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The art of Judgment vs. Hope in Isaiah

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The Story
In many ways, Isaiah is a book that weaves us in between the concepts of God’s judgment and the hope he still offers us. We find God in Isaiah speaking judgement over his people’s sin in so many refrains throughout the book. And yet, Isaiah is set against the hope that revival is promised, particularly in Jesus.

When we set out to create meaningful art to represent this series, there seemed to be so many angles to pursue in Isaiah. In the end, we felt the book really needed to be portrayed as a collage between this conversation happening around judgment versus hope in revival. It’s a paradox that we landed on to help frame what we would learn through this sermon series, God Saves Sinners.

The Creatives
Josh Cook, a photographer at The Well, provided all his own travel photography to encapsulate the movements in Isaiah. Tyler Musselwhite, a graphic designer at The Well, further composed these images into a collage to represent the intermixing of various conversations happening in Isaiah.  The result was a judgement versus hope collage. We’ve broken down the images with some influencing scriptures below to help you see how this all came together.

 The Images

 Image 1 - Face Sculpture

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Isaiah 33:13-14

Hear, you who are far off, what I have done;

    and you who are near, acknowledge my might.

The sinners in Zion are afraid;

    trembling has seized the godless:

“Who among us can dwell with the consuming fire?

This image became a central image for us in conveying multiple concepts. It’s as if the face is unsure whether to come of out hiding as you look at it. Is it hiding due to shame? Or is it coming out of darkness into the light? Both responses from God’s people happen in Isaiah. God pronounces judgement on his people who are shrouded in unrepentant sin. And yet, we see God offering the hope of new realities over and over to draw his people out into the better reality he provides.

 

 Image 2 - Street Beggar

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Isaiah 55:1-2

Come, everyone who thirsts,

    come to the waters;

and he who has no money,

    come, buy and eat!

Come, buy wine and milk

    without money and without price.

Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread,

    and your labor for that which does not satisfy?

This image was taken during Josh’s travels in Australia. The fact this scene isn’t fabricated is heartbreaking to imagine. The desperation of this beggar in the midst of bustling city traffic is painfully real. Early on, Josh recounted Isaiah 55 as an influencing scripture in this photo. It awakens us to our own neediness and spiritual poverty. This dependent posture is one that’s examined many times over in Isaiah. God wants our dependence and to realize our own depravity so that we might be filled renewed by his spirit. Sometimes it takes us hitting rock bottom to realize how God is reaching to us still in our need. Isaiah is certainly written to a people who have reached that kind of state.

 

 Image 3 -  Creation in Micro

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Isaiah 53:1-2

 Who has believed what he has heard from us?

    And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?

    For he grew up before him like a young plant,

    and like a root out of dry ground;

he had no form or majesty that we should look at him,

    and no beauty that we should desire him.

Isaiah is a book ultimately set against the backdrop of revival. It promises new life and growth though death and sin abound in the moment. Placing this creation photo within this collage felt like one of the best ways to highlight this reality. It’s easy to focus on the suffering and sin we see in Isaiah and our world as unresolved. Yet, stooping down to see the intricate beauty and ever present growth of creation keeps us mindful of God’s every pressing revival. He is reviving and renewing creation persistently. So why wouldn’t he be in the business of reviving us too through Jesus?