JUN 2 2019: REFLECTION ON ISAIAH 29*

Isaiah paints a very vivid picture in 29:11-12. Here is a closed book and the person who is able to read cannot be bothered; it is too much trouble to open it. And the person who cannot read is content to leave it like that. It is of no importance to try to find out what the book is about. But the book in question is God’s book, his Word of truth: it brings the knowledge of God; without it all is at best surmise, at worst idle fancy and error. 

How swiftly Isaiah’s picture leaps over the 2,700 years since he put it on paper! He might well be living today and describing how things are all round. Here is a life-long churchgoer, a devout, serious man, but he says, “Never at any time in my life have I read the Bible for myself.” He can read, but can’t be bothered, and—tragedy of tragedies—the church he attends encourages religion and ritual but not personal Bible-reading. [At New Hope, we are doing our best to encourage personal Bible-reading, corporate Bible-study and family Bible-sharing]. And here is a man talking confidently of life after death, sure that “Gran” is there, “watching over us like she always did,” himself unafraid in the face of death. He might as well not be able to read, because the Bible does not matter. And here is a converted, committed Christian with a datable experience of accepting the Lord Jesus as Savior, and for the sake of thirty extra minutes in bed, or because life’s busyness comes crowding in, or because at the day’s end tiredness makes its claim, it’s suddenly too much trouble to open the closed book, not important enough to read, receive, welcome and expose mind, heart and soul to the precious Word of God. Thus we join those who honor Jesus with our lips, but we have distanced our hearts from him. No Bible, no spirituality; God at arm’s length.

The first—and major—sign that the Lord is working a spiritual transformation in people is their new awareness of the truth (29:18), a new ability to understand and appropriate the Bible, and a growth in discernment and grasp of God’s Word (29:24). As the Lord works his miracle of renewal, the Bible becomes precious and the blocked ear becomes able and avid to hear—a transformation as dramatic and as humanly impossible as turning a desert into a garden. The first and major indication of a transforming work of God is a new need for the truth, a conviction where the truth is to be found, a zeal for the Word of truth, an appetite for God’s Book. And not just the first sign, but also God’s recipe for progress into maturity. As Peter puts it: “Grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord” (2 Peter 3:18); as Paul instructed Timothy, “Abide in the things you have learned… the sacred writings… all Holy Scripture…” (2 Tim 3:14-16). To love and constantly ponder Scripture is our hallmark. 

May we be people who open the Bible, read it, cherish it, be nourished by it, apply it and bless others with it.

* Taken from Alec Motyer’s Isaiah By the Day.

This week’s Bible reading schedule:

Monday: Isaiah 32 Thursday: Isaiah 35
Tuesday: Isaiah 33 Friday: Isaiah 36
Wednesday: Isaiah 34 Saturday: Isaiah 37