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Last week we heard from the prophet Amos, who worked in the northern kingdom of Israel in the mid-700s BCE. Today we will hear from the 1st prophet called Isaiah, who worked in the southern kingdom of Judah, mainly in the city of Jerusalem, a few years after Amos.
Isaiah was speaking to people who were weathering attacks from the northern kingdom and other surrounding tribes, and were tempted to make political alliances with bigger empires to protect themselves, and Isaiah was insistent that they should rely on God and God’s promise. While the kings in Jerusalem were mostly as corrupt as the northern kings were, there were two who weren’t terrible and who made an effort to turn the people back to God’s way so that they would be able to live faithfully in God’s promise. One of those was Hezekiah, who became king sometime around the time that Isaiah wrote the words we hear today. (Written by @Teri Peterson on Facebook in a conversation about the Narrative Lectionary)
Don’t forget that the Hebrew prophets were also poets! They wrote in verse with metaphors, rhymes, and word-pictures to try to articulate a vision that was beyond what mere words could hold.
Isaiah writes twice of a vision of God’s wholeness – peace – purpose – inhabiting all the world. Often called the Day of the Lord; or what we might call “the end of the world.” It’s in Isaiah 2:1-5; and also Isaiah 25 and Micah 4. But this vision is one of a meal – a true thanksgiving meal for all the nations – it’s underneath the story of the travelers on the way to Emmaus and the breaking of bread as a way in which we have a foretaste of what God intends for the universe. Our catholic brothers and sisters continue to call this meal the eucharist – a Greek & Latin word meaning “to give thanks.”
QUESTIONS FOR REFLECTION & EXAMEN:
• What engaged you, enraged you, or surprised you in the text?
• Isaiah lived and wrote during a time of great threat, trouble and unknown outcomes. The history and culture of the people was threatened. They were afraid of being replaced by other peoples by a foreign imperial power. What do you notice about this fear in the texts? What images of hope and God’s faithfulness do you notice?
• We often jump right to the Christmas Story, the birth of Jesus of Nazareth, when we hear Isaiah 9; but if you linger in the context of the day; what image is Isaiah painting for the people? The meal of all meals in Isaiah 2 (a vision repeated in Isaiah 25 and Micah 4) is at the root of communion. How do you (or don’t you) experience as this meal of peace-making for all the nations?
• What invitation do you heard the Spirit of God speaking to you – or to us, as a church – to act, speak, be or change through this word of scripture?
Artwork Credit: Luke 14 Banquet by Hyatt Moore
Download a Text Study Sheet PDF HERE.