Archives for posts with tag: Isaiah

“The grass withers, the flower fades, But the word of our God stands forever.” (Isaiah 40:8 NAS95)

When God speaks, his word stands forever.  It is solid. It is trustworthy.  It is true.  Everything else in this world falls apart, fades, and dies; flowers, grass, and human beings.  God’s word never fades, never withers, never dies.  John Calvin writes here: “This passage comprehends the whole Gospel in few words; for it consists of an acknowledgment of our misery, poverty, and emptiness, that, being sincerely humbled, we may fly to God, by whom alone we shall be perfectly restored.”

Eta Linnemann was a theologian and student of the historical-critical theologian, Rudolf Bultmann. She was teaching in a German university and while she believed that there was a person named Jesus, she was not a follower of Jesus.  God sovereignly drew her to faith and during that process she first began to think about the inspiration of the Scriptures:

I had been a theologian for many years, but I had never thought about the inspiration of the Holy Scriptures. All I knew was that in church history some theologians at the end of the sixteenth century thought the Bible had been dictated. As I read through this book, I was deeply ashamed to learn that every page of the Bible is the word of the living God. Though I was a theologian, I never realized it…So I found out you can trust your Bible. You cannot trust historical critical theology or higher criticism. It is not trustworthy. I praise God for bringing me out of it, and pray that he will use me to bring others from criticism to Christ.

God’s word—and the Scriptures are God’s word—stands forever.  You can trust your Bible.

 

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Isaiah 33:21-22 –But there the majestic One, the Lord, will be for us
A place of rivers and wide canals
On which no boat with oars will go,
And on which no mighty ship will pass—
For the Lord is our judge,
The Lord is our lawgiver,
The Lord is our king;
He will save us—

The thing that strikes me as I read this passage is trust. Yahweh, who is at once judge, lawgiver, and king, that Yahweh who is their God and who cares for them will save us. The word save here means: “to save, to help, to deliver, to defend. The underlying idea of this verb is bringing to a place of safety or broad pasture as opposed to a narrow strait, symbolic of distress and danger.” [CWSB] It’s the same verb root underlying the proper noun yeshua, Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” (Matt 1.21)

Isaiah was confident that the people could put their trust in Yahweh for he would surely deliver them. We are confident that we can put our trust in Yeshua because by his death he delivered us from every sin for all time.

The African Study Bible comments here: ‘When God chooses to restore his broken, shattered, and emptied people, Israel can shout out God’s forgiveness with joy. “The people of Israel will no longer say, ‘We are sick and helpless,’ for the Lord will forgive their sins”’(Isaiah 33:24).

“For this is a rebellious people, false sons, Sons who refuse to listen To the instruction of the LORD;” (Isaiah 30:9 NAS95)

Isaiah writing God’s message to God’s people.

False sons [and daughters] are those who refuse to listen to the instruction of Yahweh. The Hebrew word that is translated refuse to listen includes in it the idea of obedience.  Listening, in this understanding, means “listening with obedience;”  this God’s people were not doing. They knew the commands of God, they just did not follow them, or rather, followed those that suited them and ignored those that did not.

The antidote to being a false son [or daughter] is stated beautifully: For thus the Lord GOD, the Holy One of Israel, has said, “In repentance and rest you will be saved, In quietness and trust is your strength.” (Isaiah 30:15 NAS95)

Beautiful, right?  Simple.  Easy. Clear.

But the end of the verse continues: “But you were not willing.” This statement fills me with profound sadness and stirs me up to obedience so that I will not be a follower of Yahweh who knows his laws and commandments but am not willing to hear so as to obey them.

 

Isaiah 25:5 – Like heat in drought, You subdue the uproar of aliens;
Like heat by the shadow of a cloud, the song of the ruthless is silenced.

When we see evil and oppression run amok unchecked and unrestrained in this world, it’s easy for us to forget that God is the Sovereign Judge. He will not—indeed he cannot because it is not in his character—allow evil to go unpunished. He will silence the song of the ruthless in one of two ways: a. The ruthless will come to see the evil of their ways and repent and follow him by faith. In this case God himself already paid the penalty for the ruthless at the cross thereby becoming “both just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.” b. The ruthless will pay the penalty of their own ruthlessness. God will silence the song of the ruthless one way or the other.

Painfully here we discover—if we are honest with ourselves—that we are the ruthless! Our selfishness and self-centeredness are always bubbling to the surface to rule over our lives and choices. Jesus died for this; he died for us; he died for the ruthless.

 

Woe to those who enact evil statutes
And to those who constantly record unjust decisions,
So as to deprive the needy of justice
And rob the poor of My people of their rights,
So that widows may be their spoil
And that they may plunder the orphans.
– Is 10.1-2

One of the things that God makes very clear—so clear that we cannot miss it—is his concern for the poor, the widow, the needy, and the orphan.  In our verse today, the concern extends to their treatment before the law.  They must not be oppressed just because they have no power.  They must be treated just as well as someone who has power and influence.

When we advocate on behalf of the poor, the widow, the orphan, and the needy, we are doing work of which God approves. We may disagree with how government helps the poor, we may even think it hurts sometimes more than helps, but we should also freely and willingly acknowledge the good desire to care for the poor, needy, orphan and widow.

Government isn’t perfect when it comes to programs, but at least it is trying and we should acknowledge and applaud that. My father gave his working life to just such governmental concern for the poor and needy. He was doing work of which God heartily approves.

“It is the LORD of hosts whom you should regard as holy. And He shall be your fear, And He shall be your dread.” (Isaiah 8:13 NAS95)

This is a view of the Lord of Hosts (Yahweh-Sabbaoth) which we do not hear a lot about these days.  We are familiar with the God of mercy and love and forgiveness, but we are less familiar with the God who calls us to regard him as holy.

The word that is translated “fear” here means “the primary concept underlying the meaning of this word is a sense of fear or awe that causes separation or brings respect” [CWSB]. I think one of the best examples of this is the passage in Isaiah 6 in which Isaiah has an encounter with Yahweh.  His reaction is this:

Then I said, “Woe is me, for I am ruined! Because I am a man of unclean lips, And I live among a people of unclean lips; For my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts.””(Isaiah 6:5 NAS95)

 

The South Asia Bible Commentary does a good job of putting this verse in context:

“First, those who are faithful in Judah are not to follow the way of this people (8:11b). They are not to share the people’s reasoning and fears, nor see the political and military situation as others see it (8:12). Instead, they are to focus on the holiness of the Lord Almighty and fear him only (8:13). They are to live in obedience to God, even when that puts them in conflict with the lifestyle and logic of the wider community. This is the way of the cross, the path that all believers are called to follow.”

Instead of fearing whatever the current political situation is in which we must live, or the forces around us that might seek to do us harm; instead of worrying about the state of our lives and what might become of us in an evil time, we are to focus on the Lord our God, and live in obedience and faithfulness to him.

 

 

 

“And again Isaiah says,   “THERE SHALL COME THE ROOT OF JESSE, AND HE WHO ARISES TO RULE OVER THE GENTILES, IN HIM SHALL THE GENTILES HOPE.”” (Romans 15:11–12 NASB)

In rapid succession in this passage, Paul quotes from Ps. 18.49, Deut 32.43, Ps 117.1, and Is 11.10 (quoted above).  We presume that as he was dictating this letter to Tertius, he was not looking up the passages in a scroll, but quoting them from memory, which is pretty amazing.  I shudder to think what debating him on Old Testament scriptures must have been like.

The point that Paul is making here is that, all through the Tanakh (Old Testament) we see prophecies that the Gentiles will also share in the hope that the Messiah will bring, that the gospel is not only for the Jews, but for every person who will listen and respond to it.

This is the wideness of God’s grace that, at first, the fledgling church did not understand, but after Peter’s encounter with Cornelius, they did understand and so Paul became the missionary to the Gentiles.

We see from this—and Paul is at pains to point it out—that it was in God’s plan all alone to bring salvation to the Gentiles, of which I am one.  This seems to bring new meaning to Paul’s words to Titus:

“He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit,” (Titus 3:5 NASB)