Series: The Lion and the Lamb
Message: Gospel According to Isaiah
Preacher: Japhet De Oliveira
Reflection: Becky De Oliveira
Live Wonder: Zan Long
Live Adventure: Jenniffer Ogden
Live Beyond: Adrian Peterson
Live Purpose: Kyle Smith
Editor: Becky De Oliveira
Refresh: Begin with prayer. Ask for the Holy Spirit to open your heart to new understanding and for God’s character to be revealed.
Read: Isaiah 66 in the New International Version (NIV). Note 1–3 insights or questions.
Reflect: I grew up as a Seventh-day Adventist and one of the perils of being raised in a conservative religious tradition like this is that it can cause you to lose your ability to measure moral scope like a so-called normal person. My brother and I still marvel at how little distinction was made between stealing a car and drinking a Mountain Dew, or worse, a near-beer. I find myself wondering what God means in this chapter when He refers to people who “delight in their abominations” (Verse 3). What kind of abominations are we talking about here? Are we talking Josef Mengele or are we talking earrings? Because I do very much want to live a righteous life but I’m not sure sometimes what’s a big deal and what isn’t. My background leads me to a knee-jerk rejection of the silliness of the elders of my day. That might lead me to the error of thinking that nothing I do matters much as long as I have a good spirit. Whatever that means.
When I was fifteen, I went to the bathroom at church and on the way out I paused to check my lipstick in the mirror. A woman stopped behind me and locked her eyes with mine in the mirror. “You’re a Jezebel,” she hissed. “You are going straight to hell.”
Without missing a beat, I simply raised my eyebrows slightly and met her gaze. “Guess I’ll see you there,” I said, and smiled. For weeks and months afterward, I’d catch the woman watching me in church, always scowling. Whenever I caught her gaze, I’d smile and wiggle my fingers. More than 30 years later, my snappy comeback in the bathroom remains a proud moment, perhaps if only because I showed that woman that two can certainly play the “you’re-going-to-hell” game. Even teenagers. Especially teenagers.
I don’t want to engage in things that are abominations to God, but it’s hard to know what God really thinks is an abomination as opposed to what people at church think—which is not at all hard to know. They will tell you. Repeatedly. And it’s easy to be manipulated by other people’s visions of the kind of person you should be. I’m probably the sort of person today who would meet with that church lady’s approval. I don’t wear much gaudy makeup anymore and I’m not much of a jewelry person. I’m in my late forties, so she might actually smile at me and think I’m a respectable Adventist person. Which I may or may not be. I have noticed that getting older has taken care of all kinds of problems that I used to have when I was young. Funny, that.
But I think sometimes I do delight in abominations—things that I actually think and know are abominations. If God tells me to stop a behavior, I have to listen to that. That doesn’t mean I have to listen to every church lady.
Recalibrate: What are some of your behaviors you’ve had described as “abominations?” How have you reacted?
Respond: Pray for a willingness to confront abominations in your life and ask God for His help in following Him.
Research: Investigate some of the things different cultures and faith traditions have seen as abhorrent in the past and things they frown upon presently.
Remember: “Look, the Lord is coming with fire. The Lord’s armies are coming with clouds of dust” (Isaiah 66:15, ICB).
Becky De Oliveira is a teacher, writer, editor, and graphic designer. She is working on a PhD in research methods at the University of Northern Colorado in Greeley.
With your little one, scatter all their toys all over the place. Then as a team go and gather them all together again. Tell your little one that when Jesus comes back, He will gather all of the people who love Him together to be with Him forever. Make a point of not leaving any toy behind.
Clouds of dust make me sneeze. I have seen horses running by with clouds of dust billowing up behind them. I have seen someone shake a rug with dirt in it and poof! a huge puff of dust rises. I have seen cars driving up long roads with a brown cloud of dust following them. Today, count how many times you see a dust cloud, and when you have time, try to make a cloud of dust that you can see. Be sure to ask for help finding a place that’s wise for spewing dust! Enjoy watching clouds of dust like we will see together when God comes!
Have you ever been afraid of something? Share with your parents what scares you and ask them what scares them. Sometimes when we are scared or upset the best thing to fix it is a cuddle from mom! There’s something about moms that can make everything feel a hundred times better. In Isaiah, God is talking about how much He loves Israel and wants to take care of them. He sees how scared and upset they are. He sees that they are ashamed and sorry for their sins. God tells us in Verse 13, “I will comfort you there in Jerusalem as a mother comforts her child.” Isn’t it awesome to know that we can go to God, just like we would go to our mom, when we are sad, scared, or upset? That He will wrap His arms around us and comfort us just like our mom does? Make sure you remember to tell your mom how much you love and appreciate her. Say a special prayer to God thanking Him for moms and that we can experience His love for us through our mom’s love!
“For behold, the Lord will come in fire, and His chariots like the whirlwind, to render His anger in fury, and His rebuke with flames of fire” (Isaiah 66:15). When you read something like this how does it make you feel about God? Most people would say “scared,” “upset,” or “anxious.” This is just two verses later in the story from where it referred to God as being a mother who comforts her child! How can God go from being so gentle to so . . . mean? When I was in first grade there was a kid who bullied me almost daily. One day my mother had enough and went into the school ready for battle! She had all her facts laid out and wanted to talk with the teacher, principal, and the other student’s parents. She was not going to back down. Why was my mother doing this? Because of love. She didn’t want to see me hurting and in pain. This is the same picture we see of God in this text. God is not an evil tyrant! He is like a loving mother coming to handle business. Satan and all who follow him pose a threat to God’s children. Out of love, God wants to protect us from all who threaten to harm us. These Old Testament pictures of God are not contrary to His love; they show the extent to which God will go to protect those whom He loves.
Zan Long is GRC director for faith development groups. She lives in Sydney, Australia, and serves at her local church in nearby Kellyville.
Jenniffer Ogden serves as the children and family pastor at the Walla Walla University Church in College Place, Washington.
Adrian Peterson is the associate pastor at Burwood Adventist Community Church in the eastern suburbs of Melbourne, Australia.
Kyle Smith is the associate pastor of youth and family ministries at New Haven Adventist Church in Overland Park, Kansas