The Woe of the Prophet Isaiah

The Woe of the Prophet Isaiah

Unlike my sons and many other people, I never got in the habit of playing music all day. Instead, I have a habit of running the radio while I do routine household chores. Last Friday, radio news reports were playing clips about new state laws regarding abortion, when into my mind popped a memory of a tapestry I had woven in 1981, about this time of year.

I had begun weaving pictorial tapestries based on verses of scripture in the summer of 1980. This idea grew out of a number of years of reading through the Bible in a year. I actually enjoyed the Old Testament more than the New Testament. I underlined verses that I liked, but I didn’t mark up page after page.

Isaiah 5:20 is one of two verses I underlined in the first ten chapters of Isaiah.

“Woe to those who call evil good and good evil     

            Who substitute darkness for light and light for darkness;

            Who substitute bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!”

                                                  (New American Standard 1975)

 

Tapestry based on Isaiah 5:20

My weaving shows lemon juice being squeezed into a pot labeled ‘Honey’, a light bulb that is black giving off blue light, and a fetus in the womb being attacked with a dagger. The word ‘Woe’ appears twice in the tapestry. The prophet Isaiah begins his thoughts with ‘Woe’ six times in chapter five.

While Roe v. Wade had been the law since 1973, the debate in 1980s, as I remember it, centered around the question of when did the “tissue” become human. Now, forty some years later, our country is still making changes in the way we interpret and apply this law. Personally, I believe abortion is wrong, but I do not think it should be illegal.

I think Isaiah’s words could be applied to many things in our present day. And, like in his day, our leaders pay no attention to prophets or history.

I’m not reading the Bible through each year any more, but regardless of our political affiliation or none, as citizens, we need to call out our leaders when they allow evil to be called good, and when they prefer secrecy and darkness to openness and light.

 

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