Reading Time: 6 Minutes
There is a consistent pattern in the Book of Isaiah from chapters 7 to 39. An outline of that pattern is as follows:
(1) The leaders and their followers made plans based on the idea that God is not willing or able to be involved in the daily life of humans.
(2) People turned to substitutes for God for help. They desired to control their destiny and sought alliances with other nations or pagan gods in an attempt to get what they want.
(3) The Bible consistently refers to the vulnerable like widows, orphans, immigrants, and poor. The weak and helpless were oppressed by the leaders and the powerful as a matter of course.
(4) Isaiah’s message was that the nation should return to God and the basic principles that God had given to his people.
Instead of turning to God and following his direction, they turned away from God hoping that he won’t notice their behavior.
Hiding from God
Jeremiah’s words are correct about humans.
The heart is devious above all else;
it is perverse —
who can understand it? (Jeremiah 17.9)
Imagine people who fervently worship on one hand, but who trust their lives to ideas and actions that are contrary to God’s wishes. This was the story of the Hebrews of Isaiah’s day.
They deceived themselves and attempted to hide their actions from God. Isaiah called this behavior to task.
Ha! You who hide a plan too deep for the Lord,
whose deeds are in the dark,
and who say, “Who sees us? Who knows us?”
You turn things upside down!
Shall the potter be regarded as the clay?
Shall the thing made say of its maker,
“He did not make me”;
or the thing formed say of the one who formed it,
“He has no understanding”? (Isaiah 29.15-16)
An inside condition that deceives and tricks humans turns right-thinking upside down.
Consider for a moment all of the tyrants, unethical business moguls, racists, and abusive persons you can imagine. If they believed that God saw their behavior and would call them to account, wouldn’t they moderate their behavior?
Think of the many times you have wanted to take charge of your life. You resisted being a piece of clay that was formed by God. Instead, you rebelled against God and doggedly wanted to determine the outcome of what would happen.
I don’t think I have ever looked to heaven and said, “God you don’t understand my situation.” However, I have lived that way all too often.
Isaiah calls this erroneous thinking to task. He pulls back the covers of our deception and reveals the utter foolishness of such attitudes and actions.
The Humble See
The Beatitudes of Jesus (Matthew 5.3-13) tell the story of how Jesus’ followers are to live. The world is so upside down because of its willful rejection of God’s guidance that Jesus’ words seem strange and unattainable.
The good news of the Beatitudes is that God’s kingdom is available for us. Certain categories of people are receptive to God’s rule.
— Matt. 5.3 – The poor
— Matt 5.4 – People who mourn.
— Matt. 5.5 – Those who have been humbled by life’s circumstances.
— Matt. 5.6 – People who hunger and thirst for justice to happen.
— Matt. 5.10-11 – Those who have been persecuted and reviled.
Jesus’ message is consistent with what Isaiah prophesied 700 years earlier.
Isaiah taught that the mighty of Jerusalem and the world will fall, but God’s common people will flourish.
On that day the deaf shall hear
the words of a scroll,
and out of their gloom and darkness
the eyes of the blind shall see.
The meek shall obtain fresh joy in the Lord,
and the neediest people shall exult in the Holy One of Israel. (Isaiah 29.18-19)
Some of the most disadvantaged people are the deaf and blind. God’s grace reaches out to those on the bottom of society’s “pecking order.”
The people who followed Jesus were often comprised of the “unusual suspects” of Jewish society. However, they heard Jesus’ message and followed his direction.
The Beatitudes characterize the nature of the common people who joyfully received Jesus’ message that the kingdom of God had arrived in their midst.
At the same time, the powerful and influential people of Jesus’ day became his opponents. They preferred the upside-down world that they had constructed.
Three Classes of the Mighty
Isaiah pronounced a blessing on the weak, but a message of judgment on three classes of the mighty ones of Israel.
For the tyrant shall be no more,
and the scoffer shall cease to be;
all those alert to do evil shall be cut off —
Those who cause a person to lose a lawsuit,
who set a trap for the arbiter in the gate,
and without grounds deny justice to the one in the right. (Isaiah 29.20-21)
Who are the mighty?
The Tyrant – They are the oppressors who heartlessly squeeze the weak to extract what they can from them.
The Scoffer – They mock the normal standards of truth, honor, and decency. They delight to serve themselves at the cost of others.
The Alert to Evil – This class of mighty persons uses the power of government and the judicial system to gain an advantage over the innocent.
The powerful use false testimony to make innocent people appear guilty. They trip up the poor in court through so-called legal procedures.
Their use of skill with language makes them appear righteous, when in fact they are not.
Isaiah prophesied a time when the tyrant, the scoffer, and the evil perpetrator will be no more.
In the end, Beatitude-type persons will rejoice that God’s grace has included them in his activity. They praise every aspect of his character.
For when he sees his children,
the work of my hands, in his midst,
they will sanctify my name;
they will sanctify the Holy One of Jacob,
and will stand in awe of the God of Israel. (Isaiah 29.23)
As in Isaiah’s day, we live in an upside-down world. Let’s ask God to allow us to see and respond to his direction rather than follow the deception of worldly thinking.
About This Blog
Rudy Ross is an excellent student of Isaiah. Rudy and I have a video you can see on the Bob Spradling YouTube Chanel.
Rudy will bring a different dimension to Isaiah than what is in my blog. I hope you will check out and enjoy my interviews with him.
I am indebted to a book by Dr. John Oswalt on Isaiah for his insights into this powerful book.
If you have a prayer request, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or private message me on Facebook. The Maywood Baptist prayer team will pray for you.