Displaying posts categorized under


Can a leopard change his spots?

Jeremiah 10:1-25; 13:15-27 Can people change?  Really change? Aristotle thought so.  Here’s how: “it is by doing just acts that the just man is produced, and by doing temperate acts the temperate man.” If you want to change, then perform righteous acts and you will become righteous.  It’s ancient wisdom.  But it’s very modern too.  […]

Be horribly afraid

Jeremiah 2 What could be so bad that it warrants this warning?  A scientist morphing into an insect?  An alien monster rampaging through a spaceship?  What dread terror might have birthed the saying: “Be horribly afraid”? Answer:  The refusal of God’s abundant grace.  According to God, that is the horror of horrors! This striking imperative – “Be […]

A new heavens and a new earth

Isaiah 66 Isaiah could be called “a tale of two cities”.  Yet both cities are Jerusalem. There’s an old Jerusalem – the one in which Isaiah’s listeners live.  They face a terrifying judgement: threatened by Assyria but effected by Babylon.  The city is sacked, God’s house (the temple) is destroyed, the people are carried away […]

Holier than thou

Isaiah 65 Isaiah addresses the blindness of human unbelief.  He proclaims the LORD’s word to a “people walking in darkness.”  But while he insists that human wickedness is a disease, he never prescribes human religion as the cure.  No, healing is found only in the Righteous King.  He is the LORD of the temple vision, He […]

Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard

Isaiah 64 It’s probably Paul’s quotation of Isaiah 64 that has become the best known version of this phrase: “As it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man…  (1 Corinthians 2:9) Such words can be the equivalent of a magician’s puff of smoke.  When stumped for […]

No rest for the wicked

Isaiah 57 It’s the sort of phrase your cheery postman might say on his rounds.  “Must push on I’m afraid, no rest for the wicked eh?”  We smile and wave and get on with our day. Yet this saying is the biblical equivalent of verses such as “these shall go away into everlasting punishment” (Matthew 25:46) or […]

Bind up the brokenhearted

Isaiah 61 In the Bible, hearts can be failed, faint, glad, hard, willing, stirred, sorrowful, obstinate, lifted up, circumcised, wicked, grieved, hot, astonished, trembling, melted, inclined, merry, rejoicing, naughty, offended, dead, desirous, despising, lion-like, bowed, upright, understanding, large, turned away, turned back, sore troubled, tender, double, perfect, tried, prepared, free, united, proud, soft, walking, deceived, […]

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 […]