Archive for January, 2011

Isaiah 2:9 Humanity Will Be Humbled Part 1

Posted in Isaiah on January 23, 2011 by paulthepoke

Men bow down to them in homage, they lie flat on the ground in worship. Don’t spare them!

So the common man has been humbled and the man of importance has been abased, but do not forgive them.

Both of the above verses are Isaiah 2:9. The top version is a translation from New English Translation (NET) and the bottom is a translation from the New American Standard Bible (NASB). This is an example of where translators disagree. The NET is of the mind that man is worshipping idols. The NASB is of the mind that man is being humbled. So who is right?

In the original Hebrew, the subject is man. Note in the NASB, “common” is italicized. “Common” is not in the original text. The same is true with “of importance” in the NASB. It is not in the original Hebrew text.

The Hebrew word of action is “shachach”. Note how it is translated differently in the NET, “bow down”, versus the NASB, “humbled”. Grammatically, the word can be translated both ways as a niphal stem (a passive simple action).

The second word of action is “shaphel” (qal stem, simple and active verb).  It literally means to be or become low. See the difference in how these two verses are translated. NET says “lie flat” and NASB says “abased”.

These same two verbs, “shachach” and “shaphel”, are also noted later in Isaiah 2:11 and 2:17. In these verses, both of these verbs are qal stem (active simple action).

When it comes to the last part of the verse, the verb nasa’ is a qal stem. It could be translated one of three ways as a qal stem:

1a1) to lift, lift up
1a2) to bear, carry, support, sustain, endure
1a3) to take, take away, carry off, forgive

In the NET the verb is translated “don’t spare”. In the NASB the verb is translated “do not forgive”.

The context of Isaiah 2:9-22 is summarized by stating proud and great things are going to be humbled. Specifically, proud and arrogant humanity is going to be humbled.

Think about it, you be the translator.

Isaiah 2:8 Do Not Make Idols

Posted in Isaiah on January 16, 2011 by paulthepoke

Their land has also been filled with idols; they worship the work of their hands, that which their fingers have made.

Nation Israel is in clear violation of the first two commandments.

1) You shall have no other gods before Me.

2) You shall not make for yourself an idol, or any likeness of what is in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the water under the earth. You shall not worship them or serve them…

Following the second commandment in Exodus 20:5b-6, there are consequences as to how one responds to God’s word.

for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children, on the third and the fourth generations of those who hate Me, but showing lovingkindness to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments.

If a person rejects these commands, God will deal with the person’s children up to three and four generations later. If one obeys these commandments and loves God, one thousand future generations will be blessed. Some may think it is unfair for future generations, but this is how God works and these are his guidelines.

Dealing with future generations because of actions in the present generation is consistent in God’s word. For example, the generations of Ham were cursed because of his choices regarding his father Noah in Genesis 9. This concept started in the Garden of Eden. Humanity and future generations were subject to the curse due to sin and the fall of man. God’s word is consistent; the choices we make affect future generations.

The consequences of choices do not have to be negative. We can choose to obey God and future generations can be blessed. Blessings can take many forms (health, children, marriage, food, shelter, wealth, etc.). Blessing is not talking about salvation. These passages are not talking about one’s salvation and eternal destination and security.

A reality of idol worship is that the creator of the idol ends up worshipping the works of his hands. Man ends up worshipping himself. Man is worshipping the god of his mind. That idol is a mere image of how man views what god is. How many times do we hear, “My god would not ________…” That god is a figment of man’s mind, not the God of the Bible. The idol is made by man’s hands. This point is emphasized two times in Isaiah 2:8.

Isaiah 55:8 “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,” declares the LORD.

God’s observations and logic in excerpts from Jeremiah 10 state the obvious about idols. He does not like this.

For the customs of the peoples are delusion; because it is wood cut from the forest, the work of the hands of a craftsman with a cutting tool. They decorate it with silver and with gold; they fasten it with nails and with hammers So that it will not totter. Like a scarecrow in a cucumber field are they, and they cannot speak; they must be carried, because they cannot walk! Do not fear them, for they can do no harm, nor can they do any good. But they are altogether stupid and foolish in their discipline of delusion—their idol is wood! Every man is stupid, devoid of knowledge; every goldsmith is put to shame by his idols; for his molten images are deceitful, and there is no breath in them. They are worthless, a work of mockery; in the time of their punishment they will perish.

Isaiah 2:7 Misplaced Faith

Posted in Isaiah on January 10, 2011 by paulthepoke

Their land has also been filled with silver and gold and there is no end to their treasures; their land has also been filled with horses and there is no end to their chariots.

Silver and gold: Nation Israel is doing exactly what God told them not to do. Deuteronomy 17:17b instructs nor shall he greatly increase silver and gold for himself. The context of these directions (Deuteronomy) is for the leadership of Israel. The result is noted in Isaiah 2:7, Israel has accumulated massive amounts of material wealth. In Isaiah’s time, Israel is ridiculously wealthy. They have placed their security in material wealth.

Horses and chariots: Nation Israel is doing exactly what God told them not to do. Deuteronomy 17:16a instructs “Moreover, he shall not multiply horses for himself, nor shall he cause the people to return to Egypt to multiply horses, since the LORD has said to you… The result is a strong military. Chariots were the ultimate demonstration of military power in Isaiah’s time. In our world vernacular, they had the nuclear weapon of the day. In Exodus 14, one can see the fear and respect chariots commanded in the exodus out of Egypt. Specifically in Exodus 14:10, Israel was terrified. Fast forward to Isaiah 2:7, Israel has placed their security in military strength and disobeyed God.

God wants Israel and His people to place its trust and security in Him, not in wealth and military strength.

So what about our country and culture today in the 21st century? What can we learn from history? Are there parallels and comparisons to Israel 2,800 years ago? One could argue that we are in decline and past the point Israel was during Isaiah’s time. In the recent past, the United States was wealthier than it is today. Government spending has increased to the point we are over $13 trillion in debt and rising. Households in the country are burdened with more debt than ever. Prior to 1971, the dollar was tied to the gold standard. Over time, the value of our currency continues to be worth less than it was in the past.

The United States spends more money than the rest of the world when it comes to the military. Yes, our military is the best in the world. But it is spread thin from Korea and Japan in Eastern Asia to Afghanistan and Iraq in the Middle East to military bases throughout Europe.

The United States is not different in comparison to Israel. If anything, we are further along in our decline. We have placed our faith in material possessions, wealth, and military strength. History tells us this strategy did not work out well for Israel. Will we learn from history?

Isaiah 2:6 Occult Forbidden

Posted in Isaiah on January 3, 2011 by paulthepoke

Isaiah 2:6 For You have abandoned Your people, the house of Jacob, because they are filled with influences from the east, and they are soothsayers like the Philistines, and they strike bargains with the children of foreigners.

The prophet is specific and clear as to what God has done. God has left, rejected, and let go of His people, Israel. We know specifically it is Israel because Israel is the house of Jacob and they are His people. It is stated twice in the introduction of the verse. God has rejected them and He tells us why. God gives us a reason for His action.

BECAUSE Israel is following the customs of other religions from the east. This is a direct act of disobedience to the first commandment. Exodus 20:3 “You shall have no other gods before Me”.

The second violation is they are accused of being “soothsayers”. A soothsayer could also be called a diviner, witch, sorcerer, or fortuneteller. So what is the big deal with this? Leviticus 19:26 ‘You shall not eat anything with the blood, nor practice divination or soothsaying. God also points this out in more detail in Deuteronomy 18:9-14 When you enter the land the Lord your God is giving you, you must not learn the abhorrent practices of those nations. There must never be found among you anyone who sacrifices his son or daughter in the fire, anyone who practices divination, an omen reader, a soothsayer, a sorcerer, one who casts spells, one who conjures up spirits, a practitioner of the occult, or a necromancer. Whoever does these things is abhorrent to the Lord and because of these detestable things the Lord your God is about to drive them out from before you. You must be blameless before the Lord your God. Those nations that you are about to dispossess listen to omen readers and diviners, but the Lord your God has not given you permission to do such things.

God does not deny these things exist. They are real. People who practice these are to be driven out. This will come as a shock to the culture, but God does not approve of Harry Potter. This is not tricky, these practices are not permitted.

…and they strike bargains with the children of foreigners. The last phrase of the verse is unclear to the specific meaning. There are different possibilities according to linguists. One, there is hostility toward foreigners. This does not make much sense due to the fact the Jews have adopted other customs and are worshipping other gods. A second could be there are treaties and alliances with the foreigners in the land. God told the Jews to drive the people out of the land when they entered. The foreigners should not be there. The Jews are to put their trust in God and not in treaties. The context of the verse would suggest the Jews in Isaiah’s time are pretty cozy with the people in the land.

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