Saturday, June 9, 2012

Running from the Trinity into the Land of Slavery

In Isaiah 30:1-14 we see a rejection by the people of the one true God in three Persons, the Trinity, in sinful preference for the land of slavery, Egypt. May we be warned!

The people grieve the Spirit, and so reject the Father: “‘Woe to the rebellious children,’ declares the LORD, ‘Who execute a plan, but not Mine, and make an alliance, but not of My Spirit, in order to add sin to sin; who proceed down to Egypt without consulting Me, to take refuge in the safety of Pharaoh and to seek shelter in the shadow of Egypt! Therefore the safety of Pharaoh will be your shame and the shelter in the shadow of Egypt, your humiliation. For their princes are at Zoan and their ambassadors arrive at Hanes. Everyone will be ashamed because of a people who cannot profit them, who are not for help or profit, but for shame and also for reproach’” (Isaiah 30:1-5). Isaiah reveals a great pneumatology (theology of the Holy Spirit) to us (11:2; 32:15; 34:16; 40:13; 42:1; 44:3; 48:16; 59:21; 61:1; 63:10,11,14). One of these verses in particular is important for our Trinitarian consideration of 30:1-5.

“I shall make mention of the lovingkindnesses of the LORD, the praises of the LORD, according to all that the LORD has granted us, and the great goodness toward the house of Israel, which He has granted them according to His compassion and according to the abundance of His lovingkindnesses. For He said, ‘Surely, they are My people, sons who will not deal falsely.’ So He became their Savior. In all their affliction He was afflicted, and the angel of His presence saved them; in His love and in His mercy He redeemed them, and He lifted them and carried them all the days of old. But they rebelled and grieved His Holy Spirit; therefore He turned Himself to become their enemy, He fought against them. Then His people remembered the days of old, of Moses. Where is He who brought them up out of the sea with the shepherds of His flock? Where is He who put His Holy Spirit in the midst of them, Who caused His glorious arm to go at the right hand of Moses, Who divided the waters before them to make for Himself an everlasting name, who led them through the depths? Like the horse in the wilderness, they did not stumble; as the cattle which go down into the valley, the Spirit of the LORD gave them rest. So You led Your people, to make for Yourself a glorious name. Look down from heaven and see from Your holy and glorious habitation; where are Your zeal and Your mighty deeds? The stirrings of Your heart and Your compassion are restrained toward me. For You are our Father, though Abraham does not know us and Israel does not recognize us. You, O LORD, are our Father, our Redeemer from of old is Your name” (63:1-16).

When the sons of Israel were faithless toward the LORD in the Exodus, it was the Person of the Holy Spirit Whom they were rejecting. When, during the pressures of the Babylonian Empire upon Judah, the peoples sought first alliance then escape to Egypt, the LORD similarly described it as a rejection of the Person of the Holy Spirit. In the Exodus and in the destruction of Jerusalem by Babylon, the people showed a trust in the land of slavery (Egypt) as opposed to the Holy Spirit Who was the LORD’s presence and salvation to them. Paul also will take this theme and use it as a warning to the Ephesians: “Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by Whom you were sealed for the day of redemption” (Ephesians 4:30). Remember that the events of the Exodus occurred to be a warning to the Church in the new covenant (Romans 15:4; 1 Corinthians 10:1-14). The rejection of the Person of the Holy Spirit (and therefore the LORD Who is God the Father) is not the only faithlessness to the Trinity displayed in Isaiah 30. The prophet goes on to reveal a rejection of the Person of the Son (Who is also called the Word) by the people.

The people reject the Word (the Son), and so reject the Father: “The oracle concerning the beasts of the Negev. Through a land of distress and anguish, from where come lioness and lion, viper and flying serpent, they carry their riches on the backs of young donkeys and their treasures on camels’ humps, to a people who cannot profit them; even Egypt, whose help is vain and empty. Therefore, I have called her ‘Rahab who has been exterminated.’ Now go, write it on a tablet before them and inscribe it on a scroll, that it may serve in the time to come as a witness forever. For this is a rebellious people, false sons, sons who refuse to listen to the instruction of the LORD; who say to the seers, ‘You must not see visions’; And to the prophets, ‘You must not prophesy to us what is right, speak to us pleasant words, prophesy illusions. Get out of the way, turn aside from the path, let us hear no more about the Holy One of Israel.’ Therefore thus says the Holy One of Israel, ‘Since you have rejected this Word and have put your trust in oppression and guile, and have relied on them, therefore this iniquity will be to you like a breach about to fall, a bulge in a high wall, whose collapse comes suddenly in an instant, whose collapse is like the smashing of a potter’s jar, so ruthlessly shattered that a sherd will not be found among its pieces to take fire from a hearth or to scoop water from a cistern’” (Isaiah 30:6-14).

God the Son is the Word (John 1:1-3; 1 John 1:1,2; Hebrew 1:2,3; Revelation 19:13). In our passage in Isaiah, the inability of the people to hear, understand, or receive the spoken and written Word of the Father is a rejection of the Person of the Son. To reject the Son is to reject the Father (John 8:28; 12:49,50; 14:10).

May we learn, then, the lesson of these former generations, who chose against Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, the one true God Who is three Persons, by fleeing to the land of slavery when difficulties arose against the people of God. Remember that these difficulties arise to convict and correct the people of their idolatry, their preference for the gods of their own hands (career, desires, hobbies, entertainments, ungodly relationships, etc.) – gods who are made in their own image in rejection of the Trinity Who calls us to holiness in Himself. Hold to the Trinity, beloved Church!

No comments: