Archives for posts with tag: Isaiah

And thou shalt derive sweet nourishment from the nations, Yea on the bounty of kings shalt thou be sustained,— So shalt thou know— That I、 Yahweh am thy Saviour, and That thy Redeemer is the Mighty One of Jacob.” (Isaiah 60:16, EMPH)

This verse is set in a context in which Isaiah is addressing Israel as a country.  When God sums up and concludes history, the nation of Israel will “derive sweet nourishment from the nations.”  We know, however, that this passage applies beyond just the nation of Israel because vs. 11 [“Your gates shall be open continually; day and night they shall not be shut, that people may bring to you the wealth of the nations, with their kings led in procession.” (Isaiah 60:11, ESV)] is reflected in Rev 21.25, when God sums up all of history and calls home his people to be with him forever.

Isaiah is looking beyond just the Jewish nation to the time when all those who follow Christ by faith will join together for all of eternity to praise and worship God.  We–Christians–will know [by experience] that Yahweh is our Saviour and Redeemer.

This is a promise that cannot cease to amaze us, and if the promise is remarkable, how much greater the actual reality?

“For ||thus|| saith he that is high and lifted up—
Inhabiting futurity、
And ||holy|| is his name:
<A high and holy place> will I inhabit,
Also with the crushed and lowly in spirit,
To revive the spirit of the lowly, and
To revive the heart of them who are crushed;— ”
https://ref.ly/Is57.15;emphbbl

There is an amazing juxtaposition in this verse between God and what Isaiah calls “the lowly.”  Here God is the “high and lifted up” one, the one who inhabits futurity [or eternity].  This God is called holy.  Now, if we didn’t know better, we would assume that this God would be too busy with other things to worry about the lowly.  He is great and powerful and holy and lifted up, so doesn’t he spend his time with the powerful and wealthy?  Does he have any time at all for those who are poor and oppressed and hurting?

The funny thing is, he certainly does, indeed he goes out of his way to assure us that his heart and mind and strength and power are committed to “the crushed and lowly in spirit.”  He wants the lowly to live and those who are crushed he wants to bring to life and sustain and comfort.

What does God get from this?  Nothing from the lowly, they don’t have anything at all to offer except their own crushed and broken spirit.  The funny thing is, this seems to be exactly what God is after.  He calls the broken to himself and comforts them.  Jesus will put it this way:

“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.”
https://ref.ly/Mt11.28-29;esv

Doesn’t Jesus in Matthew sound a lot like God in Isaiah?

 

 

“For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven
and do not return there but water the earth,
making it bring forth and sprout,
giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater,
so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth;
it shall not return to me empty,
but it shall accomplish that which I purpose,
and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it. ”
https://ref.ly/Is55.10-11;esv

I love this passage and often pray it before I am about to preach or teach.

The promise here is that the Word of God will accomplish its purpose. My own words do not have this power, it is only God’s words that have this power and that carry this promise.  This is why it is so vitally important to get people to read or hear God’s word.

A missionary couple from our church [Gabriel and Rachel Nunez] work with the Ka’apor tribe in Brazil and a team came down to Brazil this spring and recorded some native readers reading the Ka’apor Bible so that they could make a recording and play it for Ka’apor tribe members, since literacy is spotty in the tribe.  I think this is an awesome project because it takes God’s words in Is 11 seriously and seeks to get God’s word into the eyes (and ears) of as many people as possible.  God has promised to bless these efforts.

Of course if this statement from God is true, and it is, then looking at our own lives we ought to be diligent students of God’s word because this is what will carry power in our own lives, not books on Christian subjects and issues, though they are certainly good, not even what someone else thinks about the Bible, even though these are good to read and helpful.  The power, as God points out clearly here, comes from God’s words themselves so we should read and meditate and absorb and love and enjoy God’s word.  There are no words so true, no words so powerful, and nothing more important that we can be doing.

“For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. ”
https://ref.ly/Heb4.12;esv

 

O thou humbled one、 storm-tossed、 uncomforted,— Lo! I am about to set、 in antimony、 thy stones, And will found thee in sapphires;…And all thy children shall be the instructed of Yahweh,— And great shall be the prosperity of thy children.” (Isaiah 54:11,13, EMPH)

What strikes me about this passage is the way that the Lord describes his people.  Using the singular to refer to all of Israel, he calls them “thou humbled one, storm-tossed, uncomforted.”  This sounds like a people in need of rest and refuge, and this is exactly what we discover.  The humbled and storm-tossed can expect the prosperity of their children to be great, and they will be instructed by Yahweh himself.

There is an incredible promise here of people who are tossed about by the difficulties of life being able to rest in the Lord in peace, comfort, and security.  Whether this passage refers to a millenial kingdom on earth when God will reign, or if it looks forward to the end of the ages when God’s people will be with the Lord forever, depends upon your particular brand of theology.  What isn’t in dispute is that God’s people can look forward to a time of peace and safety.  The humbled one(s) will be lifted up in the presence of their Father, the storm-tossed wind and waves will subside, and the ones who are uncomforted will rest in the peace and comfort of God’s kingdom. Happy days indeed!

 

Behold, all you who kindle a fire, who equip yourselves with burning torches! Walk by the light of your fire, and by the torches that you have kindled! This you have from my hand: you shall lie down in torment.” (Isaiah 50:11, ESV)

The Lord [through the pen of Isaiah] lays out two options at the end of Isaiah 50 for us to walk by.  We can trust in the name of the Lord (vs. 10) or we can do what our verse says and light our own lamp and walk by our own light.  The sure outcome if we light our own way is that we will lie down in torment. We will get exactly what we deserve.

We know from Proverbs that God calls us to move forward by trusting in him even when it doesn’t make sense to us:

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.” (Proverbs 3:5–6, ESV)

Trusting in the Lord leads to the comfort of straight paths, walking by our own light leads only to sorrow. You would think that this would be an easy decision for us, by our inclination is to lean to our own understanding and not trust in the Lord.

 

“But Zion said, “The Lord has forsaken me;
my Lord has forgotten me.”
“Can a woman forget her nursing child,
that she should have no compassion on the son of her womb?
Even these may forget,
yet I will not forget you. ”
https://ref.ly/Is49.14-15;esv

  • The Problem: God’s people were afraid that God had forsaken them. This is a lament and it is set forth in honesty and despair.  Will God forsake his people?  Has he forsaken them?  It’s an all too common issue and anyone who has read a missionary biography or understands church history knows that this is an issue that comes up again and again. God, for purposes that we don’t fully understand, seems to appear to abandon his own people from time to time, to danger and difficulty.  Israel was going to be judged for her idolatry, would God abandon his people forever?
  • The Response from God:  I will not forget you. God’s response is given in a solemn promise and both God’s character and history itself demonstrate that what God promises here is true and he will do it.  He will not forget his people. The ESV Study Bible entitles this section: “Human despair is more than offset by divine grace.”

    Sit back in your chair and breathe in that truth for a minute.  God will not forget his people. This is his promise.  This is his oath. This is his character.  Kings will not cause him to abandon his promise. Time will not cause him to abandon his people.  Opposition, danger, and difficulty are hand maidens to our sovereign God and no more stand in the way of his promise here than a bunny rabbit could block an elephant.  God has done what he promised in the past; he will do what he has promised in the future.  He will not forget his own people.

 

“Thus says the Lord,
your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel:
“I am the Lord your God,
who teaches you to profit,
who leads you in the way you should go.
Oh that you had paid attention to my commandments!
Then your peace would have been like a river,
and your righteousness like the waves of the sea; ”
https://ref.ly/Is48.17-18;esv

If we aren’t careful, we might assume that God is the best business partner ever [which in a weird way he is, but not according to this verse].  The Lord himself says: I am the Lord your God who teaches you to profit.  The Complete Word Study Bible says of the word “It is used most often figuratively of spiritual benefits from the Lord.” The profit envisioned here is not of farmland and animals, crops and orchards, but of spiritual benefits which will help us grow in faith towards God himself.

Notice here that what God asks [spiritual growth] he himself provides.  This reminds me of a song lyric by Sandra McCracken:

This grace gives me fear,
and this grace draws me near
And all that it asks it provides

When you sit and ponder this [as I do now with the sound of the Atlantic Ocean rolling ashore in endless waves] it cannot cease to amaze.  God doesn’t just tell us what to do and send us forth on our way in the vague hope that we actually accomplish his will, he gives the tools to do the very things that he wants us to do! We get the help that we need, God gets the glory he deserves.

Soli Deo Gloria

Oh…and for your listening pleasure, here is Derek: