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Posts Tagged ‘Isaiah 29’

Perhaps the rabbis were correct to affirm that some of the ‘deeper writings’ are not suitable for untrained eyes. Or perhaps the cynical proverb that affirms that ‘school is wasted on the young’ is, after all, on to something.

Or perhaps only mothers and fathers should read such a thing as this:

Therefore thus says the LORD, who redeemed Abraham, concerning the house of Jacob: “Jacob shall no more be ashamed, no more shall his face grow pale. For when he sees his children, the work of my hands, in his midst, they will sanctify my name; they will sanctify the Holy One of Jacob and will stand in awe of the God of Israel. And those who go astray in spirit will come to understanding, and those who murmur will accept instruction.” (Isaiah 29:22–24 ESV)

Jacob’s prodigals had not only run amok on their own terms. They had been dragged to distant lands by the powers of their day to suffer the quick extermination of our news cycle or the slow extermination of assimilation to the alien’s ways.

Jacob, figuratively, bows in the shame of a father’s silent-teared bereavement.

Everything is gone.

Then, suddenly—the word is absent from this passage but a favorite of such Isaianic turns elsewhere—here they are! 

Two ironies haunt this brief passage of over-the-top restoration. First, Jacob’s response goes unrecorded. All we know is that the prodigals are back both in body and in soul. They sanctify Jacob’s God. They are not the proverbial ex-smokers with their steel-faced prohibitions, not the loud and self-assured recent converts with a plan for your life. On the contrary, these lost children—now found— stand before their Returner in awestruck silence.

Jacob did not teach them such things, for they were far away, gone, children’s voices from torturing memories never to be heard again.

Indeed, this draws the reader into the text’s second irony.

For when (Jacob) sees his children, the work of my hands, in his midst, they will sanctify my name; they will sanctify the Holy One of Jacob and will stand in awe of the God of Israel.

They are, YHWH affirms, ‘the work of my hands’, now to be found ‘in his (Jacob’s) midst’.

This has not been Jacob’s work, this resurrecting of dead children, this returning of prodigals, this mourning turned to dance.

We do not read here of Jacob’s response to this majestic impossibility.

But a father, this morning, can imagine it.

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