He works his work, I mine. There lies the port; the vessel puffs her sail: There gloom the dark, broad seas. The lights begin to twinkle from the rocks: The long day wanes: the slow moon climbs: the deep Moans round with many voices. Push off, and sitting well in order smite The sounding furrows; for my purpose holds To sail beyond the sunset, and the baths Of all the western stars, until I die.
It may be that the gulfs will wash us down: It may be we shall touch the Happy Isles, And see the great Achilles, whom we knew. By Elodie. He makes the same statement of their military prowess and the idols: there seemingly is no end to which the people do not go. The prophet ridicules the idols, crafted by their own hands and then worshiped as gods Is. God abhors human pride and self-reliance.
In chapter 39, King Hezekiah comes under the judgment of God because he took it upon himself to show off the temple treasury to the emissaries from distant Babylon. In Is.
The need for loans, with the consequent perils of slavery…, foreclosure and ultimately debt slavery, were the means whereby this could be pursued legally but, in the opinion of the prophets, unjustly. As the people of God, they were called to be different from the surrounding and competing cultures. Babylon would be brought down Is. In our day, we see exploitation of entire nations by their own leaders, as in Myanmar, disaster brought on by the negligence of foreign corporations, as in the Bhopal disaster in India, and the defrauding of investors by individuals like Bernie Madoff.
Just as significantly, we see — and engage in — seemingly minor injustices such as unfair compensation, excessive workloads, oppressive contract terms and conditions, cheating on exams, and looking the other way when abuse occurs at home, at work, in church and on the street, God will ultimately judge those who gain wealth or preserve their jobs or privileges by exploiting the poor and marginalized. Craig C.
Broyles and Craig A. Evans Leiden: Brill, , In contrast to the arrogant pride and self-sufficiency that will bring us down or the exploitation of the poor in order to gain wealth, a fourth theme in Isaiah is that, as we put our trust in the one true God, we will live in peace and prosperity. The people of God rejoice at the time of harvest Is. Because of the stress of the impending invasion by Sennacherib, the land had lain dormant.
God promised food from it even though it was not farmed. But for a people to enjoy the fruit of the vine, years of peace are required to carry out proper cultivation. Peaceful conditions are a blessing from God. In the vision of the new Zion in Is. Similarly, in the depiction of the new heavens and the new earth where the former things will be forgotten in the new creation, the people of God will no longer be oppressed but will build their own houses, drink their own wine, and eat their own food Is.
In the Old Testament, farming was the major occupation of the majority of the people. Thus many examples in the Bible are drawn from agrarian life and expectations. But the larger principle is that God calls us, regardless of our vocation, to trust him in our work as well as in the more apparently religious aspects of our lives. This happens when we compartmentalize our work as a secular affair that seems to have nothing to do with the kingdom of God.
Of course, in a fallen world, living faithfully does not always result in prosperity.
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But work done apart from faith can lead to even worse outcomes than material poverty. More than any other writing prophet, Isaiah takes us repeatedly to a vision of God that, once grasped, will cause us to bow low in humble adoration. God is the source of all that we are, all that we have and all that we know. Now Isaiah shows us the God who is the source of that knowledge and wisdom, and why our understanding of who God is matters in our life and work. The God who made us and gave us understanding is the only source of such knowledge:. Who has measured the waters in the hollow of his hand and marked off the heavens with a span, enclosed the dust of the earth in a measure, and weighed the mountains in scales and the hills in a balance?
See, he takes up the isles like fine dust. Lebanon would not provide fuel enough, nor are its animals enough for a burnt offering. All the nations are as nothing before him; they are accounted by him as less than nothing and emptiness. To whom then will you liken God, or what likeness compare with him?
Once we recognize God as the source of our life, our knowledge and our wisdom, it gives us a new perspective on our work. The very fact that we have the knowledge or the skill to do the work we do takes us back to our source, God, who created us with the skill sets and interests that come together in our lives. Recognizing this also allows us to learn from others to whom God has given complementary knowledge or skill. When we experience God at work in us, our work becomes fruitful. Righteousness and justice are accomplished by the servant.
Righteousness is something to be received rather than attained. This prompts to ask about our own roles.
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Sometimes we have the opportunity to make our workplaces more just, more compassionate, more oriented toward making the world a better place. Conversely, at other times, it is difficult to do our work as God intends. Individuals or systems in our workplaces may resist the way God is leading us. Our own sin and shortcomings may short-circuit any good we might have accomplished.
Even our best efforts may not seem to make much difference. The two portraits of righteousness presented in Isaiah and are pursued to give us a nuanced understanding of righteousness in Isaiah It is in this portion of Isaiah that some of the clearer portraits of a theology of work are offered.
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The language of Is. In this passage, the created possibility for the people of God to do righteousness is found in the last clauses of Is. This is the only means by which talk of human responsibility or righteous actions can occur. It is in the security of the forgiveness of God found in Jesus Christ that the impetus for good works materializes. A claim is made on the people of God because of the prior forgiveness of our sins in the person and work of Jesus Christ.
Isaiah carefully constructs his description of the servant to make it clear that he is a reflection of God himself. So marred was his appearance, beyond human semblance, and his form beyond that of mortals…. He was despised and rejected by others; a man of suffering and acquainted with infirmity; and as one from whom others hide their faces he was despised, and we held him of no account…. But he was wounded for our transgressions, crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the punishment that made us whole, and by his bruises we are healed…. Yet he did not open his mouth; like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent.
Jesus, in his death and resurrection, met a need we could not meet. Truth is lacking, and whoever turns from evil is despoiled. The Lord saw it, and it displeased him that there was no justice. As servants of the Servant of the Lord, we are called to meet unmet needs. In the workplace, this may have many faces: concern for a downtrodden employee or co-worker, alertness to the integrity of a product being sold to consumers, eschewing process shortcuts that would deprive people of their input, even rejecting hoarding in times of scarcity.
As servants of the Servant of the Lord, we may not receive the acclaim we desire. Rewards may be deferred. But we know that God is our Judge. For a fuller treatment of this issue as it relates to the final form of the book as a whole, see John N. Broyles and C. On the development of the servant in the literary presentation of Isaiah , see Christopher R.
It is not now so much the fear of impending doom which compels righteousness, as it is the recognition that God is going to mercifully and righteously keep his covenant promises. We should be righteous, the writer says, because of the righteousness of God. Even if such a list has to do initially with the particular problems associated with the release from exilic bondage, the figural extension of these problems into other spheres of human conduct is not only legitimate, but necessary. See Christopher R. Work, and the fruits of work, are included in this hope.
By chapter 40 , as the book moves from telling the truth about the present to telling the truth about the future, the sense of hope increases. In chapters , this hope is finally expressed in full. God will gather his people together again Is.
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Chapters are rich with vivid portraits of the perfect kingdom of God. In fact, a large fraction of New Testament imagery and theology are drawn from these chapters in Isaiah.
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The final chapters of the New Testament Revelation 21 and 22 are, in essence, a recapitulation of Isaiah in Christian terms. It may be surprising to some how much of Isaiah is related to work and the outcomes of work.
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The things people work for in life come to complete fruition at last, including:. All these things have eluded Israel in their faithlessness to God. Indeed, the harder they tried to achieve them, the less the cared to worship God or follow his ways. The result was to lack them even more.
When all is made right and the heavens and earth are as they were originally intended, work will not cease.