Series: The Lion and the Lamb
Message: God's Weird Work
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 63:1-6 in the English Standard Version (ESV). Note 1–3 insights or questions.
Reflect: My favorite piece by the humor writer Dave Barry is called “He Knows Not What He Writes” which appears in the essay collection Dave Barry’s Greatest Hits (1989). It contains the following excerpt, given as an example of the kind of passage preachers expound upon from the pulpit, much to the confusion of the rest of us. My mother and I once laughed ourselves to near speechlessness reading it aloud to one another while on vacation at the Oregon Coast.
And Bezel saideth unto Sham: ‘Sham,’ he saideth. ‘Thou shalt goest unto the town of Begorrah, and there shalt thou fetcheth unto thine bosom 35 talents and also shalt thou fetcheth a like number of cubits, provideth that they are nice and fresh. (p. 201)
Barry goes on parody the way “broadcast preachers . . . take a religious anecdote and explain it over the course of a half-hour.” The problem, he says, “is that many of us don’t have the vaguest idea what these anecdotes reveal.” While he claims that the exhaustive exposition from the pulpit leaves the listener with “no questions at all,” I’d have to disagree. In my grumpier moments—which seem to be occurring with greater frequency all the time—I feel somewhat annoyed at the expectation that Christians are to find profound meaning in everything the Bible has to say. Is everything super important? What am I meant to draw from this week’s blood-splattered verses, exactly?
Right away I’m stymied by the mention of two places—Edom and Bozrah—that are unfamiliar to me and that I feel lazily certain are irrelevant to anything I might care about. There is also an individual inexplicably covered with blood and annoyed that no one has helped him as he “trampled down the peoples” and “made them drunk” with his “wrath” (Verse 6). I don’t usually feel immediate empathy toward those who complain that no one helped them with their slaughter.
As it turns out, Bozrah is a place that comes up a few times in the Bible. Consider the following scenes of destruction:
But I will send a fire against Teman, and it shall devour the palaces of Bozrah. (Amos 1:12)
The Lord has a sacrifice in Bozrah, and a great slaughter in the land of Edom. (Isaiah 34:6)
“I swear by myself,” declares the Lord, “that Bozrah will become a ruin and a curse, an object of horror and reproach; and all its towns will be in ruin forever.” (Jeremiah 49:13)
Bozrah also, perhaps more happily, features in Micah 2:12 which reads, “I will surely assemble, O Jacob, all of thee; I will surely gather the remnant of Israel; I will put them together as the sheep of Bozrah, as the flock in the midst of their fold: they shall make great noise by the reason of the multitude of men.”
I mostly believe that when experiencing a negative reaction to a text (sometimes because of ignorance), it is helpful to ask what deficiencies in oneself the negative reaction reveals, as an exercise in humility. We are going to study this text all week and I am going to try to find ways of looking at it that do not feel tortured or silly and that might seem applicable to something. I almost relate to how the blood-covered individual feels about the “nations.” I feel a similar sentiment toward whomever chose this passage of Scripture and then asked me to write about it. [Insert smiley emoji. Kidding! Kind of.]
Recalibrate: How do you respond to passages of Scripture that seem irrelevant to your life and that don’t appear to offer wisdom or hope?
Respond: Pray for understanding.
Research: See what you can discover about Edom and Bozrah.
Remember: “I have the power to save you” (Isaiah 63:1, 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, say and write the Words to Remember on your heart this week. “I have the power to save you” (Isaiah 63:1). Your child knows that your arms are the safest place to be and that you do everything in your power to keep them safe. Know that God feels exactly the same way about His children too.
Take time to memorize the Words to Remember for this week. (“I have the power to save you,” Isaiah 63:1.) Isaiah was a prophet who spoke to God’s people about what God’s plans were and what God was asking His people to do. Isaiah believed God was holy and strong and loving and that God could save anyone! Isaiah’s name even means “the Lord saves.” Just like Isaiah, we can choose today to believe God is powerful to save us—which means He wants to give us life forever and make our hearts and minds one hundred percent good. God promises that He is strong enough to do just that!
“It is I, the Lord, announcing your salvation! It is I, the Lord, who has the power to save!” (Isaiah 63:1b, NLT). Remember last week I shared with you that Isaiah is all about judgement and hope? Right here again at the start of Chapter 62 we have an amazing promise. God Himself announces our salvation, He alone has the power to save. Where else can we get salvation? Read Acts 4:12. Who can be saved? Check out Romans 1:16. God alone gives salvation through Jesus and anyone who believes in that salvation can be saved. What an awesome way to start off this week’s study in Isaiah.
I love movies. Just about every Saturday night our house is full of friends laughing and eating. After we spend some time together, we flip on the TV and start the search for a good movie. Sometimes this takes forever; other times we find exactly what we are looking for. It is kind of funny because sometimes you can spend more time looking for something on Netflix than actually watching anything! One thing I have come to know is that my friend group loves war movies. Give us any true story about war and we are all in! This is because war is something very real. We have all seen it on the news, heard about it with our ears, and felt it with our hearts. Maybe you have even had a loved one fight in a war. Here in Isaiah 63, the prophet describes a warrior who has gone to bat for His people. As you read, I encourage you to try to figure out who that warrior is. What descriptors of this warrior do you find most interesting? Have you read of any other character in Scripture be described this way? This week, prepare to learn about the greatest warrior of all time!
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.