Friday, September 15, 2017

September 15: Isaiah 19 – 21; Psalm 59; Proverbs 23:13-14; Galatians 2:1-16



Overview

            Isaiah: God’s word about Egypt: The Lord will come to Egypt and the idols tremble. He will stir the Egyptians to fight each other, confuse their counsel, and give them to other kings. He will dry up the Nile and people who depend on it will suffer. Pharaoh will get bad counsel because his wise men don’t know what God is doing against Egypt. The princes of Egypt will become fools and the country will stagger. They won’t be able to do anything about it.
            Egypt will tremble before the Lord and Judah. Five cities in Egypt will swear allegiance to the Lord. An altar to the Lord will be in Egypt and marker at its border. These will remind the Egyptians that the Lord will send a savior and defender to deliver them. He will make himself known to them and they will worship him. The Lord will strike them and they will return to him when they cry giving mercy to heal them.
            There will be a highway from Egypt to Assyria resulting in blessing. The Lord will bless Egypt, Assyria, and Israel.
            The Lord spoke to Isaiah when Sargon, king of Assyria came to fight against Ashdod. He told Isaiah to take off his sackcloth and sandals and walk around naked and barefoot three years. He said this was a sign to Egypt and Cush that the king of Assyria would take Egyptians and Cushites captive into exile naked and barefoot. Those who hoped for help from Assyria will not boast in Cush or Egypt. They will fear their own destruction by Assyria.
            God’s word about the desert by the sea: Like a whirlwind comes the vision. The traitor betrays as Elam attacks and Media lays siege. God will end the pain caused by Babylon. Isaiah is pained by what he sees and his heart falters. All the princes of Babylon feast.
            In Israel, the watchman stands guard. He sees a single chariot and announces that Babylon has fallen. Isaiah announces he has told everything the Lord has told him.
            About Dumah (Edom), the night is almost over and morning will be here but night is coming again.
            About Arabia, take care of those who have fled from the battles in Tema.
            In one year, Kedar will come to an end. The archers will be killed. The Lord has spoken.
            Psalm: David again is asking God for deliverance from his enemies. He hasn’t done anything to deserve their treatment so he asks God to get up and punish even nations.
            His enemies keep coming back like a pack of wild dogs. They don’t think God will observe their behavior. But God does know what they are doing. So David asks God to kill them so that they know God rules.
            When they come back, David will continue to sing God’s praises and take his refuge in him. God is his fortress and shows his love to him.
            Proverbs: Children should be disciplined to keep them from hell. Physical punishment is allowed as it will not kill them.
            Galatians: After 14 years Paul, Barnabas, and Titus went to Jerusalem and explained to the leaders in Jerusalem the gospel he preached among the Gentiles. Titus was not forced to be circumcised being a Greek. Some were there who wanted to bring this gospel into slavery but Paul didn’t budge and the leaders didn’t add anything to the gospel. The leaders, Peter, James, and John recognized the grace given to Paul and embraced them with fellowship and encouraged Paul to continue working with Gentiles while they worked with Jews. They just wanted to make sure the remembered the poor, which Paul was eager to do.
            But Peter then went to Antioch and Paul had to rebuke him because he wouldn’t eat with the Gentiles when some of James’ disciples, those who believed circumcision was necessary for salvation, came to Antioch also. Barnabas also fell into the hypocrisy. Paul accused Peter of being a Jew and living like a Gentile but tried to force Gentiles to live like Jews. He told Peter that everyone is a sinner, Jew and Gentile and everyone is justified through faith in Jesus and not by following the Law.

What Stood Out

            Isaiah: “In that day there will be a highway from Egypt to Assyria, and Assyria will come into Egypt, and Egypt into Assyria, and the Egyptians will worship with the Assyrians” (Isa 19:23).   
            Psalm: “You, Lord God of hosts, are God of Israel. Rouse yourself to punish all the nations; spare none of those who treacherously plot evil” (Ps 59:5).
            Proverbs: “Do not withhold discipline from a child; if you strike him with a rod, he will not die” (Prov 23:13).
            Galatians: “When James and Cephas and John, who seemed to be pillars, perceived the grace that was given to me, they gave the right hand of fellowship to Barnabas and me, that we should go to the Gentiles and they to the circumcised” (Gal 2:9).

Insight

            Isaiah: It certainly hasn’t come yet but the Lord promises that there will be a time when both Egypt and Assyria will worship the Lord. The nation of Assyria encompassed what is now Iraq, parts of Afghanistan, Turkey, and Syria. They even captured areas along the Mediterranean and into Egypt. Isaiah 19:23 says there will be a highway from Assyria that will pass right through Israel and down to Egypt. These three nations will be a blessing to all the earth. When we look at the political climate of today, this is just crazy talk. Skeptics can’t see it ever happening. On the other hand, skeptics could never see Israel becoming a natation again.
            The message to all these countries and for us today is the same. God is in control. When nations reject the Lord and worship their own gods or even themselves, the Lord will bring them down. When sin abounds, the nation will not last. We don’t see it in the same dramatic fashion as God’s oracles against the nations in Isaiah because he is working differently. But overall, the same result will prevail. Not one nation since Jesus’ resurrection could be called a nation that followed the Lord for long. Some certainly did better than others, but each has fallen after their morality declined significantly.
            We shouldn’t become presumptuous and think our nation will fare better. Only as Christians are true to the Lord and are a majority instead of a remnant of the people in a nation, will we see a nation continue. However, when it is all over, Israel will be the nation that is supreme in the world and amazingly, Assyria and Egypt will be right alongside of her.
            Psalm: David doesn’t want the Lord to free only him from his enemies but all those on earth who plot evil. Sometimes we get so caught up in the problems of our nation that we forget to pray for other nations. Then when we do pray, how do we pray for them? Do we pray as David did to have the nations punished and not spare the ones who plot evil? Or, do we pray for open doors for the gospel? Since I believe that the ails of this nation can only be solved by people coming to Christ, I pray for the gospel to penetrate these nations that are causing problems. I pray for many salvations and if that doesn’t happen, then I pray that Jesus will come back and deal with all the evil on the earth. However, I recognize that if the Lord answers the prayer by coming back, we may very well have to endure some global problem before he does.
            Proverbs: The Lord disciplines nations by allowing other nations to conquer them and inflicting some terrible consequences. Israel’s up and down spiritual journey showed that when they were disciplined, they turned back to the Lord. When they became too rebellious, the Lord increased the pressure and destroyed the nation. He recommends the same kind of discipline for children except not enough to cause any real damage to them. Yet we think we know better whether it is nations or children, we want to discipline our way. It seldom works.
            Galatians: The circumstances presented in this reading are extremely vital to Christianity. The reason is that Paul is the chief theologian of the New Testament. His writings are critical and when you read that he got his gospel by direct revelation from Jesus, your spiritual antennas should pop up. Too many cults claim the same thing and here is Paul claiming it. However, in today’s reading we find that he submitted his teaching to the apostles in Jerusalem. After listening and observing how Gentiles were being saved, they concluded that Paul was correct. This is accordance with what Luke wrote with more detail in Acts 15. Whew! We can be assured that Paul’s letters are God’s word. We are not like some cults who have rejected Paul’s letters and believe that salvation is through Jesus AND obeying the Law of Moses.
            Further proof of our freedom from the Law is found when Peter traveled to Antioch and started acting like a Pharisee. Can you imagine the apostle Peter being scolded by the upstart, Paul? He had to be reminded that it is only by faith that we are saved and that is a gift from God. Sometimes we all have to be reminded because we tend to be people who like to check off boxes so we can know where we stand. That will not bring us into salvation.

Application

             It is good to remind ourselves of the gospel occasionally. I don’t want to get legalistic, but I do want to have a godly life. The way to have a godly life without being legalistic is to trust completely in Jesus for salvation and sanctification.

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