The snow has made it difficult at times, but we have been able to continue our discussion of Isaiah in bible study! I’m behind a week in posting my notes, but I hope to be completely caught up by tomorrow! Take a look at my notes from Isaiah 2-4, think about the discussion questions and then please add your thoughts in the comments section!
Bible Study Weekly Recap
February 17, 2015
Isaiah Week 2
“This is what Isaiah son of Amoz saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem:”
- Introduction, similar to 1:1
“He will judge between the nations
and will settle disputes for many peoples.
They will beat their swords into plowshares
and their spears into pruning hooks.
Nation will not take up sword against nation,
nor will they train for war anymore.”
- There is a clear bias against cities and towards a nomadic/farming lifestyle
- If a nation is truly seeking God’s way, then weapons will not be necessary; their weapons will be fashioned into tools for tending the earth and nurturing life
- Discussion Question: The farming metaphor works well in this context and time in history – what kind of metaphor would work well for us today? What can we convert our weapons to so that we can nurture the earth?
“You, Lord, have abandoned your people,
the descendants of Jacob.
They are full of superstitions from the East;
they practice divination like the Philistines
and embrace pagan customs.
Their land is full of silver and gold;
there is no end to their treasures.
Their land is full of horses;
there is no end to their chariots.
Their land is full of idols;
they bow down to the work of their hands,
to what their fingers have made.”
- “Superstitions from the East” – the prophet is referring to foreigners coming in and influencing people, their opinions and their lifestyles
- The foreigners are turning people away from God and towards a more lavish lifestyle
- It’s hard to go against the society that you are living in, even if the society is causing you to turn away from God – people do not necessarily mean to turn away from God
- Think about what the media was covering before the SuperBowl – deflategate. Were they covering ISIS? Were they covering hunger? Homelessness? We need to be aware of the things (1) that the media focuses on and (2) that we let ourselves get caught up in
- Discussion Question: What are the things that we “idol” today? What are the things that cause us to turn away from God? What do we worship over God? Technology? Celebrities? Sports stars? It may be impossible to live completely counter to this culture, but we do need to be aware that it is happening.
“So people will be brought low
and everyone humbled—
do not forgive them.
Go into the rocks, hide in the ground
from the fearful presence of the Lord
and the splendor of his majesty!
The eyes of the arrogant will be humbled
and human pride brought low;
the Lord alone will be exalted in that day.”
- This is pretty cut and dry – “do not forgive them” – no wiggle room!
- Discussion Question: Where does tolerance come into play? There does not seem to be any room for tolerance in this scenario. Very rarely are our lives this black and white – how can we abide by these words and still cling on to the assurance of forgiveness that is the foundation of our Christian faith?
“The arrogance of man will be brought low
and human pride humbled;”
- Arrogance and pride is a stumbling block for ALL of us
- Part of this prophecy is a charge and challenge to look at ourselves in the mirror and see the ways that we are letting arrogance and pride take over the glory that we should be giving to God
In that day people will throw away
to the moles and bats
their idols of silver and idols of gold,
which they made to worship.”
- “Which they made to worship” – essentially the prophet is saying that we did this to ourselves
- We sought out something other than God to please us / lift us up / worship.
- Discussion Question: What are the things in our lives that we have sought out instead of God? How can we let go of these things?
“Stop trusting in mere humans,
who have but a breath in their nostrils.
Why hold them in esteem?”
- I am using the Common English Version and this translations v. 22 to say “Quit admiring the human race”
- We need to quit focusing on earthly and material possessions
- We need to stop worshipping people and start worshipping God!
“See now, the Lord,
the Lord Almighty,
is about to take from Jerusalem and Judah
both supply and support:
all supplies of food and all supplies of water,
the hero and the warrior,
the judge and the prophet,
the diviner and the elder,
the captain of fifty and the man of rank,
the counselor, skilled craftsman and clever enchanter.
“I will make mere youths their officials;
children will rule over them.”
People will oppress each other—
man against man, neighbor against neighbor.
The young will rise up against the old,
the nobody against the honored.”
- The prophet is referring to the elite people in society
- What will happen if God removes these people? There will be chaos
- We are all too reliant on the elite people in society / our manmade leaders. We turn to them and without them, there is chaos. Why don’t we turn to God?
“A man will seize one of his brothers
in his father’s house, and say,
‘You have a cloak, you be our leader;
take charge of this heap of ruins!’”
- What does this say about how we choose leaders?
- We do not look for substance, we look for things that we see on the surface
- We need to seek more out of our leaders
“The look on their faces testifies against them;
they parade their sin like Sodom;
they do not hide it.
Woe to them!
They have brought disaster upon themselves.”
- Look back to Isaiah 2:20 – again the prophet is saying that we have done this to ourselves
“Youths oppress my people,
women rule over them.
My people, your guides lead you astray;
they turn you from the path.”
- It is so easy to get sucked into a life of sin, especially if you are following someone who has charm and a great personality
- But this leads to spiritual blindness!
- We need to open our eyes to GOD, not to the people around us that are luring us to do other things
“The Lord takes his place in court;
he rises to judge the people.
- We spend a lot of time judging others; we need to leave this to God
- Think about elections – what was once a democratic process becomes a battle between the two candidates
- Look back to Isaiah 2:4 – we are called to nurture one another, not battle with one another
“What do you mean by crushing my people
and grinding the faces of the poor?”
declares the Lord, the Lord Almighty.”
- God is ANGRY!
- God is upset that his people are being oppressed
- The prophet is not just referring to the oppressor, but also to the people who are allowing this to happen
- Discussion Question: If you see someone being oppressed what can you do? You might not be able to save the world, but you do have the ability to change one person and that might have a ripple effect!
“The Lord says,
“The women of Zion are haughty,
walking along with outstretched necks,
flirting with their eyes,
strutting along with swaying hips,
with ornaments jingling on their ankles.
Therefore the Lord will bring sores on the heads of the women of Zion;
the Lord will make their scalps bald.”
In that day the Lord will snatch away their finery: the bangles and headbands and crescent necklaces, the earrings and bracelets and veils, the headdresses and anklets and sashes, the perfume bottles and charms, the signet rings and nose rings, the fine robes and the capes and cloaks, the purses and mirrors, and the linen garments and tiaras and shawls.
Instead of fragrance there will be a stench;
instead of a sash, a rope;
instead of well-dressed hair, baldness;
instead of fine clothing, sackcloth;
instead of beauty, branding.”
- Why does the bible always seem to pick on women? That is something that shouldn’t get ignored …
- The prophet lists all of the things that women thought were important to them – all of the things that they thought they needed to be happy and to live in the society they are in
- So what happens when everything gets stripped away? And not only is everything stripped away, but the opposite will happen to us.
- I don’t think that this passage is telling us that we shouldn’t be proud of the things we have / the things we have built / the things we have earned. But this passage certainly challenges us not to let those things define our lives, our happiness and our pride.
- Discussion Question: How are you challenged by this passage? What are the things that are important to you? What would you do if they were stripped away from you? How can YOU PEEL them away from your life so that your focus can become more on God?
- Washing away the “flashy” stuff that is oppressing us
“Then the Lord will create over all of Mount Zion and over those who assemble there a cloud of smoke by day and a glow of flaming fire by night; over everything the glory will be a canopy.”
- Is this leading up to the Sermon on the Mount?
- It is much easier to read Jesus’ words than to read these
- Discussion Question: Compare these few chapters of Isaiah to the Sermon on the Mount. How do these chapters challenge you in a way that Jesus might not? Is that good or bad?