There are some parts of the Bible that I read without much self-confidence. The book of Isaiah is one of these. You see, I’m not a seasoned Biblical scholar. I’m not well studied in ancient prophecies and their modern interpretations. I am keenly aware that the context and content of this part of Scripture is more about Israel, than about me. But even with all these disclaimers, there is something huge and wonderful about reading these old, old words. Isaiah speaks in riddles and rhyme. It points to the future and the past. Familiar phrases leap out from paragraphs of seemingly distant description. And amongst it all, the majesty, humility, incarnational mystery of Christ comes calling out with such accuracy my heart threatens to break.
And I think this is why I love the Bible so much. Because it’s not just a ‘here and now’ text. It’s a ‘then’ and ‘what’s next’ and ‘despite it all’ type story. Even in passages I approach like a foreigner I can see the character of God burst and whisper and weave an invitation to something more.
Like today, nestled between a tricky description of judgement and salvation, I found this verse: ‘This is what the LORD says: ‘As when juice is still found in a cluster of grapes and people say, ‘Don’t destroy it, there is still a blessing in it,’ so will I do on behalf of my servants; I will not destroy them all.’ Isaiah 65:8
And I’m caught again. Can you see it? The tenderness of God’s compassion? Yes, his holiness demands a response from us. Yes, it exposes our best efforts as feeble flapping. And yes – if we are honest enough, we know we have fallen short in so many ways on so many days we deserve more than we get. But the character of God isn’t one of ‘measure up or get out’. It’s incredibly kind. He sees the struggle in our hearts. He knows what we’re up against. And he reaches out to us, sees the blessing still in us and instead of destruction he draws us to himself over, and over, and over again.
NOTE: Think about such things is a new series of posts I'll be writing and sharing on The Penny Drops. They'll be more reflective than newsworthy, as I ponder and marvel at the grace and wonder of God.
In high school I used to call them 'thinks' - little bits of writing about whatever topic or issue I was mulling over at the time. These days I probably call them journal entries, or blog posts. Whatever the name, here's some of what I get when the penny drops, or doesn't, and I sit down to write...