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Just to interject here before I get back to my Isaiah 48 sequel, I was inspired last night by some very fortunate news to post my current favorite people and why they made the list. Stay tuned for future lists…will you be on it???

10.Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant: for continually bringing sunshine and painfully awkward silences into my life.

9.The guy at DSW shoes: for saying my shoes smelled like fire.

8.American News Media: for taking our minds off Iraq for a day by covering ad nauseam a story involving an ignorant radio jockey saying something really stupid.
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7.Will Ferrell: for not being afraid of a volatile backlash from a potentially irate ice dancing community.

6.The guy that invented Sudoku: for giving me something to keep me awake while I sit idly by a pool at 5 in the morning.

5.This guy – Nakamatsu: for being a veritable portrayal of determination in the midst of certain defeat.

4.Sanjaya – For the boldness to rock a hairstyle that can only be described as a cross between a cockatiel, a rooster, and a Roman Centurion’s helmet.

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3.My family: for a much needed relaxing Easter celebration…despite shooting down my paint-egg war idea.

2.Sam Boyd: no explanation required (and only temporarily usurped from his usual #1 position)

1.Karyn Traphagen: for allaying my fears if only for a short time by postponing the OTI reading midterm…but come now, is Brueggemann really necessary?

PART I

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I was doing homework for my hermeneutics class the other day and “stumbled upon” a passage somewhat unrelated to the passage I was studying. I say “somewhat” because, as we learn at Westminster, EVERY passage is related in some way to EVERY other passage in the Bible (yes, even Leviticus)…it’s rather amazing, really. Anyway, the passage I happened upon was Isaiah 48 (specifically 1-11). As I casually glanced over the first few verses my eye caught verse 4:

“Because I know that you are obstinate,
and your neck is an iron sinew
and your forehead brass…”

I found myself chuckling, not just because it sounded like my mom talking to my dad, but also because I realized that God was speaking directly to me, and it was the kind of eureka moment that was just plain humorous. It defined me so well (especially the “forehead of brass” part — I’m really thick-headed sometimes!) that it compelled me to continue on.

Of particular interest to me was the “because…therefore” idea presented between verses 4 and 5. The thrust of verse 5 is that God declared “the former things” (prophecies of what He would do, especially in relation to obstinate Israel) before they happened so that the people would not stray towards other gods (see Jeremiah 44:15-17). God did this, not because He had to (see vs. 9 later on), but because the Israelites were “brass-headed”. Because of their obstinacy, God knew they would run to other gods in the face of adversity. So He told them in advance that this was what He would do.

jewsinexile.jpgNow we see in verse 6 and onward that God is announcing new things through Isaiah and calling Israel to remember the Lord’s ways concerning the “former things”; basically a call to obedience despite not having understanding. These were things previously unknown to the Israelites, prophecies about how God would deal with them, most immediately in their return from exile, but ultimately looking forward to the coming of Christ and redemption through Christ.

One might posit that it seems this passage is saying God had to do all this, otherwise He would’ve lost His creation. As if we needed to be reminded that God owes us nothing and needs us for nothing (He is utterly self-sufficient), we receive some glorious insight in verse 9: Not only does this verse tell us that we deserve the implications of God’s anger, it also tells us that God restrains his anger “for my name’s sake,” “for the sake of my praise,” and “for my sake, for my sake.” Could He make it any clearer?

In Malachi 3:6 the covenantal aspect is added in: “For I the Lord do not change; therefore you, O children of Jacob, are not consumed.” We are not consumed because God has promised that He will not let His anger burn against His children. He is bound by the covenant only in that he voluntarily entered into a covenant with His people and it is not possible that God should lie (Hebrews 6:17-18). Thus we have encouragement to press onward in our faith, knowing we shall not be deserted nor destroyed. Yet this does not mean we won’t be tried. As the Israelites endured the Exile as their “furnace of affliction” (vs. 10), God has found it necessary and pleasing to refine His people through such trials.

(to keep the length of this post down I’ve broken it up into 2. As such, your comments could very well shape the continuation as it will include my thoughts and reflections on this passage personally…I’d love to make this a corporately reflected post, so leave your thoughts/experiences for all of us to be blessed by…)

To be continued…