I am a big fan of mystery books and shows, including “who-dun-it,” crime sorts of dramas. When the characters go undercover, it seems like an adventure into the unknown. Yet they must do amazing work to keep their true identity hidden.
I feel like Hushai is having to do this very careful “acting out” so as to keep his true allegiance a secret. His job initially is to gain the trust of Absalom. It seems that Absalom has a hard time, at least at first, accepting that Hushai has defected, much like David’s trusted advisor Ahithophel already has.
I know it can be hard to be a “PK” (a pastor’s kid, or in this case the priest’s kids), but these boys were something else! Their abuse of their position was totally out of control. Their behavior clearly demonstrated their lack of respect for the Lord and their disregard for their duties as priests.
They were acting like spoiled brats, wouldn’t you agree? We know from our other readings that priests didn’t have their own land or possessions of value. To me, that means they lived frugally, without wealth or the “comforts” of life. I expected that they needed to rely on the other Israelites for their sustenance.
You can’t read these words and not be touched by some emotion. This is especially true when we let our minds fully imagine how this prophecy played out in Jesus’ final hours. Just as God orchestrated Israel’s fall to Assyria and Judah’s fall to Babylon, he sent his own son to die for us. God’s plan has always been full of purpose and intention. As mere humans, we are not always capable of understanding.
As I read this passage, I also try to envision what those first hearing the words must have thought. It’s easy for us to look back and see how well the descriptions fit with what we know happened. I understand that some of the imagery might bear resemblance to other heroes of the faith, like Ezekiel or Jeremiah. In what ways was this message helpful to those living in captivity?
We see another vision of Judah here that isn’t very pleasant. Unfortunately, we don’t need to look very far to see some of the same things in our current day reality. I have often thought God must be terribly disappointed in his children. There is so much injustice. People seem to have turned away from God. Our faith has been diluted with attempts to be more “inclusive” and accepting of people. Many are consumed with loving themselves and “things” rather than loving God. It was true then, and it is true now.
It’s pretty clear from God’s message that he is furious. “I will take revenge on my enemies.” God sees his enemies as those who have rebelled, turned against him, and become thieves, murderers, and bribe takers. God is also speaking to those who have failed to care for the oppressed, the orphans and widows. This will be a theme we’ll see over and again. God is calling for people to care for and defend those who have a hard time caring for themselves. Then and now, people have broken their commitment to God and turned their affections elsewhere. How about you? Where do your affections lie?
We are going to learn a lot as we journey through Isaiah together. These short verses today are sandwiched between the words of judgment proclaimed by the Lord. This image of being white as snow or wool has always been powerful for me. As I sit here, now living in Mexico, it strikes me it has been a long time since I have seen snow. Most of my Mexican friends have never even seen snow in person, so the power of this verse may not be fully grasped.
I can still vividly remember white knuckle driving on country roads in Iowa during my commute in the winter. This Iowa girl does not miss snow one little bit! But when it comes to this verse, I am taken back to a time when I could be nestled safely inside a warm house, looking out at the vast fields of white, glistening in the sun. That snow was so white it almost hurt your eyes to look at its gleaming. That is the image I think of when I imagine my sins being cleansed by a loving God.