Sunday, September 10, 2017

September 10: Isaiah 6 – 7; Psalm 54; Proverbs 23:1-3; 2 Corinthians 11:16-33


            Isaiah: The year king Uzziah died, Isaiah saw a vison of the Lord on his throne with his robe filling the temple. Seraphim stood above him crying “Holy, holy, holy …” Isaiah was terrified because of his sinfulness but a seraph flew to him and touched his lips with a coal from the altar and said his guilt had been taken away. The Lord wanted to know who to send for them and Isaiah said he would go.
            The Lord told him to tell the people that they would hear and not understand. Isaiah wanted to know how long. The Lord told him it would be until the he had finished punishing Judah. Only a tenth would survive.
            When Ahaz was king, Syria and Israel came to attack Jerusalem. Ahaz and the people were afraid. The Lord told Isaiah to go to Ahaz and take his son along to pass a message on to Ahaz not to be afraid. The enemy will not be able to take Jerusalem and within 65 years Ephraim (Israel) will be no longer be a people. Ahaz must be firm in his faith if he to remain.
            The Lord told Ahaz to ask for a sign that this would happen. Ahaz refused because he didn’t want to test the Lord. The Lord gave him a sign. He said a virgin will conceive and have a son called Immanuel. Before the boy knows how to refuse evil and choose good the land of the two kings who came to attack Jerusalem will both be wasted.
            Then the Lord will bring Assyria against Judah along with Egyptians. They will “shave” Judah destroying the land, crops, and people. There will be so few people left that someone with a cow or two sheep will have enough milk to feed everyone along with honey. All the fields and vineyards will produce briers and thorns and will have lost their value.
            Psalm: David asks God to save him by his name and might. He asks that God hear his prayer. He explains that strangers and ruthless men are against him. He affirms that God is his helper and that he is faithful to turn their wickedness back on them. He will make a freewill sacrifice and offering because God’s name is good and God has rescued him.
            Proverbs: Be careful while eating with rulers because desiring to have all they have is deadly. There is a cost to getting all they have.
            2 Corinthians: Even if it seems foolish for Paul to be boasting, he asks the Corinthians to think about his qualifications in comparison to the false teachers. The false teachers enslave people and the Corinthians put up with it. Paul didn’t do that. Just as they are, Paul is a Hebrew, an Israelite, a descendant of Abraham. He is a better servant of Christ proven by listing many of his imprisonment, persecutions, hardships, and dangers he has suffered. He has concerns for the churches and identifies with their weakness and outrage when people in the churches fall. He boasts of things that show his weakness. He says that God knows he isn’t lying. Why, even in Damascus he had to be lowered in a basket from the wall to escape persecution.

What Stood Out

            Isaiah: “Make the heart of this people dull, and their ears heavy, and blind their eyes;
 lest they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their hearts, and turn and be healed” (Isa 6:10).      
            Psalm: “O God, save me, by your name, and vindicate me by your might” (Ps 54:1).
            Proverbs: “Do not desire his delicacies, for they are deceptive food” (Prov 23:3).
            2 Corinthians: “Who is weak, and I am not weak? Who is made to fall, and I am not indignant?” (2 Cor 11:29).


            Isaiah: It is difficult to determine the timings of Isaiah’s prophecies. They often start with punishment and then tell of prosperity for Judah and even all Israel. Today’s reading is mostly limited to the near future of Judah and Israel. However, some of it applies to both the current people and to the distant future. Isaiah 6:10 was quoted by Jesus to explain why people were not understanding him and he spoke in parables (Matt 13:14-15). He said that people would hear and not understand because their hearts were dull. The Lord told Isaiah they would be punished and only a tenth would survive
            The same thing can be said of people today. I would be surprised if a tenth of people today understand or even care anything about Jesus. If you factor in all the people of the earth, it is much less. There are many people who are classified as Christians because they live in a nation where some form of Christianity is the major religion. However, even among these, there is only a remnant who are saved. Just as the people of Judah were blinded by their sinful desires to do what they wanted, so are people today. It doesn’t matter if they are Hindu’s who have been duped into believing that one of millions of gods can save them or they are people who simply put their own selfishness ahead of God. They are dull of hearing and will not hear the message of salvation through Jesus Christ.
            Psalm: One of the problems with people who are dull of hearing is that they don’t recognize the power of God’s name. David asks God to save him by his name. He isn’t asking God to save him by his omniscience, omnipotence, immutability, holiness, righteousness, or any other attributes. He is asking to be saved by God’s name. God’s name in the Old Testament represented his presences. All of his glory and majesty was where he placed his name in the tabernacle. This is where the people of Israel were supposed to seek the Lord (Deut 12:5).
            Today, we have a bit of a problem really understanding what this means. However, God is merciful to us and has made it easy for us. He has made it clear that salvation is now in the name of Jesus (Acts 4:11-12). This is not just for Gentiles but also for Jews, whoever calls on the name of Jesu will be saved (Rom 10:9-13).
            Proverbs: We tend to look at the rich and famous, high political officials, and others who seem to have it all and want what they have. It is dangerous to have the opportunity to dine with them and have that desire sparked into a lust for things. The Bible warns us in many verses to be content with what we have (Phil 4:11-12, 1 Tim 6:6-10). When we aren’t, we are already spiritually defeated because our desires, our idols of the heart, are not focused on Jesus. We are doubly in trouble when those desires lead us to do things that lead us even further away from the Lord to try to get them.
            2 Corinthians: How do you feel when you hear of a Christian brother or sister who has fallen into temptation and sinned? Do you feel sorrow and grief that this has happened to one who belongs to Christ? I know that I do. My heart sinks when I discover that someone in the church has been disciplined by expulsion when they have failed to repent and forsake their sin. It is more difficult when I have been acquainted with that person. It is a heartache to read or hear in the news that some preacher has lost his church because of some sin.
            With these emotions, I was startled to see that Paul said he was indignant (ESV). The Greek is puroo, which means, “to kindle, i.e. (passively) to be ignited, glow (literally), be refined (by implication), or (figuratively) to be inflamed (with anger, grief, lust).”[1] Paul burns with anger when someone falls. I can see this. He is angry because Satan has deceived someone. He is angry because someone has yielded to his fleshly desires rather than yielding to Jesus. It is possible that he is angry because he didn’t see it coming so he could counsel and help the person. Perhaps he is angry because the church ignored the situation when they could have stepped in and done something (this is the context of some of his letter to the Corinthians). Maybe, he is angry because his teaching didn’t prepare them for this situation.
            Whatever may be our emotions when we see this happen, we can take heed and check ourselves to see if we are vulnerable in the same area. We can pray for that person’s restoration. It has been known for people to repent later and rejoin a church and pastors even being restored and having better ministries afterward. This is where we find joy in repentant sinners coming back to Jesus. We may even be an instrument in Jesus’ hand to help in that process.


             One thing I do not want to do is become dull in hearing. When the Lord speaks, I want to hear. He does speak every day in the Bible. If I don’t hear him it isn’t because he isn’t saying anything. I want to watch my desires and make sure they line up with the Lord’s plan for me.

[1] Biblesoft's New Exhaustive Strong's Numbers and Concordance with Expanded Greek-Hebrew Dictionary. Copyright © 1994, 2003, 2006 Biblesoft, Inc. and International Bible Translators, Inc, NT 4448.

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