Preparation for Worship (4/25/15)

Scripture to consider: Isaiah 29

1 Woe to you, Ariel, Ariel, the city where David settled! Add year to year and let your cycle of festivals go on. 2 Yet I will besiege Ariel; she will mourn and lament, she will be to me like an altar hearth. 3 I will encamp against you on all sides; I will encircle you with towers and set up my siege works against you. 4 Brought low, you will speak from the ground; your speech will mumble out of the dust. Your voice will come ghostlike from the earth; out of the dust your speech will whisper.

5 But your many enemies will become like fine dust, the ruthless hordes like blown chaff. Suddenly, in an instant, 6 the LORD Almighty will come with thunder and earthquake and great noise, with windstorm and tempest and flames of a devouring fire. 7 Then the hordes of all the nations that fight against Ariel, that attack her and her fortress and besiege her, will be as it is with a dream, with a vision in the night—8 as when a hungry person dreams of eating, but awakens hungry still; as when a thirsty person dreams of drinking, but awakens faint and thirsty still. So will it be with the hordes of all the nations that fight against Mount Zion.

9 Be stunned and amazed, blind yourselves and be sightless; be drunk, but not from wine, stagger, but not from beer. 10 The LORD has brought over you a deep sleep: He has sealed your eyes (the prophets); he has covered your heads (the seers). 11 For you this whole vision is nothing but words sealed in a scroll. And if you give the scroll to someone who can read, and say, “Read this, please,” they will answer, “I can’t; it is sealed.” 12 Or if you give the scroll to someone who cannot read, and say, “Read this, please,” they will answer, “I don’t know how to read.”

13 The Lord says: “These people come near to me with their mouth and honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. Their worship of me is based on merely human rules they have been taught. 14 Therefore once more I will astound these people with wonder upon wonder; the wisdom of the wise will perish, the intelligence of the intelligent will vanish.” 15 Woe to those who go to great depths to hide their plans from the Lord, who do their work in darkness and think, “Who sees us? Who will know?” 16 You turn things upside down, as if the potter were thought to be like the clay! Shall what is formed say to the one who formed it, “You did not make me”? Can the pot say to the potter, “You know nothing”?

17 In a very short time, will not Lebanon be turned into a fertile field and the fertile field seem like a forest? 18 In that day the deaf will hear the words of the scroll, and out of gloom and darkness the eyes of the blind will see. 19 Once more the humble will rejoice in the LORD; the needy will rejoice in the Holy One of Israel. 20 The ruthless will vanish, the mockers will disappear, and all who have an eye for evil will be cut down—21 those who with a word make someone out to be guilty, who ensnare the defender in court and with false testimony deprive the innocent of justice.

22 Therefore this is what the LORD, who redeemed Abraham, says to the descendants of Jacob: “No longer will Jacob be ashamed; no longer will their faces grow pale. 23 When they see among them their children, the work of my hands, they will keep my name holy; they will acknowledge the holiness of the Holy One of Jacob, and will stand in awe of the God of Israel. 24 Those who are wayward in spirit will gain understanding; those who complain will accept instruction.” (NIV)

Thought to ponder:

“God is transcendent; that is, he is radically discontinuous from this world. Thus, he cannot be manipulated through anything done in this world. We run the same danger as the people in Old Testament times. That is, because we have performed certain religious activities, we believe God must do our will. We have prayed long and fervently; therefore, God must heal our child. We have gone to church every Sunday for months; therefore, God must give us a good job. We have read the Bible and prayed every day for weeks; therefore, God must lift our depression. These are not acts of worship but attempts at manipulation. We do not want God in our lives; we want what he can do for us

John Oswalt, 332

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