Haftarah Reflections 1
Torah portion Genesis 1 : 1 – 6 : 8
Haftarah portion Isaiah 42 : 5 – 43 : 10
Listen to the Prophets
“Thus says God the LORD, who created the heavens and stretched them out, Who spread forth the earth and that which comes from it, Who gives breath to the people on it, and spirit to those who walk on it”
So begins our Haftarah parashah today. The beginning of a new reading cycle. What a stirring message God entrusted to the faithful Isaiah. (It has been noted that Isaiah has 66 chapters, and our Bible has 66 Books. The Hebrew Scriptures contain 39 Books, and the first 39 chapters of Isaiah contain warnings and pleading for the Israelites of the Kingdom of Judea to return to the path God had set before them. The Apostolic Scriptures contain 27 Books, and the last 27 chapters of Isaiah’ prophecy provide words of encouragement and comfort, the salvation message. So Isaiah’s prophecy is seen as a representation of both the Hebrew and the Apostolic Scriptures).
The weekly Haftarah portion always bears some relationship to the corresponding Torah portion, which this week is the creation story. When God created “man”, His purpose was to have loving fellowship with, and worshipful praise from, His created beings. He declared that what He had created was “very good”’. The comparisons we see between the creation story, and our Isaiah passage, indicate that what turned out to be a failure on the part of ‘man’, recorded in Genesis, will eventually be restored and put right as outlined in our prophetic passage from Isaiah today.
So this Haftarah message gets right down to business. Speaking to and of Israel, Isaiah declares:-
“I the LORD have called you in righteousness and will hold your hand. I will keep you and give you as a covenant to the people, as a light to the Gentiles ..”
There is so much to ‘reflect upon’. PLEASE read this passage for yourself. You WILL be blessed, and if you are anything like me, you will be challenged too.
“Sing to the LORD a new song, and His praise from the ends of the earth” … says verse 10
How about this as a suggestion for a new song!!
Isaiah 25:1 “ O LORD, You are my God. I will exalt You, I will praise Your name, for You have done wonderful things; Your counsels of old are faithfulness and truth.”
Most of us are not very good at singing ‘new’ songs to the LORD are we? And yet that seems to be the very sound that God loves to hear from those who are His. Next time you meet with the Lord in prayer, surprise Him ! sing Him this new song.
Our parashah looks forward to the time when Israel is restored to sweet fellowship with the LORD. It is very much a love letter from God to the people whom Isaiah has been warning because of their neglect of Torah. They had been living without proper acknowledgement of the covenant which was made by and with their forefathers in Moses time.
Further comment from me seems superfluous. Just ponder some of the awesome things God revealed to Isaiah, for those ancient people, and marvel at the relevance of those words to us today.
42:16 “I will bring the blind by a way they did not know; I will lead them in paths they have not known. I will make darkness light before them. And crooked places straight. These things I will do for them, and not forsake them.”
42:20 “Seeing many things, but you do not observe: opening the ears, but he does not listen.”
43:1-3 “Fear not, for I have redeemed you, I have called you by your name, you are Mine. When you walk through the waters, I will be with you; And through the rivers, they shall not overflow you, when you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned, nor shall the flame scorch you. For I am the LORD your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Saviour.”
We know that in the end, Isaiah’s words were not heeded. So the Lord allowed them to go into Babylonian captivity for seventy years. Some, never to return.
How relevant are the words of Isaiah to us today? We have a choice to make.