Wednesday, September 27, 2017

September 27: Isaiah 51 – 53; Psalm 69:19-36; Proverbs 24:7; Ephesians 5



Overview

            Isaiah: God calls to Israel telling them if they want righteousness and to know the Lord to look to Abraham and Sarah as examples. The Lord blessed them and he will comfort Zion giving joy and thanksgiving. Pay attention, because his justice, judgment, and salvation is also for the nations. The heavens and earth will all disappear but not God’s salvation.
            People who live righteously don’t need to fear men because they will disappear. God’s righteousness will continue forever.
            Isaiah asks the Lord to use his strength again as in days of old to ransom Israel and bring everlasting joy to Zion. The Lord answers that he will comfort them. He asks who is fearful of men who perish and have forgotten their Maker. They fear their oppressors but God will rescue them. He is the Lord that controls nature and calls them his people.
            Isaiah calls upon Jerusalem to wake up. They have experienced God’s wrath. They have no one to comfort them but have suffered destruction, famine, and war. The young men are strewn in the streets. The Lord says he will turn his anger to their tormentors. Isaiah encourages Jerusalem to wake up and get dressed as there will not be any unclean people coming in again. Stop mourning and get up.
            The Lord says they were sold for nothing and he will redeem them without money. They went to Egypt to escape Assyria. He has none left in Jerusalem and those who rule over the people revile God’s name.
            The one who brings good news of salvation to Zion is welcomed greatly. He announces that God reigns. The watchmen have joy to see the Lord return. There is singing and joy as the Lord comforts his people and the ends of the earth will see salvation from God. They are to purify themselves and follow the Lord who will go before and after them.
            The Lord’s servant will be wise and exalted. People will be surprised because he will be disfigured but he will shake nations and kings will be silent before him when they see and understand who he is. However, people will not believe that he is from the Lord. He grew up just like others and was not royal or beautiful. He knew the grief of their rejection and disrespect. He took all our grief and sorrows so we thought God had struck him. He suffered punishment for our sins so we could have peace and healing. Because we went astray, the Lord laid our sins on him. With all his affliction, he didn’t complain. His generation didn’t understand this was for our transgression. They buried him with the wicked in a rich man’s tomb though he was completely innocent. This was God’s will because he was an offering for sin. But he will see his children and live long and prosper. His suffering will bring satisfaction and knowing him will make many righteous. The Lord will give him an inheritance because he suffered and died with sinners and bore the sins of many, making intersession for them.
            Psalm: David continues from yesterday’s reading expressing the depth of his depression. His heart is broken over the way he has been treated. He asks God to pour back on his enemies everything he has endured and more. He wants them to be blotted out of life.
            David asks for God’s salvation to protect him. He is going to praise God and that will be more pleasing to God than animal sacrifices. David blesses the poor and needy directing them to God letting them know God hears. He enjoins heaven and earth to praise God. God will save Zion and those who love his name will dwell there.
            Proverbs: A fool doesn’t have anything to say to the wise and leaders who meet at the city gate.
            Ephesians: In light of yesterday’s reading we should imitate God, loving other as Jesus loved us and sacrificed himself for us. We must not have any sexual impurity, greed, filthy talk, or crude jokes, but have thanksgiving. People who keep on sinning like that will not inherit God’s kingdom. Don’t be deceived, God’s wrath comes upon those who disobey. Don’t even associate with them. You were once like them but now you are children of the light and that produces good behavior, which you should be doing. Learn what is pleasing to the Lord and expose the dark deeds instead of doing them. It isn’t even appropriate to talk about those deeds. Exposing the dark deeds will wake the sleepers so Christ’s light will shine on them.
            Behave like wise people not wasting your time because evil is all around. Don’t be fools but be wise, understanding God’s will. Eliminate drunkenness and debauchery, be filled with the Spirt, and sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs to each other and to the Lord. Give thanks for everything to God the Father in the name of Jesus. Submit to each other out of reverence for Christ.
            Wives should submit to their husbands just like they do to the Lord. This is the model: husbands are the head of the wife just as Christ is head of the church and the church submits to Christ.
            Husbands are to act like Christ and love their wives. Christ gave himself for the church, cleansed her with his word so the church will be holy and without blemish. Husbands should love their wives in the same way and as they love themselves. People really do love themselves so that they take care of their bodies. Christ takes care of the church, which is all of us. Therefore, a man should put his wife above parents and be one with his wife, just like the mystery of Christ being one with the church. Again, a husband is to love his wife and a wife is to respect her husband.

What Stood Out

            Isaiah: “Therefore I will divide him a portion with the many, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong, because he poured out his soul to death and was numbered with the transgressors; yet he bore the sin of many, and makes intercession for the transgressors” (Isa 53:12).
            Psalm: “For God will save Zion and build up the cities of Judah, and people shall dwell there and possess it” (Ps 69:35).
            Proverbs: “Wisdom is too high for a fool; in the gate he does not open his mouth” (Prov 24:7).
            Ephesians: “Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving” (Eph 5:4).

Insight

            Isaiah: The gospel message of Jesus’ death for our sins, his burial, and his resurrection can’t be any clearer in the Old Testament than in Isaiah 53. To this day, though, Jews around the world either skip over this chapter or they attribute it all to some “servant” other than Jesus. According to Tovia Singer of Outreach Judaism, the servant is the nation of Israel who suffered in silence at Gentile oppressors.[1] His analysis is completely understandable. First because they formed their opinion of these verses before Jesus came. Why would they change, they had seen short and long-term prophecies and as Singer suggests, this is all part of the future restoration of Israel. Second, when Jesus came, they rejected him as the Messiah. It would be impossible for them to apply this Scripture to him.
            They are no different from anyone who rejects Jesus today. Jesus doesn’t fit their concept of what God should or would do. If it doesn’t agree with my reasoning, it must be wrong and I must therefore come up with a different solution. The fact that Christianity has always looked at this passage as a prophecy of the Messiah and that is was fulfilled in Jesus is established in Philip’s encounter with the Ethiopian Eunuch (Acts 8:26-38). The eunuch was reading from Isaiah 53:7-8 and asked the question that must be answered. “Does the prophet say this, about himself or about someone else?” (Acts 8:34). From there, Philip told him about Jesus (Acts 8:35) so that the eunuch knew it was Jesus and salvation comes from Jesus.
            Jesus changes everything. He changes our ideas about God and forgiveness because it is only through Jesus we can be saved. It changes our ideas about ourselves because he had to take our sins on himself meaning there is nothing we can do to save ourselves. If we don’t like those changes, then we have to find something that satisfies us and that puts us in conflict with God. Guess who wins that conflict?
            Psalm: Something was supposed to happen on September 23, 2017. Some say it was the end of the world. Others say it was the rapture, some say it was eight days before the rapture. It is all speculation based on the recent solar eclipse, blood moons, and numerology that is supposed to be in the Bible. I’m certain that the end of the world is a long way off – at least a 1,000 years. The rapture could be much closer. David said that God will save Zion and Judah will be built up, future generations will inherit it, and people who love his name will dwell there (Ps 69:35-36). We have seen some of this happen already since the foundation of the modern nation of Israel in 1948. But there is much more to it than the nation being established. Those who love his name will dwell in it. The current secular nation is far from a nation that loves his name. The Jews who love the name of Jesus are an insignificant minority. When this prophecy takes place, all in Israel will love the name of Jesus. It is something we can all look forward to with great anticipation and joy. At that time, all heaven and earth will praise him (Ps 69:34). We will have 1,000 years to enjoy this before the end of the earth comes. Then we will have a new heaven and a new earth, the home of righteousness that will be our eternal home.
            Proverbs: Does a fool really know he is a fool? If he does, then he would not say anything in front of wise people like this Proverb says. I think that today’s world has changed. Today, it seems like the fool gather at the gate and the wise people keep quiet or they will get hammered by the fools. This is doubly true when the biblical definition of a fool is used, one who says there is no God. That makes the gates most of our institutions of higher learning. It also means those who fear the Lord have an upward battle to bring the gospel to them.
            Ephesians: I take seriously the examples of putting off bad behavior and putting on good behavior. I don’t want to be legalistic in making up lists of things we should or shouldn’t do but those things that Paul listed are not negotiable. One of them is a pet peeve of mine. It is found in Ephesians 5:4. Filthiness, foolish talk, and crude jokes are sins of the tongue that should not be found in Christians. I don’t know why, but I find some Christians think they can use foul language and tell obscene jokes because Paul used the word dung in the KJV (Phil 3:8). There is a world of difference between Paul’s use of the word dung and someone dropping the f-bomb when they talk. However, just like others who what to do what they want even if it means sinning, they use that as an excuse to ignore Paul’s teaching about foul language.
            I know the world talks that way; I certainly did when I was in the Navy and afterwards. Maybe that’s one of the reasons I’m sensitive to it. I’ve even seen this in the business world among higher level managers. I know this kind of language has even been used and may still be used in the White House. Paul’s point is that this is the way the children of wrath do things and we should not take part in it anymore but expose it. However, we must speak the truth in love because we know they will not like it when you call them on it, whether they are Christians or children of wrath.

Application

             I don’t want to be a person who is fruit inspector, but I don’t want to let a person ruin my hearing with obscene talk. I want to be able to graciously let them know it is inappropriate. I want to keep from using that kind of language also.


[1] Tovia Singer, "Who is God's Suffering Servant? The Rabbinic Interpretation of Isaiah 53," Outreach Judaism, May 06, 2014, , accessed September 27, 2017, https://outreachjudaism.org/gods-suffering-servant-isaiah-53/.

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