Here's the thing about the Prophets: i have a hard time reading them without a good commentary or footnotes or something. Here's the thing about my current devotional practice: i'm using a very cute, very portable NKJV Bible that i've had since i was three, and while it does have a handful of Precious Moments illustrations, it does not have footnotes. I mean, it has the normal ones where the translator is like, "This word might mean "bread" or "son" or "hawk". I picked "hawk", but, y'know. FYI," but it doesn't have detailed, scholarly notes about historical and cultural context. I have a Bible that does, but it's huge and heavy because in addition to the copious footnotes it has chapter essays and maps and shit. So it's awesome for studying, but it weighs a ton and would require a small suitcase to lug around. Right now, i value portability. When i finish my current cycle of devotions and start a new one, i am planning to switch Bibles, but for now i'm floundering in the prophets alone.
Here's the thing about Isaiah: it is so full of prophesies about Jesus that i have a hard time reading the actual words and not the lyrics of Handel's Messiah. The first few times you read the Messianic prophecies, it's kind of cool, because of the dramatic irony and whatnot, and you can pick through and find little Easter eggs of information in there, and you feel so smart and educated and excited about how awesome things are about to get for the world. But once you've heard a few dozen sermons on these prophecies, plus a few dozen sermons on how Jesus fit them, plus a few dozen on why the Israelites didn't realize that Jesus fit them, plus read the entire Bible all the way through ten or fifteen times, it's a lot harder to care. And yeah, you still like the writing and the poetry, but the substance becomes very difficult to access. Which is why i struggle so much in my personal devotions: i've been doing this for twenty years now. How much more can i learn about this?
So i go through seasons. Sometimes i'm reading the Bible and finding new and cool things and getting excited every day, and sometimes i'm reading the Bible and thinking, "Well, i can check this off the to-do list for the day." And i'm sliding back toward the chore-like end of the spectrum right now.
All of that to say, in over 30 chapters of Isaiah, this is what i have:
It shall even be as when a hungry man dreams,
And look -- he eats;
But he awakes, and his soul is still empty;
Or as when a thirsty man dreams,
And look -- he drinks;
But he awakes, and indeed he is faint,
And his soul still craves:
So the multitude of all the nations shall be,
Who fight against Mount Zion.
The whole vision has become to you like the words of a book that is sealed, which men deliver to one who is literate, saying, "Read this, please"; and he says, "I cannot, for it is sealed."
Then the book is delivered to one who is illiterate, saying, "Read this, please"; and he says, "I am not literate."