Wednesday, October 31, 2018
Isaiah Prophet, Poet, and Pastor for the Present Moment
Just when you think we had encountered the weirdest passage of scripture with Isaiah in the temple and given the worst sermon ever. Just when you think your Bible couldn't get any stranger. We land in Isaiah 8 which opens with this verse:
Then the Lord said to me, Take a large tablet and write on it in common characters, “Belonging to Maher-shalal-hash-baz,” Isaiah is asked to take a tablet (No, not made by Apple...like stone tablet) and told to write down a phrase. It means "Hurry to the spoils!" or "He has made haste to the plunder!" Okay...not the strangest Tweet I have ever read. Not exactly the most inspiring. But given what Isaiah had to preach in his first sermon, I guess this one doesn't exactly strike me as all that odd.
The text continues: and have it attested for me by reliable witnesses, the priest Uriah and Zechariah son of Jeberechiah. Apparently God likes to have divine speech notarized...I get that. If you don't copy write the stuff you put out on your blog...who knows who is going to take these words and turn them into something else. I am not sure God needed to have the phrase legally bound, but who am I to question God?
The text continues: And I went to the prophetess, and she conceived and bore a son. Then the Lord said to me, Name him Maher-shalal-hash-baz; Okay...this poor kid is never going to survive Middle School with a name like that. Actually...wait...even before the torment of pre-teens...imagine having to learn to write your name? I could barely get "W-E-S" to fit on a paper with one of those jumbo sized, thick crayons. You know his parents had to find some kind of nickname, because you could never get all that out of your mouth when you are angry at your child.
The text continues: for before the child knows how to call “My father” or “My mother,” the wealth of Damascus and the spoil of Samaria will be carried away by the king of Assyria. Again, Isaiah, with the doom and gloom? I guess if you have to be the one to first get this notarized and then name a child that...life may not seem all that great.
This passage reminds us that within Isaiah's life trying to help awaken people to God's presence isn't easy. And if it was hard back then, when anxiety hovered, hung in the air...when threats of outside forces surrounded God's people...and life seemed out-of-sync and sorts...that might just be true in all times and places. Trying to point to God...not to mention proof God in a time of "scientism" - of idealizing the scientific method which might not be the only way to process life as we know it - then finding witnesses to help us...naming realities in front of us...and seeing brokenness not as the absence of God but as a moment of God woven with us...might be something we all need more than we know.
I pray that the notarizing, naming, noticing God will move in your life this day with more than a trace of grace that makes all the difference.