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Babble on

Babble on

My grandson is a talker who doesn’t require words.

He goes throughout the day with a steady monologue in his own concoction of language, with a few basic names of things and sounds thrown in.  For example, when we interact on FaceTime, he always manages to bring up his fascination with cars.

I wonder: is there intent here?  Does he have something specific he’s trying to say?  Or is he just mimicking the cadence and sounds of the adults he hears?

This all came to mind when I read this intriguing passage in Isaiah 28:

“Who is it he is trying to teach?
    To whom is he explaining his message?
To children weaned from their milk,
    to those just taken from the breast?

10 For it is:
    Do this, do that,
    a rule for this, a rule for that;
    a little here, a little there.”  (vs 9-10)

This is the prophet, describing how his audience mocks him.  In essence, they accuse him of preaching to them like they’re children.  (Specifically, toddlers, like my 16-month-old grandson.)

Then they give an example.

Verse 10 could be a complaint about how methodical and persistent his lessons are.  Nag, nag, nag.

But when we look at the Hebrew, they could be accusing him of babbling like a toddler.  The words read:

Sav lasav sav lasav

Kav lakav kav lakav

Sound like an ancient Hebrew book by Dr. Seuss.  We like to hop on kav lakav!

Let’s face it: the core message of the gospel is pretty straightforward.  It is literally simple enough for a child to understand.  Because of that, we can be tempted to become jaded when listening to teaching, thinking we have heard it all before.  It’s too simple for us.  We begin to judge preaching on the false standard of the percentage of “new” content.

I know I struggle with this.

Jesus reminds me that the true handling of his words is not simply hearing but doing (Matt. 7:24).  Isaiah’s listeners had no intention of obeying God’s word.  That’s why they wearied of it.  God’s word is active.  It’s not meant to entertain us, but to change us.

It’s challenging to find ways to put his words into action while quarantined at home.  But it’s key to unlocking the power in his simple truths.

Lord, save us from our sophistication!  By your Spirit, never let us grow weary of the good news of our salvation.  Help us to apply your word.  Change us even today in some small way by your truth.

Reader:  Do you struggle, like I do, with “been there, heard that”?  If so, how do you combat it?

Email me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. And if you liked this, please use the buttons above to share it.

Bruce Van Patter

As a freelance illustrator, graphic recorder, and author, Bruce is on a lifelong journey to delight in the handiwork of the Creator. And he’s always ready for fellow travelers.

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