Tag Archives: Isaiah

Through the Bible, May 17

Reading: Isaiah 7:10-19; 9:1-7; 11:1-5; 53

Summary: Likely the best-known feature of Isaiah’s message is his prophecies of the coming Messiah.  These passages, as one would expect, play a prominent role in the New Testament.  These readings are among the best known of all Messianic passages, not only in Isaiah but all of the Old Testament.

Devotional Thought:

It’s In My Hands

Isaiah chapter fifty-three, it could be argued, is the most important text about Jesus in the entire Old Testament.  It’s an incredible passage, the depth and breadth of which could not be exhausted after a lifetime of study and meditation.  One cannot say they truly know Christ without intimate acquaintance with this portion of the Holy Writ.  It can lead to true life and eternal joy as with the noble worshipper from Ethiopia who from this very Scripture heard the powerful, life changing message of Jesus (Acts 8).

Of all the incredible affirmations made of our Savior in this sublime prophecy, none is more compelling than that “the will of Lord shall prosper in His hand” (Isa. 53:10).  What better, more important, or complementary statement could possibly be made?  And as true with all Messianic prophecies, it found fulfillment in Jesus.

The will of the Father was more than a point of interest or a matter of some concern.  It occupied the highest priority and consumed the man of Galilee’s very purpose.

“My food is to do the will of Him who sent me and to accomplish His work” (John 4:34).

“I seek not my own will, but the will of Him who sent Me” (John 5:38).

“For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of Him who sent me” (John 6:38).

The proof that no mere high-sounding rhetoric crossed Jesus’ lips is found when God’s will obviously countered His own desire.  Back in Isaiah 53:10, the verse begins, “Yet it was the will of the Lord to crush him; he has put him to grief”  Still, that will prospered in His hand.  So, famously, in Gethsemane, He prayed fervently, repeatedly, and passionately that the “cup” might pass from Him, “nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will” (Matt. 26:39).

So, as a professed follower of Jesus, the question for me becomes, how does God’s will fare in my hands?

Through the Bible, May 16

Reading: Isaiah 55:6-13; 59:1-15; 61; 65:1-7; 66:1-6

Summary: Here is a collection of Isaiah’s prophecies dealing with God’s relationship to His people; how they must seek for Him and that He will allow Himself to be found, how God’s compassion and desire is for His people, how sin has devastated that relationship, and how they have failed on the most fundamental spiritual level.

Devotional Thought:

I Don’t Understand God

God disturbs me, and that’s a good thing.  It really is.

A fundamental trait of us human beings is our attempt to “make sense” of things.  A loved one dies, a tragedy befalls people, wicked and insensitive people appear to have lives of ease and pleasure, and my efforts at good seem to go unnoticed and unrewarded.

We want to make sense of senseless things.  That’s not an easy task.  As a matter of fact, we’re ill-equipped to handle it.  Our knowledge and understanding are so small.  Our perspective stretches no further than our own limited experience.  I am incapable of knowing where a present event may lead or whom it may impact and in what ways.

Really, my “making sense” is an effort to cram and contort whatever event, thought, person, or idea I confront into the framework of my personal—that is, vastly insufficient—understanding, experience, and perceptions.

So: “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are my ways your ways, declares the Lord.  For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts” (Isa. 55:8-9).

If I always understand and concur with what God does, then one of two impossibilities has transpired; I have downsized God and fit Him into my framework of knowledge, emotion, and comprehension; or I have successfully expanded my framework to sufficiently encompass God.

Poppycock.

If God doesn’t disturb me now and again then I’m committing egregious errors in my thinking about Him. His ways and His thoughts are no longer infinitely higher than mine.  I’ve either brought Him low or I’ve ascended on high.

I’ll say it again: poppycock.

Through the Bible, May 15

Reading: Isaiah 40; 42:1-17; 44:1-11

Summary: Remember, the second half of Isaiah (40-66) looks primarily to a future chain of events when after Judah is taken into Babylonian captivity, they return to their homeland.  But national faith has taken a blow.  What implication does the fact that the nation had been overthrown by a foreign power have on their God?  Actually, nothing.  That’s not exactly true as those events were not a result of God’s weakness, but rather His sovereignty. He rules even over the Babylonians and used them as an instrument in His hand.

Still, an important message from Isaiah is that Jehovah alone is God.

Devotional Thought:

God is Impressive

Little children are sometimes taught to sing: “My God is so big, so strong and so mighty; there’s nothing my God cannot do.”

No doubt we should be duly impressed with how big and strong God is.  No power or force or influence can overcome Him.  His presence cannot be contained by space or even time.  What would threaten or challenge me fades with a whimper when seen alongside God.  How reassuring is God’s greatness.

At times, though, it’s not power and size that I need.  As a child, I reveled in my big, strong father, but my mother’s tender arms frequently met my greatest need.

Too, God is mighty to rescue and protect and defend and conquer.  Those are most appropriate in their time.  But it’s not every time.  He is equally capable to caress and to soothe and console and comfort and to cheer.  That also is most appropriate in its time.

In Isaiah 40 two statements of God’s might and magnitude serve as bookends to a beautiful depiction of His tender care.  “Behold, the Lord God comes with might and his arm rules for him…Who has measured the waters in the hollow of his hand and marked off the heavens with a span, enclosed the dust of the earth in a measure and weight the mountains in scales and hills in a balance” (Isa. 40:10, 12).  Between them, is this: “He will tend his flock like a shepherd; he will gather the lambs in his arms; he will carry them in his bosom, and gently lead those that are with young” (v. 11).

As impressive as His might is His tender care.

Through the Bible, May 13

Reading: Isaiah 1:1-2:22; 5:1-6:13

Summary: The prophet Isaiah’s incredible book stands tall among the works of biblical literature.  In some respects, it is considered primary among the prophets.  Obviously, New Testament writers thought highly of its message as it is extensively quoted there.

Isaiah dates his work through the reigns of kings Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah.  The first half of the book (1-39) does concern itself with this period of time, even retelling events of the Assyrian attempt to capture Jerusalem, Hezekiah’s illness. and the Babylonian envoy sent to visit Jerusalem (Isa. 36-39).  The second half of the book (40-66) looks toward the future events of the return from Babylonian captivity when the Persian empire overthrows Babylon.  That’s over 200 years removed from Isaiah’s day and neither Babylon nor Persia are at this time serious threats to Assyrian domination.

Today’s reading will be sampling from the first half of Isaiah.  The next three assigned readings (May 15-17) will be further readings from portions of Isaiah.

Devotional Thought:

God Hates Worship

Now that doesn’t sound right, does it?  What about, “Oh come, let us worship and bow down; let us kneel before the Lord, our Maker!” (Psa. 95:6)?

So maybe “God hates worship” is too strong, or rather it’s incomplete.  There is worship that God does hate (Isa. 1:14).  As a matter of fact, Isaiah 1 contains some rather strong language to express God’s feelings about worship He considers deplorable.  He said to stop, that He’d had enough, it was vain and an abomination to Him, He could not endure it any longer as it was a burden He was weary of bearing, He had closed both His eyes and His ears to it (Isa. 1:11-15).

So, it is a very real possibility that the very act that is supposed to adore and honor God can actually do precisely the opposite.  What God seeks for and desires (John 4:23) can become repulsive and abhorrent to Him.

Having worshiped is not sufficient.  Having made an offering is inadequate.  The remedy is the worshipper.  Fixing broken worship most frequently means fixing the worshipper.

Isaiah says, “Wash yourselves; make yourselves clean; remove the evil of your deeds from before my eyes; cease to do evil, learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widow’s cause” (Isa. 1:16-17).

Without the desire and sincere intention of becoming the person God wants us to be, any worship is meaningless—at the very least—and even offensive to God.

Through the Bible, May Bible Reading Introduction

May Bible Reading Introduction

More Kings and Prophets

Israel Falls, Judah Survives

Books: 2 Kings, 2 Chronicles, Jonah, Amos, Hosea, Micah, Isaiah, Nahum, Zephaniah, Jeremiah, Obadiah, Joel

God’s prophets came into prominence in the relationship between God and His people—and in the biblical record—during the time of the kings.  This became particularly true when the kings failed to lead God’s people as they should and thus the reign of wicked king Ahab corresponded to the career of the great prophet Elijah, of whom we read last month.  The life of the prophet’s successor, Elisha, proved equally eventful.  As a matter of fact, the greatest concentration of miraculous activity among men in the Old Testament is the life and career of Elisha.

Following Elisha, we witness a change in the prophets or at least some of them.  These men begin to write the message of their prophecies. This leads to a distinction between the literary and non-literary prophets.

As one might expect, the remainder of the Northern Kingdom’s history is accentuated by these messengers of God, sent to call His people to repentance and announce His judgment against them.  That would culminate in their captivity by the Assyrians.  This also proves to be true of Judah, the Southern Kingdom, leading up to its end in Babylonian captivity as well.

Of course, it is the record of the successive kings that is the story line.  Our readings this month will cover the accounts of these kings as the histories of Israel and Judah play out.  We will also interject readings from the various prophets in connection with the kings and times in which they lived.  Most of the readings from the prophets will be samples and not their entire works (with a few exceptions).

Also, as indicated above, this month’s reading will carry us through to God’s judgment against both Israel and Judah, both ending up in captivity, with Jerusalem and the temple left in ruins and the land desolate.

My Delight is the Lord, November 21

Grieved Spirit

November 21, Monday: God is…

Scripture Reading: Isaiah 63:7-19

The Holy Spirit doesn’t show up often in the Old Testament. That designation appears only 3 times (in the ESV) as compared to 89 times in the New Testament. That certainly doesn’t mean He isn’t there. This particular reference (vv. 10-11, which actually contains 2 of the 3 total Old Testament appearances) shows His presence with Israel in the wilderness. And when the people rebelled, they “grieved” the Holy Spirit (v. 10). Paul uses that language when he encourages disciples to not grieve God’s Spirit (Eph. 4:30). Grief comes to the Spirit when God’s people rebel because He (Spirit) is working fully in concert with Him (God). So, whatever we understand about the Spirit and His work, it is always to bring about God’s intentions, purposes, and will.

Questions to Ponder:

  • What has God granted His people, and why? (v. 7)
  • What saved God’s people? (v. 9)
  • How is God’s Spirit grieved? (v. 10)
  • Like what had God’s people become? (v. 19)

My Delight is the Lord, November 7

Would God Do That?

November 7, Monday: God is…

Scripture Reading: Isaiah 41:1-20

Is God limited to use only the righteous in His service? This not an uncommon question in Scripture. It troubles the human mind to think of wholly righteous God calling into service ones for whom righteousness is not a quality (see Hab. 1-2). Here, God seems to be identifying Cyrus of Persia as an instrument of His righteousness. True, this one is designated in this text only as “one from the east” (but see, 44:28-5:6). He is one “whom righteousness calls to follow” (v. 2; NASB, NIV, KJV). The point of vv. 2-4 is to answer the question of who is the one who has accomplished all this (the defeat and destruction of many nations). It is not an unnamed, powerful pagan king. Rather, it is, “I, the Lord, the first, and with the last; I am he” (v. 4).  So once again we are reminded that God’s way of doing things is not necessarily consistent with human thought or reason.

Questions to Ponder:

  • What is said of Abraham in v. 8?
  • What assurance does God give to Israel? (v. 10)
  • What does God say to His people? (v. 13)
  • For whom will God act? (v. 17)

My Delight is the Lord, October 24

My Song

October 24, Monday: God is…

Scripture Reading: Isaiah 12:1-6

I have a multi-tool in my desk. It’s supposed to do 14 different functions. I actually have only used it for 2 or 3. It is more ingenious than it is functional. Sometimes a tool, or a person, can try to do so much that nothing ends up being done well. On the other hand we can fail to identify all capabilities that may be present. Some functions can be overlooked. When it comes to God, the latter is the problem, not the former. He does all things well. But we likely don’t see all that God is able to do for us. “For the Lord is my strength, and my song, and he has become my salvation” (v. 2). God is my strength, my song, and my salvation. We give the first and last of these good attention, but what about that middle one–God is my song? Every person’s life is singing a song. It’s what moves, drives, directs, and encourages us. It’s what puts the wind under our wings. What song am I singing?

Questions to Ponder:

  • What is absent since I trust God? (v. 2)
  • What does it mean for God to be my song? (v. 2)
  • What thought does v. 3 bring to your mind?
  • What three things should be done relative to God? (v. 4)

My Delight is the Lord, October 20

Added Life

October 20, Thursday: God’s People

Scripture Reading: 2 Kings 20:1-21

Hezekiah received what countless people have pined for; a reprieve on death. He was sick to the point of dying and told by the Lord through Isaiah that his demise was imminent, “you shall not recover” (v. 1). Then, in response to the king’s immediate,  impassioned prayer God sent Isaiah back to say, “I have heard your prayer, I have seen your tears. Behold I will heal you” (v. 5). Fifteen additional years were given to the plaintive monarch. That is what we would want, isn’t it?  But wait. The additional years of Hezekiah’s life are characterized chiefly by his failure to “make return according to the benefit done to him, for his heart was proud” (2 Chron. 32:25). Oh no. Longer life, more years, additional time may sound very appealing. Of far greater appeal should be to “do justice, love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God” (Mic. 6:8).

Questions to Ponder:

  • Is God affected by men’s prayers? (vv. 1-6)
  • For whose sake did God say He would save Jerusalem? (v. 6)
  • What did Hezekiah request? (v. 8)
  • What did Isaiah prophesy? (v. 17)

My Delight is the Lord, September 26

Worship or Not?

September 26, Monday: God is…

Scripture Reading: Isaiah 43:14-28

So what is it that God wants? In one place He refuses the sacrifices that His people are making to Him (Isa. 1:11). In another place His objection is their failure to offer sacrifices (43:23-24). Can God not be pleased? Or rather does this not demonstrate that there is more than one way to fail God? If we do not do what He says, that’s an egregious mistake. It is to not “call upon” the Lord (v. 22). On the other hand, doing what God commands can also become an arena of error. God’s interest is every bit as much in why we are obeying Him as in that we are doing so. Are we thinking that obedience, on its own, will put us in His favor? Or, is it that from a motivation of deep love and devotion, we, above all else, wish to do His will? It’s wrong to not obey God. It’s just as wrong to do it with faulty motivations.

Questions to Ponder:

  • What four titles are claimed by God? (v. 15)
  • What might be the “old” and “new” things of vv. 18-19?
  • With what had Israel burdened God? (v. 24)
  • What invitation does God give Israel? (v. 26)