16 September 2010

Sep 16

Reference links:
Old Testament

After an an extended prophecy against Jerusalem, we read a prophecy that is, oddly enough, against a specific individual. Isaiah says that Shebna, the palace administrator, will lose his position to Eliakim son of Hilkiah. Both Shebna and Eliakim were mentioned back in the books of Kings. There, Eliakim is the palace administrator and Shebna the court secretary.

This means that, for once, we may have a prophecy that was actually fulfilled (although making predictions about the current political climate can hardly be called prophecy). However, the Lord's hurling away of Shebna seems to have been merely a demotion from palace administrator to court secretary which does not seem as dramatic as Isaiah makes it sound.

This is followed by a long prophecy against Tyre and a prophecy about the destruction of the earth. When the earth is destroyed, God will hand out punishment and rule on Mount Zion.

Now, I know we haven't gotten to Daniel or Revelations yet, but from what little I know of them, this mini-apocalypse of Isaiah seems much more tame. Which is to say, there is nothing which causes me to suspect the author was writing this while on drugs. 

Side musings: Given that most of Isaiah's prophecies did not come true, why were they included in the Bible? Maybe those choosing the canon thought they would still come true. Maybe they thought some of them had come true. Maybe they interpreted the prophecies symbolically.

But maybe something else is going on. Maybe Isaiah was included because of the twist he gave to the story of Israel. Isaiah, in addition to emphasizing the idea of God's justice, also emphasized the idea of God's universality. This was something that had been largely absent from the other writings that were contemporary with Isaiah in subject or composition. Isaiah's vision of a God who punishes all nations, not just the Israelites, was probably a welcome take on the past for those living in a world where the idea of Yahweh as the most powerful tribal God no longer cut it.

Maybe what's important about Isaiah isn't its relationship to actual historical events, it is it's relationship to the evolving Jewish understanding of their God.

New Testament

Paul recounts some of his common themes: the inadequacy of the law for making one right with law, crucifixion of the self, reception of the Holy Spirit through faith, the adoption of believers as children of Abraham.

Psalms and Proverbs

Nothing of particular note.