OT: Isaiah 3:1-5:30
The bad news just keeps coming. Isaiah spends the first fifteen verses portraying Judah's coming destruction in vivid terms. One indication of societal destruction is apparently the upending of the patriarchal hierarchy, the fabric of society. In this vision of suffering and punishment, Isaiah foretells that,
"I will make boys their officials;
mere children will govern them" (3:4).
Later, he says,
"Youths oppress my people,
women rule over them" (12).
This reversal of traditional hierarchy is apparently a bad sign.
After that vision of doom and gloom, Isaiah conveys the wrath that God is feeling toward "the women of Zion" (16). He spends a lot of time talking about the haughtiness portrayed by their outward appearance and of how He is going to humble them. What was interesting to me was God's punishment to them. God tells them that he is going to take all their finery away and make them bald and stinky. That sounds harsh, but what struck me was what God didn't threaten them with. He didn't use their families. He didn't threaten to kill their children or make them suffer. He does say that "Your men will fall by the sword," but apparently, the biggest downfall to that is that being a widow will "disgrace" them (4:1). Here is my point. If God wanted to threaten a woman with the worst punishment possible, He would target their family, their relationships. But apparently, the worst punishment possible to these women was to take away their fancy clothes and make them bald. If those threats were, in fact, what would most resonate with the women to whom Isaiah was writing/speaking (?), then that kind of proves his point about their character. Shallow threats for shallow people, do you see? It's all clear in my head, but I don't feel like I'm conveying the point well.
Anyway, then Isaiah gives an analogy where he compares Judah to a well-cultivated vineyard that did not produce any good fruit. The point of this analogy is to explain why God is vindicated in unleashing the destruction that is about to come.
In 5:8-22, Isaiah lists a series of woes, which highlight many of Judah's sins, ranging from drunkenness to pride. The woes also highlight a general lack of moral compass among the people:
"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" (5:20).
Lastly, Isaiah returns to more graphic descriptions of the nation's impending destruction.
NT: 2 Cor. 11:1-15
Okay, maybe it is just me, but I still see emotion coursing all through this letter. Today, Paul admits that he is sounding foolish and that he is jealous for the Corinthians (1-2). His jealousy is godly, of course, just like his boasting was godly in yesterday's reading. But both of those verses sound emotional. His sarcastic use of the phrase, "super-apostles" sounds emotional (5). His rhetorical questions sound emotional (8). And the height of his emotion is revealed in verse 11, where he asks them, "Why? Because I do not love you? God knows I do!"
I have heard several people say that Paul is unlikable in this letter, and I can see where they are coming from. He is extremely defensive the whole time, and it can come across wrong, I think. But I like it. I don't like his tone, but I do like 1) that he is emotionally invested in the people to whom he ministers, 2) that he is clearly human and thus, more relatable, and 3) that we get such an inside, intimate view into the man. He is so passionate and messy in this letter. I don't know. People interest me, and emotions interest me, and so I find Paul's emotionalism to be extremely interesting here.
One last thing that reading this passage did for me was make me rethink my "universal" interpretation of yesterday's verse about not fighting with the weapons of the world. I interpret that as meaning that love is our only weapon. And I still believe that. But, I guess when I think of love, I think of, like, happiness and butterflies and gentleness. And Paul is definitely not all sweetness and light in this letter. He has enemies whom he is desperately battling. He frankly tells his audience that, "I will keep on doing what I am doing in order to cut the ground from under those who want an opportunity to be considered equal with us in the things they boast about" (sidenote: Wow. Apparently, Paul gets wordy when he is mad). He then calls these people "false apostles" and "deceitful workmen," and compares them to Satan himself (13-14). He finishes up with a roundhouse kick to the head, declaring, "Their end will be what their actions deserve" (15). Yikes. This torrent of words does not jive with my mental picture of a loving response. And that kind of makes me want to rethink what I view as a loving response, b/c I do think that Paul is motivated out of love for the Corinthians.
A psalm lamenting the corruption of man. Paul uses it in Romans.
One on not moving ancient boundary stones; another on the value of skill.