Friday, September 22, 2017

September 22: Isaiah 39 – 41:16; Psalm 66; Proverbs 23:25-28; Ephesians 1



Overview

            Isaiah: The king of Babylon heard that Hezekiah had been ill and sent envoys. Hezekiah welcomed them and showed them all that he had. Isaiah asked what they had seen and then told him the word of the Lord. All that they had seen will be taken to Babylon along with Hezekiah’s own sons to be made eunuchs for the king of Babylon. Hezekiah was not alarmed because he thought there would be peace during his reign.
            God decreed peace and an end to warfare for Jerusalem for they would be pardoned and had paid for her sins. A voice will cry in the wilderness to make a way for the Lord. The glory of the Lord will be revealed and everyone will see it.
            A voice calls to say that man is like grass and flowers that die and fade but the word of God stands forever.
            Zion is to tell the good news to the rest of Judah. The Lord is coming to rule, reward, and tend his flock. Who has made all things? Who has guided the Lord’s Spirit? Who has taught God? Nations are nothing. No one can compare to the Lord, not idols that are made by man. No one knows all things from the beginning of time. God is above the earth and men are like grasshoppers. Man lives only a moment in comparison to God. God has created all the stars and has named them.
            Why then, does Israel think God can’t see them. God is everlasting and Creator of all. He never tires and gives power to others, those who wait on the Lord. They won’t grow weary and faint.
            Listen to God all coastlands and come to God to renew your strength. The Lord raises up one nation and it tramples down all others. The Lord does this. The Lord is the first and the last. The coastlands have seen it and are afraid; all the earth trembles. They all take courage from the idols made by craftsmen but have to nail them down so they don’t all over.
            But to Israel, whom God chose and has not cast off, he says not to fear. He will strengthen and uphold Israel with his righteous right hand. Those who are against Israel will not be found because the Lord is taking care of them and will redeem Israel. God will use Israel to crush their enemies. They will rejoice in the Lord.
            Psalm: The psalmist encourages us to praise God loudly and joyfully for his deeds. Even his enemies will come and praise him along with all the earth.
            He invites us to see what God has done alluding to crossing the Red Sea and the Jordon on dry ground. He rules nature as well as nations.
            He calls on all people to bless the Lord because he keeps our souls. Even during trying times, he brings us through them into abundance.
            As for the psalmist, he will perform his vows that he made when he was in trouble. He calls to everyone to listen as he tells what God did for his soul. If he had cherished sin, God would not have listened. But he did listen.
            He blesses the Lord because he heard his pray and didn’t remove his steadfast love.
            Proverbs: Be wise and righteous so your parents will be glad. Give your heart to the Lord and pay attention to his ways because sexual promiscuity is a pit of destruction like a robber and it increases other sins of mankind.
            Ephesians: Paul is an apostle by the will of God. He is writing to the saints in the church in Ephesus, and asks for grace and peace to be on them from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
            He blesses God because he has blessed us in Jesus with everything spiritual. He chose us before the beginning of time to be holy and blameless. He predestined us for adoption though Jesus. We’ve been redeemed by Jesus’ blood and forgiven. All because of God’s grace poured out on us. This is according to God’s mysterious will and purpose in Christ to unite all things in heaven and on earth with him.
            We have an inheritance predestined according to his will and working. We are to be joined with the first to believe when we heard the truth. When we believed we were sealed by the Holy Spirt as guarantee of this inheritance.
            Paul heard of their faith and gives thanks for them and prays for them so that they would know the riches of the inheritance we have, the power we have who believe. Power just like the power God used to raise Jesus from the dead and seat him at God’s right hand above all rule and authority. Jesus has become the head over the church, which is his body.

What Stood Out

            Isaiah: “Have you not known? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God,
the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable” (Isa 40:28).
            Psalm: “Come and hear, all you who fear God, and I will tell what he has done for my soul” (Ps 66:16).
            Proverbs: “She lies in wait like a robber and increases the traitors among mankind” (Prov 23:28).
            Ephesians: “To the saints who are in Ephesus, and are faithful in Christ Jesus” (Eph 1:1).

Insight

            Isaiah: Hezekiah may have been a king that pleased the Lord, but he still had his faults. He was only looking out for himself. When warned that the future of Judah and Jerusalem were in danger, he apparently was concerned only with his own short life span and not so much for the future of the nation.
            With that in mind, Isaiah is given a prophecy about the future of Judah that is both for the distant future as well as a more immediate time. The distant future tells of when John the Baptist will come and we will see the glory of the Lord. Jesus is the radiance of God’s glory (Heb 1:3) and he has come. But the remainder of the prophecies could very well be fulfilled during Hezekiah’s life. Judah was safe from Assyria while it was busy capturing the coastlands of the Mediterranean.
            In telling of these prophecies, the Lord clearly establishes who he is. He is the Creator and he explains how temporary and fleeting a person’s life is. He shows how little we know and powerless we are. We may think we know a lot more about astrophysics and astronomy than they did in Hezekiah’s day, but the truth is we are just as ignorant, feeble, as they were when it comes to knowing what God knows and what he has done. Can you imagine trying to name all the stars? After a few hundred, we start giving them numbers and letters while we still ignore most of them.
            However, this only serves to make sure we don’t think to highly of ourselves because it is God who choses us just as he chose Israel. We are strengthened by the Lord and upheld by his righteousness and not our own. We are redeemed from our sins by the blood of Jesus just as Israel was redeemed out of Egypt. If we think too highly of ourselves, we are likely to forget that so it is always good to look back at who God is.
            Psalm: What has God done for your soul? If you are born again and know Jesus, then one thing that God has done for your soul is to save it. It is only God who is able to save or destroy your soul (Matt 10:28). If you know the Lord then he will also keep your soul blameless when Jesus Christ comes back (1 Thess 5:23). Knowing Jesus gives us an anchor for our soul (Heb 6:19). That anchor is the security of knowing we will always have Jesus on our side as a high priest. Knowing Jesus provides unity of our soul with other believers (Acts 4:32). It gives us an awe of the way God works (Acts 2:43). We have peace and prosperity of soul when we know Jesus (3 John 2). If you don’t have these, then you better ask if you have Jesus or what sin is keeping you from having these.
            Proverbs: OK, these Proverbs are speaking about a guy falling for a prostitute or an adulteress, but it works both ways. Women can fall into the same traps. The problem is simple, sex outside of marriage is wrong and it leads to other sins as well. If you can’t trust a person to be sexually pure, especially one who is married, how can you trust him or her with other things? That is why politicians’ careers are usually ruined when they do it. What is sad is that the attitude of many people excuses this as private behavior and think that it has no bearing on public service or what a person does at work. Not so. We shouldn’t think that way.
            Ephesians: There is so much good theology in this first chapter of Ephesians that books could be written on the different points. Therefore, I’ll just comment on the fact that Paul addressed the believers in Ephesus as saints. The new NIV says “God’s holy people.” The Greek is talking about holy ones, “sacred (physically, pure, morally blameless or religious, ceremonially, consecrated).”[1] The connotation from Roman Catholicism is that only a few special, highly religious people can ever become saints. Therefore, many people are surprised when they hear Protestant Christians calling themselves saints; the new NIV avoids that surprise.
            The next few verses in this first chapter of Ephesians really tells us why we are saints when we believe in Jesus Christ for our salvation. First of all, we are chosen (Ephp 1:4) and that means set aside for a special purpose, a very good definition of holy. Next, we are to be holy and blameless (Eph 1:4). We’ve been redeemed through the blood of Jesus and received forgiveness (Eph 1:7). That redemption is very important in knowing we are saints because it is what makes us holy in the sense of being without sin. We have an inheritance (Eph 1:11), which is in heaven so we know for sure we will be with God. Only saints are verifiably in heaven in the Catholic definition of saints; they can’t be sure of others. We have the Holy Spirit which guarantees our inheritance (Eph 1:14). It is only by the Holy Spirit that we are able to be saints and he keeps us as saints in this life. We also are saints because we have God’s power in us (Eph 1:19). With his power, we are able to overcome sin and show the world what it means to be a saint.
            If you haven’t heard the gospel, the word of truth, and believed in Jesus for your salvation (Eph 1:13), then you are not a saint. You need to turn to Jesus and repent of your sins, and believe in him. If you have, then you are a saint and you should be acting like it.

Application

             I need to keep a good perspective of who I am in Christ but also who God is. Isaiah’s description of God keeps me in my place. Paul’s description of who I am lifts me up but is astonishing and causes me to worship.


[1] Biblesoft's New Exhaustive Strong's Numbers and Concordance with Expanded Greek-Hebrew Dictionary, 2006, “NT:40.”

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