The flat out contradictions in Scripture make Bible readers jumpy.Conservatives seek to defend the “integrity” of Scripture by denying that there is any (even the slightest) disagreement, those on the other side delight in the “proof” that the Bible is merely a collection of venerable ancient texts of no relevance today. Both responses are dead wrong!
Contradictions in Scripture are real guides to how we should read. In Proverbs they reminded us how proverbs work, and how we have to select when to apply which proverb. In other places they are often reminders of the humanity of Scripture, that we have the thoughts of particular authors, in particular times and places, who were inspired by God not the words of God taken down as dictation.
So Is 56:6-8 stands in contrast in its welcoming approach to foreigners to the harsher attitude of Ezra’s prayer 9:5ff.
The debate between the two passages shows us Scripture as incarnate word, rooted in particular times and places, but then that is how the God of the Bible works: choosing the Jews, coming to earth in Jesus…