Monday, September 11, 2017

September 11: Isaiah 8 – 9; Psalm 55; Proverbs 23:4-5; 2 Corinthians 12:1-10


            Isaiah: The Lord told Isaiah to write the name of his future son, “The spoil speeds, the prey hastens,” on a large tablet and have it witnessed by Uriah and Zechariah. His wife conceived and he was told to name his son the name given on the tablet. The Lord told him that before his son could talk, Damascus and Samaria would be looted and the king of Assyria would wipe out their land because they had rejected God. Assyria would advance into Judah and beyond.
            The Lord warned Isaiah not to call conspiracy what the people call conspiracy or fear what they fear. Rather consider the Lord holy and fear him. He will be your sanctuary but a stumbling block to Jerusalem.
            Isaiah was to keep the teaching only to his disciples and wait for the Lord. The Lord was hiding his face from the rest of the people. They din’t pay attention to Isaiah but went to mediums and necromancers. If they will not seek God among the living but the dead, then God won’t speak to them. They will become distressed and hungry and speak against God. They will be thrust into darkness.
            The coming Messiah will have anguish but not gloom. He brought contempt to Zebulun and Naphtali but will show his glory by the sea, beyond the Jordan, and Gentiles of Galilee. They will see a great light. He will multiply nations. They will enjoy the harvest as he breaks the burden of oppressors and defeat armies. He will come as a child but he will rule and be called, “Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace” (Isa 9:6). He will rule on David’s throne with justice and righteousness forever.
            The Lord has told Jacob and the proud people of Israel who think they will be able to rebuild that he will send more adversaries against them. They didn’t turn back to the Lord after he struck them so the Lord destroyed them, high and low, elders and prophets who led the people into sin. The Lord doesn’t have compassion on them and his anger isn’t turned away. Their wickedness continues as they pursue their own selfish desires devouring and destroying each other.
            Psalm: David makes it clear that when he is asking God to hear him, he is looking for answers. He also admits that he is impatient because of his enemies. In fact, he is downright fearful. If he could fly away like a bird to avoid his troubles, he would.
            Some of his enemies are right inside the city. They are people who deal fraudulently with others. He notes that one of them used to be his friend. Still, he wants God to destroy them.
            David trusts God to answer his prayers and deal with them. He laments that his friend was a conniver who harmed his own friends.
            David tells us that when we cast our burdens on the Lord, he will sustain us. He will cast the evil doers into destruction. David will trust in the Lord.
            Proverbs: It is wise to keep from spending all your energy trying to get rich. After all, riches are temporary and can disappear like an eagle flying off into the sky.
            2 Corinthians: Paul tells of his visions and revelations from the Lord. He tells it as if it were not him saying a man was caught up to the third heaven, paradise, and saw things that he can’t and may not tell. He will boast for this man but not himself. If he did boast abut it, he would not be a fool because it is the truth. So, he keeps quiet about it so people won’t base their estimation of him on that rather than what he preaches and the way he lives. Because of this great revelation, he was given a physical ailment to keep him from being proud. It was a messenger from Satan that harasses him. He asked the Lord to remove it three times but the Lord told him that God’s grace was enough for him. Paul’s weakness shows the perfection of God’s power. So, Paul boast in his weakness so God’s power may be on him. For Christ’s sake, Paul is content with weakness and the other problems because he is then strong in Christ.

What Stood Out

            Isaiah: “The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them has light shined” (Isa 9:2).                     
            Psalm: “Attend to me, and answer me; I am restless in my complaint and I moan” (Ps 55:2).
            Proverbs: “When your eyes light on it [riches], it is gone, for suddenly it sprouts wings,
flying like an eagle toward heaven” (Prov 23:5).
            2 Corinthians: “I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago was caught up to the third heaven—whether in the body or out of the body I do not know, God knows” (2 Cor 12:2).


            Isaiah: The people of Judah are very politicalized. They think that there are conspiracies and they fear what is happening. That sounds like the U.S. today. But I think I said that yesterday. Well, it fits. But the solution for Isaiah is to wait on the Lord and not pay attention to them. Don’t get all bent out of shape with all that people are claiming and doing. Walk with the Lord and keep teaching the disciples of Jesus how to be godly.
            The Lord again gives a promise for the future in the midst of the doom and gloom for Israel. He tells us of the Messiah coming. The marvelous news is that the Messiah is going to be here for the Gentiles and not just for Israel. In fact, the good news from Isaiah 9:1-7 is directed first to the Gentiles before it is told that the Messiah will be ruling from David’s throne. We must be patient and wait for God to put the last part of this blessed promise into place. Jesus has come, born of a virgin but he came to bear our sin the first time. He will come again to bring in the millennial kingdom where he will reign over the whole earth. I’m looking forward to it.
            Psalm: Do you ever feel like God isn’t paying attention to your prayers? Does it seem like the world is just getting worse no matter how much you pray? David felt the same way. He was honest in that he was complaining. The problems of the world were very personal for him. They were directed at him as his enemies and even his friend turned against him. We may have similar things happening to us along with illnesses and financial losses. It is all part of living in a world that is broken by sin. We really should be expecting it rather than being dismayed when life doesn’t go the way we want.
            Expressing our problems as a complaint against God tells him we don’t think he knows what he’s doing. It accuses God of doing wrong. The thought that David would do this must have bothered the translators of the NIV and NLT Bibles. The NIV says, “My thoughts trouble me and I am distraught,” and the NLT says, “I am overwhelmed by my troubles” (Ps 55:2b). The Online Bible Thayer's Greek Lexicon and Brown Driver & Briggs Hebrew Lexicon (1993) confirms that it could be translated that way, however the translators had to use meanings that “are uncertain.” I’m bringing this out because the translators obviously didn’t want to have David say something that was evil. So, we should not complain against God just because it appears David did. We should do what the NIV and NLT suggest and that is to let God know how much we are overwhelmed and distraught by our troubles.
            Proverbs: If we are going to working had to get rich, we should be working to be rich in the next life. The things we work for there will not fly away. The temporal riches of this life can disappear in an instant. Even if they don’t, we can’t take them with us when we die. If all we have worked for are earthly riches, when we get to heaven we won’t have anything. When we invest in God’s kingdom, we will be rewarded for eternity.
            2 Corinthians: Paul tells us he was taken up to the third heaven, paradise. He used this term to make sure no one misunderstood where he had been in his vision. He wasn’t taken up to the heavens where rain originates. He wasn’t taken up to the heavens where the stars are. He was taken to another dimension because these other two heavens are physical locations. I mention this simple because there are some who believe in different levels of heaven for believers based on their adherence to their religion. They use this to support their argument. They are wrong.
            Then there are people who believe they have had out-of-body experiences that took them to heaven. Some have even told of seeing Jesus and describing him. One such person said that he saw the Holy Spirit and he was “kind of blue” when he described him. I can believe Paul when he said he was caught up to heaven, but I am very skeptical of others, especially when they start repeating what they heard and it doesn’t line up with the Bible.
            I think the more important parts of this passage reveal that the Lord allows us to be afflicted to keep us from being proud. Some believe affliction comes only because we are proud. Think about some disappointment or even an injury in your life that may have changed your direction. Just maybe, God let it happen because he knew you couldn’t handle the place you would have gone. The second thing is to thank God and boast in afflictions because we know God is working in them to strength us. We can be content in affliction, not overwhelmed, or complaining to God about them.


             I don’t want to complain to God about what he is doing. I want to be able to know him well enough to take a cue from him in afflictions or troubles to learn what he wants me to learn, whether it is for discipline or protection.

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