Category Archives: B90X

B90X2012 “Servant Songs #2 & 3″

The second Servant Song is found in Isaiah 49:1-6.  The ‘failure’ and ‘success’ of the servant: rejected by Israel, but will bring salvation to the gentiles and then to Israel.

Vv. 1-3 Israel as it was meant to be.  Israel the person became a nation- here the nation is becoming a person. The first Israel could not do it, the second one will!

Vv. 4-6 The agent, the task, and the result.  V. 5 task- redeem Israel.  V. 6 ‘a light for the Gentiles,’ the second time this is mentioned.

First song, the mystery man looks like a king, in this second song, he looks like a prophet (v. 2- “mouth”).

Servant Song number three comes from Isaiah 50:4-11.  Contradicting the ‘no-one at all’ of verse 2, there is one who testifies to listening and responding (5). “Once more the Servant speaks, letting us into some of the most deeply personal areas of his life: his communion with God, the physical and mental suffering which marks his way, and the assurance of final vindication that buoys him up. It is almost as if he is speaking more to himself than to others.  In this third song, the world at large is left out of the picture, and attention is focused on the Servant himself and his ministry to the people of God.” (Barry Webb, “The Message of Isaiah” from The Bible Speaks Today Series. (Leicester, England: Intervarsity Press, 1996)

‘Sovereign Lord’ Adonai Yahweh is mentioned four times as sort of an introductory marker (4,5,7,9).

V. 4 ‘instructed’- total knowledge to disciple and counsel. ‘Sustains the weary’- he consoles, heals, cares for, shepherds, speaks the proper word in season.

V. 6 ‘offered my back’ – Nothing he will not endure if obedience demands it.

V. 7 ‘set my face like flint’ – resolutely set out, firm resolve, determined.

V. 10 ‘who…obeys the word of his servant?’- The servant is not to be wondered at or admired, but obeyed!

V. 11 ‘provide yourselves’ – trust in self. ‘your fires’ – a different gospel. ‘torment’ – their reward- a place of pain.

The most revealing and famous of the five songs is next.

B90X2012 “Servant Song #1″

Imagine for a moment you are a citizen of Judah during the prophetic span of Isaiah’s ministry.  The dates maybe somewhere around 740-700 BC.  You saw your brothers in the North fall under siege to the Assyrians and there are strong, very strong warnings that the Babylonians are coming your way to do the same to you in the South.  Mingled in Isaiah’s words are those of hope.  A surprising mention of a servant.  In obviously distinctive and fresh language, a vision and an application of a servant who will do things for the nation never before seen or heard.  The ‘servant of God’ strand flowing through Isaiah marks a significant mysterious character whose qualities rival any prophet, priest, or king.  Five ‘songs’ are featured in the latter portions of Isaiah.

Who is this servant?  If you were hearing Isaiah’s words, you would truly be baffled.  Is it Cyrus, Hezekiah, Eliakim, a missionary, Isaiah himself, a reincarnated Moses or Elijah, the nation of Israel, another king, God himself, is it the people of God corporately, are they individual ‘believers’, or is it an individual who is a messianic figure?  The options abound for the hearers.  He is a mystery man!

The servant is first introduced in Is. 42:1-9 “Here is my servant” the great solution.

Vv. 1-4 God addresses Israel.  Justice is used three times in these verses (1, 3, and 4).  He is not just for Israel, but for the nations (Gentiles) (1). Notice how gentile he is and full of humility (2, 3).

Vv. 5-7  God (Ha’ El- “He who is indeed the true transcendent God”) addresses the Servant.  His purpose is delineated in (6,7) “a light for the Gentiles.”  There is a future reference to Is. 61 in v. 7 “to free the captives from prison and to release from the dungeon those who sit in darkness.” Also this verse looks back at Isaiah 7.

Vv. 8-9 God address Israel again.

There is a hint of opposition; his task is not easy, but doable.  The character and mission of the Servant: will bring salvation and a new world order.  The Spirit and justice dominate this ‘song.’

B90X2012 “Asherah Poles”

I was at breakfast the other day with Scott.  He had a question about Asherah Poles.  They have been mentioned numerous times in our reading as we journey through Biblical history.

“What are they?”

Without getting too verbose, here are a couple of tidbits of info:  The central figure in the Canaanite religion is the male creator god “El.”  He was married to a consort, Asherah.  They had a son named Baal.  Baal later replaced El.  In an act of incest Baal married his own mother, Asherah.  She is worshipped as the mother goddess of the Canaanites. All sources concur that all forms of cult prostitution, both male and female, are central to Asherah and Baal worship.

As a form of irony, children are sacrificed to strengthen ones belief in the fertility gods.  Poles as phallic symbols were cut, carved, and stood on end as places of worship. Pictures of various kinds can be found. As time went on, the female deity Asherah disappeared from the scene and the pole was just called an asherah pole to the male deity Baal. Baal worship at an asherah pole was considered one of the most vile to the True and Living God Yahweh.

As a twist of facts, two archaeological inscriptions in Southern Palestine have ascribed Asherah as the female consort to the Hebrew God Yahweh. Some would think two is enough to make a connection, however the preponderance of evidence to the contrary is much more overwhelming.  No where in the Old Testament is there even a hint that this is true.  So how the diabolical connection is made is anyone’s guess. The Lord commanded any and all worship to an asherah destroyed and obliterated.

Anything asherah is in exact opposite perspective and position as our Heavenly Father.  Issues of life, dignity of life, respect for life, conception of life, etc. are all polar opposites.

B90X2012 “Loud and clear”

Just because I can, does that mean I should?  In the good ol’ US&A, we have this thing called Free Speech.  Our founding fathers thought it best that ideas and opinions ought not be censored.

I think I understand the ideas and arguments to free speech,  when it is OK to yell “Fire” and when not to.

The prudence of when to speak and what to say when doing so requires wisdom. As we journey through the Bible in rapid form, today we hit a preponderance of scriptures in Proverbs dealing with words, speech, our tongue, cursing, lying, and  the like.  We are drilled with the differing types of uses of both the good and the bad.

The author of proverbs does bring a plethora of sayings about the words which fill our airwaves, however, the sayings are not about words which come out of vacuousness.  Solomon is reaching beyond the airwaves and into the viscera. Past our esophageal airway and into our heart.  Words are really nothing in and of themselves.  They have an origin.   That origin is the wellspring of life, our splangkna, our guts, our heart.  The Hebrews often equate the emotions of our guts with the kidney.

“A wise man’s heart guides his mouth, and his lips promote instruction” (Prov 16:23, NIV).

“The wise in heart are called discerning, and pleasant words promote instruction” (Prov 16:21, NIV).

Without being majorly redundant, the source and style of words a person uses is rooted in the heart. How perfunctory of us when we quote Jesus when he said, “But the things that come out of a person’s heart come from his heart” (Matt 15:18, NIV).  It seems so oft quoted, it kind of has become trite.

Bottom line, what are the intentions of my heart?  Rather than just read the words of the proverbial sayings mechanically, every time I read a verse pertaining to speech and words, I thought about intentions.  These sayings ought to inspire us to examine the intentions of our hearts.

We should take those occasions when we are inclined to speak harshly as opportunities to reflect on our motives for speaking and to ask whose interests we have at heart.  We may find that our motives are more complicated than we imagined, that we want what is right but all too often seek what benefits us at the expense of others.  A heart that weighs its answers will also remember that little with love is better than meat with hatred (Prov 15:17, 28).

B90X2012- Refuge

I have to admit that I was a few day behind in my reading.  With all of the work that we did on the church Living Room and working on my best Mephibosheth, the days melded into one another.

The story of Mephibosheth is a short one Biblically, however the information surrounding the events of his life are prolific.

In catching up with my reading, I found myself deeply entrenched in the story of Saul and David.  It was sooooo cool reading the Psalms David wrote quickly after he managed to elude Saul and his army.   Unless you are super-privy to which Psalm is written when historically and chronologically, one can just read through the Psalms and not really pay much attention.

As I read the historical account then bounced to the psalmist account of the same incidents, I found the correlations fascinating.

There was a word which seemed to pop up in Psalms more than any other word, not by empirical evidence, just familiar sacredness.  The word and idea was “refuge.”

Refuge has its origins in the cities established and set-up by God as safe-havens for anyone killed someone else and needed a ‘safe’ place to hang out until the evidence and ‘trial’ took place.  As long as the action was accidental and not deliberate, the murderer was safe.  More can be read about them here.

I think that David was using the word to describe Father as one who is a place of shelter, protection, or safety, not necessarily a city of Refuge.  However, the pictorial reference is nice.

The point is that regardless of where we are in life, the only true and real place of shelter, protection, and safety is in God.  He is our only safe and secure hope in life.

LORD my God, I take refuge in you; save and deliver me from all who pursue
me,

The LORD is a refuge for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble.

The LORD is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.

As for God, his way is perfect: The LORD’s word is flawless; he shields all who take refuge in him.

How abundant are the good things that you have stored up for those who fear you, that you bestow in the sight of all, on those who take refuge in you.

Taste and see that the LORD is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in him.