From Unfolding Grace:
“Isaiah shows that God’s plans for redemption are not just for Israel but for all nations. And the hope is not just for a renewed Canaan but for the new heavens and earth.
The following text from the end of Isaiah’s prophecy confronts us with the sinfulness of Israel and all people. We have all rejected the good God. Because of this, we must embrace the sobering images of God’s judgment for what they are — pictures of what we all deserve to endure apart from Christ. It is through our frank confession of sin that we open ourselves to God’s grace. God looks to the humble and contrite of spirit.”
Wednesday, July 7th
Larger Portion of Scripture - Isaiah 63-66
Focused Passage for Reflection - Isaiah 66:1-6
Reflecting on the Text:
The prayer so many of us learned in childhood began with a declaration of praise: “God is good. God is great!” It was easy as a child to imagine a great big majestic God. How about when we grow older, wiser? Do we still believe in a God who is great? Do we believe in a BIG God?
Many of us would say so. But really…how big is our God? Maybe a better way to get at the heart of what we practically believe about God is to consider our posture before Him? It’s hard to be honest in our self-reflection, but Isaiah 66 takes us there.
The passage begins with a declaration from the Lord as He speaks of His own grandeur. For some that may sound boastful, but would we really question Him if we saw Him rightly? That’s the whole point here, so the Lord gives us the right perspective. Heaven is His throne. The earth is the place where His feet rest. He made all things. ALL THINGS.
By contrast, we are small. But do we understand that smallness? Do we resist it? Do we try and declare something to the contrary, either explicitly or implicitly? That is what this passage seems to be drawing out. What is our rightful place before this God?
The Word tells us that the only appropriate posture we could take before this God is a posture of humility — true humility. This is the one whom the Lord will look upon with favor. One with a humble and contrite spirit. He goes on to describe this favored one as one who will tremble at His Word. This trembling is not meant to describe a “scaredy-cat”, but rather one who holds the Word in reverence and possesses a spirit that is eager to obey.
Who is this person? He or she is not a weakling. He or she is simply someone who rightly sees the glory of the Lord. With this proper vision, we are to live with hearts that revere, worship, and delight in our great God! And our great God sees and knows the heart of man. He knows the humble and contrite spirit.
The passage speaks of those who do all of the religious things, presenting animal sacrifices and fragrant offerings, but they do so with hearts far from the Lord. These are acts in which He does not delight offered from people in whom He does not delight. So the passage ends with the promise of judgment. This judgment is described as a sound of uproar coming from the city and the temple. That sound is the sound of judgment.
Remember, this is Isaiah speaking words of prophecy over the people of Judah. He was calling them to repent, with a humble and contrite spirit. Form many of them, God was small and distant. They did not repent, so the sound of uproar came to a fever pitch when the Babylonians conquered the city. But even in the midst of that prophetic promise, the Lord promised mercy to those with right perspective. Let us be those people. Let us be people who know in our heart of hearts that God is great. Let us be those people who revere Him and tremble at His word. Let us be those people who delight in His glory.
Questions for personal reflection:
What does this passage stir up in your heart? Does it stir up a sense of fear that makes you want to run away from the Lord? Or, does it stir up a sense of fear that produces reverence and awe?
What is the difference between the two?