Only One risen Saviuor

Only One risen Saviuor
There is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved - Jesus

Friday, 15 December 2017

Isaiah Day 147 - Talk About It. Sing About It. Proclaim It!

Isaiah Day 147 - Talk About It. Sing About It. Proclaim It!

17 Thus says the Lord, your Redeemer,
The Holy One of Israel:
“I am the Lord your God,
Who teaches you to profit,
Who leads you by the way you should go.
18 Oh, that you had heeded My commandments!
Then your peace would have been like a river,
And your righteousness like the waves of the sea.
19 Your descendants also would have been like the sand,
And the offspring of your body like the grains of sand;
His name would not have been cut off
Nor destroyed from before Me.”

20 Go forth from Babylon!
Flee from the Chaldeans!
With a voice of singing,
Declare, proclaim this,
Utter it to the end of the earth;
Say, “The Lord has redeemed
His servant Jacob!”
21 And they did not thirst
When He led them through the deserts;
He caused the waters to flow from the rock for them;
He also split the rock, and the waters gushed out.

22 “There is no peace,” says the Lord, “for the wicked.”

If I went out and laid down on the highway in front of my home every night the chances are high that I would be seriously injured or killed. To intentionally live outside the counsel of God it will only hurt me sooner or later. There is no peace outside His Word. His laws are not arbitrary. Even those that seem so wouldn't seem so if we understood the setting in which they were given.
As we have clearly seen Judah was in a mess, a mess of their own making and predictably they had no peace. There is another kind of suffering though. Not all suffering is self-inflicted. God hints at that reality here in Isaiah 48 even though it is subtle. He tells Judah to proclaim how God gave them water in the desert, how He split the rock and water gushed out. That event was long before their time. It happened to their ancestors after they fled from slavery in Egypt.
Why bring it up? A few reasons:

1. The slavery they were escaping was not self-inflicted. It wasn't caused by their own bad choices or wickedness.

2. The people that were going to escape Babylonian tyranny and return to Jerusalem to rebuild would not be those directly responsible for their captivity. It would be a future generation suffering under the bad choices and consequences created by their ancestors.

3. To have the courage to return and rebuild they would need faith in a God their ancestors abandoned but who never abandoned them. They would need to remember the things He had done in the past so they would have courage to face their own future.

4. God is not just our God. He is timeless. He is the God of an ancient past we never experienced and a glorious future we can't even imagine. If we don't hold to both those unseen realities we will give up in the present.

5.  Remember Rahab, the prostitute in Jericho who his the spies and chose to become part of God's people? She recited to those spies all the miracles God had performed for Israel and they all happened before she was born! Is it possible that others watching our journey with God are more aware of His goodness to us than we are?

6. There is no permanent peace to be found in the circumstances of this life even if we are trying our best to follow His counsel. Jesus was perfect and He was dogged at every step. However He slept through life threatening storms because He had a peace that transcended present circumstances. He passed through crowds seeking His life because He was unafraid. He knew His life and ultimately His death were all in His Father's hands. The same Father who split the rock in the barren wilderness so thousands upon thousands of fleeing slaves could drink and live.

7. Because He wants to provide for us in our unique places of need. We don't know what the future holds but we can know the One who will carry us through it.

Thursday, 14 December 2017

Isaiah Day 146 - Hollow Words

48:1  “Hear this, O house of Jacob,
Who are called by the name of Israel,
And have come forth from the wellsprings of Judah;
Who swear by the name of the Lord,
And make mention of the God of Israel,
But not in truth or in righteousness;
2 For they call themselves after the holy city,
And lean on the God of Israel;
The Lord of hosts is His name.

I was going to skip this because I prefer to talk about good news and positive things but in good conscience I can't. These two little verses open up a dark truth that has plagued this world ever since Cain replaced the lamb on his altar with the produce from his garden. It was similar to what God asked and it was all done under the pretense of worshipping God but it wasn't.
What do I mean? It's easy to claim the name of God. It's easy to say we follow Him, love Him, serve Him etc... but the world is full of people who make these claims that aren't His. When Jesus was here He was quite blunt about it. In Matthew 7 these words are recorded: "21 “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. 22 Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ 23 And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you...'"

Being religious does not mean we are His. The nation of Judah proudly and arrogantly flaunted that they were the children of Abraham and the favoured of God yet they were desperately far from Him. When they spoke or taught about Him there was no truth or righteousness in them.

Yesterday my son Nathaniel was sharing with me what he learned at school about the Indian Act. He was horrified by the mistreatment of the aboriginals by Canada. I used the moment to remind him that at many points in history similar things were done all over the world, often in the name of religion. I pointed out the mistreatment of blacks in America by professed Christians, the mass killing of the Jews by professed Christians and the recent upswell of hatred toward Muslims by many professed Christians. He balked at the last one. He said Muslims are killing people. I agreed that SOME are but they are a minority and to label them all the same because of the extreme views and actions of a minority is how mass hatred of an entire people can begin. We talked about some extreme "Christians" and how they don't represent us even though to outsiders we carry the same label. I even admitted to him there are people who belong to our own denomination that have views I don't believe for one moment reflect Jesus.

Judah was a nation of false advertisement. They carried His name but not His character. May it never be said of any of us and let's be like Jesus in this way especially. Let's see every human being as an individual person and a child of God, rather than judge them by a label and pass on by or worse...

Wednesday, 13 December 2017

Isaiah Day 145 - Imagine That!

48:12  “Listen to Me, O Jacob,
And Israel, My called:
I am He, I am the First,
I am also the Last.
13 Indeed My hand has laid the foundation of the earth,
And My right hand has stretched out the heavens;
When I call to them,
They stand up together.

14 “All of you, assemble yourselves, and hear!
Who among them has declared these things?
The Lord loves him;
He shall do His pleasure on Babylon,
And His arm shall be against the Chaldeans.
15 I, even I, have spoken;
Yes, I have called him,
I have brought him, and his way will prosper.
16 “Come near to Me, hear this:
I have not spoken in secret from the beginning;
From the time that it was, I was there.
And now the Lord God and His Spirit
Have sent Me.”

Are you catching all this? It's subtle for sure but once you get into the stream of how God is communicating it almost jumps off the page. Cyrus the Great is for Judah Cyrus the unlikely. It makes no sense to them. They can't see him as a deliverer but over and over and over God reaffirms the message. In fact to underscore the fact Cyrus will come and will accomplish what God has predicted he will do, God has to put His resume on the table. He created the earth and the heavens and they do as He directs. Surely if God can do those things, He can send a king from Persia to their rescue right?

But then God isn't done prophesying the future. Another One is coming. Another One who will be unexpected, who won't fit the expectations of Judah, and will come from a place they never thought possible.

In addition, look how His arrival is announced:

“Come near to Me, hear this:
I have not spoken in secret from the beginning;
From the time that it was, I was there.
And now the Lord God and His Spirit
Have sent Me.”

It's not God the Father speaking at all, it's Jesus! He was there from before the beginning. God the Father and His Spirit have sent Jesus! In an Old Testament book where there was no concept of the Three Persons of the Godhead, here they all are and Jesus who is yet to come in the flesh is already with us, talking through Isaiah, promising His arrival, promising that just as Cyrus would be an unlikely hero, so too will Jesus be an unlikely and rejected Hero.