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Scripture teaches us to pour out our hearts to God without holding back. Prayers for personal help are modeled throughout the Psalms, God’s “textbook” for prayer. So, I am in no way suggesting that there is anything wrong with asking God to help you. In fact, failing to seek God’s help for yourself would border on arrogance, if not foolishness.
But, as we grow in our faith, as our hearts grow bigger through the presence of God’s Spirit within us, we find ourselves praying bigger prayers. We see this sort of enlargement in Psalm 67.
The Hebrew word translated as “plowshare” in Isaiah 2:4 is ‘et. It referred to a “cutting instrument of iron,” which could include the wedge-like blade of a plow. Some linguists think ‘et was used instead for some kind of axe. Be that as it may, the point of Isaiah 2:4 is that as people are taught and judged by God, they will take their swords and beat them into tools for farming. They will do the same with their spears, making them instruments for pruning trees.
When Isaiah prophesied that “the mountain of the LORD’S temple will be established as the highest of the mountains” (2:2), he wasn’t predicting some massive movement of the earth that would make Mt. Zion, currently at 2,430 feet in elevation, literally higher than Everest. Rather, the temple mount would be, figuratively speaking, the highest of all. It would be more important than any other place, such that people from the whole world would “stream to it” (2:2).
Even in the first chapter of Isaiah, where the emphasis is upon God’s call to Israel to obedience, we are also reminded that God alone can forgive sins. God is the one who can take our scarlet sins and make them “white as snow” (1:18).
Isaiah reminds us that we are to worship God, not only on Sundays or whenever we come together with the people of God. Rather, we are to worship God each day, in every action and every intention. God is honored as much by how we treat our employees at work as by how we praise him in church. God is worshiped when we, like the Israelites, learn to do right, seek justice, and defend the oppressed.
Today we begin a new Life for Leaders series based on the Old Testament book of Isaiah. If you’re keeping track, in two years Life for Leaders has covered Genesis, Revelation 21-22, Mark, and the first 66 Psalms. After spending the last nine months focusing on the Gospel of Mark, I thought it would be good for us to return to the Old Testament.
During the fourteen days prior to Easter, I have been reflecting with you on the Stations of the Cross, to help us prepare for a deeper experience of the reality of Jesus’s death, and therefore a greater celebration of his resurrection. Today, on Easter Sunday, I want to add an Easter postscript to this series of devotions.
In most human societies appropriate burial of dead bodies is a sacred tradition. It matters profoundly that we ensure the proper resting place for those who have died. Yet, after burials happen, we don’t generally mention them specifically.
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