“The Lord, the Lord Almighty, called you on that day to weep and to wail, to tear out your hair and put on sackcloth.” Isaiah 22:12
Isaiah 22 is a frightening chapter to me. Most of the prophetic books are both concerning and often confusing. Many people try to figure out if God’s words of warning through His chosen prophets were punishment for past wrongdoing, warning against present behaviors, or proclamations on what is to come. Personally, I don’t think it’s rocket science. It’s often all three. God uses history – and our mistakes – to teach us.
When we read scripture, we should read asking four questions: 1) What does it say? 2) Who is it talking to? 3) What’s the spiritual message? And, 4) How can I apply it in my life?
That’s why I stopped getting bogged down between “literal” and “figurative” messages. The bible is an instruction book for life. If we receive and read an instruction book for our new car, we don’t try to prove the manufacturer wrong by risky driving habits. We don’t try to tell the designer how to do his job. We can write letters of suggestions based on our personal needs and experiences with the car. However, our driving experience is better if we follow the instructions provided.
In the Christian life, when we need to talk to our Maker and Designer, we pray. Isaiah was calling the people to not just repent, but to grieve for their sins to show God their regret.
Isaiah warned many nations of what was to come as he prophesied. Most of the messages weren’t good news. Rebellion always has a price. Arrogance and sin always have a price. We may not see everyone get their just reward or punishment on earth, but it’s coming. The same can be said for our own sins. We confess and change now, or we face God later.
Isaiah bluntly said, “God tried to warn you and you weren’t listening. Your leaders are useless, and your military can’t protect you.” Instead of God’s people (Old Testament Israel) repenting and changing, they did their own thing. They celebrated despite God’s specific warning that they were out of His will. Remember, in this Chapter, Isaiah was reprimanding the ones who knew better – God’s children.
One sentence in the chapter breaks my heart and I can’t get out of my mind is, “The Lord Almighty has revealed this in my hearing: ‘Till your dying day this sin will not be atoned for,’ says the Lord, the Lord Almighty.” What does that mean? Despite His love and protection; despite His available words and scholars to teach them; despite the warning words of a warrior-style prophet, His people did not listen. And you know what? They would live under a cloud of God’s unforgiveness until each of them died.
“Regrets? I’ve had a few. But, then again, too few to mention,” are words to an old song entitled, “My Way.” Anything we are doing outside of God’s will and holiness will not be forgiven until we confess AND repent or until we die. Think about that. I don’t want to live the rest of my life knowing I angered God. Perhaps we have very few regrets. They may be too few to mention, according to us. One thing apart from and outside of God’s perfect will and nature is one sin too many. We need to fess up so that we can be freed up. Regrets? Repentance. Renewal! OR receive His reprimand when we die? Again, it isn’t rocket science.
MY PRAYER: Lord, I’m asking You to forgive me for anything that I have done in the past, am currently doing in the present, or I’m headed for in the future that is displeasing to You. Lord do not allow me to ignore the warning signs that come from Your word, Your teachers, and Your prophets. Reveal my sin to me so that I can help You wipe my slate clean. I pray the same for my brothers and sisters in Christ. In Jesus name, Amen.