This morning I am giving thanks for God’s word and the many copies of it lying around my house. Not including the digital version I have pulled up on my pc, there are three Bibles scattered around this room, left out from the previous day’s family reading. I am thankful that I do not rely on any man’s interpretation of this Word; I can read and discern God’s word with the help of His Spirit living in me.
This is so fresh on my mind because, just moments ago, I read a tweet from a prominent women’s Bible study author and speaker (I know you’re probably thinking Beth Moore, but it wasn’t her). She paraphrased Isaiah 50:4 this way: “The Sovereign Lord has given me THE capacity…” And she encouraged her followers with these words: “Your divine capacity is always more vast than your natural one. 2day,think bigger”
I think I understand what she means. Namely, that our capacity for _________ is greater if we rely on the God’s capacity. And I suppose we can insert whatever we like in the blank. I think it’s dangerous to use ambiguous language like “divine capacity.” Popular teaching says that we all have within us a spark of divinity, that little piece of godness in all of us to help us achieve our dreams, God’s wonderful plan for each of us. But, when I read Isaiah 50 in its entirety, that meaning is not what I find. Read it for yourself.
Isaiah 50, ESV
Thus says the Lord; ‘Where is your mother’s certificate of divorce, with which I sent her away? Or which of my creditors is it to whom I have sold you? Behold, for your iniquities you were sold, and for your transgressions your mother was sent away. Why, when I came, was there no man; why, when I called, was there no one to answer? Is my hand shortened, that it cannot redeem? Or have I no power to deliver? Behold, by my rebuke I dry up the sea, I make the rivers a desert; their fish stink for lack of water and die of thirst. I clothe the heavens with blackness and make sackcloth their covering.’
The Lord has given me the tongue of those who are taught, that I may know how to sustain with a word him who is weary. Morning by morning he awakens; he awakens my ear to hear as those who are taught. The Lord God has opened my ear, and I was not rebellious; I turned not backward. I gave my back to those who strike, and my cheeks to those who pull out the beard; I hid not my face from disgrace and spitting.
But the Lord God helps me; therefore I have not been disgraced; therefore I have set my face like a flint, and I know that I shall not be put to shame. He who vindicates me is near. Who will contend with me? Let us stand up together. Who is my adversary? Let him come near to me. Behold, the Lord God helps me; who will declare me guilty? Behold, all of them will wear out like a garment; the moth will eat them up.
Who among you fears the Lord and obeys the voice of his servant? Let him who walks in darkness and has no light trust in the name of the Lord and rely on his God. Behold, all you who kindle a fire, who equip yourselves with burning torches! Walk by the light of your fire, and by the torches that you have kindled! This you have from my hand; you shall lie down in torment.
What I see in this passage is not a self-help mantra about our divine capacity. I see a description of a people in debt, sold into slavery, lost in darkness and sin, a people in need of a redeemer and rescuer, in need of light.
Verse 4 begins the description of that man — Jesus — the obedient servant, who answered God’s call in verse 2. God gave him a tongue of instruction, words to sustain the weary. He hears and responds to God’s word. He was not rebellious, he did not turn back from having his back beaten, his beard pulled out, his face disgraced and spat upon. The Lord is his help and will vindicate him, Isaiah says. (And the Lord was his help and did vindicate him when he raised him with his mighty power from the grave. And he will have his vindication again on the last day.)
Verse 10, God says to those who fear the Lord and obey the voice of his servant to “trust in the name of the Lord and rely on his God.” To those who do not, those who “kindle a fire, who equip [themselves] with burning torches” (who rely on their own divine capacity, perhaps?), he says, “You shall lie down in torment.”
Here on the blog, I don’t usually take issue with stuff like this. But this particular one crossed a line for me in belittling Jesus, the Gospel, and the call for His followers to lay down their lives and deny themselves for His glory.
I was up at 3:30 this morning. As I was reading my Bible, I had an overwhelming urge to pray for Sayed Musso and Asia Bibi. Both are in prison and facing death sentences in the coming days if the Lord does not change the minds of those who have power over their physical lives. Are they not thinking big enough? Are they not accessing their divine capacity?
When I read innane spiritual tripe, such as the contents of that tweet, I think of suffering christians and my Savior who suffered for me, and I can’t not write something about it.