Updated: Feb 6
The Lord God has given me the tongue of a teacher, that I may know how to sustain the weary with a word. Morning by morning he wakens– wakens my ear to listen as those who are taught. The Lord God has opened my ear, and I was not rebellious, I did not turn backward. I gave my back to those who struck me, and my cheeks to those who pulled out the beard; I did not hide my face from insult and spitting. The Lord God helps me; therefore I have not been disgraced; therefore I have set my face like flint, and I know that I shall not be put to shame; he who vindicates me is near. Who will contend with me? Let us stand up together. Who are my adversaries? Let them confront me. It is the Lord God who helps me; who will declare me guilty?
This is an optional Old Testament selection from the Episcopal Lectionary for the Seventeenth Sunday after Pentecost, Year B 2018. In the numbering system that lists each Sunday in an ordinal fashion, this Sunday is referred to as Proper 19. If chosen, it will next be read aloud in an Episcopal church by a reader on Sunday September 16, 2018. It is important because it is the voice of God coming from one of His prophets, projecting the strengths and talents that God gives to His devoted.
In contrast to the Proverbs 1:20-33 reading that is an alternative option to this reading in Isaiah, here it is clear that the giver is God, rather than a feminine power referred to repeatedly by feminine pronouns. Here, Isaiah wrote “adonay Yahweh” (variations thereof) four times in six verses, which says “the lord Lord” (translated as “The Lord God”).
The Hebrew word “adonay” is said to be an emphatic version of “adon,” which means “lord, master, owner, king” and even “husband.” It is used to denote a state of divinity, beyond that of humans. While the Hebrew alphabet has no distinction of upper and lower case, such that translating YHWH implies capitalization as “Yahweh,” the capitalized version, “Adonay” is read as an equivalent name for Yahweh. When combined (as Isaiah wrote) the implication is naming God (Yahweh) as the Supreme deity, which means it clarifies Yahweh elohim (God of gods) as the Lord of lords.
This means that Isaiah is speaking clearly of a masculine deity, one who is the greatest of all gods – God the Father. Solomon’s references to “Wisdom” as a “she” and “her” is placing the concept of human intelligence into the hands of a subordinate “god,” meaning “wisdom” is processed through the human brain from a source that is external to one. This means God is then representative of the elements of human life that teach, which can be formal (i.e.: rabbis and professors) or informal (i.e.: parents and peers). Their teaching approach is motivated from the heart leading the brain. Thus, true prophets have learned this method from God.
The dangers of “Wisdom” (the goddess, like Athena) come when one sees the self more godlike, due to being smarter than most of the rest of the human race. It is when humans worship “self-intellect.” “Wisdom” becomes like a protector god that makes humans into heroes, as told in Greek mythology.
This parallels the dangerous course of “mystery schools” of thought (i.e.: Freemasons and Rosicrucians), where the concept of God is relegated to a “Universal Mind,” from which the well-educated can tap into, profiting from the higher knowledge gained. This is then the Star Wars view of God as being the “Force,” into which good (Jedi knights) and evil (Darth Vader and the Dark Side) can access, making God be a slave to human mentality.
And they called him Lord Vader.
This is not what Isaiah wrote of here. Whereas Solomon (who had been given great wisdom as his own – a known characteristic of him) wrote of “Wisdom” belittling the foolish for not embracing “her call,” Isaiah wrote of what God had given him talents, which comes from Isaiah receiving His call. Isaiah wrote, “The Lord God has given me the tongue of a teacher,” which is the Wisdom of Yahweh coming from the mouth of His prophet. This presence must be seen as chosen by Isaiah, welcomed by God, and acknowledged as God speaking through His servant.
This is where reading “adonay” as emphasizing the marriage of God and Isaiah, where Yahweh is the husband and Isaiah the subservient wife. Unlike when one boasts of intelligence and calls it “Wisdom,” where self is proclaimed as having been blessed by God to have a Big Brain, Isaiah left no room for misinterpretation of his source of wisdom. He stated his “husband Yahweh” told him knowledge he had not known before.
By saying, “that I may know how to sustain the weary with a word,” God gave Isaiah the gift of prophecy to uplift others, not self. The message of a prophet is not believable because people recognize one for having always spoken wisely, but because one who had been seen as simple-minded suddenly speaking profoundly.
Isaiah was groomed to serve the Temple in Jerusalem as a priest, being from the royal house of Judah; but he saw himself as inadequate, saying in a dream, “Woe to me! I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the Lord Almighty.” (Isaiah 6:5) For all he had been taught, he knew nothing of value. Thus, Isaiah volunteered to serve God as His messenger, becoming a prophet, and speaking so others would be led to God.
When Isaiah then wrote, “Morning by morning he wakens — wakens my ear to listen as those who are taught,” it should be realized that Isaiah was not awoken by the voice of God at seven o’clock in the morning. The Hebrew word repeated is “bab·bō·qer,” from the root “boqer,” meaning “morning, dawn, day, and daybreak.” This is metaphor for enlightenment, when the light of truth spoke to Isaiah, showing him the meaning of things previously unnoticed. “Morning” is then Isaiah opening his eyes to signs, as the voice of God’s whispers gave insight that common wisdom would miss and logic would struggle to defend.
This is followed by Isaiah writing, “The Lord God has opened my ear, and I was not rebellious, I did not turn backward.” Again, the use of “ozen,” meaning “ear,” is not about the physical sense of hearing. Isaiah is speaking as did other prophets, including Jesus, who said (in effect), “You have ears but you cannot hear.” Physical sound waves are captured by mature ears and translated by the brain into meaningful thoughts, based on one’s level of education and understanding of thoughts. The metaphorical “ear” is hearing spiritual insights “revealed,” so knowledge is gained without prior learning.
A lack of “rebelliousness” means without question. To question the Lord is to demand one’s brain be filled with explanations and reasoning. To not rebel is to accept silently, understanding that should any need for further explanation arise, then the responding truth will likewise come through holy “revelation.” To “not turn back” (from “achor” meaning “back, backward, away”) means to go forward with that which has been “taught,” as one possessing “the tongue of a teacher.”
Imagine that … a “teaching tongues” lesson during the Pentecost season.
This, again, is different than common intelligence, where the advent of the scientific method has seemingly called as the voice of Wisdom, leading human beings to believe in the powers of observation and calculable data. When “proof” is invisible, as is an inner voice that demands faith, more than belief, it is easier to see how “Wisdom laughs” at those who rebel against her formulas and statistics. In this regard, Isaiah wrote, “I gave my back to those who struck me, and my cheeks to those who pulled out the beard; I did not hide my face from insult and spitting.”
By understanding the times of Judah, when it faced capture and enslavement by the forces of Babylon, a prophet like Isaiah did not offer any tangible advice that could quell a foreign power. The Jews did not want to know how captivity could be a step towards redemption, when they still could not see how they did anything wrong. The punished Jews blamed God for their loss; which was the selfish voice of wisdom seeking to destroy the fools who would be prophesying repentance.
Isaiah offered his back to the whip, as would Jesus when the Jews turned on him, because a prophet can be seen like a stubborn donkey that will not move on the road of public opinion. He let them pull out the hairs of his beard, when holy men are given points by how long their beards are and how untrimmed the edges are. Isaiah let them show their rejection of his words as so that being bearded became a reflection of how Jews were not being those of God. Isaiah having his beard yanked was because their rabbis did not have ears that could hear. As a prophet of the Lord, Isaiah wore the face of God, as did Moses, so it would be God the Jews cursed and spat upon, not having eyes that could see spiritually.
Isaiah wrote then, “The Lord God helps me; therefore I have not been disgraced.” Whereas Solomon wrote of “Wisdom” mocking and laughing at “fools” that reject bowing down before external knowledge, Isaiah wrote that Lord Yahweh comforts souls that commit to Him from such abuse. The language that attempts to belittle the simple ones into forced slavery, through condemnations and epitaphs, will have no effect on souls married to the true God. The husband Lord of a wife soul will ensure that only grace (not disgrace) will be.
This state of contentment means Isaiah could sing, “Therefore I have set my face like flint, and I know that I shall not be put to shame; he who vindicates me is near.” There will be no trembling of lips, as the face of God is worn with conviction.
It is a face as hard as granite rock that causes sparks to fly off it when struck by metal. It will not be lowered because no shame can be set upon it. As one with one’s soul, within one body, the self (“me”) then can see all questions of proof are vindicated by the Mind of God (the Christ Mind) that is “near.” The word translated as “near” is “qarob,” which also means “related.” That states the marital relationship to God.
When Isaiah then posed the question, “Who will contend with me?” the call is as a teacher to those who will heed the voice of God through a prophet. Whereas “Wisdom” would be making a call to stand off against one, like two gunslingers in the Wild West, Isaiah is asking, “Who will join me to plead for God?” Thus, he said, “Let us stand up together.”
Contrary to that question and statement, Isaiah then asked, “Who are my adversaries? Let them confront me.” This does not take the approach of Solomon and the goddess Wisdom, where the people were asked how long they would be simple and fools, rejecting the call of wealth and power that worldly knowledge offers. Instead, Isaiah spoke for God asking, “Who follows a greater one than Yahweh the Lord?”
The new makers of law are those who serve Baal and pass mishpat.
It uses the lower-case “lord” that is the god many called Baal by name. Another viable translation of the Hebrew can transform the question so that it also asks,” Who are the married ones of destruction?” That is less to insult others, and more to offer a better marriage to Yahweh, the true lord of justice and the only owner of judgment.
When one sees that God was posing the questions through His obedient wife, it is easy to grasp how, “Let them confront me” is still not a threat, but an invitation for marriage. The word “yig·gaš” is translated as “let them confront,” when the root word that comes from is “nagash,” which is another form of the word “near.” It asks, “Who will come closer to me?” or “Who will stand with me?” It is then an invitation for a date with God and potentially the beginning of a lasting romance.
Following that proposal, Isaiah wrote, “It is the Lord God who helps me; who will declare me guilty?” For the fourth time in six verses Isaiah claims Yahweh is his husband and master, the one who is married to his soul and who leads him to seek the wayward and offer them a new hope. There are none among those who will accept the invitation of Yahweh and get to know him that will declare Isaiah as guilty of a sin.
Still, this translation of verse 9a is wrong, as no question is posed. The literal actually states: “Surely , the lord God will help me , who he will condemn me indeed ,”. A viable translation of this [a paraphrase] says, “It is assured [to all] , God has helped me , who myself would be condemned as well [if not for the Lord God.].” Isaiah has then furthered the invitation to get to know God, through love in one’s heart, because loving God meaning Salvation.
As an optional Old Testament selection for the seventeenth Sunday after Pentecost, when one’s personal ministry for the LORD should be underway – one should be married to God and gladly facing abuse as His prophet – the message here is to understand the difference between intellectual religion and spiritual faith. It is much easier to take the time and make an effort to learn Scripture than it is to walk up to a “professional” and question his or her knowledge of religion. When one is not married to God, one will hide in the shadows (not shine in the “Mornings”), afraid to ask God’s questions and insulted when one’s personal wisdom is questioned.
While Christians can let the words of Isaiah flow over them as they sit in a church on Sunday and like the sounds of the English translations, few realize Isaiah is talking to them. Christians are those who have figuratively been led away into slavery in Babylon. Isaiah still stands as a prophet of the Lord God who is singing a song about how wonderful it is to be married to God, because He sends me out to sing praises to people like you.
This means it is the Christians now who whip the back of those who stop following the road designed to take believers away from God and stubbornly keep hee-hawing, “You’re going the wrong way.”
It is Christians, not Jews now, who are refusing to grow beards, as the new sign of holy men. Catholic friars would also cut halos onto their scalps; today women can be priests and pastors, not needing a beard to be allowed to preach. Whenever looks are the way to tell righteousness, it is time to worry. With the message trusted by simple souls, it is then Christians who insult anyone standing firm against liberalism (changing the laws to suit modern desires), only to be spat upon.
This is not an overnight transformation. It is not a change caused by the youth of the sixties free sex and drug experimentation culture clashing with the ‘fire and brimstone’ ‘old time religion’ that was prominent during the horse and buggy era. It is a change coming since Rome led Crusades against Jews and Arab infidels, while stripping the people of all knowledge of Mosaic Law and refusing translations of Scripture that were not Latin. Christianity was attacked then, just as Judah and Jerusalem were in the times of Isaiah; only the attackers were wearing robes and carrying crosses. Priests have long been taught how not to teach marriage to God [although nuns could marry Jesus].
Certainly, the Church of Rome began a rapid decline in the Twentieth Century, with the rottenness of its core became known, after being covered up for decades. Now there is talk of the Church’s “Holy Father” – supposedly an Apostle who is Jesus Christ reborn – resigning, due to being part of this cover-up. Still, there are cults calling themselves religions that call upon the name of Jesus Christ and branch after branch of Christian denominations that have transformed one true vine bearing good fruit into some wild growth of unkempt shrubbery with poisonous berries. Few can interpret Scripture, and fewer want to try, and even fewer have time to listen to interpretation, much less give thanks to anyone for doing so. Therefore, Isaiah is singing this set of verses to us today, just as his song was heard long ago.
Four times Isaiah refrained, “The Lord God helps me.” That does not say, “The Lord God helps you,” as a promise that believing in God will bring a comfortable living. That was the “Wisdom” boat set sail by Solomon. Still, it can mean “The Lord God helps you … if you become a me, like Isaiah.
Every problem the world has today, which has to be at least as many (if not more) than the Jews faced in a land that followed different mores and ate unclean meats on holy days, can be alleviated by one being married to God. A me is a wife of the Lord God (regardless of one’s human gender). God helps His wives.
The Lord God lets me help you, as you … so He helps me be you. I have to be reborn in you.
Until you can honestly sing this song of Isaiah from a personal perspective, from being in love with God and knowing His presence – His near relationship as the Father to His Son Jesus Christ – then you will be a servant of “baal mishpat” – one awaiting the judgments of masters that excel in the worldly realm. If you want to find freedom from this earthly bondage, while still being in the chains of slavery, then you need to get out of that spiritual box you are hiding in and make a meaningful commitment.
No prior knowledge is required. Just a heart full of faith allows one to say, “Yes” to God’s proposal.