“Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image…And again: Thou shalt not bow down thyself unto them, nor serve them; for I the Lord thy God am a jealous God.” (Mosiah 13:12-13)
The Lord is jealous and with good reason. Our very breath each day is a gift. He created us and gave us everything we have and all he asks is that we love him and obey him. But insert the Natural Man with all his worldy inclinations and graven images...decorating magazines, sewing machines, computers, books, food (strictly speaking of myself here, feel free to insert your own dieties). We forget the Lord way too easily and on a daily basis. Fortunately he is a loving and merciful God. He recognizes that we will fall short. "For all this his anger is not turned away, but his hand is stretched out still” (Isaiah 9:12), meaning that he will not deter the consequences, but will stretch forth his hand and wait for us to take hold so that he can guide us back to the path or pull us out of the deep pit we have dug. Sometimes, however, our focus is so blurred or the pit is too deep that we don’t see his stretched out hand, so he uses other means of recalling us to our sense of duty.
“And I will turn my hand upon thee, and purely purge away they dross, and take away all thy tin” (Isaiah 1:25). The reference to turn is ‘return, or repeatedly chastise’.
Chastise: To correct by punishing; to punish; to inflict pain by stripes, or in other manner, for the purpose of punishing an offender and recalling him to his duty. To correct; to purify by expunging faults.
Sometimes it is painful to be recalled back to our duties. It’s embarrassing and humiliating. I was humiliated when I read that article on the second commandment. I hadn’t realized how engrossed I was until it was so blatantly pointed out to me. Being chastised is not pleasant. But the Lord doesn’t do it to be unkind. He is expunging our faults and trying to perfect and purify us.
In my first Isaiah post I spoke of having ingrown toenails. On one of them I had to cut off the side of the nail, all the way down to the root (sorry for those with queasy stomachs!). It grossed me out to do and it really hurt! But taking out the offending part of the toenail that was digging into the flesh and making the wound fester was the only thing that would give it a chance to heal. It still didn’t heal of its own accord after that, I had to keep applying alcohol and every time I did so, it stung. It was a very unpleasant experience to say the least. But within a couple of weeks the infection was gone. It still didn’t look so pretty, but over time it has healed and now you can’t even tell I had one. A couple of years later I got another ingrown toenail. This time at the first sign of it I began applying alcohol right away. It never got to the point of my previous one; this time it was gone within a few days.
I still love to decorate my house. I still get carried away. I still need to apply the alcohol now and then. Decorating my house wasn’t a sin. The sin came in the form of putting that before my other duties. I have received my share of chastisement, but with chastisement comes change and healing. I welcome it because it does two things. First, every time it happens a little bit of dross is purged out of me and I am a better person for it and second, I feel the intense love of my Savior as I am “encircled about eternally in the arms of his love.” (2 Nephi 1:15).
Well, I hope you have enjoyed our Isaiah study so far. As you can see I didn’t try to decipher every verse, my intent is to immerse myself in the beauty of Isaiah’s language looking for little gems that I can apply to my life. My knowledge isn’t perfect, but with each chapter I study, my soul and mind are expanding and I am finding the sweetness in his words. Alma expresses it best:
“and this because you know, for ye know that the word hath swelled your souls, and ye also know that it hath sprouted up, that your understanding doth begin to be enlightened, and your mind doth begin to expand… And because of your diligence and your faith and your patience with the word in nourishing it, that it may take root in you, behold, by and by ye shall pluck the fruit thereof, which is most precious, which is sweet above all that is sweet, and which is white above all that is white, yea, and pure above all that is pure; and ye shall feast upon this fruit even until ye are filled, that ye hunger not, neither shall ye thirst.”