Posted by: religionthink | December 7, 2006

Zion Shall Be Redeemed By Justice: The Role of the…

Zion Shall Be Redeemed By Justice: The Role of the Prophets Part IV

Concerning Isaiah and his role as a prophet, we come upon an interesting dilemma that Israel was in politically at the time the oracles from Isaiah were given. At this time in history so much was happening that at times it is hard to keep track of what was occurring. We find Isaiah at a time when Syria and Israel invaded Judah to force it into forming a coalition to attack Assyria. This ended with the result of Assyria conquering both Israel and Syria in 733-732 B.C.

Then again, Isaiah would speak out against Egypt’s attempt to persuade Judah to revolt against Assyria in 714 B.C. under King Hezekiah. The revolt was put down in 701 B.C. with Hezekiah surrendering and paying a large debt; which is found in the biblical texts in II Kings 18:13-16. An ancient Near Eastern text exists of the Assyrian king boasting about the surrender. In this essay we will be dealing with strictly chapters 1-39 due to the fact that none of the later texts can be dated with confidence after 701 B.C.

When reading the oracles of Isaiah we find that certain themes run through the texts. A few of them being that Yahweh controls all nations and their destinies, Yahweh’s master plan and policies are carries out on the historical platform, and any human who has plans to the contrary are doomed to fail. Also, themes against pride, the need for judgment, and justice run thick through out the text as it did with Micah. Isaiah also leaves room for hope as Micah. Being from the Zion tradition and the covenant we read in Isaiah 2:2-4:

In days to come the mountain of the Lord’s house shall be established as the highest of the mountains, and shall be raised above the hills; all the nations shall stream to it. Many peoples shall come and say, “Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob; that he may teach us his ways and that we may walk in his paths.” For out of Zion shall go forth instruction, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem. He shall judge between the nations, and shall arbitrate for many peoples; they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more. (Isa 2:2-4 NRSV)

In the view of Isaiah it was wrong for one, person or nation, to peruse their own destines. Failure to faithfully trust in Yahweh, in his mind, displayed a lack of faith. Therefore judgment was needed to chastise and to bring about reform and compliance. It was these themes that shaped his chastisement of Judah, and the devastation that was happening around him. Isaiah felt it was his responsibility to chastise the people because he felt he was commissioned to by Yahweh.

In no way am I trying to minimize the writings and oracles of Isaiah; but the topic of destiny and the role God plays on the political table are still alive and well today. Themes used by the biblical figures can be applied to almost any tragedy or platform where they are needed. Failure to faithfully trust in Yahweh, still displays a lack of faith, and at times patriotism or citizenship no matter who the God or gods. The themes mentioned above seem to be well used by some in television ministry, radio, and internet.

So are these people who hold such views prophets? Are we still huddled in our corners worried about Jerry Falwell’s “New World Order”? Or, are they the people who hold the biblical world view that when one strays from God’s covenant, social, political, and religious plan that destruction is at hand. But can this be applied to tragedies that happen as a part of being human on this earth? If the last argument is answered with a “yes” then we must ask ourselves why those who follow God and his covenant suffer also. What about the Job complex? Next we will discuss what role Hosea played as a prophet and the issues that he had to confront in his day.

Brown, E. Raymond., Fitzmyer, Joseph. And Murphy, Ronalde. The New Jerome Biblical Commentary. Prentice-Hall, Inc, New Jersey, 1990.

Walton, John H, Matthews, Victor H. and Chavalas, Mark W. The IVP Bible Background Commentary: Old Testament. InterVarsity Press. Illinois 2000.

Quoted biblical texts are taken from the New Revised Standard Version.

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