Thursday, September 14, 2017

September 14: Isaiah 15 – 18; Psalm 58; Proverbs 23:12; Galatians 1



Overview

            Isaiah: Isaiah prophecies about Moab. It will be laid waste in a night. All the people in the different cities mourn because of it. Isaiah weeps for Moab as all the people flee to Zoar weeping as they go. The waters are dried up and vegetation is dead. All their abundance is gone. They carry their possessions as they try to escape.
            The Lord will send a lion against the remnant that escape. They will send sheep to Zion as tribute and hope for shelter. The Lord instruct Jerusalem to shelter the fugitives.
            After the oppressors are gone and dead and the destruction is finished, the Messiah’s throne will be established and he will seek justice and will act in righteousness.
            Because everyone knows how proud Moab is and his boasting is not right, let Moab mourn for itself. Its fields are empty and other nations have destroyed it. All its fruit is gone and there is no gladness, no singing, no wine. God has ended their shouting and he mourns for them.
            The Lord had predicted these things in the past but now it will happen within three years. Only a few will be left.
            Isaiah received a message from the Lord about Damascus. It will be destroyed along with the towns of Aroer. Animals will graze there. The fortified cities of Israel will also be destroyed. Syria will share the fate of Israel. In that day, Israel will not have anything. It will look like a field after harvest with nothing left. Only a few people will be left.
            Finally, they will turn to their Creator instead of idols. The will never again worship idols. Their largest city will be vacant. It is because they turned from God who could save them. Though they plant the best vineyards, they will never harvest from them. They will only get grief and unending pain.
            The nations will rush in like the roaring sea but God will silence them. In the evening, they will all be dead. That is the reward for plundering Israel.
            The message to Ethiopia, a land with tall, smooth-skinned people. The message is for their conquest and destruction. All the earth, listen to the Lord when he raises his battle flag on the mountain. Before anyone even plans an attack, the Lord will stop your aggression. Your army will be killed and animals eat them. The Lord of Heaven’s Armies will receive gifts from Ethiopia. They will bring the gifts to Jerusalem where the Lord of Heaven’s Armies lives.
            Psalm: When they are sinful and wicked themselves, David questions if rulers or gods can judge correctly. They are wicked from birth and can’t be corrected. So, he asks God to do some nasty things to them so that they will be swept away. When they are killed, the righteous will rejoice and understand that God judges correctly.
            Proverbs: Have a teachable heart and keep listening to words of knowledge.
            Galatians: Paul introduces himself as an apostle called by Jesus Christ and God the Father, who raised Jesus from the dead. He is also greats the Galatians on behalf of his Christian brothers. He first pronounces a blessing of grace and peace on them from God and Jesus. Jesus gave himself for our sins to keep us from falling in the current evil age. This is according to God’s will and it brings glory to him.
            Paul is surprised that the Galatians are departing from the grace of Jesus and turning to another gospel. There really isn’t another gospel but some are distorting the gospel. He says that anyone who does this, even if it were and angel, they should be accursed.
            Paul is not seeking man’s approval but God’s. If he were pleasing man, he would not be Christ’s servant. The gospel he preached isn’t man’s gospel. He received it by revelation from Jesus. He previously persecuted the church and was highly schooled in Judaism. He was zealous for the traditions. But God called him by grace because he had been set apart even before his birth. When it was time, God revealed Jesus to him so he could preach to the Gentiles. He obeyed immediately without talking to others in Jerusalem or apostles. He went into Arabia and then returned to Damascus.
            Three years later, he went to Jerusalem and visited Cephas for 15 days. He saw only Jesus’ brother, James and not others. Then he went to Syria and Cilicia. The churches of Judea didn’t know him but only heard of him and glorified God because of his changed life and preaching.

What Stood Out

            Isaiah: “Then a throne will be established in steadfast love, and on it will sit in faithfulness in the tent of David one who judges and seeks justice and is swift to do righteousness” (Isa 16:5).     
            Psalm: “The wicked are estranged from the womb; they go astray from birth, speaking lies” (Ps 58:3).
            Proverbs: “Apply your heart to instruction and your ear to words of knowledge” (Prov 23:12).
            Galatians: “But when he who had set me apart before I was born, and who called me by his grace, was pleased to reveal his Son to me …” (Gal 1:15-16).

Insight

            Isaiah: The Lord has his plans for all the nations. It doesn’t matter what they think they can do. Whether it was Moab who was full of pride or Ethiopia whom everyone feared, God is in control. Some think that the Lord will not return to finish the job because he has waited thousands of years. But it is just like he told Moab, he warned them many times before but he finally set a date for them and it was only three years away (Isa 16:14). Likewise, he won’t wait for his return forever. He has promised, so he will return. The only difference is that we won’t get a three-year warning. If we are very astute and can read the signs and if we believe in a post-tribulation rapture, we will get a seven-year warning for both the rapture and his return. If we believe in a mid-tribulation rapture, we will get a three-and-a-half-year warning for the rapture and a seven-year warning for his return. If we believe in a pre-tribulation rapture, we won’t get a warning for the rapture but everyone left behind will have a seven-year warning. In each case we will not know the exact date of either the rapture or his return. If you don’t believe in the millennial reign of Christ that is mentioned in Isaiah 16:5, then you aren’t even thinking in terms of Jesus’ return because you think he is reigning now.
            You can pick which theology you believe, but I’ve got news for you. He will do what he wants. That is one of the points in this reading. Nations may think they are going to go to war and conquer one place or another, but God will make sure the ones he wants to win will survive even if he has to intervene (Isa 18:3-6).
            It applies to us as individuals as well as nations. We can make our plans and do all sorts of things. But he is in control. When we are trusting in him and walking according to his word, that is a comfort. When we are not trusting him, we will be anxious about world affairs as well as our own. Billy Graham said, “Anxiety is the natural result when our hopes are centered in anything short of God and His will for us.”
            Psalm: Do you believe in the total depravity of man? In a nutshell, it is the doctrine that everyone is enslaved to sin. We are totally unable to follow God, we will sin, and we can’t even accept the gift of salvation until God gives us the grace to do so. Just about all Protestant faiths believe this including both Calvinists and Arminians. This is exactly what David says in Psalm 58:3.
            Now, David doesn’t show any grace to those who are in this state. He wants them crushed, slimed, burned up, and other things. He even says the righteous will rejoice when it happens. I have news for you. We all would be in that place if it were not for God’s grace. He chose us but hasn’t chosen them yet. Well, I should say he hasn’t regenerated them yet. We are all chosen before the earth was ever formed (Eph 1:4). It is just that he works in each of us at different times in our lives to call us. We shouldn’t be too hard on those who haven’t yet come to Christ and extend some grace to them. That doesn’t mean that those who are criminals shouldn’t be punished, it means we should be able to identify with them and do what we can to share the gospel with them. We don’t know who will be an instrument of God’s grace in their lives.
            Proverbs: Once we come to Christ and are saved, we don’t stop learning or growing in our walk with the Lord. To do that we need to have a teachable heart. We need to keep listing to good preaching, teaching, and studying the Bible for ourselves. It is amazing to discover how easy it is to learn about a biblical truth, apply it to our lives and then forget it. That’s why we need to keep studying and working at holiness or we will slip and sin at a point where we previously were alert and guarding ourselves.
            Galatians: I didn’t read Galatians before writing about Psalm 58 and talking about when we receive grace at different times in our lives. Then here in Galatians 1:15-16 I find a passage that tells me the exact same thing. Paul was one of those evil wicked sinners and then God “revealed his Son” to Paul. The same thing happened to me. The same thing happens to every Christian. We don’t usually call ourselves dirty rotten sinners in the way Paul did because we think our sins weren’t as bad. But if we really understand our depravity and the gospel (not the fake ones that we are all over the map but the one that Paul was preaching), we recognize that it doesn’t matter what we think was a bad sin. Any sin is bad enough to send us to hell. We don’t even have to sin more than once to be a dirty rotten sinner. We are only saved because of God’s grace. We should be greatly humbled and thankful that God chose us before our birth, before time began, to get saved at just the right time. Then the glory goes only to God and not one shred of it goes to us.

Application

             Because I know how bad of a sinner is was. I need to show grace to other sinners. God has forgiven me and that is the way I should forgive others.

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