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May 2016

Rise and shine

Isaiah 60 When morning comes, the phrase trips off our tongues.  Yet we rarely notice its strangeness.  To say “Rise and shine” is odd.  We’re not simply exhorting the sleeper to notice or respond to the sun.  We’re telling them to be the sun – or at least, to be like the sun. The sun rises.  We rise.  The […]

Led like a lamb to the slaughter

Isaiah 52:13-53:12 When someone is “led like a lamb to the slaughter” it’s ugly.  Perhaps a partner in the firm is about to be ousted for the sake of the company.  As he blithely enters the boardroom he’s like a lamb to the slaughter. This is a brutal verbal picture.  An innocent lamb will follow a […]

Seeing eye to eye

Isaiah 52:1-12 When we use this phrase it’s usually in the negative: “I’m sorry to say we don’t see eye to eye on this issue.” Not seeing eye to eye means disagreement.  The very nature of the phrase communicates an inequality of stature, perhaps also of power. What would it take for  antagonists to start seeing “eye to […]

They shall mount up with wings as eagles

Isaiah 40:21-31 28 Hast thou not known? hast thou not heard, that the everlasting God, the LORD, the Creator of the ends of the earth, fainteth not, neither is weary? there is no searching of his understanding. 29 He giveth power to the faint; and to them that have no might he increaseth strength. 30 Even the […]

A drop in the bucket

Isaiah 40:1-20 A sense of proportion is priceless.  But it can be elusive too.  When things go wrong we speak of life getting “on top” of us.  We are “weighed down with worry, drowning in troubles, outnumbered”.  It’s “us against the world”.  And the world is winning. Isaiah understands.  Foreign armies have surrounded God’s city, […]

Take root

Isaiah 37 In common parlance, ideas “take root” or cultural movements “take root”.  But in the bible it’s people who “take root.”  In fact there is a whole theme of “uprooting” and “taking root” that bears examination. In Deuteronomy, Moses warned the people, even before they entered the promised land, that they faced exile for disobedience.  And this […]

The lion shall lie down with the lamb

Isaiah 11 This phrase has evolved from its biblical origins.  Isaiah wrote about “the wolf dwelling with the lamb while the leopard lies down with the kid… and the young lion” (Isaiah 11:6).  Yet, as with a phrase like “Pride goeth before a fall”, it’s the abbreviation that has survived the test of time: the […]

Unto us a child is born

Isaiah 9 I grew up with Summer Christmasses.  Mangoes for breakfast.  Cold meats for lunch.  Backyard cricket.  Swims and BBQs.  I loved them: but biblically speaking, a summer Christmas is a contradiction in terms.  Christmas is not a celebration of our sunny circumstances.  Christmas dawns in the darkness. That’s what Isaiah prophesied in chapter 9.  It’s a […]


Isaiah 7 A man begs for change.  Some throw him coins.  Most pass on by.  Now imagine a true philanthropist (meaning “lover of man”). This man doesn’t just reach into his pocket for some change.  He stoops down and sits in the gutter with the beggar.  He reaches an arm around the man and says “Friend, […]

Woe is me

Isaiah 6 What does a spiritual experience look like?  Warm feelings?  Good vibes?  Not according to Isaiah. In Isaiah chapter 6, the prophet has the ultimate spiritual experience.  He meets the LORD: “In the year that king Uzziah died I saw also the LORD sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up, and his train [i.e. […]