NEW THINGS I NOW DECLARE
with Rev. Rachel
1 NEW THINGS I NOW DECLARE - Isaiah 42
Bible-reading folk are forever talking about the Bible as though it were an easy read. It is or ought to be instantly applicable, goes the perspective. It’s only complicated if someone insists on making it complicated.
Well, I’ve been reading the Scriptures regularly for a while and these books—these books refuse mastery. If given the pass to swear, I would swear some of these passages morph between reads. They grow. Something just happens.
Isaiah 42, for example: Have a look. I was assuming “my servant” referred to an individual. It had not occurred to me that “my servant” might mean God’s people. I read Isaiah 49:3. Up opened a whole ‘nother avenue.
When I was last tasked with this text, I spent very little time with the actual role of this servant. Was I asleep? The repetition should have grabbed me. He will bring forth justice (v.1). He will faithfully bring forth justice (v.3). He will not...until he has established justice (v.4). That right there is a second new thing.
In 2017 I may read more proficiently on the historical level (what was going on in Isaiah’s time and place). I may be better at reading the passage on a literary level (what the inspired writer was trying to accomplish and how). But on the theological and devotional level, stay with me, this feels as hard as ever.
Which would be an irrelevant hardship if it weren’t for the fact that reading the Bible theologically and devotionally is what we do when the setting is church. That is not to say that we dismiss the historical or literary levels. Those are pretty crucial.
But we are and have to be the ones who ask: Based on this witness to God’s activity in the past, what can we say about what God is up to now? How does this text invite me to uphold the community of servants (disciples) to which I belong?
An easy read? Instantly applicable? Not so much. But new things God declares when we summon the time and energy to read theologically—What we can say about what God is up to...and devotionally—This text invites me to...
Let yourself experience the love and delight that comes from the Source (v.1) and it’ll be okay, this rarely easy Bible stuff. Heck, it’ll be more than okay. It’ll be breath and spirit (v.5). Which, each and all of use~