Biblical Subject   |   Biblical Text   |   Artist   |   Word
  Artwork: Heaven and earth
  Artist: MANDEL, Myra
  Technique: Painting
  Notes: Isaiah 55:7-12. Artist's comment: "All people of faith have been disturbed, especially in times when seemingly random acts of destruction are perpetrated by evil men, by the question: Why do the evil prosper and why do righteous men suffer? The prophet Isaiah (chapter 55, verse 7), tells us that God will have mercy on the wicked and forgive the sinner if he repents. A person can rightfully ask, why should God forgive the evil person? No matter how much he repents, he can never undo the crimes he has comitted. Through his prophet Isaiah, God begins to answer these two questions in verse 8 (although in this picture only verses 9-11 appear): “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, and your ways are not mine, said the Lord.” The normal thought processes of the average man, who expects revenge and never fully forgives someone who has wronged him, have nothing in common with the ways of God. Even the most sophisticated, intelligent person, can only comprehend a tiny part of God’s reality, only that aspect of God which he has chosen to reveal to us in terms that we are capable of comprehending. A parable which illustrates this is that of a brilliant professor of physics who leaves the university at times to teach a third grade class. Although the children understand the concepts that they are taught, they cannot begin to comprehend the full genius of the professor. Some of them will never catch on to the fact that the teacher is much more than he appears to be. “As higher as the heavens are from the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways. And my thoughts than your thoughts.” The difference between the thoughts of man and those of God are not merely a question of degree. Just as the earth has no height at all in relation to the heavens, which as far as we know have no end, so the thoughts of God are on an infinitismally higher plane than ours. In modern times, when many of the mysteries of the natural world have been researched and explained by science, respect, even veneration, of rational, scientific discovery is the norm. We who were born into this era of the supremacy of the intellect find it very hard to accept the possibility that we will never receive answers to our questions which will be comprehendable by our human intellect. The prophet then tells us that there is a definite purpose to God’s ways: “Just as the rain and the snow descend from heaven and do not return until they have saturated the earth and caused it to sprout and grow and give seed to the sower and bread to he who eats.” Although it may seem to us that events happen randomly, God is telling us that a divine plan exists, that he is guiding the events of the world. Similar to rain and snow, which He sends to provide food for man indirectly, by nourishing the earth, so events which seem to us random, are actually part of a larger puzzle. “So are my words that leave my mouth, they will not return to me empty unless they have done what I desire and accomplished the mission that I sent them for.” “The words” refer to the prophecies of redemption and ingathering of the exiles. God is giving a promise, that unlike a person who sends a messenger to do his bidding, and can never be sure whether the messenger will be fully, partially or not successful at all, God’s word will be fulfilled in every detail. In the next two verses (not appearing in this picture), the prophet describes how joyful the ingathering of exiles will be: "In joy you shall go forth and in peace you shall be led." “The mountains and hills shall burst into song before you, and all the trees of the field will clap.” The commentator known as the Malbim (1809-1879) has another explanation for verse 10: Just as rain and snow appear regularly, God’s abundance is continually descending to earth. This bounty is a one-way flow, much like the rain – man continually benefits from God’s generosity, yet God does not derive any benefit from man’s actions. Seeds will only sprout if the sower has planted them before the rain, and only he who wants to eat will bother to reap and thresh the harvest. So to, the Malbim says, the physical manifestation of God’s abundance can be apparent only if a person has prepared himself to receive it. If the farmer does not plant seeds in his field, the rain that descends will bring him no benefit. Think not, he says, that God alternately witholds his blessing and then renews the flow – God’s abundance flows equally at all times, rather it is the receiver who changes from one who was not prepared to accept to one who is prepared. The upper part of this picture represents the two types of earth in this allegory. In the background is the earth in its initial state, barren and unsown, scattered with rocks, upon which rain is falling yet nothing grows. Lack of preparation has caused its potential to lie unrealized. The inset picture represents the earth which has been properly prepared and sown to receive the abundance of God’s rain - a blooming, fruitful orchard. At the bottom right, the heavens spread out infinitly in the distance, yet we can see only a small,obstructed view of this wonder through our window of limited comprehension."
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  Subject: The Lord's Mercyful Invitation

  Hosts: Art From The Well (Myra Mandel)  [IMAGE]