One of the tasks we all need to do when we read and apply God’s word is to first of all understand what God’s word is saying to the original hearers. We need to look at what God’s word was saying to their context before we can move with confidence and integrity to apply it to our own very different situation.
For example, it would be inappropriate for me to claim that God has promised us the land in the Middle East and then encourage you all to march around the city of Jericho or its equivalent today until it falls down when I play the trumpet.
Now I am sure you could relate to ‘seeing things fall down when I play the trumpet’ but I think the rest might be a bit of a misunderstanding and misuse of scripture.
On the other hand I really do not think we do the word of God any real justice if we see all of what it says as relating to other people in another context and so totally unrelated to us today.
So each week I should go through the task of understanding the word of God in its context before applying it to us today.
So how do we relate to the context of Isaiah?
The first thing we should remember is that the God of the OT (Old Testament) is the same unchanging God of the NT (New Testament). God did not go through some sort of cosmic makeover between the OT and the NT. This means that his character and nature is the same yesterday, today and forever. So in the way the scriptures reveal the character of God we must understand we serve the same God.
This leads to the second thing we should remember as we apply God’s word to us today. Essentially we as humans are still the same. Sure we have increasing levels of technology for us to use in our sin but we still have the same struggle against sin. As someone who teaches from God’s word I can regularly see the deceitful human heart in us today and I also see how sin still leads us astray.
Next week I want us to do some thinking about how we understand Isaiah in a way that is very different to the original hearers.