Cover to cover, the Bible is a study in contrasts. There’s murderous Cain – and there’s God-worshipping Abel. There’s the violent humanity of Genesis 6: so distorted that God wishes he’d never started the whole show (v7). But there’s Noah, “a righteous man, blameless among the people of his time, and he walked faithfully with God” (v9).
There is the grotesque and lurid city of Revelation chapter 18 – a God-hating city if ever there was one. Then, the contrast: the glorious city that descends from heaven in Revelation 21. So full of God’s presence It doesn’t need street-lights: the Lamb lights it up. (Bring it on, Lord!)
The prophet Isaiah highlights contrast as well. At the end of chapter 41, the prophet mocks the useless and phony gods that people – including, tragically, many in Israel – are turning to: “Behold, they are all a delusion; their works are nothing; their metal images are empty wind” (v29). That’s the closing verse of chapter 41.
We turn the page to chapter 42, and encounter a contrast – and what a contrast it is: “Behold my Servant, whom I uphold, my chosen, in whom my soul delights: I have put my Spirit upon him; he will bring forth justice to the nations” (42:1).
“Empty wind” (lit., “spirit”) stands in contrast with a Servant of God enabled by the Spirit of God. Non-gods, whose “works are nothing” – over against a Servant who will change the world.
Might he fail? Nope. That’s not even on the maybe-list: God calls him “my servant, whom I uphold.”
The contrasts stack up: Blobs of metal that don’t breathe. And a Savior who by God’s breath will impact (“bring justice to”) nations, and individuals.
Matthew quotes this very passage from Isaiah right after Jesus heals the man with the withered hand (Matthew 12:9-21).
Empty wind, or God’s own breath. Blobs of metal, or someone upheld by God to heal nations and hands. Contrasts set before us by God himself – with an attached call-to-choose.
I’m not the smartest guy in town, but I know who I’m going with.
© 2018 by Dave Perry