More to life than doom and gloom (Isaiah 22:12-13)

Picture the scene; a swiftly approaching foreign army that threatens to destroy everything in its path. You’re in an overcrowded city that provides little protection and shelter.  What do you do?

Jerusalem under threat

This is history, captured in part by the Old Testament book of Isaiah. The foreign army is Assyria; the city is Jerusalem; the king is Hezekiah. What did the people do?

“Behold, joy and gladness, killing oxen and slaughtering sheep, eating flesh and drinking wine.”

Isaiah 22:13

Yes that’s right! There was, at least in some parts of the city, the sense of the inevitable. If we’re going to die then we may as well party hard right now! “Let us eat and drink,” they said, “for tomorrow we die!” It’s easy to chuckle at this now in hindsight, but a moment’s reflection makes you realise that this is a natural and common human response to the reality of mortality. (In connection with this, check out Paul’s quotation of Isaiah 22 in 1 Corinthians 15:32).

An alternative response

But there’s another response that’s possible, which is taking the opportunity in moments of crisis to reflect deeply on one’s own worldview and how that is shaping one’s life, actions and character. In fact, that’s what the prophet Isaiah was encouraging the people to do;

“In that day the Lord God of hosts called for weeping and mourning, for baldness and wearing of sackcloth.”

Isaiah 22:12

In the biblical worldview, moments of impending doom or certain suffering are times of powerful introspection; to question why you are here, why you are who you are, and what drives you to live your life. That’s what the Bible is encouraging us to do. It’s helping us to appreciate life as much more than eating and drinking until the day we die because we can find value in humanity and meaning in existence when we adopt God’s worldview.

And Bible Feed is here to help. Episode 41 of our podcast, “The meaning of life”, discusses this very topic using an ancient piece of wisdom literature from the Old Testament, the book of Ecclesiastes. We look at how the Bible teaches that there is more to life than just a short existence. Much more in our podcast archive will help you start to read and understand the Bible. Feel free to get in touch if you want to ask a question about anything in the Bible or would like to know more about what other learning tools are available.