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Friday, 11 August 2017

Isaiah 9:8-10:4: What's happening up North?

A quick history lesson - at this stage, there are two kingdoms in Israel. One (confusingly) is still called Israel, the other is Judah. Even more confusingly, Israel is sometimes called Jacob, Ephraim or Samaria: Judah is sometimes called Jerusalem or Zion.

They split after the death of King Solomon, and although the northern kingdom was far bigger, it lasted a shorter time. We're about to see it fall, as the mighty Assyrian Empire draws near. Isaiah lived in the southern kingdom, which wasn't much more than the capital city Jerusalem and its immediate neighbourhood (hence it's sometimes just referred to as Jerusalem, or Zion) but he still takes an interest in what's happening up North.

And we're going to see the same pattern that he's outlined for us in Judah: he's going to challenge them (are you going to obey God, or carry on ignoring him?); he's going to warn them of the coming judgement because of their rejection of God; but despite the judgement there will be a small remnant left; and that remnant can expect some amazing blessings, so they can continue to hope.

Isaiah talks about the disaster approaching from enemy powers - Assyria, Aram and Philistia. He talks about internal corruption, those who should be examples to society are sick and degenerate. He talks about blatant misrule, with the poor downtrodden, and widows and orphans the victims of theft. And each section ends with a chilling refrain: "His anger is not turned away, his hand is still upraised."

God's fury continues unabated. Watch out, northerners - you're dining in last chance saloon.

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