Teenagers—gotta love ‘em! As our parents loved us through the taunting teen years, we also love our kids and grandkids through these often exasperating years of growing and maturing. Some grow up. Some get older chronologically but stay the same with the same attitudes of “knowing it all” without caring for learning more. We try to tell those in the teen years that we are on their side with how much we love and care for them—even as they mock every word we say and every action we take. We tell them, “There is nothing you can do that will make us stop loving you” and sometimes they/we take that on as a challenge. Those with teen faith tell us who believe in God that we are fools to trust in Someone we cannot see or touch. Teen years. Somehow most do grow up and make it to be contributing adults to society as believers.
Yesterday we talked of Toddler Faith that is a very immature faith, a faith that solely depends of others to help them through life. It seems the next stage of faith can be like the behaviors of those in the teen years of maturing and growing. How exasperated do we make God in our behaviors through our “teenage faith” years? I cringe at the thought and repent once more!
Isaiah is describing the people of the world in his day as those stuck in the teen years of turning from God with blinded eyes and deaf ears. (So much like teens, right?) So, I think we can all relate to this passage, see ourselves and well, repent of not listening and learning as we should. Life is not all about us. Life comes for the Source of all Life. Eternal Life is a gift for all who believe—even when mocked and made a fool by worldview thinking that comes from God’s enemy. The real fools are those who do not believe and turn from the Father, God, who created them.
The Good News is that God knew we would go through the “teenage phase of growing faith” after the Toddler years. He provided help and a plan. That Plan was Jesus who took our place for the punishment we should have had for our foolish behaviors of sin. Test your faith but do not test God, the Father. Grow up, mature, leave the fools and foolishness of the world behind. Abide in Jesus and He will abide in you. Listen to the Holy Spirit who was given as a gift to guide us into wisdom, insight and understanding of who God is and what He does in and for us.
Isaiah 29, The Message
Blind Yourselves So That You See Nothing
1-4 Doom, Ariel, Ariel,
the city where David set camp!
Let the years add up,
let the festivals run their cycles,
But I’m not letting up on Jerusalem.
The moaning and groaning will continue.
Jerusalem to me is an Ariel.
Like David, I’ll set up camp against you.
I’ll set siege, build towers,
bring in siege engines, build siege ramps.
Driven into the ground, you’ll speak,
you’ll mumble words from the dirt—
Your voice from the ground, like the muttering of a ghost.
Your speech will whisper from the dust.
5-8 But it will be your enemies who are beaten to dust,
the mob of tyrants who will be blown away like chaff.
Because, surprise, as if out of nowhere,
a visit from God-of-the-Angel-Armies,
With thunderclaps, earthquakes, and earsplitting noise,
backed up by hurricanes, tornadoes, and lightning strikes,
And the mob of enemies at war with Ariel,
all who trouble and hassle and torment her,
will turn out to be a bad dream, a nightmare.
Like a hungry man dreaming he’s eating steak
and wakes up hungry as ever,
Like a thirsty woman dreaming she’s drinking iced tea
and wakes up thirsty as ever,
So that mob of nations at war against Mount Zion
will wake up and find they haven’t shot an arrow,
haven’t killed a single soul.
9-10 Drug yourselves so you feel nothing.
Blind yourselves so you see nothing.
Get drunk, but not on wine.
Black out, but not from whiskey.
For God has rocked you into a deep, deep sleep,
put the discerning prophets to sleep,
put the farsighted seers to sleep.
You Have Everything Backward
11-12 What you’ve been shown here is somewhat like a letter in a sealed envelope. If you give it to someone who can read and tell her, “Read this,” she’ll say, “I can’t. The envelope is sealed.” And if you give it to someone who can’t read and tell him, “Read this,” he’ll say, “I can’t read.”
* * *
13-14 The Master said:
“These people make a big show of saying the right thing,
but their hearts aren’t in it.
Because they act like they’re worshiping me
but don’t mean it,
I’m going to step in and shock them awake,
astonish them, stand them on their ears.
The wise ones who had it all figured out
will be exposed as fools.
The smart people who thought they knew everything
will turn out to know nothing.”
15-16 Doom to you! You pretend to have the inside track.
You shut God out and work behind the scenes,
Plotting the future as if you knew everything,
acting mysterious, never showing your hand.
You have everything backward!
You treat the potter as a lump of clay.
Does a book say to its author,
“He didn’t write a word of me”?
Does a meal say to the woman who cooked it,
“She had nothing to do with this”?
17-21 And then before you know it,
and without you having anything to do with it,
Wasted Lebanon will be transformed into lush gardens,
and Mount Carmel reforested.
At that time the deaf will hear
word-for-word what’s been written.
After a lifetime in the dark,
the blind will see.
The castoffs of society will be laughing and dancing in God,
the down-and-outs shouting praise to The Holy of Israel.
For there’ll be no more gangs on the street.
Cynical scoffers will be an extinct species.
Those who never missed a chance to hurt or demean
will never be heard of again:
Gone the people who corrupted the courts,
gone the people who cheated the poor,
gone the people who victimized the innocent.
22-24 And finally this, God’s Message for the family of Jacob,
the same God who redeemed Abraham:
“No longer will Jacob hang his head in shame,
no longer grow gaunt and pale with waiting.
For he’s going to see his children,
my personal gift to him—lots of children.
And these children will honor me
by living holy lives.
In holy worship they’ll honor the Holy One of Jacob
and stand in holy awe of the God of Israel.
Those who got off-track will get back on-track,
and complainers and whiners will learn gratitude.”
WHAT DO WE LEARN—HOW DO WE RESPOND?
Grow with what you know…
“So let us stop going over the basic teachings about Christ again and again. Let us go on instead and become mature in our understanding. Surely we don’t need to start again with the fundamental importance of repenting from evil deeds[a] and placing our faith in God. You don’t need further instruction about baptisms, the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment. And so, God willing, we will move forward to further understanding.” Hebrews 6:1-3, NLT
The people of Jerusalem were ignorant of what was going on. Their hearts were far from God. They were going through the outward forms of worship and faithfully keeping the annual festivals, but this was not a true worship of God. Going to the temple was popular, but most of the people did not take their worship seriously. Therefore, God sent a spiritual blindness and stupor on His people so that they could not understand their own law. Such blindness persists today. If people will not accept the truth, then they must become more and more blind and accept lies. (See John 9:39–41; 2 Thess. 2:1–12.) They are stuck in the teen years of stagnating faith.
This “woe” exposed the devious political tactics of the rulers of Judah, who thought that God would not hold them accountable for what they were doing. They were trying to turn things upside down, like the clay telling the Potter what to do. If only people would seek the counsel of the Lord instead of depending on their own wisdom and fragile human promises!
Isaiah asked the people to look ahead and consider what God had planned for them. In their political strategy, they had turned things upside down, but God would one day turn everything around by establishing His glorious kingdom on earth. The devastated land would become a paradise, the disabled would be healed, and the outcasts would be enriched and rejoice in the Lord.
Grow up and believe in the One who loves us most! Listen, learn and grow in His grace.
Thank you for consistently challenging me to grow up! I repent of thinking I can do life without your help. That is foolish! I repent of not listening to your Spirit speak words of wisdom to me when I need it most. Thank you for your patience with me as I grow in your love. Thank you for loving me like you do. Help me to love others like you love me, always pointing the Way to you, the Truth, who gives Life eternal.
In Jesus Name, For Your Glory, Amen.