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are you listening?

By Paul Tang
September 12, 2020

Passages of the day: Click HERE ​to read today’s passages.

Isaiah 10:1-11:16
2 Corinthians 12:11-21
Psalm 56:1-13
Proverbs 23:6-8

There's no question that Isaiah speaks to us today as much as he speaks to the nations of his day (1 Cor. 10:6). The question is, will we listen.

In truth, we can identify with every human role Isaiah speaks of in today's passage (Is. 10,11); we're the oppressed, the oppressors, we're the tool of judgement in God's hands, we're the remnant. But the one that struck me the most [[suggested break point for email preview]] is that oppression can come through me as a writer (Is. 10:1) as much as by the shock troops of Assyria. After all, God spoke the universe into existence. He intends words to have power. But how are we, as children of God, to wield that power in the face of impending judgement for injustice (Is. 10:1-4)?

We may be tempted to say that words and ideas will never amount to anything; it's action that counts. But words have the capacity to create a reality that is not yet (Gen 1:3). Our capacity to hope, to yearn, to work with tireless resilience comes through words we gift one another and ourselves (Prv 25:11). Never underestimate the power we project through the ideas that we share through words (Gen 11:9). It may build others up in times of great need (Eph 4:15), or it may break others down through careless stray lines (Job 2:10). So we must grow as powerful and careful speakers toward good. The path to maturity is as much about gaining strength to effect change as it is about gaining control over those powers.

Throughout the Isaiah passage today action is combined with ideas. In the midst of meting out justice, there is pronouncement of it (Is. 10:5ff). There is a running commentary of ideas behind the actions (Is 10:7ff), the reasons behind the events (Is. 10:16ff), the wisdom and understanding that wields the might. As the water covers the sea (the thing filling the idea), so is the earth when the LORD dwells with His people(Is 11:9). Let's seek to do as our Father does, let ideas and words be an integral part of our doing.

To Memorize:

Nothing will hurt or destroy in all my holy mountain,
for as the waters fill the sea,
so the earth will be filled with people who know the Lord.

— Isaiah 11:9

Prayer to start with: LORD how we yearn that the knowledge of you will cover the earth, that justice will flow from our very being. We pray for forgiveness, that our hearts have been hardened for so long, We pray for a repentant heart, that will see how we've wronged the disadvantaged, the poor, the weak, and the downtrodden, that we wrong them by our deliberate ignorance of their plight.  Strengthen us, that we might open our eyes to see the hard things in our city and work through us that we may extend your kingdom with words and with action into the neediest corners of our community.