Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Isaiah: Back to the Future

Isaiah: Back to the Future
Isaiah 35, Isaiah 65:17-25, Matthew 4:12-17

America was witness to a prophetic voice and figure within its past fifty years: Martin Luther King. He spoke to the powers of the United States when there was momentum on his side (the Civil Rights movement), and after he had gotten power and leverage, gave it up to speak against the Vietnam War.

He believed so strongly that what he represented was right, that he believed those who opposed him, knew deep down, they were wrong. What power!

Story of Scripture: Israel called to birth the Messiah. Rescued from slavery in Egypt, cross through the Red Sea, wander wilderness, establish law and enter promised land. They want a king, when God does not want that for them. After a series of bad kings, and the people not turning from their ways to follow the Lord, the people are exiled, and then return to the Land 70 years later.

Today, we transition to highlight a religious office in Israel that held the powers that be in balance: The prophet.

Common perception of a prophet is a future-teller. And parts of the prophetic books of the Bible, do tell about the future, and about specific events that would unfold, such as the destruction of the Babylonian empire, or the suffering that would come upon the Messiah. But generally speaking, a prophet is a messenger of the Lord, called to speak the Word of God.

Prophets would speak to kings. Prophets would speak to the religious establishment. Prophets would speak to everyday people.

Prophets would talk about the past. Prophets would talk about the present. Prophets would talk about the future.

Prophets would speak God’s message. Prophets would act out God’s message, through living parables. Prophets would take on a way of life, to model God’s message.

Donald Leggett in Loving God and Disturbing Men
1. keep God as central
2. portray evil realistically
3. call for change
4. give a hope-filled perspective on history
5. are socially relevant (speak to social order)

A prophet wakes us up from our sleepy complacency so that we see the great and stunning drama that is our existence, and then pushes us onto the stage playing our parts whether we think we are ready or not.
–E. Pederson, Run with Horses

Isaiah: Back to the Future

730-681 BC, Northern Israel falls during his prophesying.
Isaiah encounters the presence of God: chapter 6

General themes of Isaiah’s teachings (Bullock)
--Ruin and rebirth
--Divine Judgment
--Oracles against the nations
--suffering and salvation
--faithfulness and unfaithfulness
--the wicked and the righteous

The future as the End.
Looking at the End through the eyes of faith.
In message of salvation, the future is the beginning.
Looking at the End (goal) as to move from where you are to where you should be or where you would like to be. In doing this, you work your way back to the future.

Isaiah’s picture words for how the future looks…
Chapter 35:
v.1 parched land and wildnerness blooming: JOY and GLADNESS
v.2 beautiful spots will see the glory of God.
v.3-6 broken body parts will work again with new life.
v. 7 water will gush in the desert, burning sands will become pools,
thirsty ground becomes bubbling springs.
v.8 a highway of holiness that is safe and purposeful
v.10 entrance into the holy city with everlasting joy crowning their
heads, singing. Sorrow and sighing fleeing away.

Chapter 65:
God’s promise: I will create new heavens and new earth.
The former not remembered, nor come to mind.
Be glad and rejoice forever in what God creates.

Life at length.
Houses enjoyed
Fruit eaten that is grown
Pleasure in work
The real animal kingdom
The Holy Mountain overlooking
The people will be a people blessed by the Lord.

Jesus: Coming Back for the Future
From the smallest areas comes the biggest light.
Jesus is aware of what the prophet had seen for the future.
Jesus is the light for a dark world.
The people will see this light.
The light will shine on the people.
Jesus’ message: repent, for the kingdom of heaven has arrived (or, is near)

Lent: Repenting
Listening to and obeying the Word of God.
Being close to God and Jesus

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