Friday, August 5, 2022

The Ministry of Isaiah

Like Amos, Isaiah speaks against religion. We may think of religion as a system of merit in which one conforms to a moral code and, by doing so, earns moral points. The more moral points one earns, the happier one’s god is with one and the more quickly one’s god must fulfill one’s desires. Also, if one possesses more moral points than another, then one is morally superior to that other and gets to look down on them with satisfaction.

Through Isaiah, Yahweh tells his people he is not interested in their religion. He is not a means to their ends. He neither awards moral points nor maintains a moral credit and debit account. Consequently, he freely disregards all the sacrifices of animals occurring in his house in Jerusalem. He does not care at all for the festivals being celebrated even if they are according to his law. He can no longer bear all the people traveling to Jerusalem to visit him (Isaiah 1:10-17). They say his name with their lips but their hearts are with the false Olympian gods (29:13-14). Proof: they tell his prophets to proclaim their smooth illusions rather than speak his tough truth.

Against those devoted to Jupiter, false god of politics, Isaiah criticizes the perversion of righteousness. Political leaders should be like David and setting an example of devotion to Yahweh. Instead, politicians love Jupiter and allow him to exploit less powerful people through their wicked decrees and oppressive statutes (10:1-4). They even pervert justice by accepting bribes. These false leaders also wrongly turn to Egypt for support rather than relying on Yahweh as their one trustworthy leader and savior (30:1-5). 

Yahweh is free, especially in relation to Mars, false god of war, to grant military victory or to withhold it. But the Holy Spirit is not the spirit of war. Isaiah prophesies the time when war will not be studied anymore; instead, weapons of war will be turned into farm tools (2:1-4). This reconciliation will even be seen throughout creation: wolves, leopards, and lions will no longer threaten lambs, kids, and calves (11:6-9). Kings of Judah witness to their misplaced trust in Mars by counting on chariots rather than Yahweh (30:1-5). 

Leaders of Judah betray their devotion to Pluto, false god of money, by adding house to house and squeezing ordinary people from the land (5:7-10). 

Bacchus, false god of consumption, also delights in these leaders because they show far greater interest in drinking and feasting with him than in discerning words and signs of Yahweh’s presence (5:11-14). While Yahweh calls them to mourning, they pursue ever-changing pleasures with increasing focus and energy (22:12-14).

To Ahaz, king of Judah, Isaiah says commit yourself to Yahweh or fall with your gods (7:9b).

Copyright © 2022 by Steven Farsaci.
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