O House of Jacob, Let Us Walk in the Light

2: 5-8

    DIG: Why did Isaiah call Isra'el the house of Jacob? What was the prophet calling Jacob to do? Why was that calling necessary? What does it mean to walk in the light? Isaiah returns from the vision of the future in 2:1-4, to the reality of the present. What do these verses add to Isaiah’s catalogue of sins in 1:21-23? What makes the pagan practices in 2:6b so awful to God (see Deuteronomy 7:1-6; 18:10-11 and Second Kings 16:7-18, where King Ahaz is guilty of clasping hands in pagan worship)? What’s wrong with accumulating horses, silver or gold (see Deuteronomy 17:16-20)? What is significant about the people of Judah prostrating themselves before idols (see Deuteronomy 31:16-18)?

    REFLECT: What is the spiritual lesson ADONAI wanted Jacob to learn? How does that spiritual lesson apply to you today? Without having to be perfect, do you feel like you are walking in the light today? Why or why not? In the light of the rise of the New Age Movement of occultism and witchcraft, what should a believer’s response be? Why does the LORD consider them so dangerous for us? Some live as if “the one with the most toys in the end wins.” What would Isaiah say to that pop slogan? In the battle between serving God or money (see Matthew 6:24), which seems to be winning in your life this week? What, if anything, has come between the LORD and you? Why? What can you do about it?

    As mentioned before, sandwiched between two sections that are hopeful (Ap - They Will Beat Their Swords Into Plowshares and Aw - The Believing Remnant in the Messianic Kingdom), there is a major section of judgment and hopelessness (Aq – Zion’s Pathetic Present Condition and Judgment to Follow). Therefore, in stark contrast to the hope of the previous passage, here Isaiah shows us the foolishness of human pride. In 2:5-21, Isaiah talks in more general terms about this foolishness and its results, while in 2:22 to 4:1, he gives us more details.

    Isaiah introduces this major section of judgment by admonishing his readers saying: Come, O House of Jacob, let us walk in the light of ADONAI (2:5). He called Isra'el the house of Jacob, a reference to the descendants of Jacob. Isaiah used this term eight times (2:5-6, 8:17, 10:20, 14:1, 29:22, 46:3 and 48:1), whereas all the other prophets together use it only nine times. When great truths about the future are given in Scripture, we are often reminded of how we should live in the present. Dear Friends, we are God’s children now; and it has not yet been made clear what we will become. We do know that when He appears, we will be like Him; because we will see Him as He really is. And everyone who has this hope in them continues purifying themselves, since God is pure (First John 3:2-3 CJB; also First Thessalonians 4:13-18, 5:1-9; Second Peter 3:10-14).

    The abruptness of the shift starting from 2:5 points to the fact that ADONAI had abandoned Judah in her present condition. The Jews living there could not continue to live in their sin. The prophet, in his despair and in bitterness turns away from his people and addresses God. YHVH had abandoned His people, the house of Jacob, not because He not longer loved them but because they had become like the world (2:6a). God had abandoned His people and three reasons are given.

    First, the people were full of superstitions from the East, which meant that they were following the practices of the Assyrian Empire. At the same time the Jews were practicing divination like the Philistines (First Samuel 6:2; Second Kings 1:2), and clasp hands with pagans (2:6b). Divination, from anan, means to practice sorcery or to cast spells (Leviticus 19:26; Deuteronomy 18:10 and 14:2; Second Kings 21:6: Micah 5:12). Y'hudah was guilty of occult practices with sorcery, which was substituted for the God–ordained faith. They were trying to control events in their lives and the life of the nation through the power given to demons. The LORD said that His people were full of superstitions and they practiced divination like the Philistines and clasped hands, or agreed with pagans (2:6b). No wonder ADONAI had abandoned His people.

    Secondly, Judah became dependent on foreign wealth against ADONAI’s own decree. At the foot of Mount Sinai YHVH had told the nation that they must not accumulate large amounts of sliver and gold (Deuteronomy 17:17b). Yet, Isaiah tells us that during his ministry Isra'el’s land was full of silver and gold. In fact, there was no end to their treasures! Moses had also said that Isra'el must not acquire great numbers of horses and chariots (Deuteronomy 17:16a). But their land was full of horses, and there was no end to their chariots during Isaiah’s day (2:7). The LORD forbade these things (Deuteronomy 17:16-20), because He knew that great wealth would drive a wedge between Him and His people. And that is exactly what happened!

    Thirdly, it was no surprise that they mistakenly reasoned that their newfound wealth came as a result of worshiping their idols. As a result, their land was full of idols. The word Isaiah uses for idols, or elilim, means nonentities, worthless ones or no-gods (40:18-20, 41:6-7 and 28-29, 44:9-20, 45:16-20, 46:1-2 and 5-7), and is a word pun on for God, or elohim. The idols seemed to be the real thing, but they were not! Isaiah uses these word plays constantly in his book. The very LORD, that someday all nations will bow down to, had been exchanged by His own people for worthless idols. They were bowing down to the work of their own hands, to what their fingers had made (2:8). But, amazingly enough, they would not bow down to God.

    When we let anything . . . and I mean anything, get between the LORD and us, it becomes an idol. How foolish it is to call what humans have made divine! When people shape God in their own image, then the world is truly without purpose and they are indeed fools.

 

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