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We continue in the book of Isaiah, and learn today of Isaiah’s commission to go and preach to the nation of Israel. The Lord’s words to Isaiah are somewhat tongue-in-cheek, but they do come to pass in reality. The Lord says to Isaiah:
9 … “Go and tell this people:
“‘Be ever hearing, but never understanding;
be ever seeing, but never perceiving.’
10 Make the heart of this people calloused;
make their ears dull
and close their eyes.
Otherwise they might see with their eyes,
hear with their ears,
understand with their hearts,
and turn and be healed.”
Isaiah continues to prophesy about Judah’s resilience against all odds—despite being beset with enemies from all sides, the line of David would still prevail, and the sign of Immanuel which means “God with us” is offered to Judah.
Isaiah says: 14 Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.
Turning now to our reading of Paul’s second letter to the Corinthians, we find Paul in a tell-all mood. In a self-deprecating humorous style that belies his maturity, Paul wishes to set out some facts. There must apparently have been talk about others doing as much or perhaps even more than Paul in their missionary efforts, and perhaps after listening to such “grapevine” talk, Paul decides to speak up and tell it like it is so as to allow the reader to make the judgment on Paul’s credentials and accomplishments.
I quote Paul’s “boast” in its entirety:
Whatever anyone else dares to boast about—I am speaking as a fool—I also dare to boast about. 22 Are they Hebrews? So am I. Are they Israelites? So am I. Are they Abraham’s descendants? So am I. 23 Are they servants of Christ? (I am out of my mind to talk like this.) I am more. I have worked much harder, been in prison more frequently, been flogged more severely, and been exposed to death again and again. 24 Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one. 25 Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was pelted with stones, three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day in the open sea, 26 I have been constantly on the move. I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my fellow Jews, in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea; and in danger from false believers. 27 I have labored and toiled and have often gone without sleep; I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food; I have been cold and naked. 28 Besides everything else, I face daily the pressure of my concern for all the churches.
It is almost as if Paul is saying to them, “Is that sufficiently clear?”
Turning next to our reading of the psalms, we find David beseeching the Almighty for help. May his verses of praise and thanksgiving be ones that we might also offer up without reservation:
6 I will sacrifice a freewill offering to you;
I will praise your name, LORD, for it is good.
7 You have delivered me from all my troubles,
and my eyes have looked in triumph on my foes.
Finally, a set of verses from the book of Proverbs in which Solomon offers wisdom that may be used in any situation, not necessarily only at a ruler’s table:
1 When you sit to dine with a ruler,
note well what is before you,
2 and put a knife to your throat
if you are given to gluttony.
May God bless the reading and reflection of His Word.