Wednesday, September 8, 2010

learn to do well...

The focus of this year's Bible Study at our church will be the Prophets.  For me, one of the most powerful moments in the Bible is the calling of Isaiah.  This account from the Sept. 1886 issue of "The Unitarian Review and Religious Magazine" by Rev. S.R. Calthrop.

"In the year that King Uzziah died, Isaiah "saw the Lord sitting upon a throne. Above it stood the seraphim; and one cried to another, Holy, holy, holy, is Jehovah of hosts: the whole earth is full of his glory. Then said I, Woe is me! for I am a man of unclean lips, and dwell among a people of unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the King, Jehovah of hosts. And I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, Whom shall I send? Then, said I, Here am I; send me." Of necessity, in so early an age, Jehovah still appears to the prophet in the form of a man. The vision, as in the case of so many other prophets, consecrates him to the prophetic office. Henceforth, Isaiah feels the call and the dedication. And "what a message is his! "Hear the word of the Lord, ye rulers of Sodom. To what purpose is the multitude of your sacrifices unto me? saith Jehovah. Who hath required this at our hand? When ye spread forth your hands, I will hide mine eyes from you: when ye make many prayers, I will not hear: your hands are full of blood. Wash you, make you clean ; cease to do evil; learn to do well. Seek judgment; relieve the oppressed, judge the fatherless, plead for the widow." As soon as such words are uttered and written down in the world, the knell of the old thought of propitiation for sin by sacrifice of bulls and goats is sounded. The new thought of acceptance through right-doing and sacrifice of selfishness is ushered in.

But there is more than this. Isaiah already looks forward to a mighty amelioration in human affairs; to an incalculable uplifting, which will instantly begin to appear when man at last shall be reconciled to his brother, shall put away all wrong, and love all right; shall resolve that law of Maker shall be law of man. " Then shall the wolf dwell with the lamb, and the leopard lie down with the kid; and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them. They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain: for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea." This is true prophecy,— the prophecy that uplifts, inspires to an ever renewed struggle. For does not God intend the right to win just as soon as those who love the right are brave and true? Yes. That better day is fast coming when "an highway shall be there, and it shall be called the way of holiness. No ravenous beast shall be there; but the redeemed shall walk there: and Jehovah's ransomed ones shall return, and come to Zion with songs and everlasting joy upon their heads: and sorrow and sighing shall flee away."


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