Monday, June 1, 2015
The Rebellious Child
“But now, O LORD, thou art our father; we are the clay, and thou our potter; and we all are the work of thy hand. Be not wroth very sore, O LORD, neither remember iniquity for ever: behold, see, we beseech thee, we are all thy people.” (Isaiah 64:8-9)
Like rebellious children who insist on having their own way, constantly neglecting their own responsibilities and doing what has been forbidden, Israel had refused to do what god had commanded. Isaiah asks God to remember that they are just made from dirt and do dumb things just like a bunch of kids do. He asks that God remember they are his children and not hold their foolishness against them forever.
“Thy holy cities are a wilderness, Zion is a wilderness, Jerusalem a desolation. Our holy and our beautiful house, where our fathers praised thee, is burned up with fire: and all our pleasant things are laid waste. Wilt thou refrain thyself for these things, O LORD? wilt thou hold thy peace, and afflict us very sore?” (Isaiah 64:10-12)
How far will God’s judgment go? Their great cities and farmlands have become like a desert or wilderness area with no inhabitants and Jerusalem is just a ruin. The beautiful temple where they once offered sacrifices to God has been burned down, and all the things they once valued are now just bits of trash that need to be disposed of. Will God continue to punish them or or respond to their prayers?
“I am sought of them that asked not for me; I am found of them that sought me not: I said, Behold me, behold me, unto a nation that was not called by my name. I have spread out my hands all the day unto a rebellious people, which walketh in a way that was not good, after their own thoughts; A people that provoketh me to anger continually to my face; that sacrificeth in gardens, and burneth incense upon altars of brick; Which remain among the graves, and lodge in the monuments, which eat swine's flesh, and broth of abominable things is in their vessels; Which say, Stand by thyself, come not near to me; for I am holier than thou. These are a smoke in my nose, a fire that burneth all the day. Behold, it is written before me: I will not keep silence, but will recompense, even recompense into their bosom, Your iniquities, and the iniquities of your fathers together, saith the LORD, which have burned incense upon the mountains, and blasphemed me upon the hills: therefore will I measure their former work into their bosom.” Isaiah 65:1-7)
God’s response is that now they are begging God to end his punishment even though they have deliberately ignored his repeated warnings and remonstrations, frequently doing what he told them not to do like a little child who when told not to do something, deliberately does it and then looks at their parent as if daring them to do anything about it, and when scolded shouts “I hate you, don’t touch me to their father or mother.”
Their rebellion has reached a level God can no longer ignore. They have disrespected him and ignored his provision and efforts, and now he is going to allow them to suffer the consequences of their behavior, like a father who allows his son to be taken to jail for some crime or makes his daughter take care of an illegitimate child to learn the consequences of their sin. Other people may see it as being cruel, but it is the only way they will learn not to do those things. Keeping them from suffering the consequences leads them to believe what they have done is acceptable.
“Thus saith the LORD, As the new wine is found in the cluster, and one saith, Destroy it not; for a blessing is in it: so will I do for my servants' sakes, that I may not destroy them all. And I will bring forth a seed out of Jacob, and out of Judah an inheritor of my mountains: and mine elect shall inherit it, and my servants shall dwell there. And Sharon shall be a fold of flocks, and the valley of Achor a place for the herds to lie down in, for my people that have sought me.” (Isaiah 65:8-10)
Like a farmer pruning grapes, who sees a cluster forming, God will not destroy it, but will trim away things around it them to give them room to grow. Such pruning may seem drastic to those who don’t understand and they assume he is just cutting off everything. The end result of his pruning will be descendants of Israel and Judah that will inherit the land God has promised them. The land will then be a land where the herds can live at peace.
“But ye are they that forsake the LORD, that forget my holy mountain, that prepare a table for that troop, and that furnish the drink offering unto that number. Therefore will I number you to the sword, and ye shall all bow down to the slaughter: because when I called, ye did not answer; when I spake, ye did not hear; but did evil before mine eyes, and did choose that wherein I delighted not.” (Isaiah 65:11-12)
Unfortunately, Israel was still like that rebellious child, ignoring God’s instruction and running around with a group of rebellious friends, and devoting their efforts to pleasing them instead. As a result they will have to be punished , with some of them even dying as a result because they refuse to listen to God, even deliberately doing what he has forbidden to show they don’t have to obey him.
“Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD, Behold, my servants shall eat, but ye shall be hungry: behold, my servants shall drink, but ye shall be thirsty: behold, my servants shall rejoice, but ye shall be ashamed: Behold, my servants shall sing for joy of heart, but ye shall cry for sorrow of heart, and shall howl for vexation of spirit. And ye shall leave your name for a curse unto my chosen: for the Lord GOD shall slay thee, and call his servants by another name: That he who blesseth himself in the earth shall bless himself in the God of truth; and he that sweareth in the earth shall swear by the God of truth; because the former troubles are forgotten, and because they are hid from mine eyes. For, behold, I create new heavens and a new earth: and the former shall not be remembered, nor come into mind.” (Isaiah 65:13-17)
Because of their open rebellion, God will bless those who are obedient, but those of his children who refuse to obey will be left without even the necessities, and find themselves embarrassed for their poverty. His servants will have a wonderful life while his children struggle and cry out in despair and frustration. Their family name will become a curse, with people refusing to help them because they shouldn’t need help. God will call another group to take their place and those who whave been so proud of their own abilities will instead focus on what God has done. God will create a new heaven and earth, and the problems of this world will be forgotten.