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, 25 August 2017

Isaiah Days 31 to 35

Isaiah Day 31 - Let the Word Speak

Some feel the book of Isaiah is dread and gloom and darkness. Some feel it is a wonderful book of promises. Both are true. We live in a world of dread and gloom. Every day awful news comes from somewhere, be it the news of a loved one with some awful sickness or another terrorist attack, or racial tensions, or a suicide, or... the list is endless. We were born into this. We had no say and we have no power to make it better or right. Yet inside of us there is this hope. An expectation of better days. A longing for peace, for joy, for restoration. Today I'm just going to let the Word of God speak. I'm going to let it announce our Hope.

9:1 Nevertheless the gloom will not be upon her who is distressed, as when at first He lightly esteemed the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, and afterward more heavily oppressed her, by the way of the sea, beyond the Jordan,

In Galilee of the Gentiles.

2 The people who walked in darkness

Have seen a great light;

Those who dwelt in the land of the shadow of death, upon them a light has shined.

3 You have multiplied the nation and increased its joy; They rejoice before You according to the joy of harvest, as men rejoice when they divide the spoil.

4 For You have broken the yoke of his burden, and the staff of his shoulder, the rod of his oppressor, as in the day of Midian.

5 For every warrior’s sandal from the noisy battle, and garments rolled in blood, will be used for burning and fuel of fire.

6 For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given;

And the government will be upon His shoulder.

And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

7 Of the increase of His government and peace there will be no end, upon the throne of David and over His kingdom, to order it and establish it with judgment and justice from that time forward, even forever.

The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this.

We have hope far beyond our wildest dreams. His name is Jesus.

Isaiah Day 32 - On His Shoulder


For unto us a Child is born,

Unto us a Son is given;

And the government will be upon His shoulder.

And His name will be called

Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God,

Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

Of the increase of His government and peace

There will be no end,

Upon the throne of David and over His kingdom,

To order it and establish it with judgment and justice

From that time forward, even forever.

The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this.

Sometimes pride and arrogance well up in me and I wonder how people can read the Bible and miss things in it that are so obvious. Well God has ways of humbling us and sometimes it's gentle and other times it hits like a baseball bat across the forehead. Today was thankfully gentle. You see Isaiah 9:6 is one of my favourite verses. In fact there's one particular phrase in the verse and today I noticed for the first time that it doesn't exactly say what I have always thought it said. The phrase is "and the government will be upon His shoulders". At least that's what I always thought it said. This morning I saw that there is no 's' on shoulder. I guess all these years I subconsciously added the 's' because we all have two shoulders. I even had to double check the Greek to make sure and there it was. Shoulder has no 's'. It is singular. One shoulder. Hmmm.

Before we get too far ahead what does this phrase mean anyway? I wish I could draw this for you since a picture is worth many words. Imagine a triangle. It's sitting flat with one corner pointing straight to the sky like an arrowhead. Sitting on top of this triangle is a king. Underneath him are his sons and daughters, the princes and princesses. Below them are the highest officials of his royal court. As we go down the triangle gets wiser and wider and each layer under the king represents larger and larger groups holding a lower and lower position until finally we come to the peasants at the bottom. The common people. The masses. The lowest subjects of the kingdom. What we have just looked at is the structure of earthly kingdoms. The bulk of the wealth and power is at the top and at the bottom there is little to no wealth and certainly no power unless there is a revolt and the triangle topples over.

Here in Isaiah 9 we are introduced to a future King. A very different King and a very different kind of kingdom. Rather than being carried on his throne on the shoulders of men, this King carries the government on His shoulder. In His kingdom the triangle is upside-down. He carries the weight of the world on His shoulder. He is not fanned by servants and treated as a royal celebrity. Instead he takes the basin and towel and washes dirty feet. He touches the outcast leper. He meets with a woman of ill repute who has no standing even among her own people. He travels to "heathen" lands. He crosses seas in storms to rescue one man from the grip of demons. He topples the mighty in order to free the oppressed. He says strange things like "the first will be last and the last first." and "Don't seek the best seat, take the lowest seat" and "Don't chase after positions and wealth like the Gentiles do. Seek to serve."

The government is on His shoulder...

Our True King is the greatest servant this planet has ever seen and our gift of gratitude was to place a Roman cross on His shoulder which He willingly took and dragged up a hill called Calvary. So complete was His surrender to servitude, and so great was the weight of our world on that shoulder that He couldn't make it the whole way. He spent Himself until there was nothing left to spend.

One cross, one shoulder, one world to carry. 

A King is coming. Coming to rescue and restore those who choose to be a part of this kingdom, a kingdom of grace, humility, service, love. I am nothing like my King but there is power in the blood and I'm holding to His promises. He who has begun a good work in me will be faithful to complete it. :)

Isaiah Day 33 - Hope and Darkness, Darkness and Hope...


The Lord sent a word against Jacob,

And it has fallen on Israel.

All the people will know—

Ephraim and the inhabitant of Samaria—

Who say in pride and arrogance of heart:


“The bricks have fallen down,

But we will rebuild with hewn stones;

The sycamores are cut down,

But we will replace them with cedars.”


Therefore the Lord shall set up

The adversaries of Rezin against him,

And spur his enemies on,


The Syrians before and the Philistines behind;

And they shall devour Israel with an open mouth.

For all this His anger is not turned away,

But His hand is stretched out still.


For the people do not turn to Him who strikes them,

Nor do they seek the Lord of hosts.


Therefore the Lord will cut off head and tail from Israel,

Palm branch and bulrush in one day.


The elder and honorable, he is the head;

The prophet who teaches lies, he isthe tail.


For the leaders of this people cause them to err,

And those who are led by them are destroyed.


Therefore the Lord will have no joy in their young men,

Nor have mercy on their fatherless and widows;

For everyone is a hypocrite and an evildoer,

And every mouth speaks folly.

For all this His anger is not turned away,

But His hand is stretched out still.


For wickedness burns as the fire;

It shall devour the briers and thorns,

And kindle in the thickets of the forest;

They shall mount up like rising smoke.


Through the wrath of the Lord of hosts

The land is burned up,

And the people shall be as fuel for the fire;

No man shall spare his brother.


And he shall snatch on the right hand

And be hungry;

He shall devour on the left hand

And not be satisfied;

Every man shall eat the flesh of his own arm.


Manasseh shall devour Ephraim, and Ephraim Manasseh;

Together they shall be against Judah.

For all this His anger is not turned away,

But His hand is stretched out still.

If it seems like the book of Isaiah flip flops back and forth between doom and hope, between promises of blessing and warnings of destruction it is because it does. God is trying to reach His stubborn people who are will fill blind and purposely deaf. Do you remember when Stephen was arrested by the religious leaders in the book of Acts? The very fact religious leaders were arresting people should be enough to tell the story. When they arrested him, he began to explain through the Story of the Old Testament why he believed in Jesus. He never finished his explanation. He never had the chance. The men blocked their ears. They refused to listen. Their "deafness" was not a curse or punishment from an angry God. It was a deliberate choice to not hear. His voice must be silence and it was. They stoned him to death right there just as Cain killed his own brother. 

There are two things I want us to note in this dark half of Isaiah 9. At first glance it appears to be punishment served up by God because His patience has reached an end. However that's not the case at all. The people are killing each other. Ephraim and Manasseh were the sons of Joseph and these are their descendants. They are turning against each other and against Judah. The descendants of Jacob are literally killing each other while Syria and the Philistines and the enemies of Rezin are coming in for the spoils. Consistently in the Bible the wrath of God is a term used to describe God withdrawing His protection from people who have completely rejected Him. Note that they proudly say they don't need Him. They will rebuild bigger and better than before all on their own.

They don't want God because they don't want love. They want selfish gain, power, possessions, etc... They want a kingdom but not God's kingdom. 

Finally in order to preserve a remnant (just like the flood on a smaller scale) God withdraws and leaves them to themselves. The result is anarchy and bloodshed, not by God's hand but by their own.

Isaiah Day 34 - No Mistaking the Problem

10:1 “Woe to those who decree unrighteous decrees,

Who write misfortune,

Which they have prescribed

To rob the needy of justice,

And to take what is right from the poor of My people,

That widows may be their prey,

And that they may rob the fatherless.

What will you do in the day of punishment,

And in the desolation which will come from afar?

To whom will you flee for help?

And where will you leave your glory?

Without Me they shall bow down among the prisoners,

And they shall fall among the slain.”

For all this His anger is not turned away,

But His hand is stretched out still.

There is no mistaking why God was not happy with Judah. It wasn't because they has some weird theological idea or we're worshipping on the wrong day, or gender inequality or any of the issues we pretend are all important. It was pretty simple. Those who had power were using it to benefit themselves and oppress the vulnerable, even writing new laws to make injustice legal. 

I want to note something important here. God is often criticized and even written off for letting evil thrive. The truth is He does. He allows people the freedom to be and do as they choose and expose who they are. However the day will come when they will have to own those choices. God is going to be so complete, so balanced, so hands off and such a champion of personal freedom that when this world is over and evil is called to account that even the most wicked will bow and admit He was just and fair and more than merciful. 

So when you are injustice you can shake your fist at God or recognize that it is we who are unjust. Then you can decide if you will use the resources and influence you have to fight against it and relieve suffering or just live for yourself.

Isaiah Day 35 - Let It Be Known...

10:5 “Woe to Assyria, the rod of My anger

And the staff in whose hand is My indignation.

I will send him against an ungodly nation,

And against the people of My wrath

I will give him charge,

To seize the spoil, to take the prey,

And to tread them down like the mire of the streets.

Yet he does not mean so,

Nor does his heart think so;

But it is in his heart to destroy,

And cut off not a few nations.

For he says,

‘Are not my princes altogether kings?

Is not Calno like Carchemish?

Is not Hamath like Arpad?

Is not Samaria like Damascus?


As my hand has found the kingdoms of the idols,

Whose carved images excelled those of Jerusalem and Samaria,


As I have done to Samaria and her idols,

Shall I not do also to Jerusalem and her idols?’”

12 Therefore it shall come to pass, when the Lord has performed all His work on Mount Zion and on Jerusalem, that He will say, “I will punish the fruit of the arrogant heart of the king of Assyria, and the glory of his haughty looks.”

See how clear it is? God is not only telling the future of evil, self-obsessed, oppressive Judah. He is also telling the future of the nation coming against her. Two wrongs don't make a right. God is not a God of war. He takes no delight in violence or bloodshed. When the Scriptures speak of His wrath it is always a withdrawing of His presence and protection. 

Judah has been enjoying both. His presence filled the temple and His unseen protection enabled them to thrive in the midst of nations larger and mightier if measuring by population and military might. Often Judah was threatened but God kept a hedge around her. Now through the prophet Isaiah He is announcing that He won't subsidize their injustice and evil any longer. He is removing the invisible fences. Angels will no longer stand guard. The way will be opened for Assyria to march over them. 

But and this is a huge but - God is not fighting with Assyria. They are not working for Him. They are not a tool of punishment in His hand. He is simply stepping aside so they are free to do what they would have done already if they could have. With the freedom to attack successfully comes a warning. Their evil will not go unpunished either. They are not innocent. Their day will also come.

It's easy to stand in judgement of God from a comfortable distance. We see Him as harsh yet we also judge Him when injustice goes unpunished.

The truth is He is always watching. No man is His enemy from His perspective. He loves every man, woman, and child. He longs to reach us, teach us, and win our trust and love. He gives us complete freedom and if we abuse that freedom beyond repair He withdraws His merciful protection and leaves us to the consequences of our own choices. 

On the other hand when I take advantage of others who have made bad choices and attack them or exploit them at their weakest point with the justification that they deserve whatever is coming to them I am but positioning myself for a similar fall. 

It may sound like God and Assyria are war partners but read the whole story. God does not partner with evil and when we turn on each other He weeps for both sides.

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