Today in the final chapters of Isaiah we see the final glimpse and prophecy concerning the coming Servant of God. In chapter 63 we see the Servant stained in blood. The Servant is covered not in His own blood but the blood of those He pours His wrath on and judges. This is an interesting picture of the Servant after we see Him as one who comes to give sight to the blind and free the captives (Isaiah 42) and also as a servant who suffers for the sake of His own people (Isaiah 53). Compound these images with the ones that Isaiah gives of the Immanuel in the first part of Isaiah as, God with us who comes as the New David to rule a new perfect Kingdom. Wow, what an amazing Savior we have. Reading through Isaiah has given us a full complete perfect picture of Jesus. Take this picture and combine it with His life in the Gospels and also His actions in Revelations. All of these images should give us a deeper love and affection for Him. If we cannot love Jesus correctly or we chase after earthly idols we must begin by asking ourselves if we know who Jesus really is. This past month we have begun to find and have found the real Jesus. So after reading through Isaiah, are you a worshipper and lover of the right God?
One of the biggest themes in Scripture, including the book of Isaiah, is repentance. Repentance can be defined as; a heartfelt sorrow for sin, a renouncing of it, and a sincere commitment to forsake it and walk in obedience to Christ. Repentance, like faith, is an intellectual understanding that sin is wrong and grievous and offensive to God. It is an emotional approval to the teaching of Scripture regarding the Biblical sorrow of sin and what it does to God. And finally it is a personal decision to turn the opposite direction from sin and walk in righteousness with God. True repentance must then include all of these aspect to be full Biblical repentance. It does not just have a sorrow and grief over sin. It must include a turning and obedience to God (2 Cor. 7:9-10). Repentance must be a part of the daily life of a follower of Jesus. Repentance is not a prayer at night to ask for forgiveness from the day’s sins. Repentance is not asking someone to forgive us unless it includes obedience moving forward. Repentance is a daily act of a person who loves God because they realize and see every sin that hurts God and affects His holiness. To not be a repenting person is to not be a follower of Jesus. And true repentance must be the first act and knowledge that any person has, coming to Christ in humility. If a person does not repent they are not a child of the King and are destined for destruction.
Today we read through Isaiah 53. This passage is called in many of our Bibles and by many theologians, the Suffering Servant song. This chapter of the Isaiah might not only be the clearest passage of the Old Testament on the death of Jesus Christ, but it might be one of the clearest and most defined passage in all of the Bible of what Jesus went through in His death. Thinking about the passion of Jesus Christ and all that was intended by His death, makes a Christian grateful, humble, more forgiving, and give a deeper love for the Suffering Servant. Did you know there is at least 50 reasons Jesus came, gave His life, and went through all that Isaiah describes in chapter 53? Here is a list of at least 50 reasons Jesus came to die. This list comes from John Piper’s book, “The passion of Jesus Christ”.
-to absorb the wrath of God
-to please His heavenly Father
-to learn obedience and be perfected
-to achieve His own resurrection from the dead
-to show the wealth of God’s love and grace for sinners
-to show His own love for us
-to cancel the legal demands of the law against us
-to become a ransom for many
-for the forgiveness of sins
-to provide the basis for our justification
-to complete the obedience that becomes righteousness
-to take away our condemnation
-to abolish circumcision and all the rituals as the basis of salvation
-to bring us to faith and keep us faithful
-to make us holy, blameless, and perfect
-to give us a clear conscience
-to obtain all things that are good for us
-to heal us from moral and physical sickness
-to give eternal life to all who believe
-to deliver us from the present evil age
-to reconcile us to God
-to bring us back to God
-to give us confident access to the Holiest Place
-to become for us the place where we meet God
-to bring the Old Testament priesthood to an end and become an eternal High priest for us
-to become a sympathetic and helpful priest
-to free us from the futility of our ancestry
-to free us from the slavery of sin
-that we might dies to sin and live to righteousness
-so we could die to the Law and bear fruit for God
-to enable us to live for Christ and not ourselves
-to make His cross the only ground for our boasting
-to enable us to live by faith alone in Him
-to give marriage its deepest meaning
-to create a people passionate for good works
-to call us to follow His example of lowliness and costly love
-to create a band of crucified followers
-to free us from bondage to the fear of death
-so that we might be with Him immediately after death
-to secure our resurrection from the dead
-to disarm the rulers and authorities
-to unleash the power of God in the Gospel
-to destroy the hostility between races
-to ransom people from every tribe, language, people, and nation
-to gather all His sheep from around the world
-to rescue us from the final judgment
-to gain His joy and ours
-so that we might be crowned with glory and honor
-to show that the worst evil is mean by God for good
Today we read Isaiah chapters 49-51. Today in the reading we encountered another “servant song”. There are a number of these servant focused passages scattered throughout the last 27 chapters of Isaiah. Yesterday in the teaching time we studied the first servant themed passage as we look to the fact the servant would be held and preserved by the Father in Heaven. The Father is preserving the servant from that passage so He can be a light to the nations. In the reading today, chapter 49 has another servant themed passage. In this passage though the Servant is actually doing the talking to the people of God. In this message from the servant, we see more of His strong truthful commanding presences. The servant tells the people why He is coming, what He is going to do, and then how the people must respond to Him. Combining this passage with the one studied yesterday gives us a fuller picture of who the servant is. The in chapters 53 (which we will read Wednesday) and other chapters to come the picture of the Servant will become much clearer. So the question is, from the reading today in Isaiah chapter 49, do you know the Servant personally and are you responding correctly to what the Servant demands from His people He is serving?
Have you ever felt like there are days your spiritual walk with God is bouncing all over the place? You might know the feeling. You get up in the morning read your Bible and talk with God excited for what He has planned for your day. Then the kids or your spouse get on your nerves or the traffic on the way to work frustrates you. You get out of your car and go into your place of employment and tell God, “let’s try this again”. You feel spiritually refreshed only to hear a negative attitude from a co-worker or a rage of anger from your boss. All of a sudden you’re angry too and yelling at people or tired of the day already and it is only 9am. As the day goes you bounce from a holy action to a sinful action. Then finally after a long day of dealing with sin and brokenness in yourself and the world you get home to find the kids have made a mess of themselves and the house and your spouse is in a bad mood also. Your spouse is just as frustrated as you about dealing with sin, or the neighbors, or the kids’ lack of obedience. Then after you finally struggle through the evening, you get the kids into bed and grab a good “holy” book, like Max Lucado and read before you fall asleep yourself. As you drift off into a deep maybe even peaceful sleep you tell God and maybe your spouse to, “I will try harder tomorrow and will get this thing called the Christian life right”. Have you ever had days like that? Are there periods in your life when you seem to bounce back and forth between worship to God and sinful disgustingness? This is what we see from Hezekiah today in the reading. He is walking with God but deals with the brokenness of the sinful king of Assyria, the sickness of his own body, and his own sinful flesh. But mixed in with the curse is Hezekiah and his walk and trust and closeness with God. So what is the #1 factor in the life of Hezekiah that keeps him most times in the straight and narrow? What does Hezekiah do when the sin and curse come glaring into his face? How can Hezekiah show us a better way to live our lives in days like I just described above? The simple answer yet the answer we do not turn to very much is PRAYER. What does your prayer life show about you? When was the last time a co-worker saw you pray and talk with God? When was the last time your kids saw you pray with your spouse? When was the last time you prayed with your kids other than the dinner table? How much do you pray and rely only on God to run your life? Prayer is the simple yet profound and still rarely used solution to life in this broken sinful fallen world. What does your communication with God show about your heart?
“LORD, be gracious to us, we long for you. Be our strength every morning, our salvation in times of distress”.
The daily walk Bible points to the topic of fear in the reading today. This is rightly so because not only is fear in the reading today, but in fact fear and the sinfulness of it is scattered throughout the entire book of Isaiah. Now, the fear of a grizzly bear in the wild is not a sin but the fear that one of your children will get cancer or the fear of losing your job is a sin. Have you ever thought about that, that fear in many occasions is a sin? Have you ever thought what can cause fear in a sinful way? Well sinful fear is caused by ignorance in not knowing God and his Word. Sinful fear is caused is caused by guilt in our lives of things we have done wrong. Sinful fear can be caused by unbelief in the fact you do not believe that God is in total and complete control. Sinful fear can be caused by confusion in the fact you are looking to the wrong source for strength. Sinful fear can be caused by immoderation in our lives and by indulging in too much of a good thing and making it a god thing. And finally sinful fear can be caused by Satan when we do not protect ourselves from his temptation and darts. This sinful fear that Isaiah is calling the people to repent of has many effects on the people of Israel. The people went other places for safety and even turned to the enemy to the south, Egypt, for help. Sinful fear in our lives has many effects to including; distracting us from the task at hand of glorifying God, deceiving us from the wrong Biblical viewpoint in life, making us vulnerable to others, the flesh, and Satan, makes us a coward, brings about a deep apostasy in our lives, and puts us in bondage to itself. But just like Isaiah was bringing hope from God to His people then, so to there is hope from God is remedies to fight sinful fear in our lives. Here are a few remedies to fighting and ridding our lives of sinful controlling fear; study the covenant of grace deeper, consider the misery that fear puts you under, prepare for future suffering for God, commit yourself to God and His Word, kill your affections to this world, imitate faithful saints in our lives, confirm through prayer the desire for Jesus only, keep our conscience pure in thoughts, keep a journal of how God protects and provides, pray for faith, look to the future kingdom, and finally let the fear of God control the rest of the fear in life. So next time you are dealing with sinful fear look for a God honoring remedy for it.
Isaiah 29: 28, 29
“Grain must be ground to make bread, so one does not go on threshing it forever…All this also comes from the LORD Almighty, whose plan is wonderful, whose wisdom is magnificent”.
Have you ever thought about the fact that God’s salvation always comes through judgement? It is true, study every story in the Bible and there is always salvation brought by God through judgement by God. Adam and Eve were judged by God after they sinned but salvation was right there in the form of the coming hope. Noah was saved on the ark while God was judging the people on the earth. God was judging Jonah all the while we was saving Nineveh right before Jonah’s eyes. And most importantly, God was pouring His holy judgement upon Jesus on the cross, while He was making a way for the salvation of many souls. Today in the reading of Isaiah, and in fact the entire book of Isaiah, salvation by God was brought about through judgement of people. We read today many “woe” oracles or prophecies by Isaiah that signify the coming judgement of God on His people but every oracle also includes the salvation of the remnant that will be held and kept by God. God judges Ephraim with Assyria and saves Judah in salvation. God is going to judge Judah but bring salvation to a few that are left and kept by Him. God's salvation through judgement is still very true today. We all, every single human being will have to deal with the judgement of God. The question is, will you face the judgement of God on your own or will you face the judgement of God with your Substitute? Only 1 of those ways of facing God’s judgment will bring about true salvation.
“Has the LORD struck her (Israel) as He struck down those who struck her? Has she (God’s people) been killed as those were killed who killer her (Judah)?”
Throughout the book of Isaiah God is not only judging His chosen people, but He is also judging the evil and wicked nations around them. God has prophetic oracles against other nations in Isaiah including, Assyria, Babylon, Moab, Philistia, Edom, Tyre, Ethiopia, Ephraim, and Egypt. Not only is God upset and His holiness compromised in His people sinning and looking like the world, but God is also very upset and disgusted with the sinful nations and the world around Israel. The verse I began the post with is an important one for the relationship of Israel and the nations around her. In chapter 10, God uses the evil and wicked nation of Assyria to punish and judge the people of God. Yet God, in His sovereign power, holds Assyria responsible for the pain and judgement that they cause His people. So here is the question. How can God hold a nation He uses for His purpose to judge and punish His people responsible for the judging God used them for? How can God hold Assyria responsible for the sin they committed while they were a tool in the hand of God?
I have a quote in my office that reads, “God uses evil to work out His purposes ultimately to defeat evil”. Romans 9:19 states, “One of you will say to me, ‘Then why does God still blame us? For who resists His will?’” So here is the conundrum, how can God hold sin against someone that is used by God, in that sin, for His purposes? That is a hard question that this side of eternity we will never have a perfect answer to. In Isaiah, God was telling His prophet that He was going to use the sin of Assyria for His purposes and then punish Assyria much worse for that sin. This is Biblical truth from God we cannot argue with. We might not understand it but God is telling us He does it. And as Romans adds a verse later in chapter 9, who are we as man to argue and question God? So, we do not have control over our destiny and life outcome, but the Bible is clear we have a choice over the decision right in front of us. Assyria had a choice to make in regards to Israel. God knew what they were going to choose and He used there single choice to accomplish His purposes. Their choice was sin, God used it, and then punished them for it. This truth is the same for us today. We can chose to sin or not to sin. God already knows what we will choose and He is going to use that for His purposes, even when it is an evil sinful choice. And then God will bless us or punish us based upon our choice in His purposes. So for us, we need to make sure we chose the God glorifying, honoring, worshipping, and pleasing to Him, choice every time we have a choice to make.
One of the major theme’s throughout the book of Isaiah is the holiness of God. The holiness of God came through in the reading today when God judges the sinful nations of Babylon, Philistia, and Moab. The holiness of God can be defined as; God is separated from any and all sin and devoted to seeking His own pure righteous honor. The word purity is connected and mixed with the holiness of God. God in his pure white overwhelming light is a visible sign of His holiness. God receiving the praise from the 4 living creatures is His holiness and character receiving the honor that is due Him. So when God judges people and nations, it is an extension of His holiness going forth in wrath to rid the world of sinful disgusting people who are not about the honor of God but about the honor of themselves. That is even why God disciplines and judges His own people. God uses nations like Assyria and Babylon, who He then holds responsible for their actions, to judge His people for their lack of holiness. When God’s people begin to look like the world they have lost their holiness aspects and will bring the holy wrath of God on them in judgement. This is what Isaiah was calling to the people around him to see. Isaiah was showing them the holiness of God in wrath and love, and he was calling the unholy people to change. Isaiah is till calling us today to see the holiness of God and change from an unholy people into a holy people who reflect the light of God. So in the days ahead feast on the holiness of God and be open to how it can transform you.
I have said in numerous times already this year, but how many of us remember the 4 parts of the story we are reading through this year? Right, so the story, about Jesus, written by God the Father, using humans agents, can be broken up into 4 parts; creation, fall, redemption, and consummation. But what if we would think of these 4 parts and their names all in the idea of creation? So what if we would think of God creating in these 4 parts? Well if we would rename all 4 parts using the idea of God creating it might and would go something like this; creation, uncreation, recreation, and new creation. Let me say those again for us. The 4 plot points of the story of the Bible in terms of creation would go something like this; creation, uncreation, recreation, and new creation. How many chapters are there in the book of Isaiah? Right there are 66 chapters in the book of Isaiah. Now not sure if I said it before, but the chapter and verse divisions are not from God. God, when He was using the original writers did not tell them to make that a chapter and that a verse. Each original book was written in a solid single form and it was only human agents in the last 1500 years that divided them into the breaks we have. But God in His sovereign will still orchestrated that break up into chapters and verses, so God had a plan for Isaiah to be 66 chapters. Now, can someone please let me how many books there are in the Bible? Right, there are 66 books in the Bible. Many scholars then agree that Isaiah is in a sense a smaller scale of the whole Bible itself. So just like the Bible has the 4 points, we have relabeled today as creation, uncreation, recreation, and new creation, so to the book of Isaiah has all 4 points in it. Which points did you hear in the reading? Which of the 4 creations did you catch during the chapters we read through today? Did you see and hear much of the uncreation or see how God is attempting to bring about a recreation in His people? Did you see the section on the new creation and understand how that was compared to the original creation? In the days and weeks ahead see if you can find the 4 creations in the book of Isaiah.