Failure to Be a Blessing

jonah in the whale Verduner altarpiece
This week we are reading passages that are written in a time when Israel has now come to possess the land that God has promised to them. God was faithful to Joshua and led the people to the land that was flowing with milk and honey. He was fulfilling the promise he had made to Abraham. But the people fail to be a blessing to others and fail to live in the way they were called to. In Amos we read how Israel is oppressing the poor and weak, treating them much like they were treated when they were slaves in Egypt. In Jonah we see the lengths Jonah would go in order not to go to his enemy, instead preferring Nineveh’s destruction.

Then when we look in the New Testament in Matthew 23, Jesus is criticizing the leaders of the Jews who similarly are not living as a blessing to those around.

This last Sunday I preached on Jonah, looking closely at his reluctance to even be a possible blessing to his enemy. The good news is that we have one who willingly came to his own enemies and sacrificed himself for us.

If you’re interested in reading the sermon, you can find it here.

Selections on Trust from Isaiah

Whenever we have a book that is especially long, like Isaiah, it is easy to hustle through it just to get it done. Was it easier to read James and read it in a way that gave you time to study and learn from than this week’s readings in Isaiah? But for how much more difficult it can be, don’t miss out. Even if you’re just highlighting some meaningful nuggets from Isaiah.

There were some great passages on trust this past week, like Isaiah 26:3:

Trust in the LORD forever,
For the LORD, the LORD, is the rock eternal.

The in chapter 30 we read:

In repentance and rest is your salvation,
In quietness and trust is your strength…

Great reminders of the simplicity of the faith. We are to trust in the one who can provide, and lean on God. Sadly the last passage goes on to say, "but you would have none of it." Isaiah spends much time on the theme of bringing low the proud, and raising up the humble. The people trusted in themselves, built up their own power, and looked to other gods. They would have none of this repentance and trust in God.

When we have times of great clarity, when we know how much we absolutely need and depend on God, it seems crazy to turn to anyone else. Who wouldn’t want quietness and rest? But we need to hear Isaiah as warning for it is easy to turn from that and forget who God is and what he has done for us. It is tempting to rely on ourselves. Isaiah holds out hope for us all, for all who wold repent and then find ourselves trusting in God.