10.2.09, Isaiah 25:1-12

Isaiah 25

Praise to the LORD

1 O LORD, you are my God;
I will exalt you and praise your name,
for in perfect faithfulness
you have done marvelous things,
things planned long ago.

2 You have made the city a heap of rubble,
the fortified town a ruin,
the foreigners’ stronghold a city no more;
it will never be rebuilt.

3 Therefore strong peoples will honor you;
cities of ruthless nations will revere you.

4 You have been a refuge for the poor,
a refuge for the needy in his distress,
a shelter from the storm
and a shade from the heat.
For the breath of the ruthless
is like a storm driving against a wall

5 and like the heat of the desert.
You silence the uproar of foreigners;
as heat is reduced by the shadow of a cloud,
so the song of the ruthless is stilled.

6 On this mountain the LORD Almighty will prepare
a feast of rich food for all peoples,
a banquet of aged wine—
the best of meats and the finest of wines.

7 On this mountain he will destroy
the shroud that enfolds all peoples,
the sheet that covers all nations;

8 he will swallow up death forever.
The Sovereign LORD will wipe away the tears
from all faces;
he will remove the disgrace of his people
from all the earth.
The LORD has spoken.

9 In that day they will say,
“Surely this is our God;
we trusted in him, and he saved us.
This is the LORD, we trusted in him;
let us rejoice and be glad in his salvation.”

10 The hand of the LORD will rest on this mountain;
but Moab will be trampled under him
as straw is trampled down in the manure.

11 They will spread out their hands in it,
as a swimmer spreads out his hands to swim.
God will bring down their pride
despite the cleverness of their hands.

12 He will bring down your high fortified walls
and lay them low;
he will bring them down to the ground,
to the very dust.

Dangerous Security

We take a break a moment from the prophecies of destruction (whew!), and find a song of praise to God in chapter 25!  But before we get too relieved, look at what God is being praised for: because he made the city a heap of rubble, the fortified town a ruin.  Because he brought down fortified walls.  Are we to praise God when he destroys things?!  This seems like a very counter-intuitive, almost impossible, thing to accomplish.  “I’m supposed to be happy when God wrecks my life??”

The answer is yes.

The things that God wrecked were cities that gave a false sense of security against danger and destruction, that lulled people into complacent and luxurious lives where the poor and needy were altogether forgotten.  Israel no longer trusted God.  They no longer cared about those who were oppressed.  They were safe…or so they thought, until the Babylonians would overrun them.

And in this situation, God is destroying something that is harming us, or harming others, and it is actually good for us.  It’s as if we were planning to go out to sea on a leaky boat with a broken motor and no life vests – it’s better that God destroy the boat, than for us to go out to sea and drown.  Of course, in that moment, we complain loudly that we lost the boat, and nothing could be worse.  But with faith in God’s wisdom and foresight, hopefully we can have enough perspective to realize that through losing the boat, we were in fact spared the worst.

The give an example that is a little more practical, take dating relationships.  When a dating relationship falls apart, we usually fall apart, and cry out to God in anguish.  But take it from me and my wealth of bad experiences: if God wrecked your relationship, he probably did that so that your relationship wouldn’t wreck you.

Questions:

1. What was one situation where God wrecked a plan or something in your life, that really upset you?

2. What might have been God’s ultimate intention in wrecking that part of your life?  What worse evil might he have been saving you from?

3. What are we to do when we can’t see, or even begin to guess God’s intention in doing what he does?

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4 thoughts on “10.2.09, Isaiah 25:1-12

  1. Is that really what this passage is saying? When it says that he destroyed the fortified town of the foreigners, is it saying that he destroyed something that Israel was depending upon for security? When it says that he crushed Moab, is this something that Israel was upset about?

  2. i think it’s definitely a good point, that moab had a contentious relationship with israel. and there is a clear sense in which this is a victory psalm over moab.

    but the situation is more complex than this, since the book of ruth indicates a surprisingly close relationship between israel and moab – some think that even king david was partially moabite! even in this psalm, although it seems to exult in the destruction of foreigners, it says in verse 6 that God prepares a banquet for all people – so it shouldn’t be read simply as a victory song over moab because there is more to it than that.

    in the end, this psalm follows a very similar idea as isaiah 22, that when God destroys something (whether it is jerusalem or moab), it is a work of God, planned far in advance, for the good of both Israel and foreign nations. and that is the point i was trying to make, to see God’s destructive actions as ultimately being constructive ones – i apologize if i wandered too far from the context in making that point!

  3. Oh, no need for an apology; I think you are right that Israel and Moab had ties – and our interpretation of them rely on our sense of biblical archaeology – there were many events of apostasy that were related to intermarriage and close ties (so, is Deuteronomy post-exilic or not, for instance). Using the ‘canonical’ interpretation, Ruth is an example that does bring Moab into the bloodline of David. However, this is centuries before the time of Isaiah, and not necessarily relevant to the reading of the long term animosity between them. As such, I find it impossible to read in this passage a warning against being overly secure or anything like that.

    What does then appear in the passage? Well, there _is_ the sense that any victories have been long planned and long promised. They are not inherently dependent on obedience or fervent prayer or abundant sacrifices or anything like that. That would make a great sermon application, but tends to create some issues with other texts. Further, in performing this reading, is this logical, rational reading a faithful method of exegesis? Well, that’s a bigger question that might go beyond the scope of a post… then you bring up the rational demands of the idea that all the people will be at a banquet, though some are being vanquished and killed. The question of how to incorporate all people being blessed in a passage about their destruction – they seem to be blessed through the triumph of Israel and subjugation to Israel… that is, they fit into God’s plan finally. Well, that should remind us how modernist philosophy and post modern ethics do not provide a framework in which the scriptures can be interpreted as they would have been at the time of their writing, or their interpretation by Christ, or in fact, their interpretations over the millennia intervening.

    The ultimate question of our hermeneutic actually has a very substantial impact on our daily lives, as a Christian. That should make us very nervous when we face the text with something at stake.

  4. Oh, also, this not to say that the point you were making isn’t made in all sorts of passages about horses and chariots and false hope.

Comments are closed.

10.2.09, Isaiah 25:1-12

Isaiah 25

Praise to the LORD

1 O LORD, you are my God;
I will exalt you and praise your name,
for in perfect faithfulness
you have done marvelous things,
things planned long ago.

2 You have made the city a heap of rubble,
the fortified town a ruin,
the foreigners’ stronghold a city no more;
it will never be rebuilt.

3 Therefore strong peoples will honor you;
cities of ruthless nations will revere you.

4 You have been a refuge for the poor,
a refuge for the needy in his distress,
a shelter from the storm
and a shade from the heat.
For the breath of the ruthless
is like a storm driving against a wall

5 and like the heat of the desert.
You silence the uproar of foreigners;
as heat is reduced by the shadow of a cloud,
so the song of the ruthless is stilled.

6 On this mountain the LORD Almighty will prepare
a feast of rich food for all peoples,
a banquet of aged wine—
the best of meats and the finest of wines.

7 On this mountain he will destroy
the shroud that enfolds all peoples,
the sheet that covers all nations;

8 he will swallow up death forever.
The Sovereign LORD will wipe away the tears
from all faces;
he will remove the disgrace of his people
from all the earth.
The LORD has spoken.

9 In that day they will say,
“Surely this is our God;
we trusted in him, and he saved us.
This is the LORD, we trusted in him;
let us rejoice and be glad in his salvation.”

10 The hand of the LORD will rest on this mountain;
but Moab will be trampled under him
as straw is trampled down in the manure.

11 They will spread out their hands in it,
as a swimmer spreads out his hands to swim.
God will bring down their pride
despite the cleverness of their hands.

12 He will bring down your high fortified walls
and lay them low;
he will bring them down to the ground,
to the very dust.

Dangerous Security

We take a break a moment from the prophecies of destruction (whew!), and find a song of praise to God in chapter 25!  But before we get too relieved, look at what God is being praised for: because he made the city a heap of rubble, the fortified town a ruin.  Because he brought down fortified walls.  Are we to praise God when he destroys things?!  This seems like a very counter-intuitive, almost impossible, thing to accomplish.  “I’m supposed to be happy when God wrecks my life??”

The answer is yes.

The things that God wrecked were cities that gave a false sense of security against danger and destruction, that lulled people into complacent and luxurious lives where the poor and needy were altogether forgotten.  Israel no longer trusted God.  They no longer cared about those who were oppressed.  They were safe…or so they thought, until the Babylonians would overrun them.

And in this situation, God is destroying something that is harming us, or harming others, and it is actually good for us.  It’s as if we were planning to go out to sea on a leaky boat with a broken motor and no life vests – it’s better that God destroy the boat, than for us to go out to sea and drown.  Of course, in that moment, we complain loudly that we lost the boat, and nothing could be worse.  But with faith in God’s wisdom and foresight, hopefully we can have enough perspective to realize that through losing the boat, we were in fact spared the worst.

The give an example that is a little more practical, take dating relationships.  When a dating relationship falls apart, we usually fall apart, and cry out to God in anguish.  But take it from me and my wealth of bad experiences: if God wrecked your relationship, he probably did that so that your relationship wouldn’t wreck you.

Questions:

1. What was one situation where God wrecked a plan or something in your life, that really upset you?

2. What might have been God’s ultimate intention in wrecking that part of your life?  What worse evil might he have been saving you from?

3. What are we to do when we can’t see, or even begin to guess God’s intention in doing what he does?

4 thoughts on “10.2.09, Isaiah 25:1-12

  1. Is that really what this passage is saying? When it says that he destroyed the fortified town of the foreigners, is it saying that he destroyed something that Israel was depending upon for security? When it says that he crushed Moab, is this something that Israel was upset about?

  2. i think it’s definitely a good point, that moab had a contentious relationship with israel. and there is a clear sense in which this is a victory psalm over moab.

    but the situation is more complex than this, since the book of ruth indicates a surprisingly close relationship between israel and moab – some think that even king david was partially moabite! even in this psalm, although it seems to exult in the destruction of foreigners, it says in verse 6 that God prepares a banquet for all people – so it shouldn’t be read simply as a victory song over moab because there is more to it than that.

    in the end, this psalm follows a very similar idea as isaiah 22, that when God destroys something (whether it is jerusalem or moab), it is a work of God, planned far in advance, for the good of both Israel and foreign nations. and that is the point i was trying to make, to see God’s destructive actions as ultimately being constructive ones – i apologize if i wandered too far from the context in making that point!

  3. Oh, no need for an apology; I think you are right that Israel and Moab had ties – and our interpretation of them rely on our sense of biblical archaeology – there were many events of apostasy that were related to intermarriage and close ties (so, is Deuteronomy post-exilic or not, for instance). Using the ‘canonical’ interpretation, Ruth is an example that does bring Moab into the bloodline of David. However, this is centuries before the time of Isaiah, and not necessarily relevant to the reading of the long term animosity between them. As such, I find it impossible to read in this passage a warning against being overly secure or anything like that.

    What does then appear in the passage? Well, there _is_ the sense that any victories have been long planned and long promised. They are not inherently dependent on obedience or fervent prayer or abundant sacrifices or anything like that. That would make a great sermon application, but tends to create some issues with other texts. Further, in performing this reading, is this logical, rational reading a faithful method of exegesis? Well, that’s a bigger question that might go beyond the scope of a post… then you bring up the rational demands of the idea that all the people will be at a banquet, though some are being vanquished and killed. The question of how to incorporate all people being blessed in a passage about their destruction – they seem to be blessed through the triumph of Israel and subjugation to Israel… that is, they fit into God’s plan finally. Well, that should remind us how modernist philosophy and post modern ethics do not provide a framework in which the scriptures can be interpreted as they would have been at the time of their writing, or their interpretation by Christ, or in fact, their interpretations over the millennia intervening.

    The ultimate question of our hermeneutic actually has a very substantial impact on our daily lives, as a Christian. That should make us very nervous when we face the text with something at stake.

  4. Oh, also, this not to say that the point you were making isn’t made in all sorts of passages about horses and chariots and false hope.

Comments are closed.