Archive for : July, 2018

07/31/2018 — Isaiah Chapters 59 – 63

Isaiah 59:15-20 is certainly a fitting brief description of the Lord’s Plan of Salvation for all nations. 

15  Truth is nowhere to be found and whoever shuns evil becomes a prey. The Lord looked and was displeased that there was no justice. 

16 He saw that there was no one,
    he was appalled that there was no one to intervene;
so his own arm achieved salvation for him,
    and his own righteousness sustained him.
17 He put on righteousness as his breastplate,
    and the helmet of salvation on his head;
he put on the garments of vengeance
    and wrapped himself in zeal as in a cloak.

Coffman Writes:

Jehovah’s concern at the terrible, near hopeless, condition of mankind; and the statement in that he “wondered that there was no intercessor” falls short of expressing the fullness of God’s concern. The word should be rendered, “He was appalled.” The utter hopelessness of mankind had reached such a state that it even appalled God.

 

 

07/30/2018 — Isaiah Chapters 54-58

As I read Chapter 58 based on Jesus’s teachings I could almost hear Him using these verses to address the “Leaders of the Jews.”   Can’t you envision Him saying something like “You have hard it said that is good to fast.  Yet, I tell you:”

Isaiah 58:3  “Yet on the day of your fasting, you do as you please
    and exploit all your workers.

Isaiah 58:6-10

“Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen:
to loose the chains of injustice
    and untie the cords of the yoke,
to set the oppressed free
    and break every yoke?
Is it not to share your food with the hungry
    and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter—
when you see the naked, to clothe them,
    and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?
Then your light will break forth like the dawn,
    and your healing will quickly appear;
then your righteousness[a] will go before you,
    and the glory of the Lord will be your rear guard.
Then you will call, and the Lord will answer;
    you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I.

“If you do away with the yoke of oppression,
    with the pointing finger and malicious talk,
10 and if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry
    and satisfy the needs of the oppressed,
then your light will rise in the darkness,
    and your night will become like the noonday.

So often in the New Testament we saw the leaders strictly “interpret” but not follow the intent of the Law.  This is what I also hear in Isaiah.

 

07/29/2018 — Isaiah Chapter 49-53

Are not Chapters 52 and 53 exalted in their reference to the coming Messiah, especial when we remember that they were penned 700-800 years before the coming of Jesus?

I had written a note in the margin of my Bible from a sermon (probably preached by Artie.)  My notes states that in Chapters 52 and 53 we can see 5 Descriptions of the coming “Servant:

  • Exaltation
  • Grief
  • Suffering
  • Submission
  • Victory

07/28/2018 — 2 Kings Chapter 19; & Psalms 46, 80, 135

We read of the details of the salvation of Jerusalem and destruction of Sennacherib in Isaiah 37.  So, isn’t it marvelous that the developer of our reading program follows with Psalm 46?  Several commentators record that this Psalm was written shortly after the salvation of Jerusalem as the opening stanza seems to reference:

God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging. There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy place where the Most High dwells.  God is within her, she will not fall; God will help her at break of day Nations are in uproar, kingdoms fall; he lifts his voice, the earth melts The Lord Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.

Interestingly, commentators also state that this verse is the inspiration of Martin Luther’s song, “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God.”

A mighty fortress is our God,
A bulwark never failing:
Our helper He, amid the flood
Of mortal ills prevailing.
For still our ancient foe
Doth seek to work his woe;
His craft and power are great,
And armed with cruel hate,
On earth is not his equal.

07/27/2018 — Isaiah Chapters 44-48

As we read through these chapters I saw an overall theme — the Lord describing the worthlessness of idols and the Lord describing who He is.

The worthlessness of idols is so logically (and inspiringly) presented in Chapter 44:12-20 as to be undeniable.  The blacksmith forges an idol but remains hungry, looses his strength and grows faint (all human traits.)

The description of the carpenter is even more detailed and concludes with:

16 Half of the wood he burns in the fire;
    over it he prepares his meal,
    he roasts his meat and eats his fill.
He also warms himself and says,
    “Ah! I am warm; I see the fire.”
17 From the rest he makes a god, his idol;
    he bows down to it and worships.
He prays to it and says,
    “Save me! You are my god!”
18 They know nothing, they understand nothing;
    their eyes are plastered over so they cannot see,
    and their minds closed so they cannot understand.
19 No one stops to think,
    no one has the knowledge or understanding to say,
“Half of it I used for fuel;
    I even baked bread over its coals,
    I roasted meat and I ate.
Shall I make a detestable thing from what is left?
    Shall I bow down to a block of wood?”
20 Such a person feeds on ashes; a deluded heart misleads him;
    he cannot save himself, or say,
    “Is not this thing in my right hand a lie?”

Several weeks ago following our reading of the book of Jonah Kate Hefty penned a terrific contemporary commentary that I think applies equally as well to these passages in Isaiah.

Those who cling to worthless idols forsake faithful love. We know that idols are any things we put before God, and we each have our own struggles with our idols of “choice.” This verse made it clear that we either choose God and His faithful love, or we choose something else that seems appealing but cannot provide what our souls really need — Kate Hefty (07.07.18)

07/26/2018 — Isaiah Chapters 40-43

As you read through these chapters I am sure that you could see the numerous references Isaiah makes to the signs of the coming Messiah.   But I was not fully aware of how many times these prophecies of Isaiah are referenced in the New Testament.   For example Isaiah 40:3-5 is referenced in each of the Gospels:

 A voice of one calling: “In the wilderness prepare the way for the Lord; make straight in the desert a highway for our God.Every valley shall be raised up, every mountain and hill made low; the rough ground shall become level, the rugged places a plain. And the glory of the Lord will be revealed,  and all people will see it together. For the mouth of the Lord has spoken.
As I have mentioned before — I find the fulfillment of these prophecies made about 700 years before the birth of Christ an assurance that the promises we have been given will be fulfilled!
After all, relating this to “modern times” how many earthly predictions made in AD 1318 have been fulfilled today?

07/25/2018 — Isaiah Chapters 37-39; & Psalm Chapter 76

Chapters 37 and 38 are Isaiah’s description of the events recorded in 2 Kings 18 — the threat of Assyria to Jerusalem.   We will read of this event again when we return to 2 Kings and 2 Chronicles.  We will even see Isaiah referenced in these passages.

For today’s reading we twice see the Lord’s response to “fervent prayer”  as lifted by King Hezekiah.  First for the salvation of Jerusalem in Isaiah 37:15-20:

15 And Hezekiah prayed to the Lord: 16 Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, enthroned between the cherubim, you alone are God over all the kingdoms of the earth. You have made heaven and earth. 17 Give ear, Lord, and hear; open your eyes, Lord, and see; listen to all the words Sennacherib has sent to ridicule the living God. 18 “It is true, Lord, that the Assyrian kings have laid waste all these peoples and their lands. 19 They have thrown their gods into the fire and destroyed them, for they were not gods but only wood and stone, fashioned by human hands. 20 Now, Lord our God, deliver us from his hand, so that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that you, Lord, are the only God.[b]

Then we see the King offer another prayer regarding his own health in Isaiah 38:2-3

Hezekiah turned his face to the wall and prayed to the Lord, “Remember, Lord, how I have walked before you faithfully and with wholehearted devotion and have done what is good in your eyes.” And Hezekiah wept bitterly.

And each time we see the Lord respond — saving the City of Jerusalem and extending the life of Hezekiah.  Does this mean that all of my prayers will be answered the way I expect them to be?  I think our experience has shown that this is not always the case because sometimes what we “expect” may not fall into God’s will and plan for us at that time.   But we do have the inspired Word Of God instructing us that prayer is effective.

From James 5: 16: Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.

 

 

07/24/2018 — Isaiah Chapters 35 – 36

Chapter 35 continues the prophecy of the day of Judgement.  But now we read Isaiah’s inspired words of the “Joy of the Redeemed.”   And there is nothing I can add to the glory of the vision Isaiah provides in Isaiah 35:5-10.  All we need to do is just read, shut our eyes, and reflect …

 Then will the eyes of the blind be opened
and the ears of the deaf unstopped.
Then will the lame leap like a deer,
and the mute tongue shout for joy.
Water will gush forth in the wilderness
and streams in the desert.

The burning sand will become a pool,
    the thirsty ground bubbling springs.
In the haunts where jackals once lay,
    grass and reeds and papyrus will grow.

And a highway will be there;
    it will be called the Way of Holiness;
    it will be for those who walk on that Way.
The unclean will not journey on it;
    wicked fools will not go about on it.
No lion will be there,
    nor any ravenous beast;
    they will not be found there.
But only the redeemed will walk there,
10     and those the Lord has rescued will return.
They will enter Zion with singing;
    everlasting joy will crown their heads.
Gladness and joy will overtake them,
    and sorrow and sighing will flee away.

07/23/2018 — Isaiah Chapters 31-34

In yesterday’s reading we saw Isaiah prophesy “woes” on  — Ephraim, Ariel (Jerusalem) & the “Obstinate Nation” ( Israel.)  The “woes” continue with today’s reading and include “those who rely on Egypt and the “destroyer” (most likely Assyria.)  Then, in Chapter 34 we see the prophecy against “all nations.”  While the nation of Edom is directly referenced most scholars feel that Edom represents all nations on earth.  And the description of the horror is vivid:

Isaiah 34:2-3

The Lord is angry with all nations;
his wrath is on all their armies.
He will totally destroy[a] them,
    he will give them over to slaughter.
Their slain will be thrown out,
    their dead bodies will stink;
    the mountains will be soaked with their blood.

Isaiah 34:6-8

My sword has drunk its fill in the heavens;
    see, it descends in judgment on Edom,
    the people I have totally destroyed.
The sword of the Lord is bathed in blood,
    it is covered with fat—
the blood of lambs and goats,
    fat from the kidneys of rams.
For the Lord has a sacrifice in Bozrah
    and a great slaughter in the land of Edom.
And the wild oxen will fall with them,
    the bull calves and the great bulls.
Their land will be drenched with blood,
    and the dust will be soaked with fat

Through these chapters we see the description of the reality of Judgement Day for the unfaithful and non-believers in the Lord.   And I find it encouraging that the book of the Lord’s prophet, Isaiah, does not end with Chapter 34  but continues into tomorrow’s reading, subtitled in the NIV as the “Joy of the Redeemed.

07/22/2018 — Isaiah Chapters 28-30

As we read of the destruction of Israel and Judah are you like me and continue to see plainly stated in Scripture from the various prophets the continued reality of hope for us all?  From Isaiah 28:5

In that day the Lord Almighty
    will be a glorious crown,
a beautiful wreath
    for the remnant of his people.
He will be a spirit of justice
    to the one who sits in judgment,
a source of strength
    to those who turn back the battle at the gate.

7/21/2019 — Hosea Chapters 8 – 14

As I read through the graphic details that describe the fall of the northern kingdom (Israel) a very short but beautiful passage of God’s love caught my eye.  From Hosea 11:3

It was I who taught Ephraim to walk,
    taking them by the arms;
but they did not realize
    it was I who healed them.

Is there anything more loving and touching than watching a parent take the time and initiative to guide a child learning to walk?  — letting go cautiously but with hands outstretched to catch a “fall.”  But at the same time realizing that finally “letting go” will cause pain. And with each tumble feeling the results of the fall and seeking to bring comfort.

Can you not feel that same emotion expressed but the Lord when you read Hosea 11:8

“How can I give you up, Ephraim?
    How can I hand you over, Israel?
How can I treat you like Admah?
    How can I make you like Zeboyim

07/20/2018 — Hosea Chapters 1-7

A bit of background — Hosea is the first of the so-called Minor Prophets. Interestingly, these twelve prophets are comprised in one single book in the Hebrew Bible and are called “the Twelve.”  Except for the name of his father,Beeri, we do not know anything about the background of this prophet. Hosea worked in the northern 10 tribes kingdom but his messages also partially concerned the southern kingdom of Judah.

Rightly so, much has been written about the relationship of Hosea with Gomer, his adulterous wife & possible mother of two children outside of her marriage with Hosea (i.e., Chapter 1 verses 6 and 9 reference Gomer giving birth to two children but Hosea is not listed as the father.)  The relationship paralleled the love of the Lord for the nation of Israel and the nation’s continued unfaithfulness.

As I read some commentators they theorized that Homer’s relationship with Gomer was only “allegorical” and that he did not truly endure her unfaithfulness.  But I think the relationship was real or one reason among several.

God’s love for His people was and is still active and personal.  The greatness sadness He feels when His people rebel is real, not just an allegorical comparison.

07/19/2018 — 2 Kings 18; 2 Chronicles 29-31; Psalm 48

When comparing 2 Kings and 2 Chronicles I denote an interesting point to me.  2 Kings 9-12 relates the fall of Samaria so we see the Northern Kingdom coming to ruin.  Then, in 2 Chronicles 30 we see Hezekiah, the good king of  of Judah, invite the Northern Kingdom to participate in the restoration Passover.  Even as the nation of Israel was falling apart there were still people of God living there who  came to participate.  2 Chronicles 30:10-11:

1The couriers went from town to town in Ephraim and Manasseh, as far as Zebulun, but people scorned and ridiculed them. 11 Nevertheless, some from Asher, Manasseh and Zebulun humbled themselves and went to Jerusalem.

And then I think we read a marvelous Old Testament example of the grace of God for people who truly “set their hearts on seeking God.” 

2 Chronicles 30:18-20  18 Although most of the many people who came from Ephraim, Manasseh, Issachar and Zebulun had not purified themselves, yet they ate the Passover, contrary to what was written. But Hezekiah prayed for them, saying, “May the Lord, who is good, pardon everyone 19 who sets their heart on seeking God—the Lord, the God of their ancestors—even if they are not clean according to the rules of the sanctuary.” 20 And the Lord heard Hezekiah and healed the people.

07/18/2018 — Isaiah Chapters 23-27

Chapter 23 completes the prophecy of the nations near Israel, referring to Tyre.  Then we enter a new series of Isaiah’s prophecies — those regarding the final judgement “in that day.”

And as you read take note of the number of times the expression “in that day” is written throughout chapters 24-27.  Numerous commentators agreed that “in that day” does not refer to the destruction of Jerusalem by the Babylonians but the coming day of God’s final judgement not only upon the nation of Israel but the entire earth.

The destruction will be all encompassing except for God’s faithful.  I find assurance in Isaiah 26:1-4:

 26 In that day this song will be sung in the land of Judah:

We have a strong city;
    God makes salvation
    its walls and ramparts.
Open the gates
    that the righteous nation may enter,
    the nation that keeps faith.
You will keep in perfect peace
    those whose minds are steadfast,
    because they trust in you.
Trust in the Lord forever,
    for the Lord, the Lord himself, is the Rock eternal.

 

 

07/17/2018 — Isaiah 18-22

In these chapters we see prophecies regarding Cush (present day Ethiopia,) Egypt, Babylon (again,) Edom, Arabia, and Jerusalem??.

That’s right — Jerusalem, the capital of the Southern Kingdom – Judah.   I was perplexed – why is Jerusalem included in this list of “foreign” nations?  Coffman writes: This oracle appearing here against Jerusalem says that, “If God’s people are going to behave like the heathen nations, they must suffer the same consequences for their behavior. This becomes clear as we study the prophecy.

Even thought they (we) were (are) God’s chosen people obedience is still expected …

I would like yo highlight that commentators in Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible pointed out that Chapter 22 appears to refer to two sieges of Jerusalem:

(1) The first by Sennacherib in Isaiah 22:8-11 based on the fact that the preparations for defense and securing of water was as described in 2 Chronicles 32:4, 32:5, and 32:30. (2) The second to Nebuchadnezzar and the subsequent fall of the nation.

T

07/16/2018 — Isaiah Chapters 13-17

Chapter 13 is the beginning of multiple chapters (chapters 13-23) in which Isaiah prophesies the fate of 12 nations surrounding Israel.  In these chapters; Babylon, Assyria, the Philistines, Moab, and Damascus (Syria.) And, as we have seen with other prophecies, these came to fruition hundreds of years after Isaiah’s prophecy.

While much of the wording of the prophecies is similar there was one word that was specifically repeated:

Isaiah 13:19  19 Babylon, the jewel of kingdoms, the pride and glory of the Babylonians, will be overthrown by God like Sodom and Gomorrah.

Isaiah 16:6  We have heard of Moab’s  pride how great is her arrogance!—
of her conceit, her pride and her insolence; but her boasts are empty.

Just as “pride” can be a downfall of nations pride can also lead us to rebellion.  particularly, when we believe that “we have everything under control and can do it all on our own.”

 

07/15/2018 — 2 Chronicles Chapter 28 & 2 Kings 16-17

Returning to the history lessons — When you read of the evil of Ahaz (worshiping Baal, sacrificing his sons in fire, shutting the doors of the Lord’s temple, etc.) can’t you envision why the nation needed prophets?  And reflect on the Lord’s grace in sending them, giving the nations’ another chance.

While reading of the evils of Ahaz we, subsequently, see the fall of the Northern tribes to the nation of Assyria (as the prophets had warned.)  Hoshea was their last evil king.

And in 2 Kings 17:24-29 we see an important historical event that is referenced often in the New Testament — the origin of the later hatred & contempt of the Jews and the Samaritans.

As described in these scriptures the Israelites were removed from Samaria and replaced with people from pagan areas.  later when the Israelites were allowed to return to Samaria they “interbred” with these pagans, leading the “pure” Jews who returned to Jerusalem to refer to the Samaritans as half-breeds and not “pure” Jews.

24 The king of Assyria brought people from Babylon, Kuthah, Avva, Hamath and Sepharvaim and settled them in the towns of Samaria to replace the Israelites. They took over Samaria and lived in its towns. 25 When they first lived there, they did not worship the Lord; so he sent lions among them and they killed some of the people. 26 It was reported to the king of Assyria: “The people you deported and resettled in the towns of Samaria do not know what the god of that country requires. He has sent lions among them, which are killing them off, because the people do not know what he requires.” 27 Then the king of Assyria gave this order: “Have one of the priests you took captive from Samaria go back to live there and teach the people what the god of the land requires.” 28 So one of the priests who had been exiled from Samaria came to live in Bethel and taught them how to worship the Lord. 29 Nevertheless, each national group made its own gods in the several towns where they settled, and set them up in the shrines the people of Samaria had made at the high places.

07/14/2018 — the book of Micah

As customary, a bit of background — Micah’s prophecies were directed to Judah under the kings Jotham, Ahaz and Hezekiah (around 750 – 700 BC.) He therefore was a contemporary of Isaiah, Hosea and Amos.

We probably best know Micah best for the fulfillment of his prophecy referring to Bethlehem as the birthplace of the Messiah in Micah 5:2-4

“But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah,
    though you are small among the clans of Judah,
out of you will come for me
    one who will be ruler over Israel,
whose origins are from of old,
    from ancient times.”

Therefore Israel will be abandoned
    until the time when she who is in labor bears a son,
and the rest of his brothers return
    to join the Israelites.

He will stand and shepherd his flock
    in the strength of the Lord,
    in the majesty of the name of the Lord his God.
And they will live securely, for then his greatness
    will reach to the ends of the earth.

I have always found it interesting that the scribes and leaders of the Jews in the NT knew this prophecy — in Matt 2:5 the magi are sent to Bethlehem and in John 7:42 Bethlehem is referenced as the origin of the “Christ.”  Yet these leaders did not believe.

A couple of other points: (1) in Micah 2:12-13 we have a promise of delivery of the faithful “remnant”

12 “I will surely gather all of you, Jacob;
    I will surely bring together the remnant of Israel.
I will bring them together like sheep in a pen,
    like a flock in its pasture;
    the place will throng with people.
13 The One who breaks open the way will go up before them;
    they will break through the gate and go out.
Their King will pass through before them,
    the Lord at their head.

(2) And in Micah 7:18-20 Micah concludes his prophecy with a wonderful promise of redemption and forgiveness of the Lord:

18 Who is a God like you,
    who pardons sin and forgives the transgression
    of the remnant of his inheritance?
You do not stay angry forever
    but delight to show mercy.
19 You will again have compassion on us;
    you will tread our sins underfoot
    and hurl all our iniquities into the depths of the sea.
20 You will be faithful to Jacob,
    and show love to Abraham,
as you pledged on oath to our ancestors
    in days long ago.

07/13/2018 — 2 Chronicles Chapter 27 & Isaiah Chapters 9-12

Wasn’t today’s reading from Isaiah outstandingly beautiful and prophetic!  So beautifully written that the words of Chapter 9:6-7 were incorporated directly into one of the most glorious works of music ever written, Handel’s “Messiah.”  And the prophecy continues in Chapter 11.

In keeping with a theme we have seen in several other prophecies I focus on:

Isaiah 10:20-21  In that day the remnant of Israel,  the survivors of Jacob, will no longer rely on him who struck them down but will truly rely on the Lord, the Holy One of Israel. 21 A remnant will return, a remnant of Jacob will return to the Mighty God.

I find these words reassuring in that no matter what may happen in this world — the persecutions; the destruction; the actions of government  —  a remnant of the Lord’s faithful will remain until His glorious return.

 

07/12/2018 — Amos Chapters 6-9

In these final chapters two verses caught my mind:

Amos 7:7-8  This is what he showed me: The Lord was standing by a wall that had been built true to plumb, with a plumb line in his hand. And the Lord asked me, “What do you see, Amos?” “A plumb line,” I replied. Then the Lord said, “Look, I am setting a plumb line among my people Israel; I will spare them no longer

Even when a wall “looks straight” a plumb line establishes the true standard used.  The Lord has established and will judge versus His standard, not what other may teach or “society” may feel.

Amos 8:1.2  This is what the Sovereign Lord showed me: a basket of ripe fruit. “What do you see, Amos?” he asked. “A basket of ripe fruit,” I answered. Then the Lord said to me, “The time is ripe for my people Israel; I will spare them no longer.

The Lord will judge according to His standard — and that time is surely coming …