Sunday, 1 April 2007

Repenting at leisure popular

I think it took 5 attempts to get a combination for this blog's address that wasn't taken already. I guess I'm not alone in indecision.

There are some high standards out there that I won't reach, so the tentative theme seemed appropriate. I'm hoping to air some of my more original thoughts here, and we'll see if anyone cares to affirm or infirm them...

To kick us off, Isaiah 40. A purple passage, of course, and there are many ugly trinkets that still haven't managed to kill off the beauty of the language. What interests me tonight, however, is my idea for reading the last few verses.

All that strength for the weary, soaring on wings like eagles etc, is very nice indeed. But what's tiring them out? It seems to be a trip that they're on - one that's long enough to involve stumbling, fainting and the like. In the context of the chapter, I suspect that Isaiah is looking ahead to the return from exile; after all, Jerusalem's sin has been paid for. Neither Webb nor Motyer seem to look this far in their commentaries, preferring to see it as reassurance for the drabness of exile.

But this then fits back in with vv. 3-11. God is coming through the wilderness, and, shepherd that he is, bringing his people with him. The highway is for both God and his people. The natural extension is that God is with his people even in exile - for the word of the LORD stands forever.

In preaching this tomorrow, the last two points on my outline - 'Coming Home' '...When Home Never Left You' - I love the power of the image of coming home, and hope to double it (deliberate reference to v. 2 there) with the realisation that home was with them all along.


Anthony said...

Correction. Preaching it today, it seems. I must get back to finishing it!

Anthony said...

For what it's worth, there was lots of positive feedback; people felt the significance of being 'home' even now.

I made some use of a song- Dvorak is credited with the tune, though there was rumour of a background in Negro spirituals, and the words have been reshaped by Hobson/Hirschfelder:

Going Home

Going home, going home, I’m going home. Quiet light, sun still there, I’m just going home. It’s not far, just close by, it’s through an open door. My work is all done and my cares laid by, going to fear no more.
My mother is there, she’s expecting me, my father’s waiting too. Everyone’s gathered there, all the friends I knew, all the friends I knew. I am going home.
Nothing’s lost or gained, no more fear or pain, no more stumbling on the way, no more longing for the day, going to run, going to fear no more.
Morning star lights the way, restless dream all done, shadows gone, break of day, real life just begun. There’s no break, there’s no end, I’m just a-living on, I’m wide awake and with a smile, going on and on.
I am going home, I’m going home, I’m just going home and it’s not very far, you can see it close by, through an open door. I am going home.

It works for me.

byron said...

Welcome to Blogdom!

It seems college has honed your night-before skills (as it did mine).

Interesting idea - obviously reading "Jerusalem" in verse 2 as the exiled inhabitants, rather than the city itself.

Anthony said...

Actually, I was reading Jerusalem as the city of Isaiah's present, but the announcement being proleptic. Good news, you're going to Babylon, but a remnant shall return, as it were.

In other words, a message of comfort to Isaiah's hearers, rather than buried treasure for the returning generation. Call me a conservative, but I like to think the prophets had at least something for the people they preached to at the time!