Friday, February 25, 2011

Isaiah Chapters 34-36

34:2 - God is just and His judgment is poured out in equal measure on the Hebrew people and on the rest of the world. I wonder if we see less of the twisted paganism of ancient times and less direct action from God towards judgment because the Holy Spirit of God is more frequently working actively in the world since the sacrifice of Jesus? What do you think?

34:6 - This is pretty brutal imagery...I believe that this sword has another name - "justice." Remember, God is just, and the sin of mankind brought death and destruction into the world...because sin brought blood and death, it can only be paid for through blood and death. That is justice. Good thing for us that God is also merciful, so He came to earth and paid the price for our sins through His own blood and death!

34:13 - This passage and the verses around it make me think about civilizations like ancient Egypt. Egyptian rulers ruled their country almost completely unchanged for 1,000 years - A THOUSAND YEARS! That is so long. Imagine how much our country has changed in the 200+ years we've been around. They remained unchanged for a thousand. Yet now their greatest achievements the tombs of their rulers - the great pyramids - are the homes of jackals and bugs. Such is the power of man.

35:5-6 - This is Isaiah's future prophecy for the return of the faithful remnant to Israel, but it also paints a beautiful picture for us about our eternal future with God (And we needed something like this didn't we - these chapters have been pretty brutal thus far!). The eternal kingdom of God has no sickness, no pain, no handicaps, no sorrow - it will be like a refreshing oasis in the desert of human existence so far...a paradise that last forever!

35:8 - The only path into heavenly Zion is "the Way of Holiness." The only way for any of us as flawed individuals to become holy is through the blood of Jesus Christ. He is our "way of holiness" the Israelites passed through the parted waters of the Red Sea to receive salvation from the Egyptians...we pass through the ripped body of the God-man Jesus. We pass through His blood and become holy as our Father in Heaven is Holy. Thank you Jesus!

35:10 - We are the I just mentioned, we have been ransomed by the blood of Jesus Christ. Think about the worth that God places on your life...He deems you worth the blood of God!

36:6-9 - Oddly enough, the pagan Assyrian commander that approaches echoes the words of Isaiah almost directly. He also chides the Jews about how foolish it was to put their trust in the Egyptians who will only let them down in the end. The commander also seems to understand that the Assyrians are being used as a tool by God to pour out His judgment on the Hebrew people...interesting. This just goes to show God's ability to use any person as His instrument and mouthpiece...a false god worshipping pagan commander from a vile and sinful nation is used by God to confirm the prophecy of Isaiah - wow.

36:20 - The heart breaking fact about this chapter is that God is the one who gets truly shamed. The Assyrian commander puts the God of the Israelites (The one and only God in existence) in the same category as false gods of other nations the Assyrians have already conquered. God watches as people He created brag that He does not have the power to protect His own people, and He allows the shame to be heaped on Him because H loves His people and He wants them to be punished so that they will return to relationship with Him. This is definitely one of those, "This is gonna hurt me more than it hurts you" moments for God.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Isaiah Chapters 31-33

31:1 and 3 - This is a recurring theme in Isaiah...the Jews continue to put their hope of salvation and trust in other humans - in the strength of man-made armies and animal powered chariots - instead of putting their trust in God. But those things are not God and they will never be God and they will never offer the hope that God is. We must make sure in our own lives that we are not putting more importance of the wisdom and power of man than we do on the guidance of our Father God.

31:6 - My translation says that the people have "deeply revolted" from God...that is such a powerful phrase. How have you and I deeply revolted from God in our lives? How have we chosen to have we denied the lives that we have been created to live? No matter where you are, no matter what you have done, it is never too late to turn back to God. Isaiah is calling the people of Israel and us to turn away from our rebellion and back to the path of God.

32:1-2 - Isaiah predicts that a king of righteousness will one day reign. We know that the ultimate king of righteousness was and is Jesus Christ. He came to show the world a new way...a revolutionary path of existence where people have the strength to care more about others than themselves. When leaders choose to lead out of righteousness and selflessness they stand out like a stream in the midst of a desert. The world is thirsty for Christians who will stand up and lead by choosing to truly follow Jesus.

32:5 - In a world where people try to live nobly...try to seek out justice and righteousness...the fools are no longer called noble. I think about political shock-jocks from both ends of the political spectrum who spew vile and offensive political garbage back and forth and I think about all the people in the US who listen to them almost religiously. These people are not offering solutions, they are not offering a better way, they are not making the world a better place - they are fools that make themselves wealthy through hatred. As Christians seek to follow the way of Christ and allow his righteousness to fill them...they should see the vileness of worldly "wisdom and truth" for what it is - foolishness.

32:8 - Very clear cut - those who are noble, think about noble things and perform noble deeds. You can always tell the health of a tree from its fruit. What is your life producing?

32:9-10 - Isaiah calls out the women of Israel, because they have grown complacent. They think that everything is fine...they think that there will always be food and that they have nothing to worry about. Isaiah tells them that they should go into the fields and put on sackcloth and ashes because judgment is coming. They should begin mourning because famine and destruction is just around the corner. Judgment comes because they have not only grown complacent in regards to their crops, but also in regards to their faith. In the easy living world of suburbia, do not allow yourself to grow complacent when it comes to your relationship with God.

32:17 - This is what righteous people living out righteous lives bring to the planet: peace, quiet, trust, rest, etc. These are the things that should follow in the wake of Christians living out their lives in this world.

33:2 - This is a great verse to start your day out with - God be my arm me where I should go...use me to do your work in this world matter what comes, good or bad, I know that you are with me and I know that you are my salvation.

33:6 - Who is God? He is the abundance of wisdom. All wisdom comes from Him. He is the source of salvation. Salvation only comes through Him. He is the abundance of knowledge. All truth comes through Him. If you choose to love and fear this one and only God with all your heart, it will be a treasure to your life and those who know you.

33:14-15 - Who can stand in the midst of God's consuming fire? Those who have lived to reflect His character and nature in this world. Those who have chosen to love and fear Him with their whole beings. Like we talked about yesterday - the consuming fire of God becomes a place of contentment for those who trust in Him alone.

33:22 - Judge - lawgiver - king - God is our salvation and hope. No human being can be these things for us. Christians in the US must remember that as great as this country is not something that we should put our faith and trust in. It is is flawed...our only true king, our only true authority is God. Respect the authorities that have been placed over you in this world, but understand the reality that all things are superseded by the greatness and wisdom of God.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Isaiah Chapters 28-30

28:1 - Absurdly, the people try to ignore their coming judgment and the enemies stacked against them by throwing on festive laurel wreaths and getting throwing parties. Isiah says these crowns and the crowns of fortresses lining the hills of Israel will be thrown down and destroyed. How often do we try to ignore the reality of the world and the consequences of our actions by just indulging ourselves in meaningless pursuits that will fill our mind and time. This world is passing away - do not put your trust and your hope int he things you find here.

28:5-6 - Throughout the book of Isaiah, no matter how dark the prophecies becomes, there is always hope interspersed. Isaiah tells us that when the Lord acts it will be beautiful to His people - those who have truly remained faithful. He will lend strength and courage to those who have been fighting to hold true to their faith...who have been holding the gates against the temptation to becomes just like everybody else. Know that when you trust in God's way and choose to way in will get the strength you need.

28:11-12 - The people of God have refused to listen tot he warnings and instruction He has sent, so they will have to hear it from the lips of the foreign people who conquer them. This must be so heartbreaking for God. He loves His people and wants to show them the truth, but they refuse to listen and will have to be utterly crushed by their enemies before they can see the truth. Kinda like a child that will not listen tot he wisdom of their parents and the only way they will ever learn is by getting crushed by the consequences of their actons and being brought to their knees before God.

28:29 - God gives simple, uneducated peasants the knowledge to be able to grow crops. They know that they cannot just continue to plow over and over thinking that crops will grow. They have to plow, then plant, then water, and then gather the crops the correct way. God has taught these people the complicated process of crop growing and yet the "wise" rulers and religious leaders of the day cannot see the folly of thei ways. They continue living in opposition to God and will not be reaping ay fruit...they will only reap judgment. Are there things in your life that you just keep doing over and over and expecting to get different results, that you need to change?

29:7 - Ariel probably means roaring lion or heroic figure. Isaih is referriung to God's people as they should the lions of the heroes of faith in the world. But because of their refusal to truly follow God, they will be beseiged and conquered by other nations. Even in this there is hope. Isaiah says that the people who besieg and conquere them will be like a bad nightmare...they will last only for a short while and then it will be over. There is hope in the midst of their judgment. There ois also hoep in the midst of this fallen world. It may seem like the problems fo the world will never end, but when we are with God for eternity, it will seem like these issues were just the blink of an eye.

29:13 - The peopel believe that they worship God, but it is false worship. They worship with mouths, but do not worship God in their hearts. They believe that because they are the people of God that they are beyond judgemnet, but they must learn to fear God and love Him fully and God will do whatever it takes to get His people to understand that truth.

29:16 - The people try to turn the reality of creation upside down - they try to deny their creator...make themselves the gods of their own lives. They believe they know how to live their lives better than the one who created them, which is absolutely unnatural and absurd. Does the pot of clay say to the potter - who are you to tell me what to be? No! It is just as absurd for us to think that we know better than God how we should be living our lives.

30:1 - The people stubbornly try to save themselves by turning to other nations...they try to devise their own plans for salvation without consulting God. They want to trust human "wisdom and strength" more than they trust God's and that doesn't really work out very well for them. Has it ever worked out for anybody? Unfortnately, there are still timnes in my own life when I try to depend on my own "wisdom" instead of faithfully turning to God...and it never ends well.

30:15 - If you turn back to God in repentance and choose to find rest in His presence - that is where you will find salvation. Jesus has offered us the means of true repentance...the ability to turn to God and be made righteous. In quiet trust of God, you find the strength to face the problems of this world. Oddly enough, these actions: repentance, trust, humility, quiet - these are opposite of the typical human efforts to bring salvation to ourselves.

30:19-20 - Always there is hope for God's rebellious people. He disciplines out of love to bring His people back to Him. God never ceases to love and listen to His people.

30:33 - This verse sounds alot like the hell/eternal judgment pictures painting i the New Testament with regards to the end times. I thought it was interesting to notice that the source of heat in these eternal flames is the breath of God. Elsewhere the breath of God is described as life-giving. Read Malachi says that the sun light of God brings healing to the wounded and it burns away every bit of moisture from the chaff. The light and truth of God is healing power to the faithful and it is devouring flames to the unfaithful. Rob Bell once had a series called "the flames of heaven might just be hotter than the flames of hell" where he talked about the fact that the people who reject God may not want anything to do with eternity with Him. Th same source of goodness and light that is beautiful to those who love terrifying torture to those who hate Him.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Isaiah Chapters 25-27

25:1 - Good challenge for me: if God is truly my God...if I truly love and trust in Him - then I will respond to Him every day with exaltation and praise. Do I view my life as an act of praise used to honor my awesome God? Not very often...that needs to change.

25:4 - Here Isaiah continues to share the hope that rests in God. He is a stronghold, a fortress, for the poor and the helpless...for those who have nowhere else to turn. The ruthless people of the world through themselves over and over at God's people and at His earthly kingdom, yet they are as useless as breath trying to blow down a wall. None can stand against the will of God.

25:7-8 - There is this covering laying over all people - this blanket of death and hopelessness...we all know it is is inevitable...we run from it in fear and fight it with everything we have. Yet Isiah says, there is hope - God will devour death. And we know that God destroyed the power of death over our lives by dying for our sins on the cross. He took our sinfulness upon himself and destroyed it through His perfect sacrifice. Though our bodies will die, we know that death has been conquered and that there will be a resurrection into eternity with God.

26:3 - The key to finding and keeping peace in this crazy world, is to keep our minds fully focused on God. He is unchanging...He is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow, and the stability of His character gives us peace to handle the instability of this world.

26:7 - Those who allow the righteousness of God to change their lives and make them righteous do not live constantly on emotional roller coasters. They down go up and down - feeling really close to God and then feeling far from God. When we allow the righteousness of God to wash over out lives we can be content in any circumstances - good and bad.

26:11 - When people finally comprehend the love that God has for them and for His people - the love that He has always had for them - they are ashamed that they ever doubted or rejected Him.

27:3-4 - The Lord is the keeper of His vineyard - His people - and He takes care of them. But any good gardener knows that for the sake of the garden, sometimes you have to pull weeds and prune the plants to keep the garden healthy. God is also willing to do this to His people as we have seen throughout the book of Isaiah. The pruning may be painful and hard, but it is for the sake of the garden - His people.

27:6 - The garden grows healthy as a result of God's pruning, and the fruit the people of God will produce grows abundant and impacts the entire world positively.

27:7 - Again Isaiah wants to remind us and offer us hope - God has struck His people...He has disciplined them, but not like He has disciplined their enemies. He has not brought utter destruction down upon them...He has done what He needed to do to bring them back into relationship with Him. God has done what He had to do to make them healthy again so that they can produce fruit. Very similar to the role of a father in the lives of His children. If somebody was trying to hurt my children, I would react very swiftly with whatever amount of violence that was required to keep them safe. There are times that I also "bring the pain" to my kids (i.e. spank them), but this is done as a means of helping them to become better people. One is an act of righteous anger, and the other is an act of discipline. God has poured His righteous anger out on the enemies of the Israelites and on the other hand He has poured out loving discipline on His people.

27:9 - Through the punishment that God brings, their sins are atoned for...their guilt is removed. As the sinfulness is cut away, the people are freed to once again produce fruit in the midst of their relationship with God. The only problem is that the people keep going through the same cycle. They sin and rebel, they are punished and their sins are atoned for, and then they return to God. Over and over this takes place in the scriptures. God brought an end to this cycle by offering Himself as an atoning sacrifice, once for all.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Isaiah Chapters 22-24

22:4 - I think it is appropriate for church leaders and Christians in general to mourn and weep at the state of the Church today - as Isaiah weeps for Jerusalem, the daughter of God. There is much beauty in the Church and there are many faithful people in the world, but look at the Body of Christ...the Bride...the Church is fractured, disjointed, prideful, disconnected...this is not the vision of the unified Body of Christ. What needs to change?

22:8-11 - The Promised Land that was given to the Hebrew people by God, came t them only through His power and intervention...that is why the have the land. Yet they try to hold on to it, not by relying on God, but through their own strength. They are destined to fail as is anyone who seeks to save themselves through their own power.

23:9 - Again and again we see the judgment of God coming against the prideful. Pride is the root of all sins, from the very beginning. People arrogantly try to make themselves gods...desperately try to save themselves...yet they only succeed in bringing God's wrath at their rejection of Him.

23:17ff - The overall point of this last paragraph is simple...why would you trust or fear Tyre? Isaiah does not understand why God's people continue to put their trust in other human sources of strength when God is in control of everything! Isaiah prophecies that Tyre will be broken and destitute for seventy years, but then God will allow them to resume their trade with the world and the profits will be used to serve God. Never trust in human ingenuity, strength, plans - trust that God's will is going to be done.

*Chapters 24-27 are described by some scholars as Isaiah's Apocalypse. While he does not have quite the symbolic imagery of Daniel or Revelation, these chapters paint a picture of God's sovereignty and His control of all universal events.

24:5 - It seems unfair that the whole earth would be judged by the Laws of Israel when many of them have never even heard God's covenantal laws. That would be a bit unfair, but that is not what this passage is talking about. The whole earth falls under the judgment of God because they have broken the innate covenant relationship that exists between the Creator and all His created. God has written laws on the hearts of every human being...we inherently know good and evil...we know that we are not made to love only ourselves and destroy others and the earth - this knowledge is burned into our DNA as beings created in the image of God. Whether people have ever read a bible or not have little to do with the fact that God has written a natural law inside us and all people of the earth are called into judgment because we have rejected this law.

24:14-16 - What is up with these three verses thrown smack-dab in the middle of this chapter on destruction? Th world is being destroyed and there are people celebrating? What? This is most likely a picture of joy from the remnant of God-fearers that are living on the earth. They have been oppressed by the evil machinations of the "earth-city" and they sing with joy that God is finally going to make things right.

24:21 - All the heavens and the earth are subject to the rule of God. With a word God turned on the lights - created the sun, the moon the stars...and with a word He can turn them off as well. Never forget the awesome power of our creator God.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Isaiah Chapters 19-21

19:18 - The Lord always maintains a remnant of faithful people - always works out a situation, no matter how dire, so that people will turn to Him...people of every country. In this passage, the people are Egyptian - not Jews - that God is drawing towards Him. There are pockets of people in every area of this world who are being drawn to the person of God...we must never forget to keep our brothers and sisters in belief in our prayers. We are one body and we need one another - and God is at work even in the unlikeliest of places...don't forget.

19:25 - God calls the Egyptians, His people. He calls the Assyrians, the work of His hands. He calls the Israelites His inheritance. I love passages like this from the OT because it shows us once again that God has always been a missional God who cares for all people of the world. Yes, He called the Israelites to be His chosen priest-nation...but He called them so that they could be a light to draw the rest of the world to Him. He did not choose them so that they could be an exclusive group of people that rejected everyone else. Today's Christians must understand this concept, because we have not been called to be closed off from the secular world - we have been called to live in this world as God's priest nation and to draw people towards God.

20:2 and 4 - This says that God told Isaiah that he was supposed to walk around naked for three years - NAKED! Now there is some discussion as to whether this meant totally naked or that he was walking around in a loincloth that still exposed his buttocks for three years (Some scholars believe that the conservative Hebrew community would probably not allow even a prophet to walk around fully naked for that long), but that is not the point - talk about committment to God! Talk about making a powerful illustration (I don't plan on using this one in a sermon any time soon!)! The thing about this that challenges me is that Isaiah is so committed to the representing God to the world that he was willing to do anything...ANYTHING...THREE YEARS! Most times it seems like Christians in our culture will do basically nothing uncomfortable, even if God has called them to it...what have I been running from? How about you?

21:10 - The process of threshing grain was pretty extensive. They would throw raw grain on hard ground and have cattle drag huge blocks of stone across the grain. This would crush the grain and get the husks off of it. After this, the people harvesting the grain would throw it into the air and allow the wind to blow the chaff away. This is what the Israelites felt like. They had been crushed under persecution and military oppression...they had been tossed about and were feeling rejected by God. Unfortunately, they did not understand that it is through the threshing process that the pure grain is retrieved. God was allowing the Jews to experience trouble so that they would come through the experience purified and focused on being His people again. Instead the Hebrews chose to put their trust in the people of Babylon and so God is telling them in this passage - the Babylonians are not the answer...they are going to fail just like every other human source of power...they are no the salvation you are hoping for - I AM! Isaiah is trying to get them to understand that through the trials God is drawing them to Him and that they need to only put their trust in God. Good reminder for you and me as well.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Isaiah Chapters 16-18

16:1 - Though this seems like the perfect Christ-centric prophetic passage it is probably most likely a reference to the offerings of the Moabite people. They were expected to bring gifts of sheep to the Israelite kings each year to placate the rulers. So this verse speaks to literal lambs that were offered up tot he kingdom of Israel. The messianic lamb that is offered to the world - Jesus - is referred to in verse 5...

16:5 - This is another prophetic vision from Isaiah about the eternal kingdom of God that will be brought to earth through the Messiah. This kingdom of mercy and justice cannot be brought by sinful humans and must be brought to us by the Son of God. The beauty of the situation is, that now that Jesus has come and established his kingdom, we are able to take part it expanding it throughout the world. And we take part by living out lives that echo his - we bring steadfast love, faithfulness, justice, etc.

17:7 - Though chapter 17 starts out by talking about the destruction that is come to Aram (Damascus was the capital of Aram), verse seven is actually focused on the people of Israel themselves. See, the rulers of Israel when faced with rouble has turned to the kingdom of Aram for strength and support instead of faithfully turning to God. Isaiah is showing them the fallout of these actions. He says, "When you see the kingdom you put your trust in fall apart, you will finally understand the folly of turning away from God." Sometime humans are so stubborn, we have to experience the emptiness, failure and let down of putting hope in the things of this world before we realize that hope only rests in God.

17:9 and 10 - When we forget about God and turn away from Him as the people of Israel did we run smack-dab into the middle of desolation and hopelessness. The salvation we need rests only in God...the refuge that we are looking for - the rest - the comfort - the peace we are searching for...these things can only be found int he presence of God. Do not turn away from Him.

17:13 - Isaiah describes the nations of the world as waves...they crash back and forth into one another...they make lots of noise and shoot foam and spray into the air...they look as if they are powerful, but the only true source of reality and power is God. God sits above all the nations of the world and His power makes their attempts at power look like dust in the wind.

18:2ff - It must have been a pretty impressive sight to the Hebrew people when the ambassadors from Cush came to visit their nation. They came on "papyrus" boats...they were most likely very tall, with smooth, dark skin. This envoys came to tell the Israelites about the greatness of Cush, but Isaiah tells his people, "Do not be impressed - you should be sending them ambassadors to tell about the greatness of our God!" That is the message that needs to be spread throughout the world. This is a message that rings true in our lives today as well. We don't need to be awed and intimidated by the things of this world - we need to be taking the truth of God into this world, so that people can understand reality.

18:7 - Isaiah prophecies that some day the people of Cush, who send their messengers to intimidate God's people, will bring their worship before God and offer Him their sacrifices. There is always hope for redemption...there is always a chance that people who come in contact with God-fearers will see the truth and humble themselves before God.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Isaiah Chapters 13-15

13:5 - "Weapons of His indignation" - how cool is that phrase? God is indignant because the people He created have fallen so far. They seek to serve themselves and worship themselves, while ignoring and rejecting the God who has give them everything. God uses the kingdoms of the world as His weapons of righteousness.

13:9 - "Day of the Lord" - The day of the Lord is a nightmare for the wicked, and a future-hope and comfort for the God-fearers.

13:11 - This reminded me of Hebrews 12:29, which says that God is a consuming fire. He is just and He will make all things right in the end.

13:20 - The most powerful cities and kingdoms in the world that reigned during this time, no longer exist. We don't even know where most of them really were. Where are the hanging gardens of Babylon now? Such is the power of man.

14:2 - Isiah prophecies that the people of Israel will actually become the slave masters of the people who have oppressed them. This must have been positive news for God's people, but it seems a little heartbreaking to me. God's people are going to fall into treating others like the nations around them treated them, and this is not how you bring peace to the world. This is how you maintain the cycle of violence and oppression. Whenever God's people take on the characteristics of the world, they start to pull away from God.

14:12 and 14 - When you set yourself up high on a mountain or arrogance, you only have one way to go...down. The king tried to make himself into a god among men (Reminds me of the original sin - Adam and Eve wanted to be like God). This was absolutely offensive to God and it led to the king's destruction. We all need to understand the folly of self-worship.

14:23 - The once great and powerful kingdoms that put terror int he hearts of the people around them, are now ruled by hedgehogs. They were swept away before the power and wrath of God. We must never forget that this is how powerful God is. He makes the strength of men - weakness. He makes the wisdom of men - folly.

14:31-32 - This reminds me of Hebrews chapter 12. Thanks to the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, we do not approach a holy mountain of fire, smoke, lightning and wrath. Through his cleansing blood we are able to approach the throne of God...we are able to approach Zion, the kingdom of perfection and peace.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Isaiah Chapters 10-12

10:1-3 - Remember this don't want to be caught be the aggressor/oppressor/bully in the world. Isaiah says, "Woe to you who try to take advantage of those weaker." And his use of woe is not the exclamation - WHOA! Woe means, if you make a point in life to crush people and treat them like they are beneath you, you are gonna be in for some seriously bad times with God. In the end when the arrogant bullies come face to face with the wrath and judgment of God...they will finally understand how weak and pathetic they truly are and they will have nowhere to turn. Who will they run to for protection when they stand against God? Moral of the story: you don't want to be in that group of people, so treat others with love and respect.

10:12 and 15 - God is using the Assyrians to as a tool/a weapon - He is using them to discipline His rebellious people. They are kinda like a paddle. You use a paddle to discipline your kids, but it is just a piece of wood...a tool - when you are done with it you hang it back in the laundry room. The paddle is useless without the hand that guides it. The Assyrians have no grounds to be arrogant, because they have only found the success that God has allowed them to find. And when God is done with them, He makes it clear that they will pay the price for their arrogance and blasphemy.

10:21-22 - God in His eternal faithfulness will always keep a remnant, a group of those faithful in the midst of corruption, safe. I find the wording in verse 22 interesting, where the purpose of the destruction that God brings is righteousness. God can only act in the destruction He brings is in fact righteous - it is the punishment necessary to bring His people back into relationship with Him.

11:1-5 - This is another passage that offers us a prophetic glimpse of the Messiah - Jesus.

11:1 - Isaiah says that the Messiah will be a shoot out of the stump of Jesse. The imagery of the shoot and the stump come from nature. Often when you cut a tree down, shoots can still grow out of a stump that has its roots in the ground. Even when Israel is cut down, the remnant will stay rooted in God and a new kingdom under the Messiah will rise from the remains. Why does it not make a reference to David (Jesse was David's father, but not revered like David was)? I believe that this symbolizes the fact that Jesus will usher in a new kind of kingdom leadership. Jesus is not going to follow in the footsteps of David - He is a king that is separate and above the Davidic kingship.

11:2-5 - This section tells us exactly how the kingship will be different. The rule of the Messiah will be marked with wisdom, humility, mercy, fear of the Lord, etc. These are very different characteristics of leadership than have ever been lived out by an earthly king before. They allowed their anger, lust, selfishness, immaturity, faithlessness guide their decisions...the Messianic King will usher in a totally different era of leadership - righteous servant leadership.

11:6-9 - Jesus came to turn the world on its redefine what true strength and power really look like.

11:10 - Even though Isaiah is prophesying to the Israelites who did not really see themselves as a missionary people...we see the worldwide mission of God. Through all the events of the OT narrative we see God working out His plan for all nations and all peoples - not just the Hebrews.

12:2 - When God is your hope, your strength, your salvation...there is nothing to fear...there is peace of mind...there is hopefulness. This would be a great verse to memorize and allow to give you clarity about what is truly important in life.

12:5 - Again we see a clear picture of God's worldwide mission. When God-fearers see the work of God in their lives and in the lives of people around them, they should respond by praising Him and making His goodness known to the world!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Isaiah Chapters 7-9

7:3 - When Isaiah confront King Ahaz who is preparing for a siege, he starts out by introducing his son to the king. His son's name is Shear-jashub, which translates literally as "a remnant will return." Not the most fun way to ever start a conversation, huh? Hey this is my son God-Will-Leave-Somebody-Alive. The message his son's name sends is that even when the children of Israel are experiencing the fallout of their rejection of God...God will always be faithful and leave a remnant of His people behind.

7:4 - I really like the imagery and the message in this verse. Isaiah tells Ahaz that he does not need to worry about the two armies that are coming against him. He says they are like the unburned ends of a log that rest on the outside of the fire. They smolder and smoke, but they offer no warmth and will soon die out. God wants Ahaz to know that these men are inconsequential and that He is in control. I think if we were honest, a lot of the problems we have and alot of the things we worry about are like these smoldering/useless logs...they will die out soon and mean nothing in God's greater plan for our lives.

7:9 - If you do not stand firm in your faith...stand firm in the things you believe will not be firm in any way. True strength is found in living out your faith no matter what the cost.

7:14 - Matthew tells us in Matthew 1:23 that this prophecy was fulfilled in the form of Jesus Christ. So the real questions is - why does Isaiah give this prophecy to a king who is under siege...why would it offer hope to the people of God centuries before Jesus ever showed up? Because the name of the coming savior means "God with us" and Isaiah again is making the point that God is always with His people. Even if things fall apart for there kingdom, we know that there will always be a remnant...there will always be a future hope. God is coming to dwell among us, and He did come in the form of Jesus. We can take heart int he fact that Jesus has already come...we know how the story ends. Although his life and sacrifice do not automatically make it so that every one of our earthly problems is gone...we know that these things are temporary and we know where our future lies.

7:12ff - So many American Christians allow themselves to get caught up in the fear and conspiracies that are propagated by our culture and the media. We must always remember who is really in charge and that there is only one source of power worthy of our fear - that is God himself. If we allow ourselves to humbly fear the awesome power of God and believe that He is in total control - then He becomes a refuge for the faithful. We can find peace of mind in the fact that our all-powerful God in in control.

8:16 - When Isaiah tells the people to "bind up the testimony," he is reminding them to hold onto the treasures of faith and prophecy that they have been given. He wants them to hold firmly to the future hope because there will be times that they cannot see the light at the end of the tunnel and they have to trust God that His promises will come to pass even when they cannot see them. For us, it is often hard to grasp into God's promises of hope, peace and love int he midst of our screwed up world...but we have to bind up these promises and know that even when we cannot see them - they are coming. God is faithful.

8:19-20 - Why do we seek advice from mystical methods, the dead, horoscopes, Cosmo,radio and TV personalities...when we can put our inquires before the one and only God of the universe?

9:6ff - Here we have more Messianic prophecy. This describes the nature and character of Jesus. I am drawn tot he fact that Isaiah prophecies that he will be born...he will come into the world as a baby. God is not sending a warrior who will crush the enemies of God and offer a new form of oppression to the people...God is coming to earth in the form of a baby. God is coming in humility and as verse 4 implies, will break the yoke of oppression through a radical new "way."

9:19-20 - Isaiah prophecies that as the siege continues on, the people will follow their basest instincts and turn on one another. They are being punished by God, because as a nation that turned away from Him and they turned on one another. Every person was thinking only of his/her own interests. Isaiah predicts that when these self-centered people are trapped together during the siege, they will literally begin to devour one another - just like they had been devouring one another socially and politically for years. Pretty bleak picture there...but don't forget - the theme of these chapters was that no matter what - God is working out His plan and God will remain faithful to His promises.