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Sunday, July 21, 2024

Do You See With out Seeing? Isaiah’s Riddle and Christ’s Rescue

Isaiah 6 recounts some of the beautiful revelations of God’s majesty within the Outdated Testomony. The prophet writes, “Within the yr that King Uzziah died I noticed the Lord sitting upon a throne, excessive and lifted up; and the practice of his gown crammed the temple” (Isaiah 6:1). The six-winged seraphim — fiery, flying heavenly beings — name to at least one one other with booming voices, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; the entire earth is stuffed with his glory!” (Isaiah 6:3).

Isaiah responds to this superior theophany with distressed confession: “Woe is me! For I’m misplaced; for I’m a person of unclean lips, and I dwell within the midst of a individuals of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts!” (Isaiah 6:5). One of many fiery angels touches Isaiah’s mouth with a coal from the heavenly altar to take away his guilt, after which the Lord calls and commissions his prophet. Isaiah’s preliminary zeal — “Right here I’m! Ship me” (Isaiah 6:8) — turns to confusion — “How lengthy, O Lord?” (Isaiah 6:11) — when the prophet considers his difficult cost:

Go, and say to this individuals: “Carry on listening to, however don’t perceive; carry on seeing, however don’t understand.” Make the center of this individuals boring, and their ears heavy, and blind their eyes; lest they see with their eyes, and listen to with their ears, and perceive with their hearts, and switch and be healed. (Isaiah 6:9–10)

Whereas Revelation 4 recollects Isaiah’s imaginative and prescient of the divine throne, Jesus and the apostles extra regularly cite the prophet’s fee to evangelise to a recalcitrant individuals unable to listen to or see religious truths. These verses function prominently in all 4 Gospels (Matthew 13:13–15; Mark 4:12; Luke 8:10; John 12:39–41), the ebook of Acts (Acts 28:25–28), and even Paul’s letter to the Romans (Romans 11:8). Why? This Outdated Testomony passage helps to elucidate how the rejection of Jesus and his followers fulfills the bigger biblical sample of the maligned messengers of God.

Let’s evaluation the context of Isaiah’s prophecy after which think about Jesus’s use of this passage in Matthew 13:13–15.

Isaiah’s Startling Fee

Isaiah 1–5 establishes Judah’s continual idolatry, hardness of coronary heart, and lack of religious understanding. Although there are sparkles of hope about what God will do “within the latter days” (Isaiah 2:2–5), these chapters repeatedly expose the individuals’s rise up and announce God’s coming reckoning. The individuals are like unruly kids who’ve despised the Holy One among Israel (Isaiah 1:2–4). Of their idolatry and immorality, Judah resembles Sodom and Gomorrah, the depraved cities God destroyed with fireplace and brimstone (Isaiah 1:9–10). The beloved winery of the Lord has yielded nothing however wild grapes (Isaiah 5:1–7).

For 5 tense chapters, Isaiah decries their sins and warns of judgment. Then, in chapter 6, Isaiah beholds God’s glory and receives his fee to blind the individuals’s eyes, cease up their ears, and harden their hearts (Isaiah 6:9–13). The prophet’s preaching wouldn’t merely warn the individuals however would verify them of their cussed rise up in opposition to God.

The biblical prophets typically communicate of Israel’s malfunctioning eyes and ears as an instance their incapability to reply rightly to divine revelation. This imagery displays God’s earlier phrase of judgment in Deuteronomy 29:4: “To this present day the Lord has not given you a coronary heart to grasp or eyes to see or ears to listen to.” Furthermore, pronouncements concerning the individuals’s religious blindness, deafness, and dullness reveal that they now resemble the lifeless idols they’ve revered. Psalm 115:4–8 unpacks this biblical logic:

Their idols are silver and gold,
     the work of human fingers.
They’ve mouths, however don’t communicate;
     eyes, however don’t see.
They’ve ears, however don’t hear;
     noses, however don’t odor. . . .
Those that make them develop into like them;
     so do all who belief in them.

The identical sample is at work within the ebook of Isaiah. The individuals have chosen oaks and gardens for his or her pagan worship, in order that they “shall be like an oak whose leaf withers, and like a backyard with out water” (Isaiah 1:29–30). They’ve trusted in and treasured carved idols, so God addresses them as “deaf” and “blind” (Isaiah 42:17–18). On this case, the prophetic phrase brings not salvation however judgment.

God’s Maligned Messengers

Matthew, Mark, and Luke every document Jesus’s well-known parable of the sower, which challenges individuals to think about their response to God’s phrase proclaimed by God’s Son. The problem is most clear in Mark’s account, which begins with the command “Pay attention!” (Mark 4:3). Jesus concludes the parable with this enigmatic exhortation: “He who has ears, let him hear” (Matthew 13:9). He repeats the phrase “hear” 5 occasions when explaining this parable (Matthew 13:18–23). The seed sown on good soil illustrates “the one who hears the phrase and understands it. He certainly bears fruit” (Matthew 13:23). The purpose is that Jesus’s educating concerning the kingdom calls for a response of obedience. True listening to entails bearing fruit.

Our Lord turns to Isaiah 6 to elucidate why he teaches in parables. His disciples are blessed as a result of they see and perceive the secrets and techniques of the dominion of heaven (Matthew 13:11, 16–17). The crowds, nevertheless, see but don’t understand; they hear but don’t perceive the religious truths that Jesus teaches.

Certainly, of their case the prophecy of Isaiah is fulfilled that claims: “You’ll certainly hear however by no means perceive, and you’ll certainly see however by no means understand.” For this individuals’s coronary heart has grown boring, and with their ears they’ll barely hear, and their eyes they’ve closed, lest they need to see with their eyes and listen to with their ears and perceive with their coronary heart and switch, and I’d heal them. (Matthew 13:14–15)

“Jesus’s educating concerning the kingdom calls for a response of obedience. True listening to entails bearing fruit.”

Jesus cites Isaiah’s fee to make clear why his personal ministry is met with opposition. Right here we now have the filling up of a biblical sample, not the achievement of a prediction. God despatched Isaiah to a recalcitrant individuals unable and unwilling to see, hear, and perceive religious truths, those that had develop into similar to the lifeless idols they admired. Isaiah’s state of affairs reminds us of Moses, who spoke God’s phrase to a nation with out eyes to see or ears to listen to, and it additionally parallels the ministries of Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and plenty of different prophets who had been disregarded and dishonored by their very own individuals.

All through the Bible, Israel persecuted and killed the messengers despatched by God, so it’s unsurprising that the ultimate prophet, the long-awaited Messiah, would obtain an identical reception (see Luke 11:49–50 and Acts 7:52). Isaiah’s fee to the spiritually blind and deaf foreshadows the later and better ministry of Jesus.

Jesus’s Superior Glory

There’s additionally an necessary redemptive-historical improvement from Isaiah to Jesus. John 12:41 explains that Isaiah “noticed his glory and spoke of him.” This implies both that the prophet noticed the glory of the preincarnate Messiah, who’s “excessive and lifted up” (Isaiah 6:1), or that he foretold the exaltation of the struggling servant, who reveals God’s glory as he accomplishes God’s redemptive plan (Isaiah 52:13–53:12). In both interpretation, Jesus shouldn’t be merely one other messenger from God however the wonderful God-in-the-flesh, “filled with grace and reality” (John 1:14). He’s each the achievement of the rejected-prophet sample and the one foretold by the prophets.

Isaiah declares coming judgment adopted by an period of salvation, when “the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf unstopped” (Isaiah 35:5). This prophecy prepares the way in which for the message and ministry of the Messiah Jesus. Our Lord not solely preaches excellent news concerning the kingdom of heaven but in addition opens deaf ears and offers sight to the blind. These miracles of reversal sign that the promised time of salvation has come (Matthew 11:2–6).

These miracles additionally function enacted parables illustrating the individuals’s want for God to grant them the religious capability to acknowledge Jesus because the divine Savior and Lord, and reply with religion. The blind can’t make themselves see. Nor can individuals apprehend religious truths except God illumines his phrase and allows them to see and consider. That is why Jesus says to his disciples, “Blessed are your eyes, for they see, and your ears, for they hear” (Matthew 13:16).

Look and Pay attention

Thus, Jesus and his followers regularly quote Isaiah 6 to elucidate that the opposition they face matches into a bigger biblical sample of the rejection of God’s chosen messengers. Christ fulfills this sample as each a real prophet and the struggling servant the prophets foretold. So then, look to and hearken to the Lord Jesus, the long-awaited Savior who overcomes our resistance and opens our eyes to see him because the One filled with grace and reality.

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