A Word in Support of.. . . .

Shakespeare!

We’re are about to start a new chapter in Isaiah, and I prefer to do that  at the beginning of a new week.  So today I’m putting in a word for The Bard.

Now, I’m fully aware and sympathetic that some of you feel the same way about Shakespeare as I feel about football 🙂  Just NO!  I get that.  I have about 15 students in my class right now, studying The Merchant of Venice.  Not all of them love it. In fact, I’m pretty sure a couple of them hate it, but they’re too polite to say so.

Understandable.

However, I found a website that gives a side-by-side interpretation in modern English, and I’m going to share that with the class today.

If you’re interested, it’s  nfs.sparknotes.com/merchant.

I think it will be helpful, and maybe even strike a tiny flame of interest for the incredible stories Shakespeare penned.  I hope so.

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God is the Teacher

Isaiah 28:26-29. “For his God doth instruct him  to discretion, and doth teach him. For the fitches are not threshed with a threshing instrument, neither is a cart wheel turned about upon cummin: but the fitches are beaten out with a staff, and the cummin with a rod. Bread corn is bruised: because he will not ever be threshing it, nor break it with the wheel of his cart, nor bruise it with his horsemen. This also cometh forth from the Lord of hosts, which is wonderful in counsel, and excellent in working.”

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Israel is God’s threshing floor, and He is a careful farmer. He uses the proper instrument for the job at hand, and He will not destroy completely His people. But they need to take heed, because they have been warned. The coming judgment will be dire;  they will be threshed, and winnowed, and they will indeed repent under the disciplinary hand of God.

Warning to Mockers

Isaiah 28:23-25. “Give ye ear, and hear my voice; hearken, and hear my speech. Doth the plowman plow all day to sow? doth he open and break the clods of his ground? When he hath made plain the face thereof, doth he not cast abroad the fitches, and scatter the cummin, and cast in the principal wheat and the appointed barley and the rie in their place?”

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Isaiah commands the attention of the people in such a way that they will stop and truly hear his words. He then uses a farming metaphor to instruct them. The process of plowing, sowing seed, and reaping is well-understood by the people, even those who dwell in the city.

He describes a farmer who performs many acts to secure a harvest, to point out that God had dealt with Judah in many ways, hoping to bring the people to righteousness, but without success. He was now going to do this strange work on them; and this would be just as unfailing as a crop when the farmer obeys the law of nature.

First, the farmer plows the ground, breaking the clods and creating  a smooth surface. Then he begins the planting process.

Fitches were a vegetable  something like the common pea. The Hebrew word, used only here,  denotes  the fennel or dill whose seed was mixed with bread to give it flavor.

Cummin was a condiment used in sauces and soups for seasoning.

Wheat, barley, and rye  were common grains in Palestine.

We will see how God pulls all this together  to give clear warning to His people of what is to come if they continue to rebel against Him.

God’s Strange Work

Isaiah 28:20-22. “For the bed is shorter than that a man  can stretch himself on it:  and the covering narrower than that he can wrap himself in it. For the Lord shall rise up as in mount Perazim, He shall be wroth as in the valley of Gibeon, that He may do His work, His strange work: and bring to pass His act, His strange act. Now therefore be ye not mockers, lest your bands be made strong: for I have heard from the Lord God of hosts a consumption, even determined upon the whole earth.”

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What an interesting picture God paints in verse 20. He compares Jerusalem’s defenses as being like a bed too short for a man, and a covering too narrow to wrap himself in. It just won’t measure up.

Then, in verse 21, the destruction that is about to fall on Jerusalem is compared to what God did for Israel in Mount Perazim and in the Valley of Gibeon.  You can read about those events in 2 Sam. 5:20-21 and I Chronicles 14:11-16. This time, however, God’s judgment will not be on Judah’s enemies, but on Judah itself.

It is called  His strange work because He will rise up against His chosen people. He will use foreign armies and ungodly nations to discipline Judah for her rebellion and disobedience, which they have persisted in even after multiple warnings and clear consequences have been made.

Judah had even been guilty of mocking God, of mocking Isaiah, who was God’s prophet.  Isaiah takes them to task for their mockery,  warning them not to “make their bands (armies) strong” because God had decided their doom; they were without hope. The whole land would be consumed because of their sin.

Horrible Judgment

Isaiah 28:18-19. “And your covenant with death shall be disannulled, and your agreement with hell shall not stand; when the overflowing scourge shall pass through, then ye shall be trodden down by it. From the time that it goeth forth it shall take you: for morning by morning shall it pass over, by day and by night: and it shall be a vexation only to understand the report.”

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Referring back to verse 15, the people of Judah had actually tried to make a covenant that death and hell would not take them, that somehow they would be safe.  How foolish we are when we think we can circumvent God’s plan and power. Simply saying, “Well, I don’t believe it,” will not save us from the judgment that is coming.

The overflowing scourge is the judgment of God.  It would be Assyria at that time; later on, Rome would destroy Jerusalem. In fact, the destruction then would be  hard even to hear about.

Historical records tell us that the numbers of people Rome crucified would make a ring around the city until there was no more room for another cross. Bodies of the dead Jews would be piled up outside the walls of Jerusalem in heaps. Multitudes in the city died of famine until the valleys outside were filled with them. Titus, himself groaned and threw up his hands in horror and called God to witness that he was not responsible. No fewer than 600,000 who were thrown outside the gates were counted by the Romans. All together, 1,100,000 Jews died; 97,000 were sold as slaves for trifling prices: 40,000 were freed because no one bought them; and 347,400 more, plus multitudes not counted, perished in many other ways.

When God’s people, after many warnings, refuse to repent of worshiping other gods, the judgment of God will surely come.  As I consider the immorality that is rampant in America’s Hollywood, just for one place, I do not see how American can hope to escape God’s judgment until or unless there is a national repentance and revival.

Lazy Me

I slept late today–9 a.m.!  That’s unheard of these days, when I’m usually awake between 6-7 when I’m not working. Very nice.

I’m listening to a CD I just got, and I love it.  An artist name Jan Mulder, playing hymns in a classical setting.  Fills up my heart and soul. This world would be a dismal place without the pleasure of beautiful music.

Later today, we’ll be enjoying the company of one of our grandsons. Luke is going to spend a couple of nights with us, all by himself–no siblings.  This is a treat for the youngest child in the family.  It’s a treat for  us.

Well, that’s it.  I’m taking the day off from blogging. Sometimes a person just needs a break 🙂