GOOD MORNING SIBLINGS!
Today’s readings are Isaiah 36-41 and you’re gonna LOVE THEM!
A lot of what we’re going to read about in Isaiah 36-37 is another telling of a story that appears twice more in the Bible. To read my previous notes on this situation, I encourage you to check out this post on 2 Kings 18-19
Chapter 38-39 is also a retelling. Do you remember reading it previously? I love it when the Bible feels familiar to us.
You can read more of this wonderful retelling in 2 Kings 18-19 and 2 Chronicles 32 but there may be additional chapters around those as well, I just did a quick glance.
I actually have a blog post about a day when my life went into an intersection between me and Isaiah 40. It was pretty amazing to hear these words coming from my young teenager son’s lips. *This blog post is no longer live as I sold the site. I have added it at the bottom of this post as an addendum.
Now when reading Isaiah 40 you’ll notice that it naturally leads into Isaiah 41. This is a good time to remind ourselves that chapter numbers, verse numbers, chapter subheadings, etc were all added by man later and did not appear in the original transcript. It is a great practice, if you can form the habit, of beginning each chapter by reading a few verses before it started in order to better understand the context. In fact, I think reading entire books or large portions of books of the Bible in one sitting is an excellent way to read for this very reason.
Does the thought of reading entire books of the Bible in one sitting seem overwhelming? What if I told you that most of the books of the Bible can be read in under thirty minutes?
Check out my chart of Bible reading times by clicking here: Reading Times For The Books Of The Bible. This is a great chart to print out and tuck in your Bible, then you can check off the books you’ve read if you like, and go add another check when you read them again!
In Isaiah 41:1 the word “coastlands” in the ESV stood out to me because I’ve not really read the Father use that term to my immediate recollection, so I looked it up in interlinear on Biblehub and the original Hebrew word is often translated as islands, region, or coastlands.
Now recall that just prior to Isaiah 41:1, the very verse before it began, the Father speaks of renewing the strength of His people and here He is in the verse directly following that giving a directive for them to do just what He had said, thereby completing His thought in another verse. This is just an interesting point and again, as I said yesterday, reiterates the importance of any Bible reader understanding that these breaks in the Word were added by translators. The books are often continuous from chapter to chapter.
YHWH continues on in Isaiah 41 questioning the idolaters. Essentially saying: Who did all of this? Was it your idol? Look. Do you see their handiwork anywhere? No. They are useless. It was all done by me.
Then He reiterates, as He has done time and again, His promise to Israel, His servant, His chosen people.
“For I, YHWH your God hold your right hand, it is I who say to you “Fear not, I am the one who helps you.” Isaiah 41:10
Remember that statement next time you find yourself wondering how Israel or the Jewish people have managed to survive so very much. Keep in mind, though, that we are grafted in as spiritual Israel when we choose Him to be our God. But there is no need for us to convert to Judaism just as there is no need for our beloved Jewish brethren to leave Judaism in order for us to be counted among the children of the Father. We are branches on the family tree. Isaiah 56, Romans 11
Isaiah 41:14 As the Father is lovingly assuring Israel we see, seemingly out of nowhere to our modern eyes, He calls them a worm!
That seems like a head scratcher. There are a few thoughts on this.
First, a worm is a small creature that is easily crushed if not for being protected, often hated by others, etc. Surely this can be said of Israel with all they have been up against, if not for the protection of the Father.
But if we go back to some writings of early Rabbis* there is some discourse about this use of the term worm. Specifically, three separate rabbis pointed out that a worm is weak but its strength lies in its mouth, which can penetrate even cedar with determination. The parallel drawn here is that the power of Israel lies in their prayers (which the mouth of the worm symbolizes) to the Father, and through seeking Him they prevail.
I don’t know what was exactly meant by this passage but there is some sense to be found in both of these explanations. This is one of those things we can just ponder in our hearts, knowing it is not a salvation issue and we can’t have all of the answers right now.
*Note about early Rabbinical writings as sources of insight into the Scriptures: Recall that they were followers of YHWH and while much of the early church* was fighting to dissect, do away with, and prevent people from reading the Bible, many of these Rabbis were preserving and protecting it, often to the point of giving their very lives. That deserves our respect. Still, I read all extra-biblical sources with a discerning eye, but there are many rabbinical writings from authors of the time in which these Scriptures took place which can lend great cultural context to help us develop a fuller understanding of historical events recorded in the Bible. In the end, it is important to acknowledge that the privilege of being 100% right belongs only to the Father.
*Eventually we’ll study the early church history a bit.
I love reading Isaiah 41:17-19 about all that He will do for the needy and poor. How much more will He do for His children who seek to Know Him and do His will?
Isaiah 41:20 That they may see and know, may consider and understand together, that the hand of YHWH has done this, the Holy One of Israel has created it…
He WANTS us to know Him. He WANTS us to understand who He is to us.
The rest of this chapter concludes with YHWH pointing out, further, just how useless these idols are.
“Behold they are all a delusion; their works are nothing; their metal images are empty wind.” ~Isaiah 41:29
How much of what we toil away at, fret over, invest countless hours of spare energy in are the same? Delusion, nothing, empty wind.
I read somewhere where a man was talking about folks not having time to read their Bible. He pointed out that they had time to watch hours of television each day. To watch youtube videos on their lunch break, to play on Facebook each evening.
We make time for what is important to us – and that does not escape the notice of the Father.
I will leave my notes at this today. Rest up, a few novels are coming!
*Addendum: the blog post story I mentioned:
Several years back, I happened upon a day of turmoil in my life. “Happened upon” may not be the best way to describe it, but when we are looking in the rear view mirror and see the bumps, bruises, and scrapes of life along a road that looks far smoother in hindsight than it felt while we were on it, “happened upon” makes perfect sense.
I don’t even remember what the crisis was at this point, isn’t that the funny thing about crises? During the moment, when your heart and world seems to be in turmoil, they are all consuming. But days, weeks or years later, you can’t even recall what they were about.
But I do remember that I was entirely unsettled.
Father, tell me what to do. Tell me this is going to turn out alright.
I heard nothing in response, but I kept it up, knowing I would eventually get an answer. Sometimes the answers come immediately but more often than not, the come in an unfolding process, bit by bit, as if pulling back each petal of a flower to reveal the center.
And as I had this talk with my boss on the way to get my kids from school, I picked up my daughter and then headed to get my son. I was trying to be in the moment with Katy but that conversation with God was still taking place in the back of my mind.
And then, my son got in the car.
“Ma, I need to tell you something so can you listen a minute?”
My breath caught at the words that came from my son’s mouth.
“Comfort, comfort my people, says your God…”
He went on to recite the entire 40th chapter of Isaiah and from the first word, it felt like a soothing balm on my heart.
The entire 40th Chapter, starting with “Comfort, comfort…” and ending with:
“Look up into the heavens. Who created all the stars? He brings them out like an army, one after another, calling each by its name. Because of his great power and incomparable strength, not a single one is missing. O Jacob, how can you say the Lord does not see your troubles? O Israel, how can you say God ignores your rights? Have you never heard? Have you never understood? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of all the earth. He never grows weak or weary. No one can measure the depths of his understanding. He gives power to the weak and strength to the powerless. Even youths will become weak and tired, and young men will fall in exhaustion. But those who trust in the Lord will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint.”
When he was finished, I was stunned. “Why did you just tell me that?”
“I’m trying to memorize it so I have to practice.”
And just like that, every fiber of my being smiled and felt peace.
Sometimes we feel the distance more than others, no matter how close we are. No matter how often we pray, read the Word, or seek wisdom. Sometimes we have to walk a few steps before we are able to notice the steps beside us. But all too often, if we just stay open to it, God will send us a little message just to say
“See? I gotcha kid.”
And He sure does.
Test everything, hold tight to what is good.~ 1 Thess 5:21
We are saved by Grace alone: Obedience is not the root of our salvation, it is the fruit!