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There are, if you want to use imagery, many reservoir flows in Isaiah, as if some vast metropolis feeding body of water, deep in the hills, of profound size, with the superabundance of rains had overflowed along its brilliantly designed ledge, releasing torrents of water which in turn, go down the carefully tracked precincts.

Tourist rush to watch. The surging stream resulting tumbles evocatively down the beautiful landscape, and the meadows find rest in the resurgences.

In Isaiah you have many such events.


You could turn freely from Isaiah 1-12 in one beautiful evangelical sweep, incorporating so much of what is to come, the sin, the Messiah, the virgin birth (cf. SMR pp. 770ff., With Heart and Soul, Mind and Strength Ch. 4, Matthew 1:23), the incarnation, the rebellious indifference of cagey covenant abusers, the free waters of salvation, the Messiah as tabernacle Himself, some in complete form, some in preparatory signals.


You could cover the surging pronouncements against sinful nations in Isaiah 13-21, including a love note to Israel in Isaiah 14, following the announcement of the judgment to come on Babylon, after that nation would in due course, as predicted, bring ruin to sinning Israel. After the judgment from that source on Israel, there would come relief. So it was written; and so it was, in the process of hundreds of years.


You could resume in the 22-35 sweep. First come Isaiah 22-24, where the judgments on the one hand widen to the whole earth, in the day to come, the day of the Lord, noticing the immense resumption of the challenge and charge to Jerusalem, to Israel, with such words as these (22:10ff.):

"You numbered the houses of Jerusalem,
And the houses you broke down
To fortify the wall.
You also made a reservoir between the two walls,
For the water of the old pool.
But you did not look to its Maker,
Nor did you have respect for Him who fashioned it long ago.

"And in that day the Lord God of hosts
Called for weeping and for mourning,
For baldness and for girding with sackcloth.
But instead, joy and gladness,
Slaying oxen and killing sheep.
Eating meat and drinking wine:
'Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die! ' "

Here you see the protestation as so often, following much neglected ministry from the prophets, and again, the provision of the Lord as in the figure of 22:22ff., where  in the distant future, after so many national predictions are fulfilled, and the judgments on Israel, the One of whom Isaiah constantly speaks in this context, is to come, the One whose word is impregnable, whose power invincible, the Messiah whose authority is complete. He is met in Isaiah 7, 9, 11, 12, 22, 28, 32, 42, 49, 50-55, 60, 61, for example, in that wide diversity of relationships and roles, like the different colours of one integral rainbow.

Then follows in 23 the rebuke to comparative religion specialist Tyre. This broadens dramatically, like the bend in some swirling river. Thus  in 24, comes the rebuke to the entirety of this present world, as one spiritually seduced system - "the earth is violently broken, the earth is split open, the earth is shaken exceedingly" (24:19 cf. Revelation 6, 8). It proceeds: "It will fail and not rise again."

Yet the work of the Lord in Jerusalem will be consummated and rejoice (24:13).

Isaiah 25-29 has an abundant flow on love, praise, forgiveness, the Messiah especially in 28:16, the contrasting ways which depart from Him, the wisdom of God, and the rebukes to come to the pretensions of pseudo-scholarship in the things of God, dull-hearted and traditionalistically oriented, mere cultural substitutes for the word of God. The judgments to come on the whole earth (e.g. 26:21), are also announced, for His chosen time. God never fails to give witness, whether to Israel in the short or long term, and abundant are His warnings to and witness throughout this world.

Intermingled, like beautiful sunlight among the long-cast shadows of trees in parkland, come exposures of tender mercies for faith, as in 25:7-9, 26:1-4,18-19, 27:5, 28:16.

An interlude on Egypt which is itself indirectly an exhortation to reality of faith, proceeds in 30 as we come to the ruin of Assyria in its presumption, the folly of trusting in man or nation, power or display, which issues as if the stream suddenly turns a corner in its coursing rush, and comes into an open part of the defiles of its journey. From a testimony to the futility of faith in flesh, or any of its national exponents, in 32, we come to the sublime in contrast. Now there is found in 32 that amazing and tender revelation of the Messiah as King, presaged so deftly in 4:6; and this in turn flows on to holiness of life, intimacy of love to the Lord in 33, before we see in stark contrast, as in some jagged-rocked waterfall, the desolations to come to the nations in general, and to Edom in particular, so literally fulfilled as we come to 34:13ff., in the case of that central stronghold of Petra.

Isaiah 35 continues the sweep of positive beauty, as if the stream issued into a new broader course, a pastoral scene, and we glimpse the therapies to come in the Messiah, and the blessing of the land, also fulfilled.


Now we come to the contemporary for Isaiah (not that this is the first time, but it now specialises in historical and national events for a little, even as they transpire).

36-38 continues the movement into the assault by Assyria, its vast repulse, the godly king Hezekiah and the miraculous answer to believing prayer, from the prophet Isaiah, and the devastation of the hostile,  invading forces, as shown also in II Kings 18ff..

39 is part of this sweep, and alas, with that profound realism of the Bible, in some ways like a doctor's case book, we see Hezekiah the hero, in that he sought the Lord humbly and worked for revival and mercy from the Lord in the land, so diligently and so courageously, revealed in weakness at one phase of his life. The ONLY perfect life is Christ's, and foolish are they who, whatever the individual excellencies of any man, trust in man! It is only the Messiah who as God became man (as in Isaiah 7, 9, 40-45, 48, Psalm 45, Micah 5:1-3), that man both may and must trust (Jeremiah 17, Acts 4:11-12). That is why the Messiah MUST be trusted in, as shown in Psalm 2!

This then is the fourth noticeable sweep of the surging torrent of divine revelation, from 36-39 in Isaiah.


Here we come to 40-55.

This interlocks intimately with 36-39, proceeding thus from the glories of God's grace to Israel, to Hezekiah's fault, sickness, and the movement from long before, to coming divine judgment, though Hezekiah himself is both rescued from this, and granted restoration to health from a great sickness, the regality of the donor, the Lord Himself, having this associated with a vast miracle (Isaiah 38:7ff.). We move as in a TV zoom-in, the field becoming large as we watch.

Put differently, with this long preparation, we have arrived at the provision of intimate detail both of the danger to Jerusalem and its deliverance to come, next at the wonderful works of the Lord for Hezekiah both as KING and as MAN, then come to the divine rebuke to the King for respect shown to and exposure before Babylon (39), a reproach gained in the context of hundreds of years of preceding warning and exhortation through the prophets, to the nation (cf. II Chronicles 36).

What is to succeed ? what is the onset from this as the outset ?

It is then that we come suddenly to the nub. Devastation we now see, as if having watched a TV series on American and the Indians at the hands of the Spaniards, the Mexicans, the United States and so on, we come suddenly to a look at a contemporary Indian reservation!

We stand appalled as we see the awakening as from a dream. Here have we been following the course of our great overflow from the reservoir of revelation, the inspired word of God addressed to the nation, to nations, to events, its description of the last stages of Hezekiah's deliverance; and we have moved to the contemplation of his error, one too like that of Jehoshaphat, unwisely repeated, to come to the divine prediction of what NOW MUST FOLLOW, the judgment on Judah!

It had to come ? It has come.

Thus in Isaiah 40 the grief is full. Long did the breaching wave sound in the ever decreasing distance. Now it has struck.

The case is remarkably similar to that in the book of Jeremiah the prophet, where after ever so many involvements, offers, repudiations and follies, Jerusalem is facing oft-repeated announcements of ruin. How often it is near from the very first chapter (1:10-12)! Then ? Then there is the book of Lamentations. Anguish has its heart, and grief surveys the sordid squalors of devastation.

As there, so here. As there so many preliminaries, so now. Not Lamentations but Isaiah 40 is the ensuing treatise. Then we lament, it is happened. It is over.

It is however comfort that is needed. Jeremiah offers it a little in Lamentations 3:33, knowing that nothing has been without reason, that the Lord Himself has not changed.

In Isaiah, at 40 we come to find ourselves nestling not in a little, but in a largesse of the same!

We visit the coming Messiah in 40:10, we look at God's protestations that HE DOES WHAT HE SAYS, found spaciously in Isaiah 41, 43, 44, 48, and consider His dealings with the nation, with the world. As before the judgments were forecast, on Judah, sometimes to be executed THROUGH other nations, so now it is ON such nations, as on Judah, that it has come. Indeed, the day of the very removal of heaven and earth is seen in the distance, in the midst of a salvation so embracive in the Messiah, so available for all nations, that it is this which REMAINS when the universe is to depart (51:6).

Deep is the introduction to the details of the case, the murder of the Messiah, His atoning work (50,52-53), His love, His mercy; strong is the exposure of His suffering, patience, forbearance, power, as in Isaiah 4, 11, 32, and of His salvation, as in Isaiah 12, so in 55: it is free, for HE has purchased it.

We move to the covenant in 42, 49, and find it is HE, the Messiah who IS the covenant, and that it is too small a thing for Him to save the elect in Israel: to all the world He is sent. This ? it is as in Jeremiah 31:31ff. with 23:6ff., 16:19-20.


In Isaiah 56-59, we turn to assault on hypocrisy, exposure of wickedness (56:10-12) like that before the flood (in 59), as to the exposure of almost inconceivable depths in its pits of folly and pride, lust, abuse and power, so like the situation in the world today, of which one must note as so often, this: as they asked for it, at the end, they got it. Although mercy has brought in its wonderful deliverances amongst the judgments, as in Israel's return to triumphant battles in its restored land (Zechariah 12, 14), the world is now asking for it, just as did Israel with such scrupulous seditions of truth and righteousness; and it will get it, even  the judgment of the Lord. It has been warned not only in example by Israel, but by the prophet Isaiah, and others such as HAGGAI! of what is to come. It has been warned by Jesus Christ (Matthew 24-25,  Luke 21).

It is rather like longer and shorter range artillery: the former can shoot over the top of the latter. God can announce a hundred years ahead, 500 or 1000, yes as with Moses in Deuteronomy 32, more than 3000 years ahead. Like a superb teacher, he gives here an intimation, there an exposition, in the other place an application, summarising, infiltrating the lazy mind with zeal, moving the alert mind with delight.

Time is not a problem to God who invented it. He can rove over this as an aeroplane today can rove over space. He tells what it to be, even the end from the beginning (cf. Isaiah 46:10, 44:24-45:10). In all of this comes the message:

"Look to Me, and be save,
All you ends of the earth!
For I am God, and there i no other.
I have sworn by Myself:
The word has gone out of My mouth in righteousness,
And shall not return,
That to Me every knee shall bow,
Every tongue shall swear.

"One shall say,
'Surely in the LORD I have righteousness and strength.
To Him men shall come,
And all shall be ashamed
Who are incensed against Him.

"In the LORD all the descendants of Israel
Shall be justified, and shall glory" - cf. Isaiah 45:10-12.

In 57:15ff. one finds the intimate personal application of this bubbling and effervescent presentation of truth from 45, for

"thus says the High and Lofty  One,
Who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy:
'I dwell in the high and holy place
With him who has a contrite and humble spirit,
To revive the spirit of the humble,
And to revive the heart of the contrite ones.
For I will not contend forever ...' "
PEACE IS PROCLAIMED on an individual basis (57:19) such that its advent is in high contrast with the intrinsically woeful ways of the wicked..

58 contrasts with these latter follies, the refining realities of sincere faith and the life it leads, when resting in the Lord. 59 then delivers what must be one of the most potent parades of indictments against ethical bombast, sickening corruption of heart and spirit, mind and strength, national iniquity and the confusion resulting, so that one cannot help comparing it with the lot actually exposed in many nations now. One seems so concerned on vengeance, that it does not seem to notice the famine which the vengeance is only increasing, the death rattles of the oppressed.

It is rather like an advanced case of weak heart, where skin disease, and various organ break-downs in part proceed as testimony, little confusions, together asthenic deactivation and the like: it is like that, but with this exception. THIS ? It is the record for good, the divine, the supernatural provisions; but the record for evil is like that of a vulture with good wing!

As to the effronteries of evil, naked and unabashed, it moves to the culmination. GOD WILL ACT IN POWER as in the days of the Exodus, and will smash the evil in judgment, bringing redemption to His people. This, He will do in the midst of seeming impotence (Deuteronomy 32:36), for the Lord, He Himself is strong.

This divine insurgence is completely parallel with Micah 7, Deuteronomy 32, Isaiah 63 and 66 to come, and fits like a bird in its nest with Isaiah 11, while it harmonises like a floral pattern with Romans 11:25ff., Revelation 16, 19, Haggai, Ezekiel 36-40, Zechariah 12-14. Like a teacher whose kindness has long been pilloried by his pupils, there is to be an action to match, to discipline and to expose.

God WILL ACT in His own most vigorous way (as in Psalm 2) in the very face of vaulting national aspirations, international seditions against His truth, world scams, scandals and seductions, church alienations from the truth, morals of convenience and words of subtlety, murders and rampant injustice so that the world aghast will wail (cf. Revelation 1, 19). This is, as the Keil and Delitzsch Old Testament Commentary so well affirms in its presentation on Haggai, is nothing to symbolise, is no poetry, but in fact a bold, world-wide, physically implemented divine action, an epochal resurgence of divine power to assail the wanton, to subdue the militancies of the mighty. Just as other actions, each in the way fitting for it, have come, so this also come.

That is the advent shown in Isaiah 59:16-20. Armed with zeal, fiery with wrath at iniquity, the Lord comes out of His place to overthrow the presumptions which have sought to rule the earth, renegades of ruin, pomposities of power, puny substitutes for truth, vexatious oppressors:

Once again, this is followed by dissertations, revelations, visions, expressions which luxuriate in the field exposed, like lambs in pasture, newly released.

It is now that we plan to present a very short cover, designed merely to signify the flow, of Isaiah 59-66. Those who want something more detailed have it if they turn to the volume, With Heart and Soul, Mind and Strength, Chs. 4-8. For 59-66 see Ch. 6 op. cit.. For more extensive coverage over Isaiah, see Ch. 7.


This, then, will now be taken in some more detail, as it is our major interest at this point.

59: gives the movement from spiritually desolatory evils at their categorical depth, to the potent return of the Lord Himself in person. This is the same as expressly cited in Romans 11 from Isaiah; and just as in Romans, so here in Isaiah 59, one major result is a concentration on those who will be turning to the Lord, won to Him. These, His words, meanwhile, are under express divine warranty to continue, for their time is not to come without them (59:21). Are they not here right now, some 2700 years later! The Christian religion is a friend of fact, lives with it, for God is the author of history, and the provider of reality.

60: pursues the blessed consequences in radiant, effectual spiritual light. Purging may expel indeed what is purged, but the health of the body improves!

In Isaiah 60, then, we find the blessed, filled with a glory which adorns their late inheritance, one which spiritually merges into their common heritage in Christ, the Messiah. This is precisely as Paul expounds it in Romans 11, in the figure of the olive tree. Here are seen the natural spiritual sites of Israel, from which the total, living body the nation was torn away because of unbelief. To these, as Paul indicates, a significant residue of Israel will return, occupying the very site of the Messiah.

This city however is transformed before our watching eyes. We find that the very walls are salvation (60:18), realising thereby that we are in the New Covenant inheritance in Christ, to which Jew or Gentile come, just as in Isaiah 42:6, 49:6, 66. The parallel between Isaiah 60:22 and Zechariah 12:8 is significant; and this reminds us of something. Of what then ? of this, that in the case of the Jewish contingent to the Church, or more strictly, that of Israel in its predicted sudden influx of a substantial number of converts, there is a coincidence with the extensive and indeed epochal use of divine power by God, in the face of power brokers on this earth, as He dismisses their endless evil intents against Israel.

How can you show enmity to a man ? by removing his wallet with key cards and credit cards, cash and so on. How can you show abomination towards God ? By seeking to remove Israel, run the land yourself and mock His promises concerning these things. Many will seek to take advantage of this opportunity to do something tangible to revile God, though others, even to themselves may seek to cloak the obvious; and vast will be their fall (Ezekiel 38-39, Isaiah 59:15ff.). In the power of God, there will be such a blessedness as will grip the earth, appalling the eyes of the mockers and showing the kindness of the Lord (60:19ff.). We begin even to move in the artistry of vision, into the sphere of Isaiah 65, but more of that shortly. There is a mobility about the vision of Isaiah which must never be forgotten (cf. Isaiah 66:24).

61: focusses the Gospel of Christ, in terms of His own words envisioned here, and actually quoted by Jesus Christ at Nazareth as concerning Himself. This day is this fulfilled in your hearing! was His comment. So was it then, as His forthcoming works of healing for soul and mind, body and life alike, attested, amply fulfilling Isaiah 35's prescription.

Thus shown is the Messiah by whom alone these redemptive works are to be wrought (and now of course have been), one and all; and the action moves through the church from Christ through the Jewish apostles, and ends in a typical expression of the joys of free salvation, total and express, personal, individual and pure, for Jew and Gentile alike. Thus in 61:10-11 you have the common salvation exquisitely and clearly expressed:

"I will greatly rejoice in the Lord,
My soul shall be joyful in my God;
For He has clothed me with the garments of salvation,
He has covered me with the robe of righteousness,
As a bridegroom decks himself with ornaments,
And as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.

"For as the earth brings forth its bud,
As the garden causes the things that are sown in it to spring forth,
So the Lord God will cause righteousness and praise to spring forth before all the nations."

Bold added.

62: focusses Jerusalem, the original place for depicting (in Temple patterns) grace, where Christ died and where a geographical band of light comes.  At the first, this is accompanied by the deliverance both military and spiritual of many in Israel, as also seen in Deuteronomy 32:43ff., Isaiah 59, Zechariah 12:10-13:1, Micah 7 and Haggai 2:20ff., and the power which startlingly started this blessed sequence, in 59:21. Then it is expanded as in Isaiah 63, 66, where the power of God in dealing with the irruptions of hatred and oppression against Israel is also seen; but not seen alone, yes equipped with spiritual light searching the hearts and minds.

63: has two main features.

The first is judgment on pagan marauding once and for all - and HOW Israel has suffered in its long sojourn in unbelief, and often in mini-sojourns before that, disciplines that tended to maximise when Israel at the North was destroyed, and Judah was brought into captivity for 70 years in Babylon, just as Jeremiah (25) predicted.

An end comes. It is not that the Jew is the perennial victim of the bullies of the Gentiles, a punching bag. They have asked for severe discipline, and got it, just as Moses predicted IN DETAIL would happen (Leviticus 26); but the Gentiles ? Are they to be sanctified as the paragons of pugilism ? Did not the Lord rebuke Sennacherib as we have seen (Isaiah 36ff.), and Babylon too has had its rebuke as predicted (Isaiah 14, Jeremiah 50-51). It does not stop there. These judgments are to be seen in Zechariah 12, 14, as in Isaiah 59, 66, in Micah 7 as in Haggai, in Isaiah 30:30ff., as in Revelation 16 and 19.

The second major feature in Isaiah 63 is a review of the Lord's lovingkindness and the rest which only He gives and can give (63: 7, 13-14 cf. Isaiah 11:10). It gives overview back to Moses and shows desire for a national rebirth to match the earlier recidivism.

64: shows however that if this desire is to have a relief, that is  by no means imminent, for the state of the nation is grievous.

Indeed, this beautiful composition of ardent desire for divine action to deliver Israel and bring it back to godliness, and praise for what the Lord ALWAYS does for those who love and know Him (64:4-5), for ANYONE so trusting Him, is followed by a lament for the corrupted spiritual state of Israel. Let us consider some of the inner recesses of the total situation here.

Let us however return to our current chapter, 64.

We have noted the individualisation of mercy, what the Lord ALWAYS does for ANYONE who serves Him in faith (64:3-5) in a passage of deep beauty, resembling Isaiah 26 quite closely in this. This however is then contrasted with an Israel, the nation as such, not only, like all men without intrinsic moral acceptability before the blazing furnace of divine beauty and truth (cf. Isaiah 33:14-16), as in 64:6, but farther if possible from it, sunk in an insistent and persistent corruption.

Thus 64 ends with a penitential appeal - for which the answer as shown explicitly in Romans 11:25ff., would not be near, but would be sure. This stricken seeking of the Lord continues into lament for the temple, foreseen as to be destroyed, and already lamentably mistreated by the idolatrous, temple corrupting Ahaz in whose reign, in part, Isaiah prophesied (II Kings 16).

65: shows those who, without spiritual pretension of any kind, are found by the Lord! As Paul puts it, Isaiah is "very bold"(Romans 10:20-21). What does the Lord say ? This: "I was found by those who did not seek Me!" (65:1), Gentiles.

In so saying, He contrasts Israel,

"I have stretched out My hands all day long to a rebellious people,
Who walk in a way which is not good,
According to their own thoughts,
A people who provoke Me continually to anger to My face ..."

Chapter 65 treats extensively and incisively of the repugnance to God of those who, handling the very emblems of salvation (as in Romans 9:1ff.), yet have not received it (Isaiah 65:13-15 cf. Romans 10:1ff.). This of course is most intimate in thought and spirit with Isaiah 1. There will thus be those who DO receive the mercy of the Lord; but those who in name only do so, will be in grief and desolation, for hypocrisy does not save, and iniquity is not the boss of the believer (as in Romans 6). As to those who find Him among the Gentiles, not having had the lavish preliminaries, who find His mercy new in the New Covenant in the slain Messiah (50-55), these will rejoice with the joy (65:13) which apostate Israel will in effect, have traded in for grief, by unbelief!

Hence far from the contemporary Israel of Isaiah,  is the mercy for which intercession in 64 is made. This will come when faith comes (as in 32:15-17, 53:1, 66:5 cf. 11:10ff.); and alas, for the nation as one whole,  no such thing loomed in Isaiah's day. It would indeed be cut down to the stump (as in Isaiah 6:13); but not cut off entirely.

Isaiah 65 moves next to that millenium (as in 11:1-10 cf. Psalm 72), when a new and universal depiction of Gospel grace and evangelical favour will appear. Then the curse (cf. Biblical Blessings Ch. 7) will relent (cf. SMR pp. 502ff.), and natural beauties will abound. It is not heaven (65:20), but it is a haven before it (cf. Sparkling Life in Jesus Christ Ch. 10).

66: shows divine departure from mere animal sacrifice (obvious in view of Isaiah 52-53), and then traces in great detail - as in other facets does Zechariah 12, 14 - the re-institution of  banished Israel as a nation. Here,  the literal emphasis*1 is provocatively displayed  - 66:13, just as it is in Zech. 12:6, which it precisely parallels. There indeed there is almost a sense of the comic in the emphasis, as if to penetrate even the most hide-bound theologian, to where the actual skin is sensitive (cf. Tower ... Ch. 8).

It then reverts to the divine action as at the Exodus, as also depicted in Micah 7:15ff. in those very terms - and  ends with a review of the Gospel alliance of Jews and Gentile, as seen in the Christian Church from the outset (Acts 8-10, 13), epitomised in Paul, the Jewish apostle to the Gentiles; and then alight with the splendour of the new heaven and the new earth, the text of 66 shows us the sight the despicable contempt of hell.

What ? Alas, reality must be faced. The whole book of Isaiah has been massively filled with appeals, with mercies, with profundities of judgments to jostle, exhortations, provisions, tender lovingkindnesses, reviews, historical opportunities utilised to remind, national histories depicted, and then with the Messiah in His execration by the people, His dismissal, and for all that, with His tenderness of presentation to the end, seen in the blessed reunion of Jew and Gentile in one mission to the world, as has occurred these two millenia, in part.

Is this then nothing ? is this multiplication of mercy, opportunity, this impetus to repent, this naturalness of fatherliness, this kindness of concern, this grief and this impelling resource of the Lord's doings, words and love, to be deemed so much poetry! What young rascal would compare his mother's entreaties and appeal to the father's authority, when he comes home, to the rustling of Autumn leaves, or the winds which stir the trees, as if this had any remote relationship to the clear portent and purpose of her speech!

This earth is no poetry, though its beauties contain a large amplitude. It has facts. It has ways, modes and procedures. Nor is its Creator shorn of truth into the symbolisms of poetry, though He naturally uses symbolism as an evocative ingress, or a teaching aid or method of transfer,  as in mathematics, when He wishes. Not unlike the sound mathematician, however, he makes it clear when such specialised symbolism is and is not the case by the amplitude of his definitions and the manner of His treatment.

Is Christ's consignment to hell, to the severance of connection with His Father, to be judged a small thing, so that the arrogance intemperance of devious delights in avoiding the truth should continue, the merciless showing no mercy even to themselves, and the fraudulent to the end continuing in their delusions, in arrogant assurance ?

In the end, the beginning is past;
and after the beginning of sorrows (Matthew 24:8),
and the end of Christ's anguish,
even His sin-cancelling crusade making free the pardon absolutely,
there comes the end when light refused, is no more light diffused.

The end is a darkness the more horrid
in that it has been persistently and impenitently insisted upon.

There comes the other end,
when light received is sin bereaved and glory triumphant.

and the MEANING of the INTERPLAY

As we have seen, there is a series of streams which perhaps one could distinguish in the vast outpouring of the Spirit of God in the prophecies of Isaiah.

These intermingle, as waters do, they rush together, separate, reinforce, divagate, come coursing back in the brilliance of the thrust, the concaves and convexes of the contours moving this way and that.

Thus in Isaiah 40ff., you have such a compassion, such a divine enlightenment directed at persons, such multiplied thrusts of hope. In 55 it becomes ebullient in the extreme; but then, it is as it was in Isaiah 26, filled with hope, with love and mercy, with holiness and strength, the base back of all in the Messiah coming up in 28:16, as it came up in 52-53.

Isaiah 1 is filled with repugnance and denunciation, just as is 59, and the prophet moves to instil news of relief in 4, 7, 9, 11, as he does also in 60-62, following 59; and again he so moves in 66. Isaiah 30 pronounces divorce on corruption in symmetry with unbelief, but 32 brings in the Messiah who ALONE can cure Jew or Gentile; just as 59 brings in severance, which ALONE the Messiah can heal, as in 61.

Isaiah 65, to go in reverse, there is announcement of the blessing on Gentiles while cursedness sits upon those who forsake God in the jaded lustre of a traditionalism which replaces faith. Thus also 42, 49 are filled with the opportunities, soundly based, of mercy, while in 49:7 we see depicted the frank and emphatic rejection of the Messiah. Indeed, Isaiah 53 thunders with mercy, following the human deprivation and desolation shown in 51:17-20, 42 is flush with deliverance from the Messiah following the hopelessness of the case for man, shown in 41:28-29, just as Isaiah 22 exposes the crass unbelief, the self-trusting formalism of the nation, only to arrive at the poignancy of the cutting down of the Messiah, their coming relief.

Indeed, in 11:10, the Gentiles are seen being regaled in spiritual blessedness by this ruling Messiah, just as they are in 49:6 and 66:18ff.. Jew must join Gentile in coming to one common faith: as in Jeremiah 16, so it is in Isaiah 11:10.

Jerusalem itself is to be delivered as in Isaiah 59:21, but also in Isaiah 2. The world is to be stricken in 24, just as in 51. Sacrifice is replaced in the Messiah in 52-53, just as it is derided in the new climate resulting from such divine actions, in 66:1-4. It is a man who is to be the tabernacle, accordingly, in Isaiah 4:6 with 32:1-4. A man! It is as in 52-53, in 26:19. It is always the same. It darts, it flits, it fosters, it hovers, it alights, it returns, it expands, it touches earlier expansion. It is alive with energy, the word of the Lord.

Contrition is always a key, whether in 26:12ff., or in 57:15. Comfort mounts where the time comes, whether in 40, or 55, in 11:10 or in 9:7. Prayer is found alike in 26:9 and 64, and rest is seen in 11:10 as in 63:14. History is invoked in 30 as in 44, in 7 as in 63, to show what the Lord has done, what His people have done, and what He thus is going to do.

Dramatic historical episodes are exposed, as contemporary in their occurrence with the prophet, whether in 7 or in 36ff., in 57ff. or 65:6ff.. Vast exposés on the Messiah, with implications and results occur in 9, in 11, 32, in 40, 42, 49, 50-55, 60, 61, and a divergence from the Gentiles allied to a convergence, but ONLY in the Messiah, is to be found in 42, but also in 65-66. It is in 11 as in 24-31, with that glorious indication of Gentile delight in the Lord, to come, in 24:16.

For further on all these things, in detail, you may consult With Heart and Soul, Mind and Strength, but as emphasised, our present purpose is this: to see the flow, the frequencies and the involvements in this flow, to consider its nature and its thrust. It is always one in direction, in kind, and always kinetically light and mobile. It has special features expressed with poignancy or militancy, here or there - as the intimate exposure of spiritual dysfunction in 28-29, relating to the Messiah and His reduction of absurdity to ridicule and to ruin (28:9-13, 15), and the production of peace to delight (11:10, 66:12-14), with the watchful exposition of the joining of Gentiles in the new rule of the New Covenant (42:6 institutes it prophetically)  in 65-66.

Yet, as to the Gentiles,  just this is shown in 11, and implied in 19:22ff..

It is the product of one mind, the work of one engineer, over one wall, from one reservoir, as intimate together as the human body, as explosive as any rocket, as sympathetic as any mother, as fostering as any father, and more; for it moves, whether in the signals of Isaiah 4 and 32, or in the expositions of detailed sacrifice of 50-53, in the categorical expression of Messianic abortion in 22 or in 49:7, or the tender solicitude of 54, like that of 40, like that of 26 or of 9, with one stream, many pulses. Indeed, many of these are replicated, augmented, adroitly inter-related, never merely growing, but possessing an individuality such as any musical composer might understand, and an impetus which any scholar might appreciate.

These then are some of the formal features, the integral indications, the surges of its movement, and wise is he/she who will consider, and understand to take it as it comes, as with any other composition of any other artists:  not intruding, but breathing in  its presentation with sensitivity and with relish.

However, in one vast domain the work of Isaiah IS different from merely human artistry. It is not only infallible in its relationship to the multitude of its predictions, which come with that EASE OF MOVEMENT of a spillway, moving from NOW to THEN, from what is for Israel at the time of utterance, to what is to come, to what is to come after that, and after that; it is also free in any depth, to present what is the plan of it all, the purpose, the composition, what are the elements, what is the synthesis, again and again, here in this way, here in that! Its word has a sovereign majesty coming from its source, exhibited in its results (cf. SMR Ch. 9), both near and far, and a tenderness apt only from the author of judgment and the provider of mercy.

Vast are its divulgements from the past, concerning the future, and keen is its edge to contest evil, contemporary are some of its applications, with the prophet himself: there is no lack of boldness nor of candour, no scholastic hiding from fear of exposure, but the very opposite. It is measured in its majesty, vast in its coverage, discerning in its thrusts, agile in its composition, tender with its truculence, therapeutic in its thrusts, devastating in its lack of all compromise on truth, arresting in its proceedings, past all hope, to the infinitude of mercy, when once it is received from the Messiah.

Past all sentiment, it meets the case; past all contest, it refuses any proposition from man, here in the Lord's name, does the apostle in Galatians 1. HE, he is the sinner; the LORD, He is showing mercy. It is one Lord, one mercy, one Messiah and one result of submergence in sin, subtle or strenuous, when He is refused as He is given, the very heart of God in human form, God as man, the mighty God, God sent by God sending, the infinite into the format where sin's need and life deliverance call, and call most strenuously.

In all these things, it rings one toll with the rest of scripture; and within, it is like the very nervous system of man itself, inter-connected in a thousand ways, by numerous routes, all well-equipped, sensitised to varied functions and powers.

With itself, with the rest of the Bible, this prophecy is like an echo chamber, constantly relating, inter-relating verbally, with theme, emphasis and with power. That is what you would expect of the work of ONE MIND from ONE GOD who with ONE KNOWLEDGE knows all that will be, has been and ... WHY!

In this, it is verification within scripture, just as it is in prophecy, in cumulative cohesion internally, like the organs of one body, and with its ilk, like the comparability of many human bodies, since they all come from one mind, diverse though they may be in the use of the design given to one as to all.

Here is the wisdom of Christ, by whose Spirit these things were sent (I Peter 1:11-12, II Peter 1:21), by whose word on earth His power was shown (cf. Mark 2), by whose word to the future, now becoming our present, His wisdom is exhibited, in whose past is the construction of the earth (Col. 1:15-16), in whose eternity (Micah 5:1-3, Zech. 12:10, Hebrews 1, John 8:58), there is the hope of man, in whose temporality was the demonstration of the life of God for man, in whose extermination in the flesh was the divine determination for salvation, in whose resurrection is the glory of God and in whose return is the end of the chronicle of the Age (Acts 1:7-11).

It is THIS wisdom which brings truth to man, which alone cannot be overthrown; and THIS power which brings life to man which cannot be mutilated, whatever butchers may do to the flesh, or the crows of culture may seek to do to the mind.

It just continues, implacable, personal, intimate, objective, inexorable, impending and irrefutable, without change, only implemented, successively, step by step, as the Age fulfils itself, and its purpose is performed (cf. Proverbs 1:25, 30, Ezekiel 12:28, Joshua 23:14, Jeremiah 51:30, Matthew 5:17-20).


A Hermeneutic Holiday

*1 This is a delightful issue, and a simple one, despite all the satanic smoke which comes from the proud author of deception.

HOW should you interpret a text, in terms of possible imagery, figures of speech and the like ?

One does not normally have much difficulty, since a good writer will be careful to ensure that his meaning, if it be desired to be clear (cf. Proverbs 30:5-6,  8:8-11), is just that. A hostile reader may 'tear to bits' this and that, in profound folly, being unable to discern what he substantially detests; just as a divorced wife/husband may be amazingly obtuse about the obvious, in argumentation and vilification.

That having been said, which is pathology rather then hermeneutics, what sort of rule does one have ? Is a rule necessary ? It is necessary to consider, meditate. Some one may say, If the sense is not clearly other than literal, then let it be so. In other words, if there is work to be done, it must be to establish, on the part of the author, that he is departing from the norm, the usual meaning of terms.

That sort of position is not without merit. Sometimes of course an author DELIBERATELY makes it rather hard to discern his meaning in this sense: that if it is merely shouted to the waxy ear, it may not reach the tender portions of the heart, attuned to such materials. Hence it is shrouded, not in deliberate obfuscation, but in terms which make it NECESSARY to think! (cf. Matthew 13:13-17). Even in the case of Christ's parables, however, it would take quite a display of virtuosity and obfuscatory prowess, to make it hard to determine the use of the figurative and otherwise!

When thought duly occurs, the wave length, the orientation, the perspective, just as in mathematics, may become clear so that foggy uncertainties that may at first appear to some, are replaced with that delicious mix of exultation, exuberance and sated imagination which sees it all - the point becomes apparent.

Perhaps then it would be a fuller presentation to say something like this, on the present topic. The sense of the passage must be sought, its thrust, its parryings, if any, its contemplation, its substance, its point, its pith, its purpose, its FLOW. When this is done, it must be seen in the broader context of the more major thrust, if any, of which this may be but part. It should also be construed in terms made more apparent, perhaps, by the author in other places, parallel usages, with the caveat, that he may conceivably test your ardour and rectitude, by using it a little differently, so that you do not obtain the treasure without the activity of the mind: you have to be  not on automatic pilot, but alert, alive to every thread of meaning, every play and any development.

Obviously, all such contrivances of an author must be such that it is possible to discern what he is doing, and one would hope some suitable payload would reward the diligent, making the effort meaningful (cf. Proverbs 25:2). With a good author, this is readily done, but not perhaps always TOO readily; for the more he/she has to give, the more it may be that a real effort must be made to configure the nuances and consider the developments.

What then about this often abused question of 'literal' and not literal, of imagery, knowing which is which ?

It simply fits into the broader context of UNDERSTANDING. If you misuse this conception, in order to import YOUR OWN understanding as a sort of despotic tyrant, to trouble the waters of the author, then you are not reading him, but yourself. If on the other hand, you refuse to DEPLOY your own understanding, not to transfix what the author is saying, but to discern it, with due concern for every detail, in harder cases, then what is it that you want ? Pap ?

A 'literal meaning' is a phrase so abused in the more squallish squabblings often used in religion in order to disjoin teaching from the source, and to affix it to some follower, that some seem almost to detest it. Surely it is amusing when a foreigner - and one is a foreigner oneself in some countries! - takes some silly little idiom literally; or perhaps, imagines some literal thing is not so. It is however hermeneutically speaking, inexcusable gratuitously to import metaphorical considerations into sober text, or to forget idiomatic norms at the same time; just as it is to export figures which are to be so construed from the very contrast between the terminology of the passage, or its meat, or its purpose, or its program. Neither adornment nor denudation is needed: but faithfulness to all the considerations.

In general the approach is simple. Let a thing be taken as the context, firstly immediate, secondly more discursively, and thirdly in the overall purpose, title or declared purpose of the work, indicates. Be especially clear that you do not change an historical account to a non-historical one unless it is made indisputably clear, as for example in C.S. Lewis' children's books, that we are embarking into figurative areas, by the very contrast of the structure with the world. Here the mirth of 'romance', or carefully contrived departures from reality, is invested with ludicrous significance, this being the PURPOSE, presumably, so that the message can be discerned with certainty. You DO NOT find new lands through ward-robes, while you DO imagine things in your quarters, and imagination can waft far away from the very confined quarters of your being.

If the writer is good, there will be no doubt about imagery; for imagination will be working either to show you HOW to understand something, or WHEN, or WHERE, or in what CONTEXT, or for what PURPOSE, so that it will not be thrown about like a kid's ball on the beach for the dissipation of energy, but for the provision of what it is desired to share. It is to be caught!

You will find the meaning in these ways from good and skilful authors in their works; and provided you are not yourself like an alien mind divorced, or a disputatious minded invader, or one ego-centric, or in fear of consequences: there is no problem. The stature of the author is the guarantee of that. Of course, this issue is utterly separate from this - what you THINK of the literature in question, or its point, or its program, purpose or skill. THAT is evaluation; our current question is interpretation. You could evaluate rubbish as rubbish; wisdom as wisdom; or ignorance as ignorance, without entering this field. It concerns not the rubbish or otherwise, but the nature of the thing, what are its criteria, what is its meaning. Trash or other is quite different from identification of what it is saying.

We return then to interpretation, and the question of imagery. Having noticed the confusion possible, but not admirable, between interpretation and evaluation, let us consider the dangers of interpretation inherent in warlike attitudes to the meaning, whatever it may be found to be! Again, let us be clear: this is not to say that correct interpretation depends on sympathy with the topic, any more than visiting a coal-mind threatens the lungs. However, if your lungs are weak, you must take care.

With the Bible, by its own definitions, precisely such things as these, and exactly relationships parallel to those of a disrupted marriage are in view, between mankind and God (cf. Revelation 13, 17, Ezekiel 16, 23, Hosea, Ephesians 5). The healing of the relationship heals the mind to discern what is to be seen (as in John 3:1-10, Matthew 13:14ff. - taken from Isaiah, with 13:16-17, Ephesians 1:17ff., 4:17ff.). What then of those who are so alienated from God that His will and word is not their desire, perhaps decidedly not so ?

This is the stuff of liberalism, for example, and the author can attest this, that when in a liberal seminary, before leaving it for one far better, he was frequently, as one trained in Philosophy, both amazed and appalled at an obtuseness on the part of some of the liberal teachers or authors, so profound, so like a form of concussion, that it was a problem even to see HOW they could so traduce the text!

Certainly, these errors were part of one's testimony to rebut, and the good Lord gave the strength for this in a delightful and inspiring sort of way; for in such matters, flames must meet fire-extinguishers. However the oint before us is clear: hatred of God, or dissidence from His word (which being HIS, is a test as in Matthew 4:4, Isaiah 8:20) is one of the methods of making mountains out of mole-hills, the mole-hills themselves being formed initially by kicking up dust. Satan tried it with Christ, and failed (Matthew 4), because the total word of God was alien to the devices of confused rhetoric deployed by the devil.


1) Jeremiah 4.

We shall in this context take only two examples of the use of common-sense on the one hand, and respect for artistry of composition by a measure of empathy and discernment of thrust, on the other.

Thus in Jeremiah 4, we have a fascinating exposure. In verse 10, Jeremiah says this:

"Then I said, 'Ah, Lord God,
Surely You have greatly deceived this people and Jerusalem,
Saying, 'You shall have peace,'
Whereas the sword reaches to the heart.' "
Does this mean that Jeremiah is charging God with corruption, lying ?

First, look at the immediate context. Immediately after this statement, proceeding without pause or interruption, but rather with a sweeping flow. In fact,  Jeremiah proceeds in the name of the Lord to itemise and reveal some of the judgment to come. Then, after some detailed description of the blight, not without energy and vigour, the prophet is moved to appeal to Jerusalem, saying,

"O Jerusalem, wash your heart from wickedness,
That you may be saved.
How long shall your evil thoughts lodge within you ?
For a voice declares from Dan
And proclaims affliction ..."

The text then establishes that there is to be a stirring up of war from outside, upon Israel.

The prophet is thus in no evident mood, or fury, but rather proceeds not with relish, but with effusion and éclat to the detailing of the dooms to come. It is apparent at once that he is not therefore engaged in some epic or epochal denunciation of the sincerity of the Lord, in whose name he continues to speak! Indeed, his appeal so soon afterwards to Jerusalem to WASH, and his protestation, not to God but to the people, to stay the play of corruption, to end this ENDURING process to which they continue to be drawn astray, makes it clear that the prophetic arrow points at the heart of Israel, not to that of God.

This is a frequent phenomenon - repeated challenge from Jeremiah to the nation: COME, and do not DELAY for your backslidings are approaching the PERPETUAL! and perpetuity in misdoings comes to breach doom! This way and that, he appeals, with offers coming in amazing depth and staggeringly late in the drama (as in Jeremiah 17!).

It is this strenuous solicitude which so tellingly and with such tenderly challenging pathos is revealed again in Jeremiah 13:27:

"I have seen your adulteries, and your neighings, the lewdness of your whoredom, and your abominations on the hills to the fields.

"Woe to you, O Jerusalem? will you not be made clean ? when shall it cone be ?"

This, then, being the sustained character of the protestations of Jeremiah, and the immediate context similarly dwelling on their eminently deserving apostasy, deserving doom, what then is the meaning of the 'deception' of which the prophet spoke in 4:10 ? In fact, any thought of taking this as an affront to God is removed at once, not only by the pressure of the context near and far, but by the simple fact that Jeremiah has been personally engaged in exhibiting that there is ANYTHING BUT PEACE for the people, and that on a ground mounting like a tsunami, to the skies! Called for a task as shown in Jeremiah 1, he has been declaring calamity so vastly, so prodigiously, that the term 'jeremiad', although unjust in its simplistic configuration, is yet not uncommonly used of a forecast of desolations!

In WHAT way then, in God's universe, has 'deception' occurred to the effect that despite all this, and in direct confrontation with the very words spoken over time by Jeremiah himself, there is to be peace for the land ? It has been in only one way: through that other phase in which this prophet so specialises, the denunciation of false prophets, who are exposed repeatedly as falsely assuring the people in swelling words of vanity, of peace! Jeremiah does it in principle, he enunciates it in reproof, he declares it in contest, he deals with the whole scope of false prophecy over ages! He declares the punishments coming, the provocations responsible, appeals for their cessation, but from first to the end, is eloquent of what is coming, in 25 even specifying in years of exile, the penalty! - 70.

Look now for example at Jeremiah 23, and in particular at 23:20 in its end of the Age forecast of the proliferation of this evil plagiarism, this pretentious fraud of false religionists speaking from their own foolish hearts, yet in the name of the Lord! Look, if you will at the face to face confrontation with Pashhur in Jeremiah 20, a misled orator who put Jeremiah in stocks, and of whom the prophet declared - "You, Pashhur, and all who dwelt in your house, shall go into captivity. You shall go to Babylon, and there you shall die, and be buried, there you and all your friends to whom you have prophesied lies."

In what sense has then the Lord allowed the deception of the people ? in this sense, so clearly portrayed in the biting words of Micaiah, I Kings 22. Here the perennial fraud of the lying prophets is seen in a military situation. The false prophet Zedekiah, I Kings 22:11ff., forecast that the battle would be a fine one, with triumph for his 'side'; but despite Zedekiah's iron horns with which he sought to symbolise the dread power of Israel over their enemies, Micaiah revealed the truth. He had seen a vision in which the people of Israel were like sheep without a shepherd (as they were involved in idolatry with an evil king to boot).

What therefore should be done ? They should return to their homes. This however was not the case, for the king was desiring this foolish battle. What then ?

The vision went on to show the Lord calling for what spirit would mislead the foolish king to his destruction, by having him enter the battle ? One offered to do this, and was allowed so to act, so that the king following delusion, would meet his judgment. Ignoring the word of the Lord through Micaiah, expressly forecasting defeat, King Ahab would come to a judgment personally richly deserved. It was so, the crafty king failing in his bid to divert attack onto his ally, Jehoshaphat, and being killed by a stray arrow, by one of the enemy sent into the air in the exuberance of battle, to hit whom it would! It was not target practice; but it hit the supreme target.

As provider of history, and in the last resort, the judge of the hearts of men, God at that time, then, saw fit to allow a delusion, what is called an active delusion in II Thess. 2, to come to the king who had for years most notoriously resisted the prophets of the Lord, and in whose reign many had been killed. It was a sentence on obduracy and a consignment to the consequences of his own persistent spiritual fever. In so allowing the disease of disfaith (q.v.) to come to its dramatic conclusion, God permitted in His plan, such a deception. HE did not deceive; but He allowed one who would not LISTEN to His own express words, to suffer deception.

What is it like ? It is like a patient refusing antibiotic because he believes it does not help in a viral disease, coming to suffer the full penalty when an ensuing bacterial infection wreaks havoc in his chest! Is the doctor responsible ? of course not. But if he at last allows the patient so to act, then if he owned the hospital, he might find lament that he suffered such a thing!

Yet God does not push robots, nor is He a dictator. It is in this sense, then, that the allowing of deception through the patently fraudulent prophets, who have acted in the very face of the word of God through Jeremiah, that God has suffered them to be deceived to their doom. Did He act to prevent this ? Yes, and monumentally so, and at that,  through few more than Jeremiah.

Did the Lord expose the false prophets, as this author had to expose the same in New Zealand in protesting to the uttermost in the 1966 Assembly, against the subjectivisation of the bodily resurrection of Christ ? Assuredly. (Cf. Biblical Blessings Ch. 11, Stepping Out for Christ
Ch. 5 and  *4 of Ch. 3 above). Never let it be said that that Assembly was not dramatically and most forcibly warned, as has been the deceptive way of some!

Reverting to Israel: Never let it be said that God did not warn this people, or that those who would speak for Him could not be found! Jeremiah and Isaiah alike were intensive in this task.

In fact, Jeremiah was doing just that speaking at just this time, as we read in Jeremiah 4.

However, because they did not receive the love of the truth (II Thess 2:11), they came to be deceived, and in the end God actually sent them the "active delusion" which their state merited.

2) Our second example ? It is from Psalm 114.

The word here in view,  is 'unintelligible'... Does this mean that GOD could not understand the language of Egypt ? Of course not, since He claims omniscience and to have Himself divided the tongues of mankind into many dissipative speech forms (Genesis 11, cf. Romans 11:33, Psalm 11:4, Isaiah 40:12-14, Psalm 94:8ff.). He openly mocks such simplistic short-circuiting of causation and creation.

But is not the word 'unintelligible' put down without qualification, and should not this include the very One who CALLS it unintelligible ? Yet does a teacher call a program 'hard' because he finds it difficult to comprehend, when communicating with his class ? He may, but it would need some certification from other words, to make a student think so. A teacher per se is expected to have the facility after years of work, to comprehend a thing without undue effort at the student level. If he means it otherwise, we would expect him to say, 'even I find it hard' or something of the sort.

In normal parlance, a teacher would be thinking empathetically of his students' point of view, and assessing a thing relatively to the student program, in which this item or facet or feature would appear in the harder component. Going back to kindergarten level, the teacher, or on to hospital level, the nurse, might say, "we are having trouble today, John ... or Mr Smith ... aren't we!"  It is far deeper than this, but at a comparatively trivial level - though not in all cases particularly so - this is the empathy. In SOME such cases, the teacher/nurse might be genuinely involved!

God, we read, in Isaiah 63:9, moreover, was 'afflicted in all their affliction' so that there is even more here. He in His compassion FEELS for and gains impact from the sufferings of His people, as shown to the uttermost in His loving intervention on the Cross, when He actually personally BORE the impact of sin, in order to cancel it where cancellation is received in the only way possible, that is, by FAITH.

Hence on the double ground, positively, of empathy for and compassionate concern over the people, God is sensitive to their findings, to their experiences, and indirectly is able to bear the impact of their problems. You see this even more directly in Psalm 81:5.

Here God says this:

"This He established in Joseph as a testimony,
When He went throughout the land of Egypt,
Where I heard a language I did not understand."

"I removed his shoulder from the burden..." it proceeds to state.

First, notice that it moves from "He" to "I". Obviously this is not for no purpose.

It becomes more empathetic in that it is more personal, and the ensuing kindness concentration attests this. What then is the "language I did not understand" to mean ?

Just as above, it means that in His being afflicted with their afflictions, and bearing their difficulties in His heart (63:14), intensely desiring their peace and rest, God was sensing, you might almost say sensoring, not censuring, the pangs of their uncomprehending minds, and took this pang to Himself on their behalf. It is best in translating an extensive writing, to take into account the principles, procedures and purposes of the author as DECLARED, in finding what is intended!

One cannot help being reminded of the remarks of the English Matriculation exam setter in one year in Victoria, Australia. One would hope, he or she opined, that after 12 years of being taught English, there would be for the student some possibility of exercising initiative of thought and taking excursions into imagination, without undue prompting.