Now I am guessing that most readers believe I am an atheist, for I roundly condemn the Catholic Church for holding the Philippines back. And, indeed, a good Pastor is praying regularly for my misguided soul, mainly because I believe God and his Son have a sense of humor and a depth of perspective that is missing to humorless by-the-book religious fundamentalists.
I believe in God: the Mystery, the Power, and the Interlinking of Souls. In different terms, that would be the Holy Spirit, the Father and the Son.
I also believe the ways of God's religious mankind are sinful and fraught with rules that lack reason and good foundation in scripture. The organized church is an institution of Man that seeks to provide order for the chaotic masses. It can be either well-intended or manipulative, depending on what is in the hearts of its leaders. And it relentlessly declines to credit God with giving us the brainpower to learn, to create, and to change.
Finally, I also believe that simply because God consigns us to the ultimate fate of the Revelations, we do not need to speed its occurrence by unrestrained birthing and the ignorant abuse of our planet. We are given the brains to sustain a healthy life and ought to do a better job of applying them.
But that is just preface to today's Bible lesson.
Isaiah Chapters 1 and 2
How is the Bible to be read? Literally, as truth? Or figuratively, as allegorical lesson? It is founded on historical truths but seems detached from logic. Is God all-powerful? Why, then is he so vengeful?
Isaiah begins in Chapter 1 providing the time and geographical settings. It is the time of the kings Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz and Hezekiah, in the land of Judah, which we might consider as a "Greater Israel" encompassing Israel and Lebanon, and parts of Syria and Jordon.
Now our Lord is highly perturbed, for his children have misbehaved. Their cities are corrupt, their land abused (sound familiar?), they have allowed foreigners to rule them, they have offered sacrifices without meaning, and they have lived the sinful lifestyle of Sodom and Gomorrah.
He calls for them to straighten up and fly right. For the pious Catholics, I would cite verse 1:13.
Bring no more vain oblations. Incense is an abomination unto me, the new moons and sabbaths, the calling of assemblies. I cannot away with, it is inequity, even the solumn meeting.
And when ye spread forth your hands, I will hide mine eyes from you; yea, when ye make many prayers, I will not hear: your hands are full of blood.
The constructive guidance is in 17:
Learn to do well; seek judgment, relieve the oppressed, judge the fatherless, plead for the widow.
What does that mean to you? To me, it says consider the troubles of others FROM THEIR PERSPECTIVE and give them relief. It does not mean condemn a woman who does not want to be a baby factory. It does not mean to indenture women to abusive husbands.
And God is ruthless, as we find flash floods ruthless. Consider 19 and 20:
If ye be willing and obedient, ye shall eat the good of the land;
But if ye refuse and rebel, ye shall be devoured with the sword: for the mouth of the LORD hath spoken it.
Whew! That's clear enough! And the rest of the first chapter recites the destruction God will bring to us, the misguided.
Chapter 2 recites the prophet Isaiah's vision for Judah and Jerusalem. In 2:2:
And it shall come to pass in the last days, that the mountain of the LORD'S house shall be established in the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow into it.
And God will judge the people, and there shall be no more wars. He warns of outsiders who bring their sinful ways and idol worship to Judah.
Material man is roundly condemned in verses 20 and 21:
In that day a man shall cast his idols of sliver, and his idols of gold, which they made each one for himself to worship, to the moles and to the bats:
To go into the clefts of the rocks, and into the tops of the ragged rocks, for fear of the LORD, and for the glory of his majesty, when he ariseth to shake terribly the earth.
And I don't know about you, but verse 22 strikes the fear of God in me. It says (to me) that maybe I ought to be responsible to the Truth of God. Not the wayward ideas and ideals of mankind:
Cease ye from man, whose breath is in his nostrils: for wherein is he to be accounted of?
The rest of the Book of Isaiah continues to recount the punishments and glories that await, respectfully, sinful or obedient man.
I recommend you read at least Chapter 4, which includes the sledge hammers of 20, 21 and 22/23:
Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!
Woe unto them that are wise in their own eyes, and prudent in their own sight!
Woe unto them that are mighty to drink wine, and men of strength to mingle strong drink; which justify the wicked for reward, and take away the righteousness of the righteous from him!
I frankly don't know what God some Filipino leaders worship, or which Bible they read. I've observed a lot of double-speaking, vain, less than righteous Filipino leaders. Corruption doth not grow in a bed lacking nutrients.
Perhaps they skipped Isaiah, eh?
Or maybe they don't believe God will punish the sinful, or they can trick God with a death's day appeal for forgiveness?
That suggests an Ego bigger than God's . . .
Perhaps they just skipped Isaiah . . .