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Home » Daily Readings, Old Testament, Prophets

Heed My Command (Isaiah 48:17-19)

Submitted by on Friday, 10 December 2010No Comment

All-things-new-sm

  • Reading I:  Isaiah 48:17-19
  • Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 1:1-2,4 and 6
  • Gospel Reading: Matthew 11:16-19

Isaiah 48:17-19 in Context

  • I am announcing something unheard of
    • In the past: I foretold events that when they happened, you can only blame yourselves (1-6)
    • Now: I announce new things, things you’ve never heard before (7-8) I do this for my sake (9-11)
  • I the First and the Last have called my friend Cyrus and he is carrying out my design (12-15)
  • The Command:Go forth from Babylon, flee Chaldea
    • The Lord has appointed me His prophet (16)
    • His command is for your good (17-19)
    • Leave Babylon! The Lord has redeemed Jacob (20)
      • As at the first Exodus, I will take care of you (20-21)
      • Those who will not obey will not have peace (22)

Isaiah 48:17-19 is found in a context where the prophet tells the exiles to leave Babylon and proceed to their homeland in a new exodus. The exiles have become contented with their new surroundings and they do not expect a new act of salvation from God. They have realized that their present condition is due to their disobedience as a people. The prophecies of old have spoken of the exile as the result of their idolatry. The prophets were clear that it was a return to slavery because they have abandoned the covenant.

The prophet (v.16) insists that his message is something new (vv.7-8) and that God is doing this for his own glory, not because of Israel (9-11, see Ezek. 36:22-23;39:7.25). Israel may not have been faithful to the covenant, but God remains to be faithful to it. His faithfulness is His glory.

The new thing that God is about to do is to redeem the exiles and bring them out of Babylon and lead them back to their true homeland. As the prophet speaks, the designs of God are already being carried out by Cyrus of Persia (vv. 12-15) who will cause the fall of the Babylonian empire. And so the exiles should now leave the land of the Chaldeans (v.20).

In the light of this command to leave Babylon, vv. 17-19 becomes easier to understand. To obey the command to leave Babylon is the exiles’ way to life. This is expressed by a locution — Filipinos would call it “panunumbat” — that recalls to the exiles what could have been if they had only obeyed His commands. 1 The Lord assures them, however, that He will continue to care for the exiles as He did when He first led Israel out of Egypt.

The Vindication of Wisdom

In Matthew 11:16-19 Jesus compares the towns where he has been preaching to children playing in the marketplace: they won’t respond to the dirge of the Baptist’s asceticism or to the flute of Jesus’ joyful announcement of the good news. In Filipino, one can even interject that "this generation" is sala sa init, sala sa malamig. Then Jesus concludes his comparison with a wisdom saying that has been rendered differently by different translations.

More here…

Isaiah 48:17-19
View in: NAB NIV KJV NJB Vulg LXX Hebrew
17Thus saith the Lord thy redeemer, the Holy One of Israel: I am the Lord thy God that teach thee profitable things, that govern thee in the way that thou walkest.
18O that thou hadst hearkened to my commandments: thy peace had been as a river, and thy justice as the waves of the sea,
19And thy seed had been as the sand, and the offspring of thy bowels like the gravel thereof: his name should not have perished, nor have been destroyed from before my face.
Psalm 1:1-2,4
View in: NAB NIV KJV NJB Vulg LXX Hebrew
1Blessed is the man who hath not walked in the counsel of the ungodly, nor stood in the way of sinners, nor sat in the chair of pestilence.
2But his will is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he shall meditate day and night.
4Not so the wicked, not so: but like the dust, which the wind driveth from the face of the earth.
Matthew 11:16-19
View in: NAB NIV KJV NJB Vulg Greek
16But whereunto shall I esteem this generation to be like? It is like to children sitting in the market place.
17Who crying to their companions say: We have piped to you, and you have not danced: we have lamented, and you have not mourned.
18For John came neither eating nor drinking; and they say: He hath a devil.
19The Son of man came eating and drinking, and they say: Behold a man that is a glutton and a wine drinker, a friend of publicans and sinners. And wisdom is justified by her children.
Isaiah 48:17-19
View in: NAB NIV KJV NJB Vulg LXX Hebrew
17Thus saith the Lord thy redeemer, the Holy One of Israel: I am the Lord thy God that teach thee profitable things, that govern thee in the way that thou walkest.
18O that thou hadst hearkened to my commandments: thy peace had been as a river, and thy justice as the waves of the sea,
19And thy seed had been as the sand, and the offspring of thy bowels like the gravel thereof: his name should not have perished, nor have been destroyed from before my face.
Isaiah 48:17-19
View in: NAB NIV KJV NJB Vulg LXX Hebrew
17Thus saith the Lord thy redeemer, the Holy One of Israel: I am the Lord thy God that teach thee profitable things, that govern thee in the way that thou walkest.
18O that thou hadst hearkened to my commandments: thy peace had been as a river, and thy justice as the waves of the sea,
19And thy seed had been as the sand, and the offspring of thy bowels like the gravel thereof: his name should not have perished, nor have been destroyed from before my face.
Matthew 11:16-19
View in: NAB NIV KJV NJB Vulg Greek
16But whereunto shall I esteem this generation to be like? It is like to children sitting in the market place.
17Who crying to their companions say: We have piped to you, and you have not danced: we have lamented, and you have not mourned.
18For John came neither eating nor drinking; and they say: He hath a devil.
19The Son of man came eating and drinking, and they say: Behold a man that is a glutton and a wine drinker, a friend of publicans and sinners. And wisdom is justified by her children.

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  1. See the NRSV rendering for v. 18, which is the most common way of translating the passage. The NAB translation — which I would have preferred — renders the statement in the present tense. []

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