“Have you not known? Have you not heard? Has it not been told you from the beginning? Have you not understood from the foundations of the earth?” (Isaiah 40:21)
When I went to work today, I forgot my hearing aids at home. I did not know I had forgotten them until I got to work. I spent the first part of the day not hearing much, and not being able to hear what people were telling. And most importantly, I did not understand what was going on around me. In a sense, the prophets were like hearing aids for the Lord God’s ancient called and chosen people. They told the Israelites (and Judahites) what they heard from the Lord in ways that they hoped their audience would understand.
Hearing aids are not perfect, beloved reader. I know that as a person who has expressed increasing loss of hearing. And as one who has to adjust my hearing aids to fit the circumstances. I hear most things well, and still some things poorly. One of the reasons the coming of the Holy Presence was important was that instead of people hearing with their ears, they heard with their hearts. Beloved reader, I hear much better with my heart than with my hearing aids. Not perfectly, but much better.
“It is he who sits above the circle of the earth, and its inhabitants are like grasshoppers; who stretches out the heavens like a curtain, and spreads them like a tent to live in; who brings princes to naught, and makes the rulers of the earth as nothing. Scarcely are they planted, scarcely sown, scarcely has their stem taken root in the earth, when he blows upon them, and they wither, and the tempest carries them off like stubble.” (Verses 22 – 24)
We depend on the prophets, both major & minor, to tell us about the Divine. Sometimes some of the prophets descriptions of the Divine do not match up to what other prophets have said or what our own experience has been. Did they not hear correctly what the Voice of the Lord said? Did the translators not grasp correctly what the prophets said? Are we not hearing properly what the prophets, translators, and commentators are saying? It is hard to discern.
And it seems, beloved readers, just when we have a firm grasp on faith, spirituality, and the nature of the Lord God and the Divine, our time is over. Or at least, I would like to believe that those steeped in faith have this knowledge. Isaiah asks his listeners if they have heard and understood the Divine correctly. And he says Yahweh asks this also.
“To whom then will you compare me, or who is my equal? says the Holy One. Lift up your eyes on high and see: Who created these? He who brings out their host and numbers them, calling them all by name; because he is great in strength, mighty in power, not one is missing. Why do you say, O Jacob, and speak, O Israel, “My way is hidden from the LORD, and my right is disregarded by my God”?” (Verses 25 – 27)
Isaiah’s listeners are the Israelites who find themselves still in Babylon, subject to captivity and worrying that this ordeal will never end. Isaiah reminds them that Divine has not forgotten them and turned his back on them.
I am not sure how long their captivity lasted. The original captives’ lifetime? The lifetime of the generation born into captivity? I do not know. I do know that anytime spent under hostile rule can seem like forever – even if it is only for four years.
“Have you not known? Have you not heard? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable. He gives power to the faint, and strengthens the powerless.” (Verses 28 – 29)
I have found it to be true that when you are having to endure something, the time of endurance stretches out far in front of you. But when you are on the other side and released from that which bound you, the time shrinks in face of the sweetness of relief. And if one is wise and aware, one will realize that something beyond your human earthly experience has gotten you through.
“Even youths will faint and be weary, and the young will fall exhausted; but those who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength, they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.” (Verses 30 – 31)
We started out considering knowing, hearing, being informed, and understanding. We end appreciating the solace and source of these blessings. A last important to remember – this blessing of spiritual and faith knowledge comes not because of our human ability, but because the Divine has gifted us with the heart, spirit, and soul to discern these things. May you, beloved reader, listen carefully to what the Divine Presence has to say and tell you. Shalom & Selah!