Isaiah: God Speaks to People of Sodom

jesus-on-cross

Isaiah One

Hear O heavens! Give ear O earth!

For the LORD has spoken:

“Children I have raised and brought up,

but they have rebelled against me.

The ox knows its owner;

the donkey its master’s trough;

Israel does not know,

my people does not understand.”

Woe! Sinning nation,

guilt laden people,

evil generation,

corrupt children.

They have forsaken the LORD:

they have turned away from the Holy One of Israel;

they have turned back. . . .

Hear* the word of the LORD, governors of Sodom;

give ear to the teaching of our God, people of Gomorrah. . . .

When you spread out your hands [to pray],

I will turn my eyes from you.

Even though you multiply your prayers,

I am not listening.

It is blood that fills your hands.

[*Hebrew does not recognize a distinction between hearing and doing. If you do not obey a command you do not truly hear it.]

Wash to be clean!

Take away the evil of your deeds from before my eyes.

Stop doing evil; learn to do good. . . .

“Come now, let us argue it out together,” says the LORD.

“Even if your sins were like scarlet,

they could become white like snow.

Even if they were like crimson,

they could be like wool.

If you are willing and listen,

you will eat the best of the land.

But if you refuse and rebel,

the sword will devour you.”

For the mouth of the LORD has spoken.

“This passage [18ff] provides a conclusion to the contrast between [religious system] and ethical behavior . . . there is only one intelligent course of action—obedience and submission.”

“. .. what God is asking the people to debate with him is the wisdom of the two alternatives that are left them. Should they continue as they are and be destroyed, or should they obey God and be blessed?”

“God does not contend with us as though he wished to pursue our sins to the utmost. There is hope, but in God’s way, not ours.”

“There is a delicate balance to be maintained here between human freedom and divine sovereignty. On the one hand, it ought not to be said that obedience produces forgiveness. God forgives and cleanses not because he must, but because he wishes to and has made a way for that to be done through the death and resurrection of Christ. But, on the other hand, it is also plain that God does not proclaim forgiveness to those who are unwilling to obey.”

“The primary emphasis in Scripture is upon act. It is not how one feels but what one does that is of primary importance.”

–John N. Oswalt, The Book of Isaiah, The New International Commentary on the Old Testament

Love, Prayer, and Forgiveness–Now, also, in ebook format

InTestaments of Love, Leon Morris asks, “How do we
harmonize the assurance that ‘God is love’ with the assertion
that ‘our God is a consuming fire’? Most of us never
think about such problems, and in the end our idea of love is
indistinguishable from that of the world around us.”1

Love, Prayer, and Forgiveness: When Basics  Become Heresies. 

“…an excellent piece…one that many Christians need to hear”–R.C. Sproul on the essay, “When Love Becomes Heresy.”

The book (is)…an astringent corrective of misinterpreted love.” – Vernon Grounds, late Chancellor, Denver Seminary

[These posts, below, are excerpts from the book:  Exhortaton…do right;   Heart and Mind;  The Love Chapter; Of Ponds and Pitfalls;    Repentance and Forgiveness ]

Now available in ebook format through Barnes & Noble,  Kindle and Smashwords for 3 dollars.

Amazon, UK

Amazon

Barnes and Noble

Smashwords

The print edition, here or Barnes&Noble ( Marketplace for UK)

“Sometimes really great books are written by unknown authors; this is one of them.”The Determined Christian

Update, New Review here

 

Of Ponds and Pitfalls

swimming

 

Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.--2 Timothy 2:15 (ESV)

 

Too often, we hear fellow Christians talking about “what this verse means to me.”  There certainly are verses that do have a special place in our hearts, which have given great comfort in times of crisis or direction out of aimless wanderings— this blessing , we may confidently hold unto. But if we become me-centered rather than Christ-centered, we quickly close the door to understanding as we quench the Spirit’s guidance.

Still, God in his great mercy bears with us in our immaturity.

As a child growing up in the Ozarks, Erasmus’ parents forbade him to take part in any skinny-dipping in the local ponds. As a teenager, Erasmus felt the conviction of a verse in James (1:2) which, in the King James Version, speaks of “divers temptations.” Perhaps “divers lusts and pleasures” (Titus 3:3) served to strengthen his convictions, and “divers diseases” (Mark 1:34) might have instilled enough dread to keep this young man out of the pond! But, being unfamiliar with Scuba diving, what would he have thought about “divers weights” and how would “divers colours” fit into the scheme of skinny-dipping unless it was winter tide and he was thinking of the color, blue?

We may make light of silly interpretations to expose our weakness. We, however, must take care not to make light of conviction in a boy indwelt by the Holy Spirit. But his understanding of this particular Scripture verse is not to be an example that we strive to follow. Rather, the example highlights one pitfall along our path as we read Scripture.

Though God bears with us, “the smoldering wick he will not quench,” immaturity is not our goal; nor are subjective interpretations of Scripture to be the guide that we follow.

If we continue on this post-modern path of subjectivism, of giving equal weight to each of our own opinions about what a verse of Scripture teaches, then we are reinforcing the secular claim that there is no absolute truth (which, of course, is an absolute claim and utter nonsense). If “what this verse means to me” becomes our standard, then we have nothing to say to the Mormons or Jehovah’s Witnesses about their heretical teachings. After all, select verses of Scripture mean something different to them. And, in this new age, who are we to question their interpretations?

Against today’s subjectivism, we must clearly declare “that no prophecy of Scripture is a matter of one’s own interpretation” (2 Peter 1:20). As The Expositor’s Bible Commentary states, “no prophecy of Scripture is to be interpreted by any individual in an arbitrary way.” If we are ignorant of its full meaning and simply think of prophecy as limited to predicting the future, we will lose our way here. But prophecy encompasses bringing the mind of God to bear upon the present situation. The Old Testament prophets repeatedly reminded God’s people of what the word of God had already revealed to them. The prophets vividly reminded them and called them to return to God and obey his ways. They called them to repent.

When Peter wrote that warning quoted above, his concern centered on the parallel between “false prophets among the people” and “false teachers among you; who will secretly bring in destructive heresies . . .” (2 Peter 2:1).

Peter warned us about arbitrary interpretations of the prophecies of Scripture by any individual. This warning, as we see from the parallel that he drew, also applies to arbitrary interpretations of the teachings of Scripture. And the specific point we must see here is that we are not to interpret and apply Scriptural teaching  in some arbitrary way which is awash in the philosophy of our own day.

The path that avoids that deep pitfall of arbitrariness lies alongside our familiarity with Scripture. (There can be none of this picking and choosing of verses without our awareness of their context.) To walk that path requires discipline. Step by step, we must regularly read God’s word and study it with the diligence of true disciples.

Adapted from Love, Prayer, and Forgiveness: When Basics Become Heresies