Monday, September 18, 2017

September 18: Isaiah 28:14 – 30:11; Psalm 62; Proverbs 23:19-21; Galatians 3:23 – 4


            Isaiah: Because scoffers think they can escape death by some kind of agreement with death and taken refuge in their lies, God will lay a foundation in Zion. It will be a sure stone, which will save those who believe in it. It will set the standard for justice and righteousness. It will wipe away the lies and cancel their covenant with death. It will bring terror on them. God will raise himself up on Mount Perazim and do strange things. Stop scoffing because God has decreed it.
            Farmers prepare the soil for planting and stop at the right time. They thresh different grains differently and stop at the right time. This is by the Lord’s wisdom to them.
            The city of Ariel where David camped will come to a time when God will besiege it and bring it low. It will only be a short time and the enemies will be blown away like dust when the Lord comes. All the pains of the enemy will be like a dream. Be astonished because the Lord is going to give you a spiritual sleep without prophets or seers. This vision will be like a sealed book that no one can read because it is sealed or they are illiterate.
            This will happen because the people pay lip service to the Lord. He will bring wonders on them and their wise men will die and no one will have discernment. They think they can hid their deeds from the Lord. They think God didn’t make them and he doesn’t understand them.
            Yet in the future, Lebanon will become fruitful, the deaf will hear, the blind will see, the meek will have joy, and the poor will exult in the Lord. The evil, scoffers, and oppressors will be no more.
            Therefore, Abraham’s redeemer, the Lord, says that Jacob will no longer be ashamed of his children for they will sanctify God’s name and stand in awe of him. The ones who go astray will get understanding and instruction.
            The Lord says his children are stubborn because they look to Egypt for protection without asking him. So, Pharaoh will shame them and be no help at all.
            God’s word to the Negeb: they will carry their goods through the Negeb to Egypt to buy help but it will be worthless. Write this on a tablet so that when it happens it will be a witness forever. The people are rebellious and liars and won’t listen and reject the prophets. They only want to hear what they want and not what the Lord says.
            Psalm: David asserts that God is his only salvation and he will not be shaken by evil people who physically or verbally abuse. All his hope is in God. He advises us to trust in the Lord at all times. We can pour out our hearts to him because he is our refuge. Neither high nor low people in society are worthy of trust because they are mortal and disappear. Don’t trust in ill-gotten gain or riches of any kind. Power belongs to God and he takes care of us according to our work.
            Proverbs: Be wise and steer your heart in the right way, not in drunkenness and gluttony. They will become poor along with lazy people.
            Galatians: Paul explains that the Law held us captive until faith was revealed. It was a guardian until Jesus came and we could be justified by faith. Now that we have faith, we don’t need the guardian because we are sons of God. We have put on Christ being baptized in him. It is the same for every one of every race, sex, and socioeconomic position. In Christ, we are heirs of Abraham.
            It is like a child who has inherited an estate. He owns everything but is like a slave because he is under guardians until he reaches a certain age. We were enslaved by basic religious instructions. At the fullness of time, God sent Jesus who was born under the Law to redeem us from the Law and be adopted as sons. Because we are sons, we have Jesus’ Holy Spirit crying, “Abba Father.” Since we are sons we are heirs.
            Those that didn’t even know God were enslaved by demons. But now that you know God how can you turn back to demons or basic religious instructions that are weak and can’t save? Observing all these special days only enslaves. Paul is afraid his work with the Galatians was in vain.
            He asks them to be like he is. They never insulted him even though he had illnesses that actually helped him preach the gospel to them. They received him just like he was Jesus. They would have given them their eyes if they could. So, what has happened? He told them the truth and now they are upset with him? The ones that have been teaching a false gospel only want to discredit Paul so everyone will pay attention to them. Paul doesn’t understand why they changed their attitude toward him.
            If they want to be under the Law again, then they should look at Abraham who had two sons, one by a slave and one by a free woman. The slave’s son was by the flesh but the free son was by the promise. Allegorically, they represent two covenants, the Law of slavery from Mount Sinai and the other from Jerusalem and is free. The Galatians are like Isaac, children of promise. Just as the son born of the flesh persecuted the one born according to the Spirit, it is now. The slave woman and her son were cast out so we are children of the free woman.

What Stood Out

            Isaiah: “Who say to the seers, ‘Do not see,’ and to the prophets, ‘Do not prophesy to us what is right; speak to us smooth things, prophesy illusions’” (Isa 30:10).
            Psalm: “He only is my rock and my salvation, my fortress; I shall not be greatly shaken” (Ps 62:2).
            Proverbs: “For the drunkard and the glutton will come to poverty, and slumber will clothe them with rags” (Prov 23:21).
            Galatians: “But now that you have come to know God, or rather to be known by God, how can you turn back again to the weak and worthless elementary principles of the world, whose slaves you want to be once more?” (Gal 4:9).


            Isaiah: I just read a summary/editorial of Hillary Clinton’s book, What Happened.[1] It apparently tells about how Hillary coped with the loss of the election. It tells about the books she read trying to take her mind off the loss. At one point, she turned to a sermon by Paul Tillich[2] that had helped her in the past. I read Tillich’s sermon and when I read Isaiah 30:10, I thought, this is what people are looking for today. They turn to theologians like Tillich to find a God that suits their needs rather than turning to the Lord who has made himself clear in the Bible. They hear things like universal acceptance without the need to believe in Jesus. They hear that all they need to do is accept themselves so they can accept others and love themselves to love others when they realize God accepts them.[3] The word repentance doesn’t come into play. The word worship isn’t used. Philosophical jargon and psychology replace biblical definitions of sin and grace.
            We may not worship idols, but what we do worship is anything but God who made us and has sovereign control over us. We should look at the prophecies against all these people and countries and see ourselves. Isaiah was told to write on a tablet that would be a witness to future rebellious people that we are unwilling to hear the Lord but only what we want to hear (Isa 30:8-10). We have that tablet in the Bible. Let us open our eyes to read it and obey.
            Psalm: David again refers to God as his Rock, the rock of his salvation. In Isaiah, we were introduced to the cornerstone in which is the standard for righteousness and justice. They are both the same. When we see Jesus as our Rock, we also see God’s standard for righteousness and justice as well as our means of salvation. The problem with many who reject Jesus is that they stumble over those standards of righteousness and justice. They think one of two things. They think they must become righteous like Jesus or they think they don’t want to have anything to do with being righteous. The don’t realize that once they fall onto the Rock, that is, trust in him completely for their salvation, then they receive his righteousness in place of theirs. That is the answer for those who think they have to be good enough before trusting Jesus. Those that don’t want to be righteous will have Jesus’ justice crush them because they won’t accept him.
            Proverbs: I think more people who become alcoholics end up in poverty than those who are able to navigate it and retain their wealth. Add to this Proverb drug abuse and even more people fall into poverty because of it. What is even worse is that everyone who practices sin and doesn’t turn to Jesus for salvation becomes spiritually poor but not in the good way of realizing it (Matt 5:3) and turning to Jesus. Those who continue to practice it all their lives will find eternal poverty.
            Galatians: The Galatians were being hounded by people who kept telling them that if they really wanted to be saved and to please God, they would have to obey the Jewish religious Law. They would have to observe all the correct feast days, abstain from certain foods, separate themselves from Gentiles, be circumcised, and offer sacrifices by the priests. These were some of the elementary or basic principles that they would have to observe. As soon as they got those down, they would have to look at the traditions of the elders that Jesus had already condemned. Jesus condemned the traditions because they were more important than the basic principles.
            We have churches today that do the same thing. We call them legalistic churches. They write up lists of things that you have to do to be spiritual. If you adhere to them, you can count yourself among the spiritually gifted people. You are holy. If you get those down pat, you can always find more things to do. There then becomes an echelon as you can become priests or other high-ranking clergy. Common people plod along doing what they can and just hoping it will be good enough. However, no one really knows if he’s done enough in these religions.
            It is sad to know that these things are still going on. Christian sects or cults embrace the need to observe all the Jewish feasts. When they do it because they believe it helps them be better Christians, they are a sect. When they do it because they believe it is necessary for salvation, they are a cult. The good news is that it doesn’t matter who you are, Jew or Gentile (Gal 3:28), our salvation is found in Christ (Gal 3:26) and we are free from all of the legalistic bonds (Gal 3:24; 4:5).


             Jesus is my Rock. I find my salvation in him and him alone. I don’t have to do all the legalistic things in the law. I can’t do anything that would make me more a child of God than I already am. However, that doesn’t mean I am free to sin. Thank you, Jesus.

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