ISAIAH 28:14-30:11 | GALATIANS 3:23-4:31 | PSALM 62:1-12 | PROVERBS 23:19-21
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Isaiah’s prophecies to the people of Israel and to Jerusalem, the city of David continue. In brilliant imagery, he offers these prophecies regarding them.
He says the Lord has this to say: “See, I lay a stone in Zion, a tested stone, a precious cornerstone for a sure foundation; the one who relies on it will never be stricken with panic.
And he goes on to elaborate on the grand design that is in store for them:
17 I will make justice the measuring line
and righteousness the plumb line;
hail will sweep away your refuge, the lie,
and water will overflow your hiding place.
18 Your covenant with death will be annulled;
your agreement with the realm of the dead will not stand.
When the overwhelming scourge sweeps by,
you will be beaten down by it.
19 As often as it comes it will carry you away;
morning after morning, by day and by night,
it will sweep through.”
Isaiah speaks of the Lord’s displeasure in the children of Israel, as can be seen here:
“These people come near to me with their mouth
and honor me with their lips,
but their hearts are far from me.
Their worship of me
is based on merely human rules they have been taught.
14 Therefore once more I will astound these people
with wonder upon wonder;
the wisdom of the wise will perish,
the intelligence of the intelligent will vanish.”
15 Woe to those who go to great depths
to hide their plans from the LORD,
who do their work in darkness and think,
“Who sees us? Who will know?”
16 You turn things upside down,
as if the potter were thought to be like the clay!
Shall what is formed say to the one who formed it,
“You did not make me”?
Can the pot say to the potter,
“You know nothing”?
It is a harsh pronouncement that Isaiah is making regarding the Lord’s view of the children of Israel, who time and time again lapse into their old ways and seem to have the shortest memory. He is the Lord’s mouthpiece in these words:
8 Go now, write it on a tablet for them,
inscribe it on a scroll,
that for the days to come
it may be an everlasting witness.
9 For these are rebellious people, deceitful children,
children unwilling to listen to the LORD’s instruction.
10 They say to the seers,
“See no more visions!”
and to the prophets,
“Give us no more visions of what is right!
Tell us pleasant things,
11 Leave this way,
get off this path,
and stop confronting us
with the Holy One of Israel!”
Turning next to our reading of Paul’s letter to the Galatians, we find Paul continuing to explain the difference between the Law and the new grace made available through Jesus Christ. He is careful to compare and contrast the two concepts in order that the many Jewish believers in the new church in Galatia would be clear in their understanding of their new found faith in Jesus Christ’s redemptive work on the cross, and not undermine the magnitude of so great an act by attempting to observe the Law.
Paul says: 23 Before the coming of this faith, we were held in custody under the law, locked up until the faith that was to come would be revealed. 24 So the law was our guardian until Christ came that we might be justified by faith. 25 Now that this faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian.26 So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, 27 for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.
Paul puts it yet another way in these next few verses. He says: 1 What I am saying is that as long as an heir is underage, he is no different from a slave, although he owns the whole estate. 2 The heir is subject to guardians and trustees until the time set by his father. 3 So also, when we were underage, we were in slavery under the elemental spiritual forces of the world. 4 But when the set time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, 5 to redeem those under the law, that we might receive adoption to sonship. 6 Because you are his sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, “Abba, Father.” 7 So you are no longer a slave, but God’s child; and since you are his child, God has made you also an heir.
Paul expresses special concern for the apparent practice of observances as per the Law—that are no longer relevant, and his deep concern for the Galatians may be seen from his words here: 8 Formerly, when you did not know God, you were slaves to those who by nature are not gods. 9 But now that you know God—or rather are known by God—how is it that you are turning back to those weak and miserable forces? Do you wish to be enslaved by them all over again? 10 You are observing special days and months and seasons and years! 11 I fear for you, that somehow I have wasted my efforts on you.
The chapter ends with a reference to Hagar and Sarah, the two women who bore Abraham two sons, yet there was a fundamental difference in the nature of the two progeny: Ishmael, the son of Hagar, the slave woman is the father of the Arab people who are non-Jews, and Isaac, son of Sarah, Abraham’s wife, is the father of the Jewish people.
We now turn to our psalm for the day, and find in this one, a stirring pronouncement of David’s great confidence in the Lord’s provision. May it be that we might also have the same degree of strength and confidence in offering up praise to the Lord. David says:
5 Yes, my soul, find rest in God;
my hope comes from him.
6 Truly he is my rock and my salvation;
he is my fortress, I will not be shaken.
7 My salvation and my honor depend on God;
he is my mighty rock, my refuge.
8 Trust in him at all times, you people;
pour out your hearts to him,
for God is our refuge.
Finally, another one of Solomon’s “sayings” presented in these verses:
19 Listen, my son, and be wise,
and set your heart on the right path:
20 Do not join those who drink too much wine
or gorge themselves on meat,
21 for drunkards and gluttons become poor,
and drowsiness clothes them in rags.
May God bless the reading and reflection of His Word.