5. Parental Abuse from those the Father Calls Children

5. Parental Abuse from those the Father Calls Children.  By Keith Lannon

 Hear,  O heavens,  and give ear,  O earth: for the Lord hath spoken,  I have nourished and brought up children,  and they have rebelled against me.  The ox knows his owner,  and the ass his master’s crib: but Israel doth not know,  my people doth not consider. ”Isaiah 1:2 – 3(KJV)

 

Children willfully turning their backs on their parents is a horrific social problem in the twenty first century.  It is a sad and heartbreaking scenario.  It was the same in the eighth century BC.  Almighty God was being abused.  God had children,  and they just did not want Him.  They did not just ignore Him.  They willfully turned their backs to Him.

The opening lines of Isaiah’s, “Vision” (a word that is used here in the wide sense of a collection of prophetic oracles.  Nah 1:1; Ob 1), reveals the seer’s gift in Isaiah right from the start.  As the prophet was generically referred to as a “seer,” and his perception of Divine truth was called “seeing, ” so his message as a whole is termed, a “vision.”

“Hear, O Heavens,  and give ear,  O earth”.  A prophet is the interface facility between God and man,  between the invisible and the visible,  between the future and the present.  Isaiah wants both heaven and earth to bear witness to his words.  He wants both angels and men to respond.  He wants future and present to be subject to his heavenly words.  He wants visible and invisible beings to be enveloped by the message he is carrying.

“. . .  for the Lord has spoken. ” Here we go! We have lift off.  God had spoken to him.  Could he say it with any greater clarity? Nobody else has heard, excepting, of course other prophets.  But this was a private whisper into Isaiah’s heart, burning in his bones, demanding that he declares it.  A prophet of God is a spokesman for the Almighty.  Isaiah is not speaking from thought or fancy.  He has heard God.

27cb6-isaiah-vision5-1Imagine two intimate friends talking together.  Picture the scene! Isaiah is lying prostrate on the ground, while his friend, Almighty Yahweh,  draws close,  throws His arm around Isaiah,  as only a special friend could,  and interrupts Isaiah’s prayer.  God whispers with deep feeling.  Yes! You read it correctly! Don’t you think that He who made us with feelings hasn’t any feelings Himself? “I have nourished and brought up children, and they have rebelled against me. ” Hear the pathos as God Almighty,  the Ever living,  never changing,  Omniscient God bears Himself to a member of Adam’s fallen race.  He is sharing his huge heart with one of His tiny, fallen creatures.

Having,  in that earlier opening verse,  explained Isaiah’s historical context we are beginning to see already why God tells us from the start what Isaiah is up against.  Some of the writing prophets leave us clueless as to their date and place in the great drama of history.  It may not be true of all, but when it comes to Isaiah and his writings,  I do not think we could properly assess this man or his message without knowing the circumstances of his time.

The biggest hearts, and the most influential of people not only help to make their times,  but their times help to make them.  A person who is moulded entirely by their surroundings is a human jelly fish, and of no consequence whatsoever.  He who is not influenced at all by the drama and games of popular passion, or the crush of public opinion, is an anachronism,  a living corpse.  This is Isaiah.  It is a living, breathing, thinking man who speaks to us.  This is not an anonymous book.  This is not like so much graffiti that has no signature or claimant to its authorship.  Much value attaches to personal testimony.  The true and faithful witness is not ashamed of day,  date,  location and all the surrounding chronology.  We want to know where to find him, what he sprang from,  who he is,  and what he wants.  Isaiah keeps us sufficiently informed on all those fronts.

“I have nourished and brought up children”.  Oh, the unspeakable privilege of the Jewish people.  Why did Yahweh make such a choice? It was definitely not because of perfect character.  One of the purposes was so that they could declare the awesome glory and purpose of God.  Israel may have been ordinary, but the God who created them was special.  They were not holy, but their God given errand was.  Even after the ten tribes revolted,  leaving only a remnant that were joined in living unity with their roots,  that remnant must seek to do the errand appointed.  This is why God refers to this remnant as His.  “His people,” “His children. ” Judah was so small in the context of the world and its many nations.  Yet Judah was so hideously monstrous in its many idolatrous ugly statues with all kinds of sinful and degrading practices that were required in the worship of them.  It is seriously an incredible picture with so many paradoxical facets.

“I have … brought up children”? Sometimes we imagine that the Fatherhood of God is aNew Testament revelation utterly alien to,  and nowhere to be found in the Old Testament.  We hear preachers speak of the prophets as referring to God under titles of resplendent glory and overpowering majesty,  and in contrast we talk about the gentler terms by which the Father is designated in the New Covenant.  But how does God describe Himself in this chapter? Here He, Himself claims to be the Father.  “I have nourished and brought up sons”. His language is not, “I have nourished and brought up slaves”, or “subjects”, but, “I have nourished and brought up sons”.

“The ox knows his owner,  and the ass his master’s crib: but Israel does not know,  my people do not consider.” To put the sentiments of Yahweh into modern English: “Bull’s and mules have more understanding than the people of Judah.”

The whole issue of knowing and relating to God is to facilitate the growth of character, wisdom,  and wise choice making processes in the human heart,  which in turn would lead to a joyful and contented life.  The history of Israel thus far proved to all,  that in times of heartfelt fidelity to Yahweh,  be it subjectively in the spirit and mind,  or objectively in their external bundle of life and circumstance,  all the higher qualities of lifeturned stable,  secure and rock-like.  Not that problems had disappeared.  But in the days of Samuel,  David and those early days of the reign of Solomon,  the whole cosmos around Israel and its people was moral,  spiritual and Godly,  filled with contentment and settled lives.  It was a golden age.  But when God was rejected and neglected the entire life of Israel crumbled into chaos, defeat poverty.

9bb5a-uzziah1The point the Father in heaven was making to Isaiah, was that the ox knew when to come to its owner, and how to live in oneness with him. For the beast’s own good he knew how to make these responses. The asses even, knew how to be patient and wait for the master to fill its crib with hay and the nourishment it desired. But the people of Israel were like ignorant, mindless life forms that ignored the God that formed them, created them, and brought them together. Israel was utterly Godless in one sense, and yet, from another perspective they had never been so religious.

The horror is that the mindsets, and spiritual strongholds that held the people of Israel prisoner, are still at work in the world around us. Let us not fall into the trap, whilst reading Isaiah, of tut – tutting at all the nonsense that Israel got up to, while feeling arrogantly wiser than they. Let us not fall into the bottomless pit of astonishment after reading Isaiah’s pages, crying, “What evil people these Israelis were!” “How unbelievably ignorant were these Jews!” “What sort of breeding brought about such callousness?” My friend, all humanity has the same disease. Different faces, different skin colours, different cultures, different religions and often a whole set of different ethics, but we all carry in our bosom the same pride, the same arrogance, and the same need of Christ. The disease is the most widespread in creation. It is called sin!  Let us never forget that universal fact.

Although no moral or dilemma, or sin has actually been yet mentioned, the First Commandment of the Decalogue is being presented in the opening lines of Isaiah. “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart,all your mind and all your strength,” has been trampled into the ground. So even if the rest of the social life of Judah was amiable and without guile, the nation is guilty as we commence. James, in the New Testament, when talking of the Old Testament law said clearly that if we are guilty of breaking just one of God’s stated laws, we are culpable of all. It all starts here, with the neglect of God. Premeditated willful actions of sin and evil followed the turning of their back to God. This is a universal truth relevant for all times, all peoples, and all religious persuasion. So, in principle, it speaks to us.

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