Draw near to hear

“Come near,” Yahweh invites Israel (Isaiah 48:16). The verb is qarab , a liturgically charged term used frequently in Leviticus. Especially in Leviticus 1, various forms of the word describe what worship is for (drawing near, qarab ), what Israel does with its offerings (a different form of the verb), and the offerings they bring ( qorban ).

Come near to . . . what? From Leviticus, we might expect “offer sacrifice” or “bring your gift.” That is biblical language. But in Isaiah 48, the invitation is, somewaht unexpectedly, to draw near to “hear.” Teaching doesn’t seem to have a prominent place in the drawing-near rites of the tabernacle and temple, but Isaiah views hearing as one of the reasons to “draw near.”

Especially in the New Covenant, where the sanctuary has been opened and the gifts of God – Word, Manna, Rod – have been offered to God’s people, especially now we “draw near to hear.”

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