Proper 16 • Isaiah 29:11–19 • August 26, 2012
By Arthur F. Graudin
The text—God’s word to his people through the prophet Isaiah—contains a number of key words that point to significant concepts in Israel’s history.
The Hebrew word יצר (v. 16) is used in our text to refer to the activity of a potter. In Genesis 2:7 the verb describes the creation of “man.” “YHWH formed man of the dust of the earth.”
The Hebrew word יראת, translated by “fear” (v. 13), can have a “relationship” connotation. The people were attempting to gain a “relationship” with YHWH by following human “commandments”/”rules” (NIV).
The Hebrew word הפליא (v. 14), translated by “wonderful things” in the ESV, is related to the term that refers to the plagues in Egypt (Exodus 3:20). The “wonderful things”/“plagues” were signs of both judgment and deliverance.
We confess in the Creeds that we are members of Christ’s holy Christian church. As individual members of Christ’s church the words of our text confront us with a number of questions:
How significant in my life is the understanding that God created me, that he fashioned me in my mother’s womb? Am I living as though I created myself? Do I recognize that I am to be the caretaker of the body and life God has entrusted to me? Who/what determines my relationship to God? The standards of men or the standards of God? What I hear and learn from the internet? Facebook? Twitter? What role do the Ten Commandments/Words have in my life? Do I appreciate the benefits of Holy Baptism and the relationship the Holy Spirit has established between God and me?
The questions remind me that I continue to sin and stand in need of the Lord’s forgiveness.
The words of our text comfort us with words of promise. The promise of peace and the opening of eyes in our text have been and will be fulfilled by the work of the Holy Spirit through the means of grace. The “sealed book” of the text has been replaced by the “open book” with the message of God’s love revealed in Christ’s suffering, death, resurrection, ascension, and anticipated return. As one who was spiritually “blind” at birth I have experienced the Holy Spirit at work in me through the means of grace (word and sacraments). “I was blind and now I see.” The Holy Spirit has opened my “deaf” ears to hear—and to believe—that I as a sinner have been tied in to the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. The promise of “peace” and source of “joy” are renewed by the very presence of our Lord in the bread and wine of Holy Communion. By the work of the Holy Spirit through Word and Sacraments I believe that Jesus Christ will return to claim me and all believers. He will invite us to experience his presence, “life without end.” I anticipate being there with you.