Jacob rolling over in his grave

April 2015 (24)Isaiah 29:20-24

20 Because there will be no more tyrant, and the unbelieving critic will come to an end. And all those lying in wait for evil will be cut off; 21 those who mislead a person into sin with a word and set a trap for the defender in the gate and lead astray the innocent by hypocrisy. 22 For this reason, Yahveh, who redeemed Abraham, says this to the house of Jacob: “Jacob will be ashamed no more, and his face will turn pale no more. 23 Because when he sees his children, the work of my hands, in his midst, they will treat my name as holy, and they will treat the holy one of Jacob as holy, and they will stand fear the God of Israel. 24 And those who err spiritually will come to know understanding, and those who complain will learn instruction.

Jacob rolling over in his grave

I come from a Christian tradition that sees death as a period of unconsciousness from which everyone will be awakened at Christ’s return.[1] So, I do not believe that my ancestors are watching me, or are effected by what I say or do. However, that does not stop me from using the expression that “grandpa is rolling over in his grave.” It’s a colorful way of saying that someone’s actions or words are an embarrassment to his or her progenitors. That’s the way Isaiah is speaking here. He’s saying that if Jacob could see what his family has become, he would be extremely ashamed. But if he could see what was going to happen to Israel ultimately, he would be proud.

What is going to happen to stop Jacob from rolling over in his grave? A spiritual revival is going to happen. Tyrants will stop abusing their power for personal gain. Unbelieving critics will stop condemning the faith and the faithful. Those who live for violence will be no more. Those who use their legal or political or religious authority to promote sin and error and take advantage of others will be a thing of the past.

So, the real message Isaiah is teaching is not that people are alive after they die. It is the hope that people can revive spiritually after their society falls deep into sin and shame.

LORD, may this generation see a revival of true faith and holiness, which honors the faith of those who came before us.

[1] for an explanation of this view, see “Did you say ‘sleep’?”

About Jefferson Vann

Jefferson Vann is a former Christian missionary and a candidate for pastoral ministry. You can contact him at marmsky@gmail.com -- !
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