OT: Isaiah 39:1-41:16
If I recall correctly, chapter 40 marks a major shift in the book of Isaiah, so much so that some scholars believe it is written by a different author. I personally have no idea, of course, and even though I did notice a tonal shift, I wouldn't exactly say that the tone thus far has been consistent. Thus, in my simplistic reading of the book, I would not have picked up enough difference to indicate a change in author at this point. I did, however, think that 40:1-2 was pretty confusing. It declared:
"Comfort, comfort my people,
says your God.
Speak tenderly to Jerusalem,
and proclaim to her
that her hard service has been completed,
that her sin has been paid for,
that she has received from the Lord's hand
double for her sins."
See, that's weird to me, b/c I hadn't picked up that anything had happened to Judah. All the prophecies to this point said that something would happen to Judah. And then the prose section tells of how the Assyrian threat was averted by God. So...how has Judah paid for her sins (and also, why would she have to pay double)? Maybe that's why people think that this passage was written later. Maybe they assume it was written after some disaster had befallen Judah. If I remember correctly, though, it was the Babylonian invasion that destroyed Judah (temporarily). So...has that happened? So many timeline questions.
Another question is, why did the One Year Bible highlight the above section, and not the mucho-famous 40:30-31:
"Even youths grow tired and weary,
and young men stumble and fall;
but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
they will run and not grow weary,
they will walk and not be faint."
Now, another pretty famous verse is 41:10, which says,
"So do not fear, for I am with you;
do not be dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you;
I will uphold you with my righteous right hand."
Hmmmm. Okay, so bear with me. I'm still working on understanding how to apply OT verses. It seems to me, though that 41:8-10 are referring directly and specifically to Israel. After all, verse 8-9 say,
"But you, O Israel, my servant,
Jacob, whom I have chosen,
you descendants of Abraham my friend,
I took you from the ends of the earth,
from its farthest corners I called you.
I said, 'You are my servant';
I have chosen you and have not rejected you."
And that leads us right up to the famous verse 10. So wouldn't you say, given the context, that that verse refers specifically to Israel? I mean, we wouldn't quote verse 11 as applicable to us:
"All who rage against you
will surely be ashamed and disgraced;
those who oppose you
will be as nothing and perish."
I don't think of that verse as universally applicable, so why would I think of verse 10 as such?
Now, that said, I do see how my "youths growing weary" verses could be applicable. After all, they are in a section about the general nature of God, a section that began way back at the beginning of the chapter. Given the context, I would say that a great majority, if not all, of the verses leading up to the famous verse 30 are still true about God and man. For example, take verse 28:
"Do you not know?
Have you not heard?
The Lord is the everlasting God,
the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He will not grow tired or weary,
and his understanding no one can fathom."
Yep. Still true.
So, in conclusion, based on my cursory exegesis here, I would assert that 40:30-31 is totally applicable to us today. 41:10? Not so much.
NT: Ephesians 1:1-23
Yep, I love Ephesians. It is no exaggeration to say that I love just about every verse of today's reading, and could talk about them all separately. Instead, though, I am just going to focus on my favorite part, which is Paul's prayer for the Ephesians in verses 16-21. It's pretty self-explanatory, so I won't add much, if any commentary. I will, however, italicize my favorite parts:
"I have not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers. I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation so that you may know him better. I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is like the working of his mighty strength, which he exerted in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, far about all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every title that can be given, not only in the present age but also in the one to come."
Ahhh, a prayer for the knowledge of God. Let me tell you, those words thrill a Christian nerd's heart:). There is sooo much I want to know about God, and I think that Paul's requests here are just wonderful.
An anonymously written praise psalm that glorifies God, while acknowledging the struggles of the people.
Advice about avoiding prostitutes and wayward women, from a father to a son.