Isaiah 58 – Part 3

We continue our series in Isaiah 58-59, with guest writer Rev. Christine Redwood.

Hope on the Horizon

Then your light will break forth like the dawn, and your healing will quickly appear; then your righteousness will go before you, and the glory of the LORD will be your rear guard. Then you will call, and the LORD will answer; you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I. “If you do away with the yoke of oppression, with the pointing finger and malicious talk… Isaiah 58:8-9

Continue reading

Isaiah 58 – Part 2

We continue our series in Isaiah 58-59, with guest writer Rev. Christine Redwood.

Heavy Speech

“Shout it aloud, do not hold back. Raise your voice like a trumpet. Declare to my people their rebellion and to the descendants of Jacob their sins.” Isaiah 58:1

Isaiah 58:1 opens with a series of commands from God to the prophet.  These orders function to stress the importance of this speech.[1] Then comes a classic example of Hebrew poetry, the use of parallelism. In this case synonymous parallelism is used. The second line repeats the first line using different words and this serves to ‘intensify, or refine the thought’.[2] If you read the psalms or the prophets you’ll see this technique a lot! The prophet is commanded to proclaim with his voice, and the next line emphasizes this with another instruction to shout like a trumpet. The prophet is thus charged to speak as powerfully as possible.[3] This is an important message.

Continue reading

Isaiah 58 – Part 1

We begin a new series in Isaiah 58-59, with guest writer Rev. Christine Redwood. Christine serves on the pastoral team at Hornsby Baptist Church in Sydney, and has been a student of mine at Morling College.

Imaginative Isaiah

Hello everyone! If you notice a change in style over the next two weeks that is because Tim has kindly offered me the chance to contribute to his blog. One of the things I am passionate about is communicating God’s Word. I believe it is important not just to think about the content of the Bible but the different forms the writers of the Bible use to communicate their message. One of the questions I have spent some time reflecting on is: How might those different forms shape both us and the way we communicate?

Continue reading

Holiday series: Matt 9:35-38

During the school holiday break, we’re reliving some posts from 2014 which look at Matthew chapters 8 & 9. New material will resume tomorrow.

Our final story from Matthew 9 is probably the most famous in the chapter, but also the one most misunderstood in terms of what Jesus was referring to by “sending out workers into the harvest field”. It’s often used in the context of global mission. And while it indeed has great application for global mission, that’s not what’s going on at this point in Jesus’ ministry. (Remember, the Great Commission is at the end of Matthew’s Gospel!)

It begins with a summary of what Jesus was doing:

9:35 Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness.

Continue reading

Holiday series: Matt 8 & 9

During the school holiday break, we’re reliving some posts from 2014 which look at Matthew chapters 8 & 9. New material will resume on Wednesday.

At the end of last week, in our study of Matthew 8 & 9, we saw that the miracle stories in these chapters were intended to make a particular point. By arranging them together in this fashion, Matthew was telling us that Jesus was performing the actions of the Messiah, as envisioned by the prophet Isaiah 700 years prior: sight to the blind, mobility to the crippled, cleansing for lepers, and even the dead raised! It was the kingdom of God coming in action. (Just as the Sermon on the Mount we looked at a couple of months ago was the kingdom of God coming in words.)

But still, you’ve got to admit, the world didn’t change all that much, did it? Evil still exists, long after Jesus has been and gone. There’s still suffering and deformity and disease and death.  And even those people healed by Jesus – they all eventually died. What happened to this restoration of all things? Was that it?

Continue reading

Holiday series: Matt 9:18-30

During the school holiday break, we’re reliving some posts from 2014 which look at Matthew chapters 8 & 9.

Yesterday we looked at the background to today’s passage from Matthew 9. We saw how the people of God had been waiting expectantly for 700 years for Isaiah’s prophecy to be fulfilled:

Isa 35:3-6a Strengthen the feeble hands, steady the knees that give way; say to those with fearful hearts, “Be strong, do not fear; your God will come, he will come with vengeance; with divine retribution he will come to save you.” Then will the eyes of the blind be opened and the ears of the deaf unstopped. Then will the lame leap like a deer, and the mute tongue shout for joy.
Isa 26:1,19 In that day this song will be sung in the land of Judah… But your dead will live, LORD; their bodies will rise — let those who dwell in the dust wake up and shout for joy — your dew is like the dew of the morning; you will make it fall on the spirits of the dead.

Continue reading

Holiday series: Isaiah 35:3-6

During the school holiday break, we’re reliving some posts from 2014 which look at Matthew chapters 8 & 9.

What happened to the series in Matthew 8 & 9 we’ve been doing? We only got half-way through chapter 9? It’s OK, you didn’t miss anything. Today we’re taking a quick detour in Isaiah, to give us some background before we hit the final stretch of our series.

Continue reading

Holiday series: Matt 9:9-13

During the school holiday break, we’re reliving some posts from 2014 which look at Matthew chapters 8 & 9.

On Monday we began a quest to work out what Jesus meant when he said “they don’t put new wine in old wineskins” (Matt 9:17). If you’re joining us now, you’d be advised to read that one first. In fact, since last week we’re on a quest to find the big picture Matthew is stitching together for us in chapters 8 & 9.

Yesterday, we saw Jesus shock people by claiming to forgive sins, bypassing the Temple establishment and sacrificial system. The second story is just as shocking. This time, it’s not because of what Jesus does. It’s just because of who he hangs out with.

Continue reading

Holiday series: Matt 9:1-8

During the school holiday break, we’re reliving some posts from 2014 which look at Matthew chapters 8 & 9.

Yesterday we began a quest to work out what Jesus meant when he said “they don’t put new wine in old wineskins” (Matt 9:17). If you’re joining us now, you’d be advised to read that one first. In fact, since last week we’re on a quest to find the big picture Matthew is stitching together for us in chapters 8 & 9.

Today’s story is about a healing miracle. There are plenty of those stories in the gospels. But in this one, we see there’s much more going on than just a healing. It starts off like any other miracle story. A person comes to Jesus who needs to be healed. They show faith – that is, they trust that Jesus is able to help them. And Jesus responds. Yet in this story, Jesus’ response is a little jarring.

Continue reading

Holiday series: Matt 9:14-17

During the school holiday break, we’re reliving some posts from 2014 which look at Matthew chapters 8 & 9.

(Continuing our series in Matthew chapters 8 & 9, and looking for the big picture Matthew’s trying to get across.)

Sometimes, my grandmother would speak a different language. Not a foreign language. It was still English. I understood the words – they just made no sense.

For example, a favourite saying of hers was: “I’m not as green as I’m cabbage-looking.” Right. Never thought you looked like a cabbage. More, say, cauliflower, if I had to make a vegetable comparison. What on earth are you saying?

Or if you were looking for something, and asked her where it was, she’d say: “up in Annie’s room, hanging on a tack.” Theirs was a single-story house, but I was for many years suspicious of a hidden attic containing a family secret.

She’d sometimes say we had “eyes like two burnt holes in a blanket”. I wouldn’t know. I don’t smoke in bed.

And my favourite, if my shirt wasn’t tucked in properly: “Giddy giddy gout, your shirt’s hanging out. Six miles in and seven miles out.” I used to point out that that meant there was only a net of one mile hanging out, which, proportionally, wasn’t so bad.

Continue reading