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We enter today a new book in the Old Testament, one of the major prophetic books authored by Isaiah bearing his name. Said to have been written some 800 years before the birth of Christ, the major themes of the book are prophetic in nature concerning the fall and restoration of Israel. Isaiah serves as a mouthpiece for God, and in these verses we get a glimpse of the state of affairs between the children of Israel’s rebellious ways and God’s frustration and disappointment that eventually gives way to a gracious offer. God says:
13 Stop bringing meaningless offerings!
Your incense is detestable to me.
New Moons, Sabbaths and convocations—
I cannot bear your worthless assemblies.
14 Your New Moon feasts and your appointed festivals
I hate with all my being.
They have become a burden to me;
I am weary of bearing them.
15 When you spread out your hands in prayer,
I hide my eyes from you;
even when you offer many prayers,
I am not listening.
Your hands are full of blood!
But God does not condemn without offering a way out. He is clear on what would please him. He says:
16 Wash and make yourselves clean.
Take your evil deeds out of my sight;
stop doing wrong.
17 Learn to do right; seek justice.
Defend the oppressed.
Take up the cause of the fatherless;
plead the case of the widow.
And if the offer is taken up, this is what the outcome would be:
18 “Come now, let us settle the matter,”
says the LORD.
“Though your sins are like scarlet,
they shall be as white as snow;
though they are red as crimson,
they shall be like wool.
19 If you are willing and obedient,
you will eat the good things of the land;
20 but if you resist and rebel,
you will be devoured by the sword.”
For the mouth of the LORD has spoken.
Turning next to our continued reading in the second letter of Paul to the Corinthians, we find Paul defending his ministry to his readers. There must have evidently been some dissension among the church members in Corinth concerning Paul’s missionary work and the extent to how their monetary contributions were being spent. Also, perhaps there was some argument concerning the efficacy of Paul’s writings as opposed to his sermons in person.
And so, in response to these spoken and unspoken matters, Paul says this: 9 I do not want to seem to be trying to frighten you with my letters. 10 For some say, “His letters are weighty and forceful, but in person he is unimpressive and his speaking amounts to nothing.” 11 Such people should realize that what we are in our letters when we are absent, we will be in our actions when we are present.
Paul continues to speak of his hopes for the greater and wider dissemination of the gospel of Christ. He says: Our hope is that, as your faith continues to grow, our sphere of activity among you will greatly expand, 16 so that we can preach the gospel in the regions beyond you. For we do not want to boast about work already done in someone else’s territory. 17 But, “Let the one who boasts boast in the Lord.” 18 For it is not the one who commends himself who is approved, but the one whom the Lord commends.
Turning next to our psalm of the day, we find one that David the psalmist is said to have written in response to an act of treachery. David does not hold back choice words of misfortune to be heaped upon the head of his betrayer, but he also does not fail to reaffirm his own faith in God Almighty. David says:
8 But I am like an olive tree
flourishing in the house of God;
I trust in God’s unfailing love
for ever and ever.
9 For what you have done I will always praise you
in the presence of your faithful people.
And I will hope in your name,
for your name is good.
Finally, a few verses from the book of Proverbs in which Solomon, the wise king of Israel is advocating the ills of borrowing—and living—beyond one’s means. He says:
26 Do not be one who shakes hands in pledge
or puts up security for debts;
27 if you lack the means to pay,
your very bed will be snatched from under you.
May God bless the reading and reflection of His Word.