Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Year 9, Day 16: Isaiah 32

Theological Commentary: Click Here

I find the opening verses of Isaiah 32 extraordinarily interesting in today’s political climate.  In the United States, we have a government shutdown while politicians that few people really trust squabble over immigration, health care, taxes, national debt, and other various topics.  In England, their government continues to wrestle with Brexit.  Debates rage.  Hostilities boil over.  Agenda lines are drawn in the sand.

All the while, the people are forgotten.  It used to be that elected officials were expected to represent the wishes of their constituents.  It used to be that government agencies were supposedly about protecting the interests of the people.  Now our leaders fight amongst themselves, viciously scrapping for any power they can get their hands upon.

In this cultural milieu, we hear the opening to Isaiah 32.  A king will reign in righteousness.  He will be like a shelter from the wind.  He will be like a stream in a dry place.  He will be alike a great shade in a weary land.  It almost sounds like the leaders in the day about which Isaiah writes will be refreshing!

Isn’t this a novel idea?  Imagine a place where one’s leaders can be trusted.  Honestly, imagine a place where one’s leaders can even be understood!  Imagine a time when decisions that are made are done with righteousness and fairness in mind.  Imagine a time when instead of skepticism and fear we view our leaders through eyes of faith and anticipation!

This is the hope that we have in the Lord.  I truly long for the day when I will have absolute trust in those who are set over me to lead me.  I can’t wait for the day when I meet a leader and genuinely believe that they care about me and not either what I can do for them or how their power can benefit themselves.  How refreshing that day will be when the Lord rules over us directly.


Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Year 9, Day 15: Isaiah 31

Theological Commentary: Click Here

Once more we hear the proverbial warning to not go to Egypt for help.  The undercurrent is still there.  Egypt is mankind.  They are not God.  Their help is temporal.  Their help will eventually fail.

There is more to it than this, though.  Remember that Egypt was the oppressor.  Egypt is the nation out of which God rescued His people.  Egypt was the people against whom the Hebrews originally cried!  When the Hebrew people beg for help from Egypt, they are turning back to their old oppressors instead of turning to God!  When the Hebrew people turn to Egypt and ask for military aid, they are choosing to seek salvation from the oppressor and not from the true life-giver.

The Lord is quite offended by this prospect.  When the Lord strikes out against His people with the Assyrians, the Egyptians will get caught up in the judgment.  God will need to put the Egyptians in their place so that the Hebrew people will understand that their salvation comes solely from God and not anyone else.

What is the lesson in this?  When we need help, turn to God.  God may use other people to help us, and that’s okay.  But we should always make sure that we understand that our help is coming from God and He deserves the credit.  When we need salvation – temporal or eternal – it comes from God.


Monday, January 14, 2019

Year 9, Day 14: Isaiah 30

Theological Commentary: Click Here

Here lies another chapter of judgment.  That’s a promise, not a threat.  There is much to learn from chapters of judgment.  It is said that the human brain learns 8 times more when recovering from a mistake than when experiencing victory.  That means that this chapter should contain some great lessons for us!

First of all, God speaks to the Hebrew leaders again.  He knows that they plan to seek help from Egypt.  He knows that they are inherently saying that they feel God is powerless to save them.  He knows the insult they pour out when they search for salvation in things other than Him.  The same applies to us as well.  When we turn to salvation from sources other than God – our bank accounts, our possessions, other people, etc – we send a clear message to God about our belief in His ability to save us.

This brings us to Isaiah 30:18. This verse is my new favorite verse for the day.  “Therefore, the Lord waits to be gracious to you.”  It is natural to hear that as a verse of hope, but I believe it is a threat.  The question is, why would God wait to be gracious?  Cannot God be gracious now?  Of course He can!  The reason God waits to be gracious is because the people aren’t ready.  The rebellion of the people is causing God to wait!  God will wait to be gracious until the people are ready to receive His grace.  There is a big lesson here, too.  God is more than capable of being gracious.  However, He is also more than capable of keeping His graciousness from being wasted on people unwilling to receive it.  It’s important to keep ourselves in a position of being ready to receive His grace instead of convincing Him to wait to be gracious to us.

We then come to the end.  There is promise of redemption.  There is promise of a return to provision and life.  There is a promise for the freedom from oppression.  That time comes into being when we are willing to cast aside our idols and wish them to begone.  Then the Lord will hear us.  Then He will answer us.  Then He will teach us His ways.  Then we will walk in His ways.


Sunday, January 13, 2019

Year 9, Day 13: Isaiah 29

Theological Commentary: Click Here

This chapter gives us a basic outline of the history of Jerusalem from the siege of Assyria to the siege of Babylon.  Assyria will come onto the scene and conquer Israel.  They will march all the way down to Jerusalem.  They will conquer the countryside.  They will lay siege to the city.  Just when all hope is lost, a plague will overtake them and they will turn tail and head back to Assyria, ashamed.  The whole situation will bring about the death of the king of Assyria as his sons use the defeat to question his right to rule.

The sad thing is that such obvious evidence of God’s hand at work will be missed by the Hebrew people of Jerusalem.  As this chapter is Isaiah claims, the blind will continue to be blind!  Even when the spirit of the Lord is poured out before them, the people will not recognize Him at work.  They will remain too focused on their own desires and enjoying their sudden release from certain death to recognize god’s hand at work in their life.

The Hebrew people are honoring God with their lips, but their hearts are not near to God.  They are saying the right words, but they don’t really mean them.  They are going through the motions, but they aren’t actually practicing the ways of the Lord.

This leads us to a great conclusion.  The meek will obtain the joy of the Lord.  If the leadership will ignore the hand of God at work, the Lord will save those who will take the time to notice.  The Lord will lift up those who honor Him.  He will sanctify them.  There will be a remnant that returns focused on relationship with their God.


Saturday, January 12, 2019

Year 9, Day 12: Isaiah 28

Theological Commentary: Click Here

Isaiah 28 begins another section of judgment.  These verses are primarily directed at the leadership of the Hebrew people.  It isn’t fair to place the entirety of blame for each individual’s sin upon the shoulders of the leaders.  We are all accountable for our own sinful rebellion.  It is fair to place the blame of the culture and its ethic upon its leaders.

This is the point of the Lord’s reprimand.  The leaders of the Hebrew people have been granted much power and position.  They have been blessed.  Yet they have no wisdom and will not listen to it.  Their judgment is like a drunkard, unable to think rationally.  They are interested in fulfilling their own desires, not handing out true justice.

God expects those in leadership to encounter a little blessing.  After all, leading people is hard work, there is need for some compensation.  However, the Lord expects such a leader to embrace a greater burden for those they are leading in exchange for the blessing.  Leadership is not meant to be a route to extravagant life at the expense of others.  Neither is leadership meant to be a route to wealthy living while neglecting others.  Leaders are meant to lead for the sake of others.

This is why we come across the idea of justice in the prophets.  The Hebrew culture had become much like every other human culture in the world.  Instead of the leadership of the culture looking after the people and guiding them towards God, the leaders used their power and position to accomplish their own desires, often at the expense of others.

There is a serious lesson to learn for leaders.  No leader is perfect, of course.  All leaders will make mistakes simply because no person can accurately know the future.  But leaders must try their best.  They must lead with what’s good for the people – not necessarily the popular opinion.  They must lead with truth and justice, not an eye for their own selfish leisure.


Friday, January 11, 2019

Year 9, Day 11: Isaiah 27

Theological Commentary: Click Here

Isaiah 27 is a great chapter of hope and truth.  It starts with a wonderful image of the vineyard.  Here is a vineyard that is loved and cherished.  It is protected.  Barriers are erected to keep it safe.  This is a different perspective on the same vineyard that earlier in Isaiah is left abandoned and allowed to become overrun.  Now the vineyard is guarded and beloved.

This should prompt a question.  Why does the Lord’s opinion of this vineyard change?  Does the vineyard suddenly become better?  Does the Lord Himself change?  What’s the impetus for the perspective difference?

The end of Isaiah clues us in to what has happened.  The rebellious vineyard is dealt with.  Through exile, the vineyard was tempered and humbled.  God removed His favor and stopped His compassion to demonstrate to the rebellious people what life was like without Him.

When God removes His love, grace, and mercy life is difficult.  It is a humbling experience.  It changes us.  That’s the key.  When we come upon consequences, we are changed.  Our perspective grows.  We appreciate things we didn’t appreciate before.

This is why the Isaiah tells of a time that He will love the vineyard.  The people will change.  They will repent.  They will be shown the error of their ways and they will return to the Lord.  The Lord forgives and changes His position towards the vineyard.

What does it take on our part to be shown the favor of the Lord?  We simply need to be humble.  We need to be willing to repent and acknowledge our sins.  God doesn’t need our perfection; God desires our humbleness.


Thursday, January 10, 2019

Year 9, Day 10: Isaiah 26

Theological Commentary: Click Here

Isaiah 26:16-21 contains a very interesting comparison.  Isaiah speaks of humanity in comparison to a pregnant woman.  I specifically love the saying that we give birth to the wind.  Human beings are always full of great ideas.  We think we have the answer.  We are convinced we have the next great thing.  When in reality everything we do or make is limited in scope.  It might be great for a while, but it will eventually fade, fall out of favor, or otherwise pass by.  We give birth to the wind.  Nothing we do stands the test of time.  I’m beginning to sound like the author of Ecclesiastes.

This is followed by a greater confession.  We have accomplished no deliverance in the earth.  We cannot save ourselves, much less anyone else.  What can we as human beings do that has eternal power?

Then, there is the comparison to God and His eternal.  His dead will live.  Talk about eternal!  God’s dead will live.  Those who die in relationship to God will defeat death and live with Him forever!  He is our savior.  He is our deliverer. 

What does it mean to be righteous?  How can we be like Isaiah and be able to sing the praises of God in the midst of coming judgment and turmoil?  We remember our place.  We confess our limitations.  We understand that God’s dead will live and we seek to find our place in Him.