Apply Your Heart to Instruction

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ISAIAH 15:1-18:7 | GALATIANS 1:1-24 | PSALM 58:1-11 | PROVERBS 23:12

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Isaiah’s prophecies are legendary.  He has the most lamentable prophecies for many a people, and in the same breath has the most wondrous of prophecies for the world.  In this passage, he has a few choice things to say about Moab—present-day Jordan’s ruin. 

Isaiah says:  But now the LORD says: “Within three years, as a servant bound by contract would count them, Moab’s splendor and all her many people will be despised, and her survivors will be very few and feeble.”

But Isaiah also has this to offer as a ray of hope—the reference to the “house of David” to be none other than Jesus Christ, the Messiah.  He says:

5 In love a throne will be established;
in faithfulness a man will sit on it—
one from the house of David—
one who in judging seeks justice
and speeds the cause of righteousness.

Next in line are prophecies against Damascus, in modern Syria and the kingdom of Cush in modern Sudan and Egypt.  Even in that day, Israel had few neighbors that she could call friend.  As is the case today, in those ancient times also, there were more foes than friends that surrounded her.  Isaiah’s prophecies to these nations were as follows:

12 Woe to the many nations that rage—
they rage like the raging sea!
Woe to the peoples who roar—
they roar like the roaring of great waters!
13 Although the peoples roar like the roar of surging waters,
when he rebukes them they flee far away,
driven before the wind like chaff on the hills,
like tumbleweed before a gale.
14 In the evening, sudden terror!
Before the morning, they are gone!
This is the portion of those who loot us,
the lot of those who plunder us.

We turn next to our reading from the New Testament, and find ourselves commencing a new book titled Galatians—yet another epistle or letter written by Paul to the churches in Galatia, present-day Turkey. 

Paul starts out with a standard greeting, but is quick to launch into one of the main purposes of his letter, which is to strengthen the faith of these young Christians.  These were people who had descended from the Gauls—a mix of Roman and Greek stock—who most likely worshiped many pagan gods, and even after their adoption of the gospel of Christ as preached to them by Paul, some had been led astray to believe in other “versions” of the gospel.

On this matter, Paul is much concerned for them, and writes to them these words, 6 I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you to live in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel— 7 which is really no gospel at all. 

Paul writes on, 11 I want you to know, brothers and sisters, that the gospel I preached is not of human origin. 12 I did not receive it from any man, nor was I taught it; rather, I received it by revelation from Jesus Christ. 

And further down: 20 I assure you before God that what I am writing you is no lie.

Paul goes on to refresh their memory of who he really is:  a zealot Jew who persecuted the Gentiles at one time, but one who came into contact with the marvelous grace of God through his son Jesus Christ by whose work on the cross, the righteousness of God was made complete and offered to both Jew and Gentile, a priceless gift—offered free of cost to all who believed. 

This was the gospel that Paul preached to the Galatians and to all the other churches in Asia Minor. 

He says to them regarding this22 I was personally unknown to the churches of Judea that are in Christ. 23 They only heard the report: “The man who formerly persecuted us is now preaching the faith he once tried to destroy.” 24 And they praised God because of me.

Turning now to our psalm of the day, we find one which must have undoubtedly have been written by David in a rage of emotions.  There is no softening the blow of his words; here is a man seething against his enemies, and he is not afraid to heap curses upon their heads.  If anything, a psalm like this affirms the humanity of this great king David, who despite being a man after God’s own heart, was one who displayed all the universal human emotions of anger and even revenge. 

All these base emotions make us who we are, and despite our best efforts, there are times when we succumb to them in echoing the kind of thoughts and words that David had for his enemies.  In a lighter vein, one can take a lesson or two in how to heap curses upon another from these colorful verses:

6 Break the teeth in their mouths, O God;
LORD, tear out the fangs of those lions!
7 Let them vanish like water that flows away;
when they draw the bow, let their arrows fall short.
8 May they be like a slug that melts away as it moves along,
like a stillborn child that never sees the sun.

Finally, one verse from the book of Proverbs worthy of record and rumination:

12 Apply your heart to instruction
   and your ears to words of knowledge.

May God bless the reading and reflection of His Word.

3 thoughts on “Apply Your Heart to Instruction

  1. As you say, the parallels between the situation in that region of the world now and in Isaiah’s time are disturbingly striking. The descriptions of horror and destruction are chilling because human conflict has caused them to happen so many times thought history, including today.

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