Thursday, January 11, 2007

Sing Isaiah Sing

Isaiah 4-6 has an emotionally charged song that in one sense defines the first thirty-nine chapters of the book.

The first line: "I will sing for the one I love..." One can imagine a sweet, strong voice crooning this line, but the song quickly becomes a lament...maybe it would be a classic country song. "Then he looked for a crop of good grapes, but it yielded only bad fruit."

And the rest of the song is defined by this deep ache, this bewildering betrayal, a broken heart: after all I did for you in the name of love...why? The song has six "woes", "woe to you...", here is what I will do to you because of what you did to me.

God's song is one of revenge - vs12 "but they have no regard for the deeds of the LORD, no respect for the work of his hands. Therefore my people will go into exile for lack of understanding."

God's Vengeance Song is difficult to listen to. It seems out of character. Yet it is necessary. What kind of world is it where the Creator lets injustice, wickedness, evil go unpunished? Vs7 "The vineyard of the LORD Almighty is the house of Israel, and the people of Judah are the vines he delighted in. And he looked for justice, but he saw bloodshed; for righteousness but heard cries of distress.

All these lyrics about God taking revenge is not only for His own sake, but in response to the cries of the wronged, the wounded, the helpless, the abused, the forgotten, the crushed, the oppressed, the widows, the orphans, the crippled, the lame, the blind, the impoverished and imprisoned. What would you do if you were the one hearing these cries?

Vs22 "Woe to those who are heroes at drinking wine and champion at mixing drinks, who acquit the guilty for a bribe, but deny justice to the innocent." Don't assume that this verse prohibits keg parties and bartending. Note the metaphor: what is Yahweh's title for his people: a vineyard...this song brilliantly uses the abuse of wine to carry a double meaning - getting drunk on wine/misusing/overusing the fruit of the vine is another way of talking about misusing/overusing/abusing fellow Israelites (who are refered to as grapes). In one way or another, some gets hurt when the fruit of the vine is abused.

Hear O Israel. Lack of understanding leads to exile. Understanding leads to justice and righteousness.

God listens to the cries of the distressed, he sees and smells and hears the bloodshed.

And it angers him. He wants to make things right. He uses those who listen to him.

How can we who listen to God not also listen to these same cries and not get angry for the sake of justice and righteousness?

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