Sunday, September 17, 2017

September 17: Isaiah 25 – 28:13; Psalm 61; Proverbs 23:17-18; Galatians 3:10-22



Overview

            Isaiah: Isaiah exalts and praises God for all he has done in the past. He has made the city a ruin so that evil people will fear God. He takes care of the poor and oppressed. He will provide a feast for everyone on his mountain. He will remove the veil of death from all nations and wipe away all tears. It will be the day we have all been waiting for to bring salvation. Moab will be trampled along with his pride, and fortifications.
            In that day, Judah will sing about God’s salvation and protection. The song will be about the righteous entering the city. It will be about peace for those who trust the Lord. He has laid low the lofty and they are trampled by those who were oppressed. They are waiting for the Lord’s judgment and delight and yearn for the Lord. Then the earth will learn righteousness. The song will ask for God’s enemies to be consumed but have peace for Judah. They will tell of how they have turned back to the Lord. His enemies are all dead and increased Judah. Judah was once like the enemies but turned back because of their distress when disciplined. They didn’t accomplish God’s plan for the earth yet the dead will be resurrected to joy. Speaking for God, the song invites his people to go into their chambers while his wrath passed by and he punishes the earth.
            In that day, the Lord will punish Leviathan, the serpent and slay the dragon. The Lord will be keeper of the pleasant vineyard. He will not have any battles to wage or need to make peace with anyone. Jacob will fill the whole earth. He recounts how he will punish Jacob and atone for their sins. He will remove all the idols. The city will be deserted because God’s people are without discernment and he will not have compassion on them.
            In that day, the Lord will glean them from one end of Israel to the other. Then at a trumpet sound they will return from foreign lands to worship the Lord at Jerusalem.
            The proud drunkards of Ephraim will be will be wiped out like a storm and like summer fruit quickly consumed. The Lord will be a crown of glory for the remnant of his people, those who look for justice. For those who don’t engage in injustice.
            But for those who stumble like drunkards in giving judgment, they will only get the puke they deserve. No one can teach them what is right because they only look at God’s word as repetitious commands learned by rote but not with understanding. God will send people of a strange language to speak to them about rest but they won’t hear.
            Psalm: David calls to the Lord for strength when he gets weary. He acknowledges that God is his refuge and strength. He desires to be in God’s presence and refuge forever. He has made vows to the Lord and God has given him a heritage of people who fear the Lord. He asks to live before God enthroned forever. Then he will continually praise God and perform his vows.
            Proverbs: Don’t envy sinners but fear the Lord all the time, then in the future you won’t lose what you have hoped for.
            Galatians: If you think you can be saved by keeping the Law, you are cursed because Scripture says you have to do everything in the Law. It is clear that no one can be justified before God because the Scripture says the righteous will live by faith and the Law is not faith. The Law says you have to live by them. Christ became a curse for us because he was hung on a tree and that was so through him we can have Abraham’s blessing to receive the Spirit through faith.
            An example is that covenants once made, can’t be changed. The promise made to Abraham was to Christ, not all of Abraham’s offsprings. The Law came after the promise so it can’t change the promise to Abraham. If the inheritance comes from the Law, it would nullify the promise to Abraham.
            The Law came because of sins until the offspring that the promise was given to should arrive. The Law came through Moses who was the intermediary for the one, God.
            The Law isn’t contrary to God’s promise. If it could give life, then righteousness would be available through the Law. But Scripture lets us know we are captive to sin and have the promise of freedom by faith in Jesus.

What Stood Out

            Isaiah: “Your dead shall live; their bodies shall rise. You who dwell in the dust, awake and sing for joy!” (Isa 26:19).        
            Psalm: “From the end of the earth I call to you when my heart is faint. Lead me to the rock that is higher than I” (Ps 61:2).
            Proverbs: “Let not your heart envy sinners, but continue in the fear of the Lord all the day” (Prov 23:17).
            Galatians: “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us—for it is written, ‘Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree’” (Gal 3:13).

Insight

            Isaiah: I’m always surprised when I find something that shows that God has revealed more in the past than I had previously believed. In Isaiah 26:19 we find a very clear description of the resurrection. I’ve mentioned this before in Job, that he had a knowledge of the resurrection, but this is the Lord telling us plainly that there will be a resurrection. The Sadducees of Jesus’ time didn’t believe in the resurrection and it isn’t hard to understand why. They only recognized the first five books of the Bible as inspired by God. That eliminates Job, Isaiah, and Daniel along with other books where we can find references to the resurrection.
            Following this verse, is some food for thought for anyone considering the timing of the rapture. In Isaiah 26:20-21, the Lord tells people to hide themselves while he brings judgment on the earth. If the rapture comes before the tribulation, then these people should be gone to be with Jesus, not still on the earth where they are told to hide themselves. God isn’t going to take them out, but they have to hide themselves. Emphasis is on hide themselves. Of course, you can argue that this isn’t the last judgment but just one of many that God has brought upon the earth. On the other hand, these chapters are mostly about a global judgment and a restored earth where all people worship God in Jerusalem.
            However it works out, Isaiah 26:3 is the answer for us all. God will keep in perfect peace those who fix their minds on him and trust in him.
            Psalm: This is a pray for salvation. When we cry from whatever end of the earth we are in to be lead to the Rock, we are calling on Jesus, the Rock, to save us. It doesn’t matter where we are or what we’ve done. If we call for salvation, he will hear us. He will open our hearts and enable us to repent and be the person he wants us to become. The Rock is steadfast. He will not be moved and we can be secure in his strength.
            This Rock is Jesus, upon whom we build our house (Matt 7:24-25). This Rock is the one who gave the Israelites water in the desert (1 Cor 10:4). This Rock is the one who rules over all nations forever (Dan 2:34, 44). If you want to be part of the resurrection, then this is the Rock in whom you must trust.
            Proverbs: It happens to us every once in a while, and hopefully it is seldom. We see what sinners have and we envy them. We want what they have. They may have a lot because they don’t spend any of their wealth serving the Lord. They travel the world, have fine art, or the best cars and other material wealth. Don’t let that envy last long in your heart. It is a poison that will adversely affect your future. It is possible that you will lose some of what you have hoped for. If you hope for the riches of heaven (1 Peter 1:4) then you may find that you squandered it by focusing on what sinners want instead of what God wants us to crave. You won’t lose salvation, but you will lose the rewards of heaven. Remember that eternity is much longer than this short earthly life.
            Galatians: Paul isn’t always easy for us to follow because we think in western logical ways. That is one reason that the message of the cross is foolishness to Greeks. Hebrew thought and the way Paul explains all of this Law versus promise and offsprings versus offspring is more in the Hebrew way of thinking. Thankfully some of it is more important than other to understand. One of those in today’s reading is Galatians 3:13. Christ becoming a curse for us is what we would term Jesus’ substitutionary death for us. Because he died on the cross and had no sins, his death is substituted for the death that we should die for our sins. The only catch is that we must believe this and accept it.
            When Paul spoke of confessing Jesus as Lord and believing in our hearts that Jesus was raised (Rom 10:9-10), we should also think about why we can be saved by our faith. This reading in Galatians fills in the space between the lines. One part is knowing that the promise to Abraham was made before the Law was given through Moses. If that promise hadn’t been given to Abraham, we would have to depend on observing the Law for our salvation. Another part is knowing that Jesus paid for our sins on the cross.
            This impresses upon me the need for all Christians to be well versed in the Old Testament. I’ve heard some say that all they need is the New Testament. That is true only to the extent of being knowledgeable enough for salvation. If you want to know God and Jesus better and understand more about how and why salvation comes, then the Old Testament is indispensable. If you want to avoid bad theology and keep clear of cults that were trying to lead away the Galatians, then the Old Testament is important.

Application

             I want my faith to be built on the Rock. I don’t want it to be incomplete because I only study part of the Bible. Trusting in the Rock brings peace.

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