Tuesday 15 March 2016

Isaiah 29:4 another favourite Bible Goggles verse

The idea that the Bible is anti-intellectual can be traced to Paul. Paul's only experience with Jesus was dramatic: Paul (then called Saul) thought that Jesus was dead, then Jesus appeared to him and was alive. This changed Paul's life. He decided that Jesus was supernatural. So he went looking for scriptures to support his view. This is the only one scripture he could find:
"For it is written, I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and will bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent." (1 Corinthians 1:19)
This appears to refer to Isaiah 29:
For the wisdom of their wise men shall perish, and the understanding of their prudent men shall be hid. (Isaiah 29:14)
But Paul took it out of context. The complete quotation praises the wise and condemns the foolish:
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: Therefore, behold, I will proceed to do a marvellous work among this people, even a marvellous work and a wonder: for the wisdom of their wise men shall perish , and the understanding of their prudent men shall be hid. (Isaiah 29:14)
Isaiah 29 is about the threat of Assyria invading in 722BC. Political counsellors (wise men) were negotiating with Egypt for protection, but that was short sighted: Egypt would take Israel's freedom in return. Isaiah condemned this (see Isaiah 19:11-17, Isaiah 20:5,6, Isaiah 30:1,2, etc.). Isaiah promised that if the nation instead returned to the land laws of Moses they would be economically strong, and eventually they would be free on their own: (that is the "marvellous work"). So Isaiah was condemning certain politicians, and not wisdom. Indeed, Isaiah himself was a wise and learned man, probably the most learned of the prophets.

The foolish counsellors were condemned: they "have removed their heart far from me." In ancient times the heart was considered the centre of life and of thought. Contrast this with the bowels which were the centre of emotion (Isaiah 16:11; 63:15; Song of Solomon 5:4;etc.) Far from condemning intellectuals, Isaiah condemns people for not thinking clearly.

In short, God is logic. If someone "lacks understanding" they should ask logic (see James 1:5) and they will get answers. Logic is like that: ask and you shall receive. Appeal to logic, and you get answers.

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