Steve Goble

Choose life. (Deuteronomy 30:19)

Nation will not take up sword against nation,
nor will they train for war anymore.

- Isaiah 2:4c (NIV)

For a 2,500-year-old book, Isaiah still carries a lot of encouragement for today.

Though it could equally be argued, that’s because the above prediction obviously hasn’t happened yet. (in context though, it is about endtimes, so that’s fair enough)

Today, I worried that I was using my latest red pen to mark far too much of it, simply because so much of it was striking a cord with me. In years to come, I might just pick up this Bible and logically assume that the bits I thought were important are the ones that stand out by not having red pen next to them.

I guess, if one’s relationship with God is developing, then you’re supposed to come back to familiar passages and notice different bits speaking into your life today. For me at the mo, that’s investigating the theories I’ve mentioned in earlier posts, such as looking at how God makes us do bad stuff of, apparently, our own free will, or not…

Why, O LORD, do you make us wander from your ways
and harden our hearts so we do not revere you?

- Isaiah 63:17a (NIV)

"Woe to the Assyrian, the rod of my anger,
in whose hand is the club of my wrath!
I send him against a godless nation,
I dispatch him against a people who anger me,
to seize loot and snatch plunder,
and to trample them down like mud in the streets.
But this is not what he intends,
this is not what he has in mind;
his purpose is to destroy,
to put an end to many nations.

- Isaiah 10:5-7 (NIV)

While God’s motives must obviously be good, the hypothetical Assyrian’s aren’t. How does that work?

"Woe to the obstinate children,"
declares the LORD,
"to those who carry out plans that are not mine,
forming an alliance, but not by my Spirit,
heaping sin upon sin;

- Isaiah 30:1 (NIV)

Stuff definitely happens that God doesn’t want to happen then? Don’t they tell us that all bad things happen for a reason?

Surely it was for my benefit
that I suffered such anguish.
In your love you kept me
from the pit of destruction;
you have put all my sins
behind your back.

- Isaiah 38:17 (NIV)

I think there’s a distinction to be made. Sometimes bad things happen because God makes them happen for our benefit.

Sometimes however they happen because we caused them, with no such moral authority.

Yet I often hear of people sweepingly saying that either of the above two statements is always true. Why can they not both be true in different instances? To me, it doesn’t make sense for God or man to completely rule everything that happens. I think that God has some plans and, because he loves us, he’s given us some room to make plans as well.

I make known the end from the beginning,
from ancient times, what is still to come.
I say: My purpose will stand,
and I will do all that I please.
From the east I summon a bird of prey;
from a far-off land, a man to fulfill my purpose.
What I have said, that will I bring about;
what I have planned, that will I do.

- Isaiah 46:10-11 (NIV)

The Book Of Isaiah also has plenty of encouraging things to say regarding God’s interest in all the nations of the world, and most famously spends pretty well all of chapter 53 talking about Jesus, some 700 years in advance.

Lastly, he also makes the distinction between those who know the difference between right and wrong, and those who don’t.

"Hear me, you who know what is right,
you people who have my law in your hearts:

Do not fear the reproach of men
or be terrified by their insults.

- Isaiah 51:7 (NIV)


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