Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Isaiah, Chapter 5

I began playing basketball last night for my church league. In playing this sport that I love so much, I have often struggled with playing within my own abilities. God didn't exactly bless me with the basketball skill set to go along with my body. After all, there isn't much call for 5'11" power forwards that aren't even over 170 pounds. Conversely, my outside shooting can be called streaky, at best. Still, I go out there and I give everything that I have when I play. Sometimes though, that can be a little too much, as I can easily get carried away. A little success can cause me to get too excited, take ill-advised shots, and generally play poorly because I am playing too hard.

This is where today's lesson from Isaiah 5 comes in, because in the first couple of sections of this chapter we see the importance of being humble. Not only am I being a jerk if I start to acting cocky and celebrating every made basket, I lose my focus and concentration. Such is the case when we grow too confident with what we have accomplished and for that, it is the Lord that is the source of our strength. He alone is the reason we can do all we can, and Isaiah 5 is a warning against thinking otherwise.

 13 Therefore my people will go into exile
       for lack of understanding;
       their men of rank will die of hunger
       and their masses will be parched with thirst.

 14 Therefore the grave enlarges its appetite
       and opens its mouth without limit;
       into it will descend their nobles and masses
       with all their brawlers and revelers.

 15 So man will be brought low
       and mankind humbled,
       the eyes of the arrogant humbled.

 16 But the LORD Almighty will be exalted by his justice,
       and the holy God will show Himself holy by his righteousness.

What is this lack of understanding that God speaks of? I feel in this case it is pride. It is pride from thinking that we can accomplish great things without God. It is pride in thinking we can do our own thing. Isaiah mentions brawlers and revelers here among those that are condemned. There are certainly more as that is just a small group that is mentioned, but in verse 15, he mentions that mankind as a whole will be humbled. Being humble before God is critically important, as we mentioned it before several times in our discussion on the New Testament books covered here. Much like my basketball analogy, it is staying within ourselves in the game of life.

20 Woe to those who call evil good
       and good evil,
       who put darkness for light
       and light for darkness,
       who put bitter for sweet
       and sweet for bitter.

 21 Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes
       and clever in their own sight.

 22 Woe to those who are heroes at drinking wine
       and champions at mixing drinks,

 23 who acquit the guilty for a bribe,
       but deny justice to the innocent.

 24 Therefore, as tongues of fire lick up straw
       and as dry grass sinks down in the flames,
       so their roots will decay
       and their flowers blow away like dust;
       for they have rejected the law of the LORD Almighty
       and spurned the word of the Holy One of Israel.

 25 Therefore the LORD's anger burns against his people;
       his hand is raised and he strikes them down.
       The mountains shake,
       and the dead bodies are like refuse in the streets.
       Yet for all this, his anger is not turned away,
       his hand is still upraised.

Here we see God preparing to judge His own people in Israel. Why would so much of His anger be directed at them in this passage? It is because they had been His chosen people, yet they had forgotten the past. They had struck out on their own and had forgotten what God had done for them. Isn't it frustrating when you help someone accomplish something, then when they are getting their glory they forget to credit you for helping them? That is a similar situation here only magnified, as God's own people had forgotten heir way, so He continued to warn them of this transgression.


  1. Why is it so important to stay humble when focused on something?
  2. What value is gained in an accomplishment when you credit God for His part?
  3. Does God's judgment here in chapter 5 continue to today?

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