Harmless


The word from Isaiah the poet prophet, who was ultimately executed by being sawn in two. Because, remember, those poets and artists are really just weak, harmless little people…


“And the Lord said: “Because this people draw near with their mouth and honor me with their lips, while their hearts are far from me, and their fear of me is a commandment taught by men, therefore, behold, I will again do wonderful things with this people, with wonder upon wonder; and the wisdom of their wise men shall perish, and the discernment of their discerning men shall be hidden.” Isaiah is one of those Old Testament books that we hold near and dear as Christians, probably because so much of the teaching and prophecy in the book is in line with the coming teaching of Christ. Because this people draw near with their mouth and honor me with their lips, while their hearts are far from me, and their fear of me is a commandment taught by men…does this not sound like the story of 90% of all church goers today? Say the right things, follow the right rules, get the right mentor, and we got this thing licked! As we speed past the homeless, malign the immigrant, complain about the hungry, and offer condolences to the widow – condolences which will turn to gossip as soon as the opportunity comes. I just read the rich young ruler this morning, it lines right up with this passage. “And behold, a man came up to him, saying, “Teacher, what good deed must I do to have eternal life?” And he said to him, “Why do you ask me about what is good? There is only one who is good. If you would enter life, keep the commandments.” He said to him, “Which ones?” And Jesus said, “You shall not murder, You shall not commit adultery, You shall not steal, You shall not bear false witness, Honor your father and mother, and, You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” The young man said to him, “All these I have kept. What do I still lack?” Jesus said to him, “If you would be perfect, go, sell what you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” When the young man heard this he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.” ‭‭Matthew‬ ‭19:16-22‬ ‭ESV‬. He knew all the rules. He followed all the right commandments. But he never stood a chance, because his head knowledge never softened his heart.

Despite their hard hearts, God is not turning away. I will again do wonderful things with this people, with wonder upon wonder; and the wisdom of their wise men shall perish, and the discernment of their discerning men shall be hidden. Sometimes we are so smart (most of the time?), we simply outsmart ourselves. It is not by rules that Jesus saves, but through the faith found only in our hearts…
Ah, you who hide deep from the Lord your counsel, whose deeds are in the dark, and who say, “Who sees us? Who knows us?” Referring directly to the leaders of Judah at the time planning to ally with Egypt (much against the counsel of Isaiah!), but also forever calling out religious hypocrisy for all time.
You turn things upside down! Shall the potter be regarded as the clay, that the thing made should say of its maker, “He did not make me”; or the thing formed say of him who formed it, “He has no understanding”? One of the enduring biblical images, that of God as potter and us as clay. He molded us in His own image, we see His artwork in all of creation. Yet we are so smart, we just know we weren’t made by Him. Somehow, over and over, life just “finds a way”. He doesn’t understand us, His word is irrelevant to us, it’s just ancient superstition. The clay is greater than the sculptor.
And we wonder how the world got to be so twisted…
Is it not yet a very little while until Lebanon shall be turned into a fruitful field, and the fruitful field shall be regarded as a forest? The harvest is coming. The mission field is vast. “Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.”” ‭‭Matthew‬ ‭9:37-38‬ ‭ESV‬‬


In that day the deaf shall hear the words of a book, and out of their gloom and darkness the eyes of the blind shall see. The meek shall obtain fresh joy in the Lord, and the poor among mankind shall exult in the Holy One of Israel.” The deaf shall hear the words of a book. The eyes of the blind shall see. What did Jesus say?? “But blessed are your eyes, for they see, and your ears, for they hear.” ‭‭Matthew‬ ‭13:16‬ ‭ESV‬‬. Jesus spoke about the meek and the poor as well. ““Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven….Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.” Matthew‬ ‭5:3, 5‬ ‭NIV‬‬. And don’t forget “…For he who is least among you all is the one who is great.”” Luke‬ ‭9:48‬ ‭ESV‬.  Our head knowledge tells us we are to live like servants.  Our hearts still look out for number one.

Isaiah, like Jesus, turned things upside down. He wrote the word of the Lord for all to hear.  He took up the cause of the poor, the widow, the immigrant.   Just a harmless poet.


Jesus was just a carpenter from Nazareth, teaching, preaching, and living a non-violent kingdom in a violent world. Still being taught and preached into a violent world.

It’s the living it out (the heart) where most of us will come up short. We like to have the sword in our hands and not on our necks. We like our hands flipping the switch, not tied to the chair. We claim to have Christ in our hearts, except that we reserve the right to kill and destroy anyone or any group that gets in our way.

Our Christianity likes to dish it out. We like to fight back.  We conveniently forget the Sermon on the Mount.

Our Christ gave us the Sermon on the Mount.  He turned (turns) the other cheek.  He blessed (blesses) those who persecute him.  He forgave (forgives) those who do wrong.  He prayed for and forgave those who hung Him to die as He was dying.


It’s hard to see Christ behind the barrel of a gun.

It’s hard to see Christ participating in the firing squad.

He was always looking at the”business end” of the worlds weapons.

We choose to fire the guns.  Our foreign policy was, at least for a time, almost specifically “Do unto others BEFORE they do unto you.”   We believe that we rule the world based on the size of our guns.

We proclaim “Jesus is Lord.”  We live “Caesar is Lord.”

How the harmless poets in history get into so much trouble.  They dare to challenge the principalities and powers.  They proclaim that the last will be first, the least will be the greatest.

It’s funny how the non violent word of God gets received with deadly violence.

“And the Lord said: “Because this people draw near with their mouth and honor me with their lips, while their hearts are far from me, and their fear of me is a commandment taught by men, therefore, behold, I will again do wonderful things with this people, with wonder upon wonder; and the wisdom of their wise men shall perish, and the discernment of their discerning men shall be hidden.” Ah, you who hide deep from the Lord your counsel, whose deeds are in the dark, and who say, “Who sees us? Who knows us?” You turn things upside down! Shall the potter be regarded as the clay, that the thing made should say of its maker, “He did not make me”; or the thing formed say of him who formed it, “He has no understanding”? Is it not yet a very little while until Lebanon shall be turned into a fruitful field, and the fruitful field shall be regarded as a forest? In that day the deaf shall hear the words of a book, and out of their gloom and darkness the eyes of the blind shall see. The meek shall obtain fresh joy in the Lord, and the poor among mankind shall exult in the Holy One of Israel.”

‭‭Isaiah‬ ‭29:13-19‬ ‭ESV‬‬

http://bible.com/59/isa.29.13-19.esv

John Lewis

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