Sunday, October 1, 2017

October 1: Isaiah 62:6 – 64; Psalm 73; Proverbs 24:13-14; Philippians 2:19-3:4



Overview

            Isaiah: Isaiah continues to prophecy about Jerusalem. The Lord has set watchmen on the walls and they will always cry out. All who remember the Lord are to continue to pray until all Jerusalem is established again. The Lord says he will not take their provisions for their enemies but those who worked for it will have it for themselves.
            Isaiah prophecies that the Lord will build up the city, clean it up, and tell the ends of the earth that salvation comes with him. He brings his rewards and they will be called his saints, redeemed, sought out, and not forsaken.
            The Lord will come from Bozrah in Edom. He will be dressed in blood stained robes. He will have trampled the people like grapes in a winepress as he executes his judgment. He will do it because he could not find anyone else to bring salvation. In his wrath he killed them.
            Isaiah recounts God’s steadfast love toward Israel for the Lord has called them his people. The Lord is their Savior. Their affliction tormented him so he saved and redeemed them in his love. He saved them like he did in the past.
            But they rebelled and grieved the Holy Spirit. So God became their enemy. He didn’t remember any more the way he led them out of Egypt by Moses and when he was present in their midst.
            Isaiah asks that the Lord look down and renew his compassion for them. He affirms that God is their Father though Abraham and Israel would not admit to being their ancestors. He asks why God has hardened their hearts so they don’t fear God. Why has he let the enemy trample the sanctuary? They have become just like the Gentiles.
            Isaiah asks God to come down in fire against Israel’s enemies. When he did it before, they were astounded by his miracles because no other gods had done anything for people who wait on them. He gave joy and righteousness to those who followed his ways. But he is angry with those who sin. How long before they are saved from their sins? They have all become unclean, blown away by sin, and fail to call on the Lord. He has hidden his face from them.
            Isaiah confesses that God is their Father. They are only clay worked by his hands. He asks that God not remember their sins. Their land is destroyed. Will God continue to keep from acting as he sees them in their affliction?
            Psalm: God is good to Israel, but Asaph says he came really close to stumbling over envy of wicked people. It appeared to him that they had no problems in life. They had everything they wanted even though they were wicked. They think that God doesn’t see their wickedness.
            Asaph was thinking that his goodness was in vain. He was suffering and stricken. He didn’t want to say anything to discourage others. He was having a hard time understanding this until he understood wicked people’s eternal destiny.
            They will be destroyed and swept away by terror. They will be cast down.
            When Asaph was acting on his emotions, he was like a dumb animal. But God took him by the hand and counseled him. He was assured his destiny will be in glory with God.
            So now, he desires nothing on earth besides God. Even if his health fails and he dies, he will be with God forever. But those who are far away from God will perish and Asaph will be near to God.
            Proverbs: Just like honey fresh from the honeycomb is sweet and pleasant, so is wisdom for your soul. It will ensure a future with hope that won’t be spoiled.
            Philippians: Paul is sending Timothy to Philippi to get news from them so he may be encouraged. Paul doesn’t have anyone better than Timothy because he is genuinely concerned for them. He isn’t like other who seek their own interest and not Jesus’. He is like a son to Paul. Paul also hopes to be able to visit them.
            Paul is also sending Epaphroditus who is a fellow worker and whom they sent to help Paul. He had been ill and close to death but God had mercy on him and Paul by keeping him alive and not giving him sorrow. Paul is eager to send Epaphroditus so they can rejoice at seeing him again. They should receive him with honor because he nearly died serving the Lord providing their help to Paul.
            Paul tells the Philippians to rejoice. He also warns them about those who want to force circumcision. Paul says they who worship by the Spirit of God in Jesus Christ are the real circumcision. They aren’t depending on their flesh to be confident in God. If anyone had reason to be confident in his flesh it would be Paul.

What Stood Out

            Isaiah: “O Lord, why do you make us wander from your ways and harden our heart, so that we fear you not?” (Isa 63:17).
            Psalm: “You guide me with your counsel, and afterward you will receive me to glory” (Ps 73:24).
            Proverbs: “Know that wisdom is such to your soul; if you find it, there will be a future,
and your hope will not be cut off” (Prov 24:14).
            Philippians: “Look out for the dogs, look out for the evildoers, look out for those who mutilate the flesh” (Phil 3:2).

Insight

            Isaiah: In Isaiah 63:17, Isaiah asks God why he is making them sin. That is rather shocking, isn’t it? Who would think that God would do something like that. James clearly tells us that God doesn’t make anyone sin but we sin because of our own evil desires (James 1:13-15). However, here is the prophet Isaiah, who we would expect to be speaking the truth of God’s word blaming God for the people’s sins.
            Isaiah got part of it right. God did harden their hearts. He did the same thing for Pharaoh in Exodus. He told Moses that he would do it before Moses even returned to Egypt (Ex 4:21) and before Moses spoke to Pharaoh (Ex 7:3). Between Exodus 7 and 14, we’re told ten times that the Lord hardened Pharaoh’s.
            At the beginning of Isaiah (Isa 6:10), the Lord warned the people that they would be hardened by becoming blind and deaf to God’s word. Jesus told of this happening to his generation in John 12:36. It happens today in our generation. When people are so dead set against God, there comes a point where they are beyond redemption.
            We need to remember that all this happened and we can look at their example so that we don’t fall into the same trap. We all have the promise that whoever calls on the name of the Lord will be saved (Rom 10:13). If we value our sin more important than God, then we won’t call on him to be saved. We are still held accountable for our sins even if our hearts are hardened.
            Psalm: On the opposite side of a hardened heart is Asaph. He was really having a hard time with all the evil people getting away with murder, literally. His heart was becoming hardened as he observed them and wanted what they had. But he looked to the Lord and understood that there is more to life than what we see on the earth. He said that God gave him counsel and guided him. The people of Isaiah’s time didn’t listen to God’s counsel and were hardened. Asaph listened to God’s counsel and the Lord led him away for those sinful desires.
            Asaph’s desire turned to God in heaven and eternity instead of the fleeting riches that could come on earth through sinful living. Where is your desire? If it is in the things of earth, then I’m sure that as time goes on, your heart will be hardened towards God. If your desire is for God, then he will become the strength of your heart (Ps 73:26).
            Proverbs: Honey doesn’t spoil as long as it is kept from absorbing moisture and kept sealed. It is always sweet. That is a good description of wisdom. It never spoils. The beginning of wisdom is fearing God and when you have that kind of wisdom, you will also find that your future won’t spoil. Peter says when we are born again, it is into a living hope and an inheritance in heaven that will never spoil (1 Peter 1:3-4). That’s the kind of wisdom Asaph found.
            Philippians: Paul has some pretty strong words about the people who are claiming that one must be circumcised before they can be saved. Calling someone a dog was quite serious. They were the lowest scavenger type animals. They weren’t usually pets. He labels them as evildoers also. You would think a Christian would have kinder words for those who hold to a different gospel. However, this is consistent with his warning to the Galatians where he says they should be accursed (Gal 1:8-9).
            Why is this so bad? Can’t a person be circumcised and be a Christian as well. Paul was. But the problem was that these guys were making it a requirement for salvation. This is so bad because making anything a requirement for salvation means that they nullifying what Jesus did. It wasn’t sufficient for their salvation. That demeans who Jesus is.
            The same goes for any religion that doesn’t count Jesus’ death as sufficient for our salvation. Not long after becoming a Christian I ran into people who said I needed to be baptized. I knew something was wrong because they were telling me the tracts I had handed out were wrong because they didn’t say you had to be baptized. It boiled down to this: if you profess faith in Christ, you aren’t saved until you are baptized and that must occur in their tub. It wasn’t good enough to be baptized in some other church unless that church also believed baptism was a necessary part of salvation. The emphasis was no longer in faith in Jesus but faith in baptism. That kind of faith can’t save you. I think Paul would have said he hopes they drown in their own tub (Gal 5:12).
            This just goes to show how important it is to have correct beliefs. Traditions and other beliefs can do two things. The first is to keep you from salvation. That is really serious because it is eternal. The other thing is that if you are saved, it can mess up your life living for the wrong things. It’s no wonder Paul had strong words about them.

Application

             I need to be careful about what I believe. It can lead me closer to the Lord or harden my heart causing me to sin. My desire is to have the Lord first in my life.

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