Biblical Interpretation from Someone with no Training in Biblical Interpretation
Did you know that the Gospel is not a new concept? Ok, Christ came around 2000 years ago, so “new” is a relative term. But, did you know that the message of the Gospel actually predates the coming of Jesus? Indeed, some 3000 years ago, Isaiah was preaching a message not unlike that of Paul in his epistles. In truth, all of the prophets likely understood the Gospel message; I even have a passage marked in Deuteronomy, “The Gospel.” It seems that even Moses understood this concept,
See, I set before you today life and prosperity, death and destruction. For I command you today to love the Lord your God, to walk in his ways, and to keep his commands, decrees and laws; then you will live and increase, and the Lord your God will bless you in the land you are entering to possess (Deuteronomy 30:15-16).
This is the same choice people have today; life with the Lord or death. It is not a new concept at all.
Anyway, I am not going to talk about Moses’ Gospel, I’m going to talk about the Gospel as it is presented by Isaiah. The Lord really reaches out through Isaiah, in fact, right away at the beginning of Isaiah’s book, God says,
“Come now, let us reason together,”
Says the Lord.
“Though your sins are like scarlet,
They shall be as white as snow;
Though they are red as crimson,
They shall be like wool.
If you are willing and obedient,
You will eat the best from the land;
But if you resist and rebel,
You will be devoured by the sword.”
For the mouth of the Lord has spoken (Isaiah 1:18-20).
Even from the start, the Lord uses Isaiah to preach the Gospel. Why? Well, God explains it in Ezekiel 18:23, “Do I take any pleasure in the death of the wicked? declares the Sovereign Lord. Rather, am I not pleased when they turn from their ways and live?” The Lord morns every lost soul, as such his Word is filled with pleas for us to come to him.
While I was doing my daily Bible reading, the Holy Spirit lit up Isaiah 27:2-5 (actually, he lit up the whole chapter for a variety of reasons); it reads,
In that day-
“Sing about a fruitful vineyard:
I, the Lord watch over it;
I water it continually,
I guard it day and night
So that no one may harm it.
I am not angry.
If only there were briers and thorns confronting me!
I would march against them in battle;
I would set them all on fire.
Or else let them come to me for refuge;
Let them make peace with me,
Yes, let them make peace with me.
First God talks about the fruitful vineyard, these are God’s people. Jesus helps us understand this concept in Mark 4:20 when he says, “Others, like seed sown on good soil, hear the word, accept it, and produce a crop- thirty, sixty or even a hundred times what was sown.” God’s people are always guarded, even though bad things may happen, our Lord is only a prayer away, waiting to save us from whatever problems life may bring. It’s what comes after this that is especially interesting though, God first says that he is looking for thorns (rebellious folk) to destroy, but then immediately poses another option, “Or…I could make peace with them.” God wants all sinners to come to him; we already looked at the passage in Ezekiel that talks about it. But not only does he want people to not be eternally lost, but our Lord throws a party every time someone repents. Jesus tells us, “I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent” (Luke 15:7). So repentance is a big deal to God.
In Isaiah 26, the Lord reveals one of his most common methods to bring us to repentance: suffering. It reads, “Lord, they came to you in their distress; when you disciplined them, they could barely whisper a prayer” (Isaiah 26:16). The Lord allows those of us who are not followers of Christ yet to suffer in order that when all other hope is gone we turn to God. But suffering that leads to repentance is different from the death of the unsaved. God, through Isaiah, says,
Has the Lord struck her
As he struck down those who struck her?
Has she been killed
As those were killed who killed her? (Isaiah 27:7)
Paul understood this concept too. After laying a guilt trip on the people of Corinth in 1 Corinthians, he writes to them in 2 Corinthians 7:8-10,
Even if I cased you sorrow by my letter, I do not regret it. Though I did regret it- I see that my letter hurt you, but only for a little while- yet now I am happy, not because you were made sorry, but because your sorrow led you to repentance. For you became sorrowful as God intended and so were not harmed in any way by us. Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death.
So if you are in hard times now reach out to God, maybe he’s trying to call you into his arms. Believe in his son Jesus, and understand that Jesus died for your sins. Go with God, you won’t regret it.
“Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me.”
-Jesus (Revelation 3:20)