The Danger in Chirps and Mutters

Do not call conspiracy
all that this people call conspiracy;
and do not fear what they fear
nor be in dread.
But the Lord of hosts,
him shall you regard as holy;
let him be your fear,
let him be your dread.

(Isaiah 8:12-13)

 

And when they say to you, "Consult the mediums
and wizards who chirp and mutter,"
should not a people consult their God?
Should they consult the dead on behalf of the living?
Surely for this word which they speak,
there is no dawn.

(Isaiah 8:19-20)

In the first part of this series, I traced the uncanny resemblance between eighth-century Judah and the contemporary United States. People then as now were filled with fear because of ominous threats from other nations, deteriorating economies, and unstable social and cultural institutions. The reaction of Ahaz, king of Judah, to these insecurities portended our reaction 2,600 years later - placing our ultimate trust in military power. In a tumultuous and terrifying political situation, Isaiah the prophet inveighed against the foolish policies of Ahaz and entreated him and his people to find true security in the promise of Immanuel - God is with us.

But nobody paid attention to the prophet. Isaiah, confident of Yahweh's power to save Judah, couldn't find anyone who cared about Immanuel. In the eighth chapter, Isaiah stands alone, his prophetic counsel ignored. He sees the impending violence and collapse of Judah; he feels the unrelieved suffering of the poor, and anticipates the wailing despair of people who too late will realize that militarism is a false idol that cannot guarantee their security.

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