Thursday, December 08, 2022

Isaiah 7 and Christmas Pondering

About 4 weeks ago, I was asked to fill in for a three week Sunday School series to close out the fall quarter at Briarwood. Because the lessons would take place during Advent, I thought I would adapt some blogs I had posted on "Christmas in Isaiah" in 2015 and do a 3 week Scripture study to 'get us in the Christmas Spirit'.

About 2 hours into the prep for that, I realized that it was going to be tougher than I thought.

For one, the blog series was fine for little short devotionals, but I hadn't developed the content well enough for a Sunday School series. And the other issue is that three weeks (3 lessons) is a little awkward in developing a coherent application for analysis and application.

And, typical of any time I teach, I discover that I am the one that needs the lesson... not the class.

Finally, any time I do Sunday School/teaching prep..... I begin to feel an overwhelming sense if inadequacy as I research the passages we will analyze. I think that overall this is a healthy attitude to have in the presence of the Word of God.

I decided to spend the majority of my time in the context and controversy around Isaiah 7:14 and how Matthew uses that reference as prophecy fulfilled. The more I read, the more interested I became in the entire chapter and many, many other related verses and chapter in Scripture.

Also, once I start this process... my mind becomes absorbed in the questions and ideas that God's Word provokes in these matters. It becomes rather obsessive/ compulsive and dominates my 'inner eye' in the day and night. Isaiah 7 had me waking up 2ish or so on a few nights thinking about this amazing interaction between Isaiah and Ahaz. 

Just so you know, I don't just read (and these days watch you tube) pro-Christian exegesis- I read non- Christian scholarship and commentary as well. As you could expect, there is a tremendous amount of passionate pushback from Rabbis and Hebrew scholars on the Is. 7:14/Matt. 1 debate. One Rabbi called Matthew's account 'scandalous'.

As this reading continued, I became less interested in the debate between parthenos, almah, and betulah and more mesmerized by the intricacies of Isaiah 7 itself. What an amazing chapter of application, word play, hints of the divine, God's grace.... etc/etc/etc.

In fact, it is WAY too much to write in a blog post.... so this is more a report about how blessed I was in the PROCESS of discovering the hidden treasures that are always there in Scripture... but here are the highlights:

The majesty of the holiness of God, the self-realization of sin, the immediate action of forgiveness, and the call of God on Isaiah in Chapter 6 has to be in view of all of the rest of Isaiah's ministry to understand the complexity of the  judgement, grace, and hope we find both in the OT and NT.

Ahaz is a disaster... his anxiety, fake piety, and perverse life makes the graciousness of God all the more mysterious.... yet we can't forget some of God's intentions are the promises He made to both Abraham and David. God keeps His covenant!

Political intrigue and mafia like ruthlessness in view in Isaiah 7- it stayed in my thoughts so much that I finally tweeted...

Beautiful/Interesting moments in Isaiah 7:

The beauty of water.... the setting- the Washer's field.. and later in Ch.8  where God uses the illustration of the gentle spring of Shiloah and the raging flood of judgement are layers and layers of Biblical history and allusions.

The bee and the fly symbols are cool as well. 

The cry for leadership.... the succession of sons... the cure for anxiety...  

The reckless application of Deut 6:16  “You shall not put the LORD your God to the test, as you tested him at Massah. (ESV) that ultimately judges Ahaz and exposes who he really is.

The play on words used throughout Hebrew texts....

Anyway- the challenge now is to figure out how to pull this into an actual lesson that is accurate to the text, and applicable to God's people.

Always pray for me!

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