Monday, October 2, 2017

October 2: Isaiah 65 – 66; Psalm 74; Proverbs 24:15-16; Philippians 3:5-21


            Isaiah: The Lord tells how he has continually been available for Israel. But they have rebelled with sacrifice to their gods, ignoring God’s commands, and thinking they are holier than God. These are odious to the Lord and he will repay them for their sins and their father’s sins.
            The Lord says he will not destroy all his people but will save a remnant, his servants. He will bless them with pasture lands and his mountains. But those who go to other gods, he will slaughter because they didn’t come when he called to them. They chose evil instead. His servants will be satisfied and rejoice but the wicked will not. His servants will bless themselves and take oaths in the name of the God of truth.
            The Lord will create a new heaven and earth. No one will remember the old things. They will be glad in Jerusalem and God will rejoice in it along with his people. There will no longer be any weeping. Infant mortality will cease and everyone will live a full life. A person 100-years-old will be consider a youth. If a person dies before 100, he will be considered accursed. They will have prosperity and not lose anything to enemies. Their children will not see disasters. God will answer them even before they call. The wolf and lamb will be together and will graze along with the lion. The serpent will eat dust. There will be no harm in this new land.
            God lives in heaven and he has made everything. He has esteem for those who are humble and contrite in spirit, honoring his word. But those who are sacrificing are like murders and idol worshipers because they have chosen their own way. They like abominations. Therefore, the Lord will treat them harshly. What they fear will happen to them because they didn’t listen but did evil. He will put to shame those who persecute their brothers who fear the Lord. The Lord will repay the evil and the sound will be heard in the city.
            Who has ever heard of someone giving birth without labor? Israel has been in labor and the Lord will make sure the birth of the nation happens. Those in Jerusalem should rejoice over the labor because, afterwards, they will be nourished in the city’s abundance. It will have peace and glory. The Lord will care for them in Jerusalem like infants but show his anger to his enemies.
            The Lord will come with fiery judgment upon all flesh killing many, those who purify themselves for idol worship and eat pork. The Lord knows their thoughts and ways. The time is coming to gather all nations and see his glory. He will perform a sign among them. He will send survivors to the nations so that all may declare his glory. The nations will bring Jews from their lands as offering to the Lord. He will take some of these Gentiles to be Levites and priest.
            The new heaven and earth will remain forever. From month to month and week to week people will come to worship the Lord. They will also be able to see all the rebels whom the Lord killed because the will exist in fire but shall not die.
            Psalm: Asaph is wondering why God’s anger is against Israel. He explains how the country has been ravished and the sanctuary burned. He says there is no prophet in the land to tell how long it will be before God acts for his people. He remembers how God is eternal and is sovereign over all things and he is Creator. He asks God to remember the scoffing of God’s enemies who revile his name. He asks God not to let his people go to the beasts but to take care of them. He asks God not to forget those who rise up against the Lord.
            Proverbs: Don’t be wicked and try to take a righteous person’s home from him. If the righteous person goes through many trials and troubles, he will survive but not the wicked who will fall apart in them.
            Philippians: Paul tells of the reasons he could boast in his flesh, that is all the things that Jews think should make them acceptable to God: circumcised, Jewish – a Benjamite, a Pharisee, persecuted the church, blameless under the Law. All that is nothing compared to knowing Jesus. He suffered the loss of all these things to gain Christ and to be righteous through faith in Jesus instead of his own righteousness. He knows Jesus and the power of his resurrection and shares in his sufferings. He is like Jesus in his death and will attain the resurrection from the dead.
            Paul admits he hasn’t attained this yet or become perfect, but he still keeps on working on it because Jesus saved him to become perfect. He doesn’t let the past hinder him but keeps on working toward what God has called him to be in Christ. Anyone who is mature should think the same way. If they don’t, then God will work it out in them. Everyone should hold on to where they are now and not slip back.
            Imitate Paul in his faith because many have slipped away and are enemies of the Cross of Christ. They are not saved because their god is their lust for earthly things. But we are citizens of heaven. We are waiting for Jesus to come back and transform our bodies to be like his by the power he has to make all things subject to him.

What Stood Out

            Isaiah: “No more shall there be in it an infant who lives but a few days, or an old man who does not fill out his days, for the young man shall die a hundred years old, and the sinner a hundred years old shall be accursed” (Isa 65:20).
            Psalm: “Remember this, O Lord, how the enemy scoffs, and a foolish people reviles your name” (Ps 74:18).
            Proverbs: “For the righteous falls seven times and rises again, but the wicked stumble in times of calamity” (Prov 24:16).
            Philippians: “Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead” (Phil 3:13).


            Isaiah: The ending of Isaiah is both bitter and sweet. It will be sweet for all of God’s people, Jews and Gentiles alike. It will be very bitter for God’s enemies, both Jews and Gentiles.
            The sweetness comes in two phases. The first is a period of time that we call the millennium because Revelation 20:2, 6 describe it as a thousand years. During this time, it will be a restored earth. I call it restored and not new because the one described in Isaiah 65:17-25 must be different from the one mentioned in Revelation 21 and Isaiah 66:22.
            During the millennium, there will be dramatic changes on the earth. The curse of the fall will only be partially restored. While animals will not eat each other (Isa 65:25), there will still be death (Isa 65:20). People will live very long lives because a person who is only 100-years-old will be called a youngster. The implication of this is that people will normally live 100s of years just like Adam who lived 930 years (Gen 5:5) and Methuselah who lived 969 years (Gen 5:25). However, it is clear that they will die. If someone dies before they reach 100, people will think they are accursed.
            The new heaven and earth will be similar but the difference is that the second one will be a new creation. Revelation 21:1 clearly states that the current heaven and earth will pass away. Peter describes it as being dissolved or burned up as they melt in the heat (2 Pet 3:12). One significant difference between this heaven and earth is that death will be eliminated (Rev 21:4). This last new heaven and earth will also remain forever (Isa 66:22).
            However, along with this new heaven and earth is a description of hell (Isa 66:24). All the wicked and evil people who have died will be there. Isaiah describe them as dead bodies that are continually being eaten by maggots. Their bodies burn forever and the fire never stops. It is also described in Revelation 21:8 as a lake of burning sulfur. The implication of these verse is that these people are spiritually dead but physically alive because they have been resurrected (Rev 20:13).
            The point of Isaiah is that those who fear the Lord, seek him, and answer him when he calls will live in the new heaven and earth while those who rebelled will be in hell. The Lord is described as the Redeemer and the one who saves because no one else can. Jesus is shown as the one who takes away our sins and will rule during the millennium. So we know we can turn to Jesus for salvation now, while there is an opportunity.
            Psalm: Have you ever heard someone say you shouldn’t ask God for patience because he will send trials? I see something similar in Psalm 74:18. Asaph is asking God to remember the scoffers and people who revile God’s name. After reading Isaiah, the danger I see is that the people of Judah are the ones who were scoffing at God and reviling his name. He is asking God to condemn people who are doing the same thing his nation is doing.
            We run into the same thing here. We want God to put an end to the horrors in our nation not realizing that we are still going to be here to suffer the same social, economic, and other disasters that come upon those dirty rotten sinners (we are the same) in the nation. We forget we aren’t perfect and God will use this time to refine us in the same way that he refines those who ask for patience. I would prefer to pray that God would pour out his grace and mercy on us dirty rotten sinners and spare us by bringing salvation to those who don’t know him and revival to those who do.
            Proverbs: One thing is sure, if calamity does come upon our nation because of our sins, it will be a purifying effect. Those who love the Lord and know him will be brought through it and strengthened. We can trust the Lord knowing that he always provides a way out (1 Cor 10:13). We will be stronger when we count it joy (James 1:2-4). The wicked will not survive the trials (Prov 24:16) but, prayerfully, they will come to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ and endure as well.
            Philippians: Paul wants us to imitate his life. That means we should not let our past rule our lives. We may have sinned and caused all sorts of problems in our past. We can’t let those things keep us for being the people God wants us to be just as Paul’s persecution of the church didn’t stop him from becoming one of the most influential apostles of the church. We can’t think we have attained the best walk with the Lord that we can possibly have this side of heaven. We aren’t perfect and won’t be until heaven, but that doesn’t mean we stop trying. We need to work diligently at living godly lives and improving. He tells us that if we don’t think this way, then God will reveal it to us that we should.
            The only hope we have in continued sanctification is that this is Jesus’ upward call for us. It isn’t impossible because Jesus has the power to help us in this struggle just as he has power to transform our bodies when he comes again. We already have the Holy Spirit living in us, we have the Holy Spirit and Jesus interceding for us. What more could we ask for?


             I’m looking forward to that new heaven and earth where the struggle with sin will end and we’ll be able to worship the Lord forever and the way we should. But I need to work on living a godly life and improving on it by the power of the Holy Spirit and Jesus living in me. I can’t give up. I don’t want to give up. I can’t think I’ve arrived either.

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