8.28.09, Isaiah 11:1-

Posted on August 27, 2009


The Branch From Jesse

1 A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse;
from his roots a Branch will bear fruit.

2 The Spirit of the LORD will rest on him—
the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding,
the Spirit of counsel and of power,
the Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the LORD –

3 and he will delight in the fear of the LORD.
He will not judge by what he sees with his eyes,
or decide by what he hears with his ears;

4 but with righteousness he will judge the needy,
with justice he will give decisions for the poor of the earth.
He will strike the earth with the rod of his mouth;
with the breath of his lips he will slay the wicked.

5 Righteousness will be his belt
and faithfulness the sash around his waist.

Passion & Compassion

Yet again, we return to references and prophecies of the ministry of Christ.  This is a very descriptive passage, full of adjectives that describe the character of Jesus.  If we group them together, this is what we find:

– That he has wisdom, understanding, counsel, knowledge.

– That he has righteous power, striking the earth and slaying the wicked

– That he is just, (compassionately) judging the needy and poor.

Now, these characteristics, especially the last two, may seem in some ways difficult to reconcile with one another – how can he be just and compassionate?  How can he be powerful and judgemental, and yet understanding?  And since we don’t know how to reconcile these characteristics of Christ, we pick and choose: God must be powerful…but not compassionate.  Or, God must be compassionate, but not righteous.

The fact of the matter is that he is both.

We may have a hard time balancing these two types of traits, but God does not.  He is fully compassionate, but still is a holy, holy, holy God.  And despite this divine holiness, he has understanding, and looks towards the poor and needy.  Don’t let people, especially the political, force a one-dimensional description of God upon you, as if he cares about sexual sin, but not for the poor, or vice versa.  They do this to fit their pre-existing agendas.  The fact is that He cares about both.

Questions

1. Which characterization of God do you tend to have, that he is RIGHTEOUS, or that he is COMPASSIONATE?  Why do you think you tend to believe one rather than the other?

2. What is the danger of seeing God in this one way?

3. What do you think this righteous compassion looks like?  How would you describe it?

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Posted in: Uncategorized
5 Responses “8.28.09, Isaiah 11:1-” →
  1. I do not see compassion in this passage – at all. It is not mentioned explicitly or implicitly nor described. More accurate translations also eliminate the falsehood implicit in ‘decisions for the poor’ which appears to create a contradiction between justice and some sort of favoritism.

    Compassion is present in other passages and other stories, but not here.

    On the other hand, justice is everywhere in the passage; even for the poor and especially for the afflicted, who would not normally expect it.


  2. peterwchin

    September 3, 2009

    i think the reason you don’t see compassion is you define compassion as a type of misguided and fundamentally unfair favoritism. when viewed like this, yes, it sets up a false dichotomy between justice and compassion, for how can God show justice and favoritism at the same time?

    but the fact of the matter is that is not the correct definition of compassion. compassion is the awareness of the sufferings of an individual, and a desire to alleviate it. and justice is ONE of the means by which God chooses to alleviate the sufferings of the downtrodden. and so, compassion is very present throughout every chapter of isaiah, and in this passage, often in the form of justice.

  3. It’s a good point, but I don’t define compassion that way. Compassion is the sharing of suffering (I know I’m being more careful here about diction than some people may choose to be) – entering into another person’s suffering is in fact the essence of the incarnation, in which Jesus entered into the suffering of all humanity, rich and poor alike. If compassion were indeed an unfair favoritism, it would not be present in any part of the Bible as ascribed to God.

    If compassion is not ‘the awareness of the sufferings of an individual, and a desire to alleviate [them]’ what would be such an awareness? Sympathy and empathy serve these functions.

    Anyway, this discussion is a good venue for me to think through the implications of the incarnation for justice, as well as the distinction between justice in an adversarial (zero sum) system and the issue of justice in terms of righting the wrong of a fundamentally broken world – in which there is the perfection of creation, and every sinful and unjust act degrades that for everyone.


  4. peterwchin

    September 3, 2009

    i think it is an important topic. but there is a trick when we juxtapose Christ’s incarnation with justice. with the incarnation of Christ, the justice that was on our shoulders was placed upon his instead. at a fundamental level then, the incarnation is about justice, but in the sense that justice was NOT served upon the appropriate parties – and that is the story of grace.

  5. That is an excellent point; compassion, and the passion of the Christ, is not about a sort of justice that settles debts in the typical way. Similarly, our being Christ to people, our compassion and charity, is not about ‘justice,’ but grace. I like the way you made that leap seem inevitable.

8.28.09, Isaiah 11:1-

Posted on August 27, 2009


The Branch From Jesse

1 A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse;
from his roots a Branch will bear fruit.

2 The Spirit of the LORD will rest on him—
the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding,
the Spirit of counsel and of power,
the Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the LORD –

3 and he will delight in the fear of the LORD.
He will not judge by what he sees with his eyes,
or decide by what he hears with his ears;

4 but with righteousness he will judge the needy,
with justice he will give decisions for the poor of the earth.
He will strike the earth with the rod of his mouth;
with the breath of his lips he will slay the wicked.

5 Righteousness will be his belt
and faithfulness the sash around his waist.

Passion & Compassion

Yet again, we return to references and prophecies of the ministry of Christ.  This is a very descriptive passage, full of adjectives that describe the character of Jesus.  If we group them together, this is what we find:

– That he has wisdom, understanding, counsel, knowledge.

– That he has righteous power, striking the earth and slaying the wicked

– That he is just, (compassionately) judging the needy and poor.

Now, these characteristics, especially the last two, may seem in some ways difficult to reconcile with one another – how can he be just and compassionate?  How can he be powerful and judgemental, and yet understanding?  And since we don’t know how to reconcile these characteristics of Christ, we pick and choose: God must be powerful…but not compassionate.  Or, God must be compassionate, but not righteous.

The fact of the matter is that he is both.

We may have a hard time balancing these two types of traits, but God does not.  He is fully compassionate, but still is a holy, holy, holy God.  And despite this divine holiness, he has understanding, and looks towards the poor and needy.  Don’t let people, especially the political, force a one-dimensional description of God upon you, as if he cares about sexual sin, but not for the poor, or vice versa.  They do this to fit their pre-existing agendas.  The fact is that He cares about both.

Questions

1. Which characterization of God do you tend to have, that he is RIGHTEOUS, or that he is COMPASSIONATE?  Why do you think you tend to believe one rather than the other?

2. What is the danger of seeing God in this one way?

3. What do you think this righteous compassion looks like?  How would you describe it?

Posted in: Uncategorized
5 Responses “8.28.09, Isaiah 11:1-” →
  1. I do not see compassion in this passage – at all. It is not mentioned explicitly or implicitly nor described. More accurate translations also eliminate the falsehood implicit in ‘decisions for the poor’ which appears to create a contradiction between justice and some sort of favoritism.

    Compassion is present in other passages and other stories, but not here.

    On the other hand, justice is everywhere in the passage; even for the poor and especially for the afflicted, who would not normally expect it.


  2. peterwchin

    September 3, 2009

    i think the reason you don’t see compassion is you define compassion as a type of misguided and fundamentally unfair favoritism. when viewed like this, yes, it sets up a false dichotomy between justice and compassion, for how can God show justice and favoritism at the same time?

    but the fact of the matter is that is not the correct definition of compassion. compassion is the awareness of the sufferings of an individual, and a desire to alleviate it. and justice is ONE of the means by which God chooses to alleviate the sufferings of the downtrodden. and so, compassion is very present throughout every chapter of isaiah, and in this passage, often in the form of justice.

  3. It’s a good point, but I don’t define compassion that way. Compassion is the sharing of suffering (I know I’m being more careful here about diction than some people may choose to be) – entering into another person’s suffering is in fact the essence of the incarnation, in which Jesus entered into the suffering of all humanity, rich and poor alike. If compassion were indeed an unfair favoritism, it would not be present in any part of the Bible as ascribed to God.

    If compassion is not ‘the awareness of the sufferings of an individual, and a desire to alleviate [them]’ what would be such an awareness? Sympathy and empathy serve these functions.

    Anyway, this discussion is a good venue for me to think through the implications of the incarnation for justice, as well as the distinction between justice in an adversarial (zero sum) system and the issue of justice in terms of righting the wrong of a fundamentally broken world – in which there is the perfection of creation, and every sinful and unjust act degrades that for everyone.


  4. peterwchin

    September 3, 2009

    i think it is an important topic. but there is a trick when we juxtapose Christ’s incarnation with justice. with the incarnation of Christ, the justice that was on our shoulders was placed upon his instead. at a fundamental level then, the incarnation is about justice, but in the sense that justice was NOT served upon the appropriate parties – and that is the story of grace.

  5. That is an excellent point; compassion, and the passion of the Christ, is not about a sort of justice that settles debts in the typical way. Similarly, our being Christ to people, our compassion and charity, is not about ‘justice,’ but grace. I like the way you made that leap seem inevitable.

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