Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Isaiah 30:18-21 1
18 Yet the LORD longs to be gracious to you; he rises to show you compassion. For the LORD is a God of justice. Blessed are all who wait for him! 19 O people of Zion, who live in Jerusalem, you will weep no more. How gracious he will be when you cry for help! As soon as he hears, he will answer you. 20 Although the Lord gives you the bread of adversity and the water of affliction, your teachers will be hidden no more; with your own eyes you will see them. 21 Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.”

clip_image062Background 2

Isaiah lived during the late eighth and early seventh centuries B.C., which was a difficult period in the history of Jerusalem. He was part of the upper class but urged care of the downtrodden. At the end, he was loyal to King Hezekiah, but disagreed with the King’s attempts to forge alliances with Egypt and Babylon in response to the Assyrian threat.

Isaiah prophesied during the reigns of four kings — Uzziah (Azariah), Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah. Legend has it that he was martyred during the reign of Manasseh, who came to the throne in 687 B.C. That he is described as having ready access to the kings would suggest an aristocratic origin.

This was the time of the divided kingdom, with Israel in the north and Judah in the south. There was prosperity for both kingdoms during Isaiah’s youth with little foreign interference. Jeroboam II ruled in the north and Uzziah in the south. The small kingdoms of Palestine, as well as Syria, were under the influence of Egypt. However, in 745 B.C., Tiglath-pileser III came to the throne of Assyria. He was interested in Assyrian expansionism, especially to the west. Tiglath-pileser took Samaria and a lot of Galilee in 732. Shalmenezer V (727-722) and then, Sargon II (722-705) attacked Samaria. Samaria fell in 722, this marking the end of the Northern Kingdom of Israel forever, as its population was taken into exile and dispersed amongst Assyrian provinces. It is as a result of this exile that reference is made to Ten Lost Tribes of Israel. Egypt recovered to a degree around the end of the century and Babylon exerted some independence as well. Because of this, Judah and other states rebelled against Assyria, only to have Sennacherib (705-681) invade and capture 46 Judean towns. Isaiah reports that Jerusalem was spared when God miraculously struck down the Assyrian army besieging it.

Biblical Truths 3

Verses 17-20: Adversity is the teacher: Isaiah here gives the reasons for the delay in Yahweh’s intervention. After all He could have destroyed the Assyrians before the siege had reduced the city and its inhabitants to such distress and destruction. But the false teachers and unfaithful were exposed by the distress and their disloyalty was demonstrated which also demonstrated and confirmed the faithfulness of the faithful. They endured even in the face of what looked like certain death. Isaiah promised the deliverance and the result, that is, a revival of trust and in Yahweh and consequent growth of righteousness and prosperity for the city for a long period, that is, most of the lifetime of those who had seen the siege. Incidentally Manasseh was born after this and did not himself experience the miracle. He just heard of it and obviously did not believe.

Verses 21-26 Prosperity: These verses describe the prosperity due to the ones who endure this great trial and remain faithful. What follows for the rest of the chapter is a description of the actual events of the night of the plague that left 185,000 dead Assyrians and caused the departure of the Assyrian armies, never to return again for a generation.

Items for Discussion

  • Is adversity a better teacher than rewards?
  • Why is adversity such a good teacher?
  • Can too much adversity be bad for learning?
    • Discuss the idea of with adversity must come some type of guidance to remove the fear, pain, risk that came with the adversity. It also must be consistent with what one believes in.
  • How are history and adversity tied together?
  • What have you learned from adversity?

 

Matthew 13:1-9; 19-23
1 That same day Jesus went out of the house and sat by the lake. 2 Such large crowds gathered around him that he got into a boat and sat in it, while all the people stood on the shore. 3 Then he told them many things in parables, saying: “A farmer went out to sow his seed. 4 As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up. 5 Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. 6 But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root. 7 Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants. 8 Still other seed fell on good soil, where it produced a crop—a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown. 9 He who has ears, let him hear.” …… 19 When anyone hears the message about the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what was sown in his heart. This is the seed sown along the path. 20 The one who received the seed that fell on rocky places is the man who hears the word and at once receives it with joy. 21 But since he has no root, he lasts only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, he quickly falls away. 22 The one who received the seed that fell among the thorns is the man who hears the word, but the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth choke it, making it unfruitful. 23 But the one who received the seed that fell on good soil is the man who hears the word and understands it. He produces a crop, yielding a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown.”

Background

The Gospel of Matthew (literally: according to Matthew in Greek) is one of the four Gospel accounts of the New Testament. The Gospel accounts are traditionally printed with Matthew first, followed in order by Mark, Luke and John. Although the document is anonymous, the authorship of this Gospel is traditionally ascribed to St. Matthew, a tax collector who became an apostle of Jesus. The early church fathers were unanimous in this view. There is little in the gospel itself to indicate with clarity the date of its composition. Some conservative scholars argue that it was written before the destruction of Jerusalem, probably between the years 60 and 65, in part because the Second Temple’s destruction is believed to be prophesied by Jesus while there is no reference to this event actually being fulfilled.

Biblical Truths 4

Verses 3-9. In parables. The word parable is derived from a Greek word signifying to compare together, and denotes a similitude taken from a natural object to illustrate a spiritual or moral subject. It is a narrative of some fictitious or real event, in order to illustrate more clearly some truth that the speaker wished to communicate. In early ages it was much used. Writers such as Aesop often employed it. In the time of Christ it was in common use. The prophets had used it, and Christ employed it often in teaching his disciples. It is not necessary to suppose that the narratives were strictly true. The main thing–the inculcation of spiritual truth–was gained equally, whether it was true, or was only a supposed case. Nor was there any dishonesty in this. It was well understood. No person was deceived. The speaker was not understood to affirm the thing literally narrated, but only to fix the attention more firmly on the moral truth that he presented. The design of speaking in parables was the following:

  • To convey truth in a more interesting manner to the mind; adding to the truth conveyed the beauty of a lovely image or narrative.
  • To teach spiritual truth so as to arrest the attention of ignorant people, making an appeal to them through the senses.
  • To convey some offensive truth, some pointed personal rebuke, in such a way as to bring it home to the conscience. Of this kind was the parable which Nathan delivered to David, 2 Samuel 12:1-7 and many of our Savior’s parables addressed to the Jews.
  • To conceal from one part of his audience truths which he intended others should understand. Thus Christ often, by this means, delivered truths to his disciples in the presence of the Jews, which he well knew the Jews would not understand; truths pertaining to them particularly, and which he was under no obligations to explain to the Jews. See Mark 4:33; Matthew 13:13-16.
  • Our Savior’s parables are distinguished above all others for clearness, purity, chasteness, intelligibility, importance of instruction, and simplicity. They are taken mostly from the affairs of common life, and intelligible, therefore, to all men. They contain much of himself his doctrine, life, design in coming, and claims; and are therefore of importance to all men; and they are told in a style of native simplicity intelligible to the child, yet instructive to men of every rank and age. In his parables, as in all his instructions, he excelled all men in the purity, importance, and sublimity of Iris doctrine.

Items for Discussion

  • Why are parables so effective for teaching?
  • What are some of the modern day parables that we hear today?
  • How does the use of a parable affect the “beliefs” of those who heard them?
  • If you use this model: beliefs affect thoughts; thoughts affect emotions; emotions affect behavior – why would parables be effective in changing the way people behave?
  • How do you respond to the perfection of Christ’s teachings?

Discussion Challenge

  • How do we keep parables alive for our and the next generation?

Notes:

  1. NIV New International Version Translations
  2. Wikipedia
  3. Wikipedia
  4. Barnes’ Notes
Share