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Isaiah 29 - Part 1

Okay.  Fasten your seatbelts.  I'm going to challenge you to think differently than you've thought before about Isaiah.  Chapter 29, for anyone LDS who attended seminary and/or institute, is about the coming forth of the Book of Mormon.  And yes, it truly is.  But it's so much more than that.  Which is why I LOVE Isaiah.  He's not just speaking literally, but the Lord has also put layers upon layers into these words - they were first physical and now have become spiritual (that which is first shall be last and that which is last shall be first...).  The Old Testament is literal in the physical creation for the time period of the people who were living when it was written.  But the beautiful thing about the Old Testament is that it is literal for the inward parts for those of us who are living now.  It was about the physical creation and now it is about the spiritual creation.  It's the chiasmus of the earth and it is all mirrored so beautifully. 

Anyhow.  That will have to be another conversation.

Isaiah 29.  On the literal level, it is the coming forth of the Book of Mormon.  On the symbolic level, it is the coming forth of you.  We won't get through the entire chapter on this post - there is too much to explain to make the post a readable length and get all the information into it that is necessary.  I'll try to be succinct though...who am I kidding?!  Anyone who knows me knows I am as long-winded as the Snowflake springtime.  But I will try to keep it all relevant.

In 2009, I was walking down the sidewalk with someone I considered to be a very dear and close friend.  She said to me, in the midst of our conversation, "Tara, you really don't like yourself very much, do you?"  Blindsided, I immediately rejected her words - I had such a huge ego problem and couldn't begin to imagine where she could see that I didn't like myself.  I was so full of myself it was disgusting.

Usually I just ignored things people said that didn't agree with my view of what was happening internally.  But I couldn't let this go.  Something was nagging at me and I had to know what she meant.  So I called her the next morning and asked her what she meant by what she said.  She asked me if I was ready to listen.  (Again with the ego!  I was bristling inside as this little girl, who was a few months shy of being a decade younger than me, felt like she was trying to put me in my place.  It was ever challenging to be friends with this girl because it seemed like daily I was forced to swallow my pride and let her treat me this way in order to stay obedient to the Spirit...such a challenge!)

Sorry.  I'm off-track again.

She asked me if I was ready to listen.  (Grrr.)  I said I was.  She told me something to the effect that I liked parts of me, but I didn't like all of me.

Well.

Yup.

What else can I say about that?  There was a lot about me that I didn't like.

She went on to say other things that I don't really remember, except for one more thing.  She said something about how Heavenly Father wants all of me.  Not just the good parts of me.

As I went to work that evening, I pondered on the words that were coming into my mind.  I couldn't remember it all completely, but the words which kept running around in my head were "Inasmuch as this people draw near to me with their mouth, but have removed their hearts far from me..."  Around and around it played in my mind.

It was late at night and as I drove I saw, in my mind's eye, myself opening my CD case to a random spot and taking out the top, right-hand CD and putting it in the stereo.  I thought, "Well, it couldn't hurt."  So I did exactly as I had seen myself do in my mind's eye.

The first track on that CD was Isaiah 29.  And when I heard verse 13 start, I nearly let go of the wheel of my truck in utter shock.  There it was.  The very words which had been playing around in my head.  For the rest of that 9-hour drive I listened to Isaiah 29 on repeat.  Over and over and over again those words played.  And as they did, my understanding grew a little more each time.

Really quickly, for those of you who do not know what a chiasmus is or are unclear, let's be clear.  The word chiasmus derives from the Greek letter chi (X) which symbolizes the top-to-bottom mirror image reflection achieved by elements of text.  So when we say that Isaiah wrote in chiasmus, the middle of the chiasmus is the point, or the thesis.  The verses extending from that middle all mirror each other.  Along with writing in chiasmus, Isaiah was also master of stating the same thing two or three times in different words to make certain you understand what he is trying to say.  So you have mini chiasms in the verses as well as one huge chiasmus in all 66 chapters and then several smaller chiasms that sometimes fit one chapter but more often than not are a few chapters together.

All of that info feels important for you to be able to follow me as I continue on this journey.

In Isaiah 29:13 we read, "Wherefore the Lord said, Forasmuch as this people draw near me with their mouth, and with their lips do honour me, but have removed their heart far from me, and their fear toward me is taught by the precept of men..."

For the first time in my life, I considered that the Lord was speaking about me, personally, rather than some random person who maybe didn't have the gospel.  I couldn't see how the first part of the verse was connected with me, but the last part was suddenly opened to my mind.

"...their fear toward me is taught be the precept of men..."

In Hebrew, the word used in this verse is  יִרְאָה - a word which is more correctly interpreted meaning awe, reverence, honor, and respect.  So our awe and honor to God is taught by the precepts of men.

And suddenly I could see the whole verse.  I did speak with my Father in Heaven, every single day.  I drew near to Him with my mouth.  I gave Him honor with my lips.  I meant every word of it.  But there was a lot I didn't say to Him...a lot I felt like I couldn't say to Him.  It seemed to me that this verse was telling me to really open my heart to God - ALL of my heart - not just the good and lovely and grateful and meek.  But the other parts of me too.

This went against everything in me.  It was wrong.  It was not respectful.  As a child, if I spoke in a tone that was rude or disrespectful, I got hit.  It hurt.  And my parents weren't as powerful as God.  What could He do to me if I stepped a toe out of line?!  No.  Nuh-uh.  No way.  Not even thinking about saying to Him all of those things that I shouldn't even be feeling or thinking.  Nope. 

But as I listened to the chapter over and over again, it entered into my heart.  And I believed Isaiah.  I believed what he shared and I tried him on it.  I told the Lord that if I was misunderstanding Isaiah, He couldn't punish me for that because I was only doing what I understood Isaiah was telling me was essential for my eternal salvation.

I started.  

In the next post we will go over every (or almost every) verse in chapter 29 and talk about what they mean. 

 

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