Food For Thought and Isaiah
A bit of frisbee on the damp grass in the Singapore Botanic Gardens,
then brunch/lunch at Food For Thought‘s new outlet (where the food court near Tanglin Gate used to be). This is quite a scale up from their cosy little North Bridge outlet, so they’re tweaking as they go. Love the space, the empty Milo tins as lamp shades, and the potted plants in concrete tables (though sometimes they get in the way of gesturing hands and plates).
Strange things learned today:
– When caught by surprise, i understand Malay perfectly. (And obviously, some Malay people think i’m Malay.)
– One friend was surprised to discover i was a lefty. Another was surprised, simultaneously, to find i was a righty.
– Reading David Jackman’s Teaching Isaiah:
In preaching Isaiah, then, we shall not use his diagnosis of sin and warnings of God’s wrath to berate ourselves and our congregation into being better Christians. That is not the purpose of the law and so it has never achieved that goal (see Galatians 4-5). The conviction of sin, which Isaiah sought to generate, was designed to move his hearers to cast themselves upon the grace and mercy of God, which for us is so clearly displayed in the person and work of Christ. If ever Isaiah’s readers are to embrace the glories of the suffering servant’s work, to accept God’s redemption and restorative grace and to proclaim his gospel to the nations, there needs to be total realism about our human depravity and need. As chapters 1-12 shine the spotlight of God’s righteousness into our own covenant relationship with him, we find that, in spite of all the blessings of the gospel, we have to declare ourselves guilty of covenant violation over and over again, in ways that are exactly parallel in heart and motivation to those of Judah.
Judah’s rebellion (and ours) is not just a matter of breaking God’s rules, but of breaking our relationship with him. The more we understand the true nature of the God of the Bible, the more horrific and serious that possibility becomes to us.
It will also preserve us from the popular contemporary fallacy of seeing our preaching as predominantly life-coaching, where the sermon provides top tips and principles to follow rather than bringing us face to face with a living Lord. Isaiah has a different agenda. He will not allow us to turn the pulpit into a platform for advocating models of ministry, purpose statements or church goals we have articulated and around which congregational life is structured.
Preaching Isaiah faithfully will mean humbling ourselves in the dust before the exalted Holy One of Israel. More than that, it will demand the disappearance of our own idols (2:17-18).