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

Tuesday, 28 November 2017

Isaiah Days 126 to 130

Isaiah Day 126 – God’s Last Resort

43:22  “But you have not called upon Me, O Jacob;

And you have been weary of Me, O Israel.
23 You have not brought Me the sheep for your burnt offerings,
Nor have you honored Me with your sacrifices.
I have not caused you to serve with grain offerings,
Nor wearied you with incense.
24 You have bought Me no sweet cane with money,
Nor have you satisfied Me with the fat of your sacrifices;
But you have burdened Me with your sins,
You have wearied Me with your iniquities.

25 “I, even I, am He who blots out your transgressions for My own sake;
And I will not remember your sins.
26 Put Me in remembrance;
Let us contend together;
State your case, that you may be acquitted.
27 Your first father sinned,
And your mediators have transgressed against Me.
28 Therefore I will profane the princes of the sanctuary;
I will give Jacob to the curse,
And Israel to reproaches.

Not the most uplifting words are they? Jacob represents those who do not yet believe. They are still the underhanded ones, going it alone, seeking their own advancement, etc... Israel represents those who are overcomers. They at some point came to the end of themselves. They exhausted their own resources. They grabbed onto God in faith and declared "I won't let go until you bless me, heal me, rescue me from myself."

However here the overcomers are weary, weary of Him. The world refuses Him. His church is weary of Him. Could there be a more bleak portrait? Could there be a more accurate picture of our times? Atheism's ranks are increasing. Christianity is shrinking and what remains appears lifeless and powerless. The church seems to be turning to politics and government more fervently than they are seeking God. Why?

The answer comes quickly in this passage. We aren't invested in Him. Our attentions and affections are elsewhere. We think about Him when things go wrong and other than that don't think about Him much at all. We make sacrifices to buy things but do we make equal or greater sacrifices to lift the fallen? To ease the burdens of the oppressed? Are we His hands and feet or are we tying His hands and tripping up His movement? Are we giving atheists cause to believe or more evidence for the hypocritical futility of "faith"?

What is God's response to a church weary of Him? He will disconnect Himself from the spiritual leaders and allow us all to feel the emptiness of our rejection of Him.

How far have we fallen away from Jesus? The most successful/influential TV Evangelist in America - Kenneth Copeland - recently went on TV to justify his need of a multi-million dollar private jet and private air strip because "we can't travel in a long tube full of demons".

It's strange because Jesus traveled across a sea in a storm in the night to find a man full of demons so he could set him free. He left the perfect luxuries of Heaven to live on a ball covered in demons 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Jesus doesn't give us over to our choices because He hates us or has given up on us. He is hoping the reality check will once again have us holding on to Him and crying "I won't let go until..."

Isaiah Day 127 - But...

44 “Yet hear now, O Jacob My servant,
And Israel whom I have chosen.
2 Thus says the Lord who made you
And formed you from the womb, who will help you:
‘Fear not, O Jacob My servant;
And you, Jeshurun, whom I have chosen.
3 For I will pour water on him who is thirsty,
And floods on the dry ground;
I will pour My Spirit on your descendants,
And My blessing on your offspring;
4 They will spring up among the grass
Like willows by the watercourses.’
5 One will say, ‘I am the Lord’s’;
Another will call himself by the name of Jacob;
Another will write with his hand, ‘The Lord’s,’
And name himself by the name of Israel.

We left off yesterday with God apparently withdrawing Himself from Judah but how long did it last? Every warning, every correction, every act of discipline, or even withdrawal is bathed in promises both before and after. Are we clear on the message? God loves us relentlessly but our sin, rebellion, self-obsession, oppression of the weak among us, and shameless injustice can't remain. He not only loves us as we are but loves us too much to leave us in our mess.

Thirsty for better? Longing for more? Don't worry. His tap never runs dry. Are the issues too deep to heal in your generation? That's not a problem. God sees the big picture. Not only was he looking down the road to Babylon where young men like Daniel stood up and said "Excuse me, I'm still His" and young women like Esther stood for the right even in the face of death. God was looking further. He saw young men and women in every generation standing tall. That's what Jeshurun means. It's a poetic name for Israel that means to stand tall or stand upright. When everyone else was bowing to save themselves Shadrach and his companions stood tall. In 1517 Martin Luther stood tall. In the 1960's Martin Luther King Jr stood tall. In every generation in-between and beyond God said His Spirit would not leave us. His refreshing waters would satisfy all who called on Him.

Grab Him. Hold on. Tell Him "I won't let go until you make me stand tall too."

Isaiah Day 128 - He Speaks

44:6 “Thus says the Lord, the King of Israel,
And his Redeemer, the Lord of hosts:
‘I am the First and I am the Last;
Besides Me there is no God.
7 And who can proclaim as I do?
Then let him declare it and set it in order for Me,
Since I appointed the ancient people.
And the things that are coming and shall come,
Let them show these to them.
8 Do not fear, nor be afraid;
Have I not told you from that time, and declared it?
You are My witnesses.
Is there a God besides Me?"
Indeed there is no other Rock;
I know not one.

Do you see a theme emerging from Isaiah besides the mess Judah is in and God's plans and promises to deliver them?

There is a consistent and persistent revealing of God Himself. The people are confused. Idolatry is prevalent and with that comes many conflicting and mixed up ideas of who God actually is and what He is actually like. In order to help them see Himself more clearly He focuses on three aspects of Himself that clearly set Him apart from all other "gods". I put gods in quotation marks because the only place they actually exist is in their imagination.

First God presents Himself not only as the ever present one, past - present - future, but the One who declares the future from the past. No one else can do that. Skeptics will always try and avoid this reality or grab onto some obscure prophecy that isn't perhaps we'll understood yet while never admitting to the fact the Bible has accurately unveiled the rise and fall of the great empires of history and that following the same pattern in the book of Revelation we see the world accurately unfolding around us just as it is described/predicted. God simply asks "Who but Me can do this?"

Secondly is the theme of redeeming, rescuing, saving. Way back in chapter 18 after it was well established that Judah was in a mess God invited "Come let us reason together" says the Lord. Though your sins be like scarlet, they will be white as snow..." His plans for us are to rescue us from ourselves and make us good, fair, just, and kind.

Thirdly is the consistent "Don't be afraid". Paganism is fear based. All false religions are fear based. Corrupt Christianity is fear based. Purgatory, an ever burning ceaseless suffering in hell fire, a warped view of God's judgement, all these and more are examples of turning good news into bad news. It is dragging paganism and idolatry into Christianity and calling them one and the same. However if we just let God speak and set aside our traditions and what we have been taught and assumed was true we find God saying three things consistently.

1, I Am the God of all time. History future is as known to Me as history past and I have revealed enough to you so that you can trust Me. You won't find anyone else who can do that.

2, I want you back with Me. Everything I have done, an doing, and will do is designed with that singular goal in mind.

3, You don't need to be afraid. I am for you, not against you. Even when fearful things happen remember I told you about them ahead of time. It is all working together for your rescue.

Indeed there is no Other One.

Isaiah Day 129 - Complete Blindness

44:9 Those who make an image, all of them are useless,
And their precious things shall not profit;
They are their own witnesses;
They neither see nor know, that they may be ashamed.
10 Who would form a god or mold an image
That profits him nothing?
11 Surely all his companions would be ashamed;
And the workmen, they are mere men.
Let them all be gathered together,
Let them stand up;
Yet they shall fear,
They shall be ashamed together.

12 The blacksmith with the tongs works one in the coals,
Fashions it with hammers,
And works it with the strength of his arms.
Even so, he is hungry, and his strength fails;
He drinks no water and is faint.

13 The craftsman stretches out his rule,
He marks one out with chalk;
He fashions it with a plane,
He marks it out with the compass,
And makes it like the figure of a man,
According to the beauty of a man, that it may remain in the house.
14 He cuts down cedars for himself,
And takes the cypress and the oak;
He secures it for himself among the trees of the forest.
He plants a pine, and the rain nourishes it.

15 Then it shall be for a man to burn,
For he will take some of it and warm himself;
Yes, he kindles it and bakes bread;
Indeed he makes a god and worships it;
He makes it a carved image, and falls down to it.
16 He burns half of it in the fire;
With this half he eats meat;
He roasts a roast, and is satisfied.
He even warms himself and says,
“Ah! I am warm,
I have seen the fire.”
17 And the rest of it he makes into a god,
His carved image.
He falls down before it and worships it,
Prays to it and says,
“Deliver me, for you are my god!”

18 They do not know nor understand;
For He has shut their eyes, so that they cannot see,
And their hearts, so that they cannot understand.
19 And no one considers in his heart,
Nor is there knowledge nor understanding to say,
“I have burned half of it in the fire,
Yes, I have also baked bread on its coals;
I have roasted meat and eaten it;
And shall I make the rest of it an abomination?
Shall I fall down before a block of wood?”
20 He feeds on ashes;
A deceived heart has turned him aside;
And he cannot deliver his soul,
Nor say, “Is there not a lie in my right hand?”

Is it coincidence that I have come to these verses today? The context is God contrasting Himself with the manmade idols prevalent in Judah and the surrounding nations. Stone, metal, and wood become gods in the hands of a craftsmen, but are they?

Particular focus is given to the one who carves his god from wood. Half becomes an idol he bows down to while the other half becomes fuel for the fire so he can eat his supper.

Let's look at verses 18 and 19 again: 

"They do not know nor understand;
For He has shut their eyes, so that they cannot see,
And their hearts, so that they cannot understand.
19 And no one considers in his heart,
Nor is there knowledge nor understanding to say,
“I have burned half of it in the fire,
Yes, I have also baked bread on its coals;
I have roasted meat and eaten it;
And shall I make the rest of it an abomination?
Shall I fall down before a block of wood?”"

There is an expression that none are so blind as those who will not see. Solomon wrote that there is a time for everything under heaven. A time to laugh, and a time to cry. A time to plant and a time to reap. There is also a time to remain silent and a time to speak.

Times were dark in Judah. It was past time for silence or for gentle talking. God through Isaiah is laying it all on the table. He laying light beside darkness in such bold and contrasting terms that it is impossible to miss the difference.

Well almost impossible. Blindness can't tell the difference. A blind friend of mine who was blind from birth was "watching" (listening) to a Benny Hinn healing service. He knew pretty quickly it was a scam. They called a woman who was blind from birth up front for healing. When she was "healed" they asked her what she saw. She said "I see a woman in a red dress". Impossible because a person born blind has no idea or frame of reference to know what red is. Blindness can't see even what it sees.

Blindness is a major theme in the Gospels. Jesus spoke of it often. Particularly He used it in reference to the religious leaders. It wasn't their eyesight He was referring to. It was their ability to see truth. In their case they could see it, they just refused to acknowledge what they saw. There are truly none so blind as those who will not see.

The question is why would an otherwise functional human being cut down a cedar and carve have the tree into an idol and bow down to it? How could anyone be so foolish? Well if he were to admit it wasn't a god what might be the implications?

Of the religious rulers of Jesus day had admitted they were wrong and Jesus was the Messiah what would have been the implications?

If an atheist admits how completely ridiculous it is that something as hugely complex as nature just happened by accident what are the implications?

If I admit I'm not the best husband and my wife deserves to be treated better what are the implications?

If I admit there are people at work under me who would do my job better than I can and I admit it, what are the implications?

People argue against the obvious truth not because they don't know they are wrong. They argue because they can't face the implications that will be unleashed when the truth is admitted. Don't believe for one second that the Israelites in the wilderness believed that golden calf was a god. No they just needed something that would "lead them" in the direction they wanted to go.

Now verse 18 says God did the blinding. Did He? In a sense yes. He kept shining the light and every time we refused to see it, we got more blind until finally we couldn't see at all.

I grew up in a family of arguers. It's a disease. Arguing for the sake of arguing long after you know you are wrong. I'm done arguing. I'm just going to keep praying for a heart willing to see regardless of the implications and let others see or not see as they choose. God calls it freedom.

Isaiah Day 130 - "Remember These..." - God

44:21 “Remember these, O Jacob,
And Israel, for you are My servant;
I have formed you, you are My servant;
O Israel, you will not be forgotten by Me!
22 I have blotted out, like a thick cloud, your transgressions,
And like a cloud, your sins.
Return to Me, for I have redeemed you.”

23 Sing, O heavens, for the Lord has done it!
Shout, you lower parts of the earth;
Break forth into singing, you mountains,
O forest, and every tree in it!
For the Lord has redeemed Jacob,
And glorified Himself in Israel.

24 Thus says the Lord, your Redeemer,
And He who formed you from the womb:
“I am the Lord, who makes all things,
Who stretches out the heavens all alone,
Who spreads abroad the earth by Myself;
25 Who frustrates the signs of the babblers,
And drives diviners mad;
Who turns wise men backward,
And makes their knowledge foolishness;
26 Who confirms the word of His servant,
And performs the counsel of His messengers;
Who says to Jerusalem, ‘You shall be inhabited,’
To the cities of Judah, ‘You shall be built,’
And I will raise up her waste places;
27 Who says to the deep, ‘Be dry!
And I will dry up your rivers’;
28 Who says of Cyrus, ‘He is My shepherd,
And he shall perform all My pleasure,
Saying to Jerusalem, “You shall be built,”
And to the temple, “Your foundation shall be laid.”’

Think about this. Judah has not yet been taken captive and God is already promising her deliverance and naming her deliverer (Cyrus).

However what I received from these verses today is short but meaningful. God is telling them (and us) that there will be no failure on His side. All is being and will be done to secure our rescue. Looking past Judah's immediate situation God is pointing to Jesus. He was promised and He came. While we were yet sinners Jesus died for us. While we screamed "Crucify Him!", He prayed "Forgive them".

The end of verse 22 is so critical to understand. God can't save us by Himself because He forces no one. The invitation stands. Everything is ready. We don't need to come seeking for or hoping for, or begging for forgiveness. That's done. Jesus was the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the entire world.

All we need to do is choose Him, trust Him, and walk with Him.

Often people won't forgive even after we ask and do what we can to make the wrong right. Jesus forgave before we ever asked. He forgave while we were still seeking His destruction.

Truly there is none like Him. When He began with "Remember these..." He was telling them (and us) to remember His promises. His door is ever open...

No comments:

Post a Comment