Spiritual Blindness, Deafness, And Fatness In Isaiah -- By: Gary V. Smith

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 170:678 (Apr 2013)
Article: Spiritual Blindness, Deafness, And Fatness In Isaiah
Author: Gary V. Smith


Spiritual Blindness, Deafness, And Fatness In Isaiah

Gary V. Smith

Gary V. Smith is Professor of Old Testament, Bethel Theological Seminary, St. Paul, Minnesota.

Ronald Clements used the themes of “blindness and deafness” and “the divine election of Israel” to support his case for the theological unity of Isaiah, but he also suggested that other common themes included terms like “thorns,” “briers,” “remnant,” “witnesses,” “teaching,” and “signal/flag.”1 Regarding the theme of blindness Clements claims that “a striking instance of unity in the Book of Isaiah is provided by the idea that the prophetic message from God falls on deaf ears and is set forth to people who are unable to comprehend what their eyes see.”2

This study discusses the theme of Israel’s blindness, deafness, or lack of understanding in Isaiah. Ideas related to this theme include the following. (1) It was God’s will for the people to listen, see, and understand, but many people failed to do so. (2) At some point God made the people blind, deaf, and insensitive. (3) God judged the nation for its failures to listen and follow His will. (4) In the future when God establishes His kingdom, He will remove blindness, deafness, and fatness. As these themes are examined in each major section of Isaiah, other concepts that communicate the same idea but do not use terms “blind,” “deaf,” or “fatness” will be discussed.

Spiritual Blindness, Deafness, And Fatness In Isaiah 1-12

The prophecies of Isaiah include numerous imperative instructions that exhort the audience to hear and know/understand what God was saying. Isaiah 1:2 calls the heavens and the earth to “listen” and “hear,” for it is evident that God’s “sons” had “revolted” against Him. Israel’s revolt was so bad that “Israel does not know” as much as a dumb donkey (v. 3). Consequently Isaiah earnestly entreated his audience to “hear the word of the Lord [and] give ear to the instruction of our God” (v. 10). Besides rejecting the word of the Lord the people did not learn from God’s disciplinary actions of desolating the nation (vv. 5-9). God called His people to listen to Him, but they did not “pay attention” to what He did or said (5:12), implying that they were blind a...

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