Monday, December 31, 2018

Monday - Isaiah 52 - The Man with a Marred Visage

SAIAH 52 leads in perfectly into Isaiah 53, which is an amazing view of the good news of the crucifixion of Christ. However, it seems odd that such good news should wear such a grotesque face. The good news is that our redemption is real. Our God reigns (Isaiah 52:7). A comforter is come (Isaiah 52:9). God's strength is apparent. Salvation is seen (Isaiah 52:10). This is indeed very good news. But, what does this look like? Well, let's look at Him(Isaiah 52:14). We will look at some of the horrid details of His torment in chapter 53, but consider the visage of our suffering Savior today. What must His face have looked like to be"marred more than any man" during the night and day of His passion? We know that He sweat "as it were great drops of blood" (Luke 22:44). His face was beaten by a group of soldiers. Doubtlessly this left his face swollen, bleeding and (we also know) polluted with human spittle (Matthew 26:67). He had a crown of thorns beaten into His brow (Matthew 27:29-30). Handfuls of his beard were ripped from his cheeks (Isaiah 50:6). Surely there were tears streaming from His sad eyes (Matthew 27:46).

So, this man with a marred visage is the lovely Lord of Glory. But, on the cross He wasn't looking quite so lovely (Isaiah 53:2). This picture of Him reveals to us just how deeply God hates sin. That He would put Himself through that degree of maltreatment screams both of His holiness, and yes, of His compassion too (John 10:18 & Acts 2:23). He endured so much for us. He was abused so unfairly for our forgiveness. Let us all tell to sinners far and wide that Jesus was bruised & battered for them. So many don't see it. Show it to them.

Saturday, December 22, 2018

Holiday Hiatus

There will be no devotional posts on this blog during the week of Christmas.  Might I suggest that for your devotionals from December 24th - 29th, you study the Christmas story from Mathew's & Luke's accounts.  Come again on December 31st.  We will plan to resume with Isaiah 52 on that date.

Saturday - Isaiah 51 - Forever Stuff

SAIAH 35:10 & 51:11 are identical verses. These verses comprise a song that almost eclipses the rest of these 2 chapters: "The redeemed of the LORD shall return, & come with singing unto Zion; and everlasting joy shall be upon their head: they shall obtain gladness and joy; and sorrow and mourning shall flee away."  Ah yes, everlasting joy!  I like this forever stuff.  Let's try to pick up on some of the other statements in this chapter that also address "forever stuff."

Isaiah begins this chapter by advising God's followers to look back in review. From where did we come? What has God done for us in the past? Surely the future (even the infinitely distant future) is related to the past. If God has invested so much in us, is He likely to give up on us now? Or ever? It's not like He didn't know where we would be at this point, right? What He starts, He finishes (Philippians 1:6). He perseveres. Or, as God said through Isaiah, "My salvation shall be forever' (Isaiah 51:6).  Notice also that those who follow after righteousness eventually know righteousness (Isaiah 51:1, 7 & Matthew 5:6). And, those who resist righteousness are found to be made of very fragile fabric indeed. God comforts His own, and discomfits His enemies. It really is that simple.  No matter how low we go, if we are God's children, we can be sure that He will bring us out... in His good time. We are always in His hand. Always. That's the only way He works (Ecclesiastes 3:14).

Friday, December 21, 2018

Friday - Isaiah 50 - The Power to Deliver

HE iniquities of Israel were so bad & their insults against God were so deep that He divorced Himself from His own people (vs. 1). Or from another angle, Israel sold themselves into slavery. Yet, God was well able to unravel the damage which had been done in the relationship. It is a great affront against God for anyone to act as if His power is insufficient for Him to bring His own people back to Himself (vs. 2). However, the very thing that brought judgments on Israel (initially) also stood between them & their Redeemer when He was ready to redeem them. But the lack was not in God. The lack was in the faith of His people. God's strength is infinite, limited only by the fallen freewill of men.

Hallelujah for Isaiah 50:4 though! Isaiah reports, "The Lord GOD has given me the tongue of the learned, that I should know how to speak a word in season to him that is weary..." Indeed, Isaiah was more than willing to be a mouthpiece for God to use too. But, wait. When the Messiah did come, He fit some of these statements even better (vs. 6-7). Christ was the One with the power to deliver. He has indeed spoken a word in season to the weary.  He who was the Word, and who was in the beginning with God (because, after all, He was, is and has always been God), has all power (John 1:1-5 & Matthew 28:18-20). He has the power to save even the worst of sinners; the darkest of hearts; the most hopeless of human lice (Hebrews 7:25).

Thursday, December 20, 2018

Thursday - Isaiah 49 - Isaiah, Israel, Immanuel and I

N Isaiah 49 God reveals to us His program of redemption through the nation of Israel; most precisely, salvation through the greatest son of Jacob: Jesus Christ. It is true that God chose Jacob from the womb (Isaiah 49:1 & Romans 9:10-13). Yet there is another of whom it can be said (even more thoroughly) that He was called "from the womb" of His mother. Jesus was set for the falling and the resurrection of many of Jacob's other descendants (Luke 2:34). Jacob truly had power with God and men (Genesis 32:28). But, so did Jesus. Much more so, of course (Luke 2:52). Whether Isaiah realized that he was speaking of more than of Israel or not, I can't say, but we can surely see now that he was indeed.

Jesus spoke as no man before Him had ever spoken. He was closer to the Father than any man had ever been. He was more perfectly used by God than any other man could possibly be used (Isaiah 49:2). He was a willing servant (Isaiah 49:3). He was the Savior of Israel, and of the world too (Isaiah 49:6 & Luke 2:32). He was destined to be the ruler of the world that hated Him (Isaiah 49:7).  He would be pleased to restore His own people to a place of fellowship with the Father. He would make sure that they would never be forgotten (Isaiah 49:15). And indeed, every time the Son of God looks at His own hands, He is reminded that He purchased His brethren with His own blood (Isaiah 49:16). Not only is the salvation of their souls His business, so too is the return and reformation of their nation (Isaiah 49:22-23 & 26).

I'm so thankful that I have obtained access to the great salvation provided for by the blood that flowed from Immanuel's veins. If the sinfulness of the Jews has opened the door just a crack, allowing us access, imagine what the ambiance in heaven will be like when all of Israel is saved (Romans 11:15 & 26). Someday, you who are saints will be together with Israel (and with me too), and we will all have one glorious thing in common. We will all owe our eternal blessedness to the Son of God; the Servant of Jehovah who is the Savior of the world. 

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Tuesday - Isaiah 48 - No Peace

OMINAL Christianity is nothing. Wearing a religious badge is nothing. Having a pious label and a spiritual heritage is of no value. Here in Isaiah 48:1 the Jews of old were described as the ones who called themselves by the name of Jehovah, and yet there was no truth or righteousness in them. They claimed that they were people of faith and that their faith was aimed at the one true God.  Well now, that's good as far as it goes. There are others who have no faith at all and who certainly do not know the one true God. And of course, that's not good.

Still, despite the elevated position of the Israelites, they are described in Isaiah 48:4 as an obstinate lot with an iron neck and a brass forehead. Is it possible to be both rebellious and religious? I mean, rebellious, and also smack dab in the middle of the right religion? The answer is a resounding and a disappointing, yes! However, living in error while surrounded by truth is a peaceless & miserable existence. In fact, it is much worse to rebel against God while knowing Him than to live sinfully in ignorance (2nd Peter 2:21, Numbers 15:24-28 & 1st Timothy 1:13). So, this passage (which is clearly addressed to the people of God) ends with a fast warning, "There is no peace, says the LORD, unto the wicked" (Isaiah 48:22). This is why we find in the New Testament, "Let everyone that names the name of Christ depart from iniquity (1st Timothy 2:19), because, unfortunately we who are the children of God are still quite capable of acting like the devil.