have in which to read.
Second of all, this blog may become a project of truth telling to a level I may not find always comfortable! This section of Scripture...it's heavy and I want to be a faithful considerate steward speaking graciously and compassionately...but also I know stewarding this project means listening to the voice of God and saying the hard things. The Bible is full of life, but it is also a sword.
It is a sword.
Going into this project I've already had a lot of thoughts about the world we live in today and how the Word of God is not taken seriously.
I wasn't planning on touching on issues these difficult so early on in my blog, but as I began reading this morning, I think God had another plan! When we open up the Bible we aren't exactly eased into the truth, why should we be? It should immediately strike us as different: like light in the midst of darkness. It is a sword! Convicting and piercing us to the heart...truth.
Isaiah has always been a hard book for me to read. It's thick with analogies and referencing to things I don't quite understand. It feels a lot like Revelation to me, though most of Isaiah is talking about immediate situations and Jesus and not necessarily the end times. But, with typology in mind, it probably is referring to the end times as well.
Typology: this idea that prophecy in the Bible can be fulfilled over and over again. This is something anyone who reads the Old Testament understands. For example, in Psalm 16 David talks about how "God won't let his body see decay." David is speaking figuratively about himself but also (unknowingly) speaking literally about Jesus. See Acts 2:14-36. (couldn't exactly find a definition of typology that I like, so I'm writing my own and hopefully I'm not lying)
It's hard for me to read Isaiah and figure out "what is he talking about!??" And as I was beginning today, it seemed like it wasn't going to be a different experience. All this talk of bloodshed, fear, fire, and evil. "The Lord is angry with all nations; his wrath is on all their armies. He will totally destroy them, He will give them over to slaughter" (Is. 34:2). Yikes!
How do I read this and then try to believe God is good?
These days people want to focus on the happy passages of Scripture. We want to be inclusive to everybody and believe God is always loving, loving, loving. But slowly we are refusing to acknowledge SIN!
The passage gets better, happier. "Then will the eyes of the blind be opened and the ears of the deaf unstopped. Then will the lame leap like a deer, and the mute tongue shout for joy. Water will gush forth in the wilderness and streams in the desert...They will enter Zion with singing; everlasting joy will crown their heads. Gladness and joy will overtake them, and sorrow and sighing will flee away" (Is. 35:5-10). Wow, a breath of fresh air. What a beautiful picture this paints, it's practically a worship song.
People want to turn to Isaiah 35 only and probably wouldn't care if Isaiah 33 and 34 were torn out.
And that goes with the first part of the Galatians reading too! "The acts of the flesh are obvious...I warn you...that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God" (Gal. 5:19-21).
Which essentially summarizes the main point I'm trying to make here. Yes, God is good and loving. Zion! Heaven! Heaven! Look at what we are promised! God IS indeed loving, loving, loving.
But He is also holy.
He designed us to worship and obey Him, to live in relationship with Him!
He is holy, He gets to call the shots! He's God!!
"All people will fear; they will proclaim the works of God and ponder what He has done. The righteous will rejoice in the Lord and take refuge in Him; all the upright in heart will glory in Him!"