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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

Wednesday, 17 January 2018

Isaiah Days 148 to 160



Isaiah Day 148 - Just Soak In Every Word...

Today I don't want to say anything. I just encourage you to take in every word. It's obvious we aren't talking about Cyrus now. We are talking about the One. Note who He is coming for and who is most opposed to Him. I keep asking myself, "Where am I in the story? Friend or foe...?"

49:1. “Listen, O coastlands, to Me,
And take heed, you peoples from afar!
The Lord has called Me from the womb;
From the matrix of My mother He has made mention of My name.
2 And He has made My mouth like a sharp sword;
In the shadow of His hand He has hidden Me,
And made Me a polished shaft;
In His quiver He has hidden Me.”

3 “And He said to Me,
‘You are My servant, O Israel,
In whom I will be glorified.’
4 Then I said, ‘I have labored in vain,
I have spent my strength for nothing and in vain;
Yet surely my just reward is with the Lord,
And my work with my God.’”

5 “And now the Lord says,
Who formed Me from the womb to be His Servant,
To bring Jacob back to Him,
So that Israel is gathered to Him
(For I shall be glorious in the eyes of the Lord,
And My God shall be My strength),
6 Indeed He says,
‘It is too small a thing that You should be My Servant
To raise up the tribes of Jacob,
And to restore the preserved ones of Israel;
I will also give You as a light to the Gentiles,
That You should be My salvation to the ends of the earth.’”

7 Thus says the Lord,
The Redeemer of Israel, their Holy One,
To Him whom man despises,
To Him whom the nation abhors,
To the Servant of rulers:
“Kings shall see and arise,
Princes also shall worship,
Because of the Lord who is faithful,
The Holy One of Israel;
And He has chosen You.”

Isaiah Day 149 - Where's Waldo? Where's Jesus!?!

Recently in my teaching I have begun using the illustrated childrens books "Where's Waldo" to show that Bible is about finding Jesus from cover to cover even though at first glance it doesn't appear to be. So let's reread the powerful passage we opened yesterday and then let's look for Jesus.

“Listen, O coastlands (Tyre, Sidon, etc...), to Me (Jesus),
And take heed, you peoples from afar(the whole earth)!
The Lord (God the Father) has called Me(Jesus) from the womb;
From the matrix of My mother(Mary) He(God) has made mention of My name.(Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace, Emmanuel, Jesus, Bread of heaven, Light of the world, the Word, the Gate, the Good Shepherd etc...)
2 And He(God) has made My(Jesus) mouth like a sharp sword(Truth/Word);
In the shadow of His(God's) hand He(God) has hidden Me(Jesus),
And made Me(Jesus) a polished shaft;
In His quiver He(God) has hidden Me(Jesus).”

3 “And He(God) said to Me(Jesus),
‘You(Jesus) are My(God's) servant, O Israel(Jesus - the One and Only True Overcomer),
In whom I(God) will be glorified.’(see John 17)
4 Then I(Jesus) said, ‘I(Jesus) have labored in vain,
I(Jesus) have spent my strength for nothing and in vain;
Yet surely My(Jesus') just reward is with the Lord(God the Father),
And my work with my God.’”

5 “And now the Lord(God) says,
Who(God) formed Me(Jesus) from the womb(of Mary) to be His(God's) Servant,
To bring Jacob(sinners) back to Him(God),
So that Israel(those who overcome by the blood of the Lamb) is gathered to Him(God)
(For I(Jesus) shall be glorious in the eyes of the Lord(God),
And My God shall be My(Jesus) strength),
6 Indeed He(God) says,
‘It is too small a thing that You(Jesus) should be My Servant
To raise up the tribes of Jacob(sinners),
And to restore the preserved ones(those who choose You) of Israel;
I will also give You(Jesus) as a light to the Gentiles(whole world),
That You(Jesus) should be My(God's) salvation to the ends of the earth.’”

7 Thus says the Lord(God),
"The Redeemer of Israel(Jesus), their Holy One(Jesus),
To Him(Jesus) whom man despises,
To Him(Jesus) whom the nation(literal Israel) abhors,
To the Servant(Jesus) of rulers:
Kings shall see and arise(the wise men from the East),
Princes also shall worship(the wise men from the East),
Because of the Lord(God) who is faithful,
The Holy One of Israel(God);
And He(God) has chosen You(Jesus).”


It's the time of year Jesus' birth is remembered and celebrated (even though the timing is off). His birth should have been no surprise. He was mentioned here in one chapter in Isaiah 25 times. Some have counted over 300 prophecies pointing to Jesus in the Old Testament. I haven't ever attempted an exhaustive count. I'm not sure one is possible because the more I learn to look for Him, the more I find Him in places where I had never seen Him before. Like Waldo He gets lost in the chaos of many other things and we can't easily find Him.

When Jesus was about twelve years old He traveled with His family and others from His village in Nazareth to Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover. When His family left for home again they assumed He was with them. After all He was twelve, and not the kind of child they had to worry about.

One day into the journey home they realized He wasn't in the group. Aunts, Uncles, cousins, neighbours were all asked but He was not among them.

It took three days of searching to find Him and when they found Him, He was in the temple essentially teaching the teachers. One day to lose Him, three days to find Him. They assumed He was following them when it is we who are to be following Him. How many churches are full of people travelling together assuming Jesus is among them when He is not? How many of us have lost sight of Him and discovered it was not easy to find our way back? How many of us when we did find Him, found Him in a place we never expected doing things we also found surprising? The disciples left Him alone for an hour one day only to find Him engaged in deep conversation with a woman (taboo) from Samaria (extremely taboo).

Jesus is there on every page but are we where He is? Are we so connected to Him that we spot Him easily? Are we so in tune with Him that the things that consume us and hold our attention are the same things that concern and occupy Him? If we stay away too long we will learn to love what He hates and when we cross paths with Him we will hate Him as much as literal Israel did.

2000 years later they are still waiting for their Messiah because they refused to recognize Him when He came to them. Now modern Christianity is getting sucked into that Christ less narrative rather then drawing them into His story. While they all look at literal Jerusalem, the authentic Jesus is preparing to come and take those who have been in step with Him to the Jerusalem above.

"Let not your heart be troubled... I will come again and receive to Myself that where I Am, there you may be also." – Jesus


Isaiah Day 150 – The King is Coming!

49:8 Thus says the Lord:
“In an acceptable time I have heard You,
And in the day of salvation I have helped You;
I will preserve You and give You
As a covenant to the people,
To restore the earth,
To cause them to inherit the desolate heritages;
9 That You may say to the prisoners, ‘Go forth,’
To those who are in darkness, ‘Show yourselves.’

“They shall feed along the roads,
And their pastures shall be on all desolate heights.
10 They shall neither hunger nor thirst,
Neither heat nor sun shall strike them;
For He who has mercy on them will lead them,
Even by the springs of water He will guide them.
11 I will make each of My mountains a road,
And My highways shall be elevated.
12 Surely these shall come from afar;
Look! Those from the north and the west,
And these from the land of Sinim.”

13 Sing, O heavens!
Be joyful, O earth!
And break out in singing, O mountains!
For the Lord has comforted His people,
And will have mercy on His afflicted.

There is so much hope and good news here but this morning I have been captivated by the last line of verse 8 and the last line of verse 13. Both speak of restoration. Both speak of something so unlikely becoming a reality, especially verse 8.

"To cause them to inherit the desolate heritages."

That word heritage is unique, so unique that I had to look it up in the original Hebrew language to see what the word was and I'm glad I did. The word can refer to an inheritance or heritage. The framing of the context determines its meaning. You can see in verse 8 that the word is used twice and you can see that even in English the words inherit and heritage have the save root (herit).

There is a marked difference between inherit and heritage though. An inheritance is something we receive from someone else by their choice to give it. I could have a relative or even a non relative who thinks so highly of me that they leave me something that was never mine but because of their giving it to me, it becomes mine.

A heritage is different. It refers to something that was always mine. It refers to the roots of who I am and where I came from. Those roots can be lost. As generations pass a language and culture can disappear but it is still part of a person's heritage.

Several years ago I was privileged to meet a beautiful lady from East Prussia, who grew up in what was Konisberg in her childhood. The war caused her to flee and she ended up in Canada. Her homeland was destroyed. Decades later she returned and she told me with tears as she relived the experience that she wished she had never gone back because what she remembered as home is gone. She prefers the memories of her childhood heritage to the reality of what it is now.

Now can you see the deep significance of verse 8 more clearly? We have a heritage. We are children of the King. Our home is flawless. No pain, fear, anxiety, depression, hurt, disease, no death or anything else that puts a blemish on perfect peace and happiness exists in our true heritage. The place of our roots is so profoundly lost and destroyed that we can't even imagine such a place in our wildest dreams. No hospitals, no ambulances, no funeral homes, no cemeteries, no loneliness, no sense of hopelessness, not even one negative or destructive thought existed there. There was no pollution, no pressure, no fear. Basically most of the things we have accepted and experience as normal are not part of our true heritage.

What does Isaiah 49:8 promise? That through the love, mercy, and relentless pursuit of us by Jesus we will inherit what was originally ours. We will return to our heritage, our currently desolate heritage.

Just imagine as a stranger from some other world being told what Eden was like and then coming to visit this planet as it currently is. Indeed our heritage is desolate but it won't always be so. The King who already came is coming back, this time to receive those He already rescued by His own blood.

He will have mercy on His afflicted. :)

Isaiah Day 151 - Amazing

49:9

That You may say to the prisoners, ‘Go forth,’
To those who are in darkness, ‘Show yourselves.’

“They shall feed along the roads,
And their pastures shall be on all desolate heights.
10 They shall neither hunger nor thirst,
Neither heat nor sun shall strike them;
For He who has mercy on them will lead them,
Even by the springs of water He will guide them.
11 I will make each of My mountains a road,
And My highways shall be elevated.
12 Surely these shall come from afar;
Look! Those from the north and the west,
And these from the land of Sinim.”

13 Sing, O heavens!
Be joyful, O earth!
And break out in singing, O mountains!
For the Lord has comforted His people,
And will have mercy on His afflicted. 

14 But Zion said, “The Lord has forsaken me,

And my Lord has forgotten me.”
15 “Can a woman forget her nursing child,
And not have compassion on the son of her womb?
Surely they may forget,
Yet I will not forget you.
16 See, I have inscribed you on the palms of My hands;
Your walls are continually before Me.


A few weeks ago a friend of mine who is studying to enter the ministry was sharing with me something she noticed about John the Baptist. After being thrown in prison for speaking against the unlawful marriage of Herod he sent messengers to Jesus asking if He was truly the One. This was of course after he has already announced to the people that Jesus was the "Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the whole world". Why did John start to doubt? Well it's quite simple really. John's role in life, his God given assignment was to announce the arrival of the Messiah. That being the case, John's favourite book would have been Isaiah as it is the most jam packed book of Messianic prophecies in the entire Old Testament. I am quite certain he had the entire book memorized. Printed copies were rare, fragile, and cumbersome to deal with so students of the Scriptures focused their energies on memorization.

There are several places in Isaiah including here in this chapter where the coming Messiah promises to set prisoners free. Imagine how urgent and precious that promise became to John as he rotted in Herod's less than accommodating prison! However day after day passed and the One he had introduced as this great Messiah was doing nothing.

My friend pointed out that Jesus' response was deliberate and painfully worded. He told John's messengers to go back and tell him that the blind see, the lame walk, and the poor have the gospel preached to them. Then He ended with these words "Blessed are they who are not offended because of Me."

What was He saying? Why did He repeat all the Messianic promises of healing and help except for the very one John needed?

John never was freed from prison. Peter was in Acts. Paul was freed too. John had his head chopped off. Why? Didn't Jesus love him too.


I want you to note the last words of the last verse we read today. "Your walls are continually before Me". If He is a prison opening Messiah, why are behind walls and why is He just watching instead of knocking the walls down?

Remember that Jesus was not rescued from Gethsemane. No mighty angels saved Him from the soldiers. No supernatural Hand blocked the blows or the lashes. No Divine deliverance spared Him from the nails. The cross was His path.

We don't yet know why John wasn't rescued but not only can I assure you there was a good reason, I also want to point out that John's walls were ever before Him. Every day that Jesus awoke to breath in fresh air and live freely, it pained Him deeply that John was not free. It required enormous self-restraint on His part to not intervene.

When this war is over and we are Home at last, when every wall is forever torn down and we are free and restored at last we will understand why. We will see how God stepped in and held back, each time for the eternal saving of someone.

It struck me for the first time this morning that our walls are ever before Him. He knows each binding circumstance we endure. He feels our isolation, our pain, our deepest agonies. He would step in immediately if it was best but He doesn't have the luxury of a short term view. He isn't in this to win battles. He is focused on winning the war. Had He rescued Jesus from the cross where would we be? He sees, He knows, and our every wall is ever before Him.


Isaiah Day 152 - Feeling Forgotten?

49:14
But Zion said, “The Lord has forsaken me,
And my Lord has forgotten me.”
15 “Can a woman forget her nursing child,
And not have compassion on the son of her womb?
Surely they may forget,
Yet I will not forget you.
16 See, I have inscribed you on the palms of My hands;
Your walls are continually before Me.

Yesterday we talked about God knowing where we are, seeing the walls that threaten not only to keep us closed in forever but to crush our spirit and perhaps even our lives. Sometimes the walls seem to cut us off from everyone even though we can see them, talk to them, touch them, and hear them. We deal with feelings, past experiences, fears, etc... that no one else knows about and we don't know how to process. It is suffocating and the greatest temptation in those places and at those times is to feel that even God has forgotten us.

Let's return to the context so we know we are reading these verses right and then we can apply them as they were intended to be. Judah is on the edge of disaster. The Babylonians haven't come yet but they are coming. When they do, it will turn their lives upside down. Many will die, some will be taken captive to Babylon and others will flee south to Egypt and other places. How easy it would be during such an ordeal to conclude that the Almighty has exited stage left and abandoned them.

This is why prophecy exists. When Jesus was eating His last meal with the disciples before His death He pointed out who would betray Him and stated why He was doing it. Judas was trusted and respected. They couldn't believe he would do such a thing. Jesus wanted them to know that He knew in advance so that the shock and disorientation was less and their faith in Him was more.

Imagine being young Daniel and his friends, somewhere around 13 years old. An foreign army comes crashing into your world. You are torn from not only your family but everyone and everything that is familiar. Perhaps you watched your parents die? It's the kind of nightmare we see in movies or on the news but are sheltered from in our North American bubble. Imagine being chained person to person, perhaps naked to increase shame and submission, and then marched for weeks across endless miles to a city crawling in idol worship. How could God allow this? As bad as Judah was, surely they weren't worse than Babylon. The thoughts and reasons for questioning God are pretty much endless at that point except for one thing. He said it would happen. He said it so clearly that it was like He wrote the script.

When Hezekiah was healed and showed off all his riches to the visitors from Babylon God said they would return in future generations and carry it all away and make eunuchs of Hezekiah's offspring. Guess what they did to Daniel? They made him a eunuch.

As Daniel was living the nightmare he had one comfort. He knew the script. He knew God knew. He knew his walls were ever before the King of Kings. He knew that in 70 years (imagine that timeline when you are 13) the walls of Babylonian dominance would be torn down and another foreign king from far off Persia would set them free. Would he live to see it? He had no idea.

What's the application for us?

God uses an arresting illustration to frame His care for us. In the midst of people like Daniel feeling completely abandoned He asks "Will a nursing mother forget her baby? Will she not have compassion on the child of her own womb?" We now know that both the birth process and nursing release a hormone in mothers called oxytocin that bonds them powerfully to their babies. Yet God admits that because of how broken we can become it is possible that even this most powerful human relationship can be severed. There will be moms who abandon their own tiny newborns. However He promises He will not abandon us. To seal the promise He declares He has engraved us on the palms of His hands.

Could there be more powerful imagery? We'll go deeper tomorrow.


Isaiah Day 153 – Cutting Is In The Bible

49:14
But Zion said, “The Lord has forsaken me,
And my Lord has forgotten me.”
15 “Can a woman forget her nursing child,
And not have compassion on the son of her womb?
Surely they may forget,
Yet I will not forget you.
16 See, I have inscribed you on the palms of My hands;
Your walls are continually before Me.
17 Your sons shall make haste;
Your destroyers and those who laid you waste
Shall go away from you.
18 Lift up your eyes, look around and see...

Have you ever noticed that Satan is a copycat with a twist? Everything he wants or does or tempts us to do is just a copycat of what God does or wants for us. God is worshipped so Satan wants to be worshipped only it's twisted because he doesn't want to love unconditionally or live to serve like God does. He tempted Jesus to perform miracles which is not a bad thing and something God does all the time but it was tainted with both selfishness and self-doubt, two things never found in God. "If you are the son of God make yourself some food..."
He swapped in Sunday in the place of Sabbath. Both are a day, 24 hours long, and meant for worship. Again though it is twisted because Sunday holds none of the rich meaning and symbolism that God built into the Sabbath. Nebuchadnezzar made a huge image in Daniel three that was just like the one God showed him in a dream in Daniel 2. Well almost the same...

Truly the list is endless but is any of this connected to Isaiah 49?

Where did God engrave us? On His palms. It is a direct allusion or foreshadowing of the cross where Jesus hung from nails pressed through His palms. Piercings. He referred to an an engraving.

Have you noticed that truly broken people often get a lot of piercings? Have you noticed that when the prophets of Baal were dancing around on Mount Carmel trying to get Baal to send fire on their altar that they were cutting themselves? Have you noticed the upswing in recent years of young people cutting themselves? Have you noticed it's almost always on the underside of the wrist? The lower wrist was considered by the Jews to be part of the hand. It is believed that Jesus was actually nailed to the cross through His wrists, not His actual palms. It's not hard to see Satan's twisted copycat theme at work but why? Why get us to scar our own bodies in the same place Jesus was scarred to save us?

This year marks 500 years since Martin Luther turned Christianity on its head by nailing 95 statements to the church door (bulletin board). Every one of those statements was connected to the practice of selling forgiveness for cash while continuing to sin unchanged, unrestored. He saw in the growing practice something very warped. It looked like forgiveness, it seemed like sin was being dealt with but really it wasn't and the burden to attempt to remedy our guilt was being put on us. Similar but again a twisted copycat. The Bible Story says "Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the whole world". The burden is on Him. He carried the cross. His hands/wrists were scarred. His love was declared. Our names were engraved on Him.

I've done some research into cutting. It is primarily an attempt to feel. It is done by those suffering great pain. It is snowing attempt to self-heal yet it doesn't work. It just leaves the same emptiness plus new scars, new damage, new signs of pain.

His copy cat schemes don't work. Only the real, the genuine, the One and Only has the power to heal us. Satan will do anything to hide that love from us and have us chasing rabbit trails of false advertising and strategies that look good but don't ultimately do anything beneficial.

The next time you see scarred wrists or are tempted to scar your own, remember that His were already scarred for you. Your pain He carried and your walls, no matter what they are made with are ever before Him. He sees, He knows, He is working it out, and your life placed in His scarred hands will become a masterpiece.

Tomorrow we're going one level deeper...


Isaiah Day 154 - He Knows You

49:14  But Zion said, “The Lord has forsaken me,
And my Lord has forgotten me.”
15 “Can a woman forget her nursing child,
And not have compassion on the son of her womb?
Surely they may forget,
Yet I will not forget you.
16 See, I have inscribed you on the palms of My hands;
Your walls are continually before Me.
17 Your sons shall make haste;
Your destroyers and those who laid you waste
Shall go away from you.
18 Lift up your eyes, look around and see...

It's easy in this broken world to feel that God has forgotten us. Disease, pain, grinding poverty, despair, and the deaths of those we love all make Him seem distant, unconcerned, aloof, or simply gone. However we have seen over the past few days that His power to rescue us, to fix things, and to make things right cannot always be used in the way or at the time we see fit.

However is there evidence that He has engraved my name on His hands? When the walls seem ever higher and closer to crushing the life right out of me can I be sure He sees my walls? Is my little life ever before Him?

When Jesus stopped at a well in hated Samaria for a rest a woman came for water. At first their unexpected and "inappropriate" conversation was on impersonal matters but suddenly it shifted. She said she had no husband and Jesus revealed that He knew that. In fact He knew about all five husbands. He saw every tear. The abuse. The reasons why she was deep in a cycle of dysfunction. Indeed her walls were ever before Him and who was she? A nobody. So low and such an outcast that she went to get her water at noon in the hot sun when she was sure not to cross paths with the other women from her village.

How about the woman caught in adultery? Did He know her? He didn't reveal what He knew about her background but He certainly didn't withhold His mercy from her. With walls of angry men pressing in on her to kill her for their warped religious/political agenda, Jesus silently wrote in the sand. Whatever He wrote it struck a nerve in every accuser and finally He asked her "Woman (a term of endearment) where are your accusers?"

Look at the promise of verses 17 and 18 above. Those who build walls against us will be sent packing. He may not come when we think He should or wish He would but He will come and in the end we will discover He was right on time.

"Your walls are continually before Me.
Your sons shall make haste,
Your destroyers and those who laid you waste
Shall go away from you.
Lift up your eyes, look around and see..."



Isaiah Day 155 - Deliverance Is Coming

49:19  “For your waste and desolate places,
And the land of your destruction,
Will even now be too small for the inhabitants;
And those who swallowed you up will be far away.
20 The children you will have,
After you have lost the others,
Will say again in your ears,
‘The place is too small for me;
Give me a place where I may dwell.’
21 Then you will say in your heart,
‘Who has begotten these for me,
Since I have lost my children and am desolate,
A captive, and wandering to and fro?
And who has brought these up?
There I was, left alone;
But these, where were they?’”

22 Thus says the Lord God:

“Behold, I will lift My hand in an oath to the nations,
And set up My standard for the peoples;
They shall bring your sons in their arms,
And your daughters shall be carried on their shoulders;
23 Kings shall be your foster fathers,
And their queens your nursing mothers;
They shall bow down to you with their faces to the earth,
And lick up the dust of your feet.
Then you will know that I am the Lord,
For they shall not be ashamed who wait for Me.”

24 Shall the prey be taken from the mighty,
Or the captives of the righteous be delivered?
25 But thus says the Lord:

“Even the captives of the mighty shall be taken away,
And the prey of the terrible be delivered;
For I will contend with him who contends with you,
And I will save your children.
26 I will feed those who oppress you with their own flesh,
And they shall be drunk with their own blood as with sweet wine.
All flesh shall know
That I, the Lord, am your Savior,
And your Redeemer, the Mighty One of Jacob.”

We live in a land of freedom. It is difficult for us to imagine, much less relate to the idea of political dominance by another nation. To live as the property of foreigners is unknown to us. How can we relate to Judah as a captive of Babylon crying for freedom? How can we appreciate and apply these incredible promises from God made to Judah?  

It is a lot easier than we may at first believe. One day Jesus was teaching in Jerusalem and things got pretty heated. The religious leaders were in His face as He explained with tears in His voice and pain in His heart that they were not Abraham's children. He told them they were in bondage and only Truth could set them free. To this they replied with all the pride they could muster that they were already free and had never been in bondage to anyone. Strange words for a nation that emerged from Egyptian slavery. Strange words from a nation that was at that very moment under Roman rule. How could they be so blind? How could they make such a statement?!

Well truth be told Rome was very good to them. Rome allowed them to live under the appearance of freedom. They seemed free. They even felt free most of the time until the tax man came calling or Rome needed something.

What is my point? We think we are free. We appear to be and most of the time we feel free but are we? How many times has your brain screamed at you "Don't say that!!!" but the words tumbled from your mouth anyway? How many times have you vowed to do something and never followed through? How many times has it felt like there is some unseen force you can't control that says things and does things or doesn't do things that don't line up with the person you wish you were?

Do you know why?

We are under a foreign government. The ruler of that dark regime is Satan and we are all in bondage. Now read those verses again and see if they have more meaning. The King is coming! Our King is coming! He will rescue and He will restore.

For me the best news is that God will save my children despite the dark lord they live under and the imperfect parents we are.

Indeed our King is coming!


Isaiah Day 156 - Strong Words From Jesus

50 Thus says the Lord:

“Where is the certificate of your mother’s divorce,
Whom I have put away?
Or which of My creditors is it to whom I have sold you?
For your iniquities you have sold yourselves,
And for your transgressions your mother has been put away.
2 Why, when I came, was there no man?
Why, when I called, was there none to answer?
Is My hand shortened at all that it cannot redeem?
Or have I no power to deliver?
Indeed with My rebuke I dry up the sea,
I make the rivers a wilderness;
Their fish stink because there is no water,
And die of thirst.
3 I clothe the heavens with blackness,
And I make sackcloth their covering.”

4 “The Lord God has given Me
The tongue of the learned,
That I should know how to speak
A word in season to him who is weary.
He awakens Me morning by morning,
He awakens My ear
To hear as the learned.
5 The Lord God has opened My ear;
And I was not rebellious,
Nor did I turn away.
6 I gave My back to those who struck Me,
And My cheeks to those who plucked out the beard;
I did not hide My face from shame and spitting.

7 “For the Lord God will help Me;
Therefore I will not be disgraced;
Therefore I have set My face like a flint,
And I know that I will not be ashamed.
8 He is near who justifies Me;
Who will contend with Me?
Let us stand together.
Who is My adversary?
Let him come near Me.
9 Surely the Lord God will help Me;
Who is he who will condemn Me?
Indeed they will all grow old like a garment;
The moth will eat them up.

10 “Who among you fears the Lord?
Who obeys the voice of His Servant?
Who walks in darkness
And has no light?
Let him trust in the name of the Lord
And rely upon his God.
11 Look, all you who kindle a fire,
Who encircle yourselves with sparks:
Walk in the light of your fire and in the sparks you have kindled—
This you shall have from My hand:
You shall lie down in torment.

Judah's mother is of course Israel. Israel was Jacob and God changed His name. He and his four wives had 12 sons. One of them was Judah. When the family was rescued from slavery in Egypt they returned to Canaan, the Promised Land, and there each tribe that had come from each of Jacob's sons inherited a piece of the land. Generations later under the leadership of Solomon's son King Rehoboam, there was a dispute over taxation. That dispute split the tribes into two kingdoms. Those who left were the ten northern tribes and were called Israel. They chose a new king and essentially started a new religious system similar to what they had but with idolatry infused. That kingdom never prospered, never had a single faithful king and eventually were conquered and assimilated by the Assyrians. They became known ever after as the Samaritans or half breeds because they intermarried with the Assyrians.

Why the history lesson? Because when God refers to divorcing Judah's mother you need to understand what that means. They left Him. The "marriage" was over. Notice that God (actually it's Jesus speaking all through this chapter) wants it clearly known that the divorce was not initiated by Him. It was never what He wanted but He was forced to concede to the wishes of His wandering "wife".


Why is He bringing it up? Because He wants Judah to clearly understand that the captivity they are to experience is due to their own choices. They have brought misery upon themselves, misery that could have been avoided.

The rest of the chapter is a series of incredible prophecies about Jesus right down to the details of them plucking His beard and spitting on Him all while He was dying for their rescue and ours. Jesus is a faithful husband far beyond the loyalty of any human husband. So complete is His faithfulness and devotion to save us that even the most hardened rebel will confess on bended knee that He was good, right, and just in all His ways and the misery and loss they are about to experience is all their own.

He will never forsake us. The choice is: we will refuse Him or embrace Him.


Isaiah Day 157 - I'm Not Like Him

50:4 “The Lord God has given Me
The tongue of the learned,
That I should know how to speak
A word in season to him who is weary.
He awakens Me morning by morning,
He awakens My ear
To hear as the learned.

It's Christmas morning and I was planning to share a passage of Scripture related to the birth of Jesus. However I was drawn back to Isaiah and I just had to share this verse. It speaks not to His birth, but to His mission and it's extremely humbling.

For those of you who don't know me that well, my wife and children can tell you I'm much quicker about pointing out what's wrong than I am to compliment or encourage or affirm what is right. It's an area God has been bringing to my attention more and more so you can see why this verse jumped out at me.

Not last night but the night before the Lord spoke to me in the middle of the night. This is a rare occurrence although I'm sure He wishes it was more common. He had a message of encouragement for me to deliver to a specific person. I haven't done it yet. I'm praying the right opportunity will present itself today.

I want you to note from the verse above that it refers twice to Jesus having the tongue and the ear of the learned and the result of having these two things is the ability to speak encouragement to the weary. Jesus is awakened every morning by Words from His Father about this very thing.

It's wild to think about that. It's amazing to consider that God's number one daily priority in the mission of Jesus when He was here as one of us was to speak a word in season to the weary.

Nicodemus was weary of empty religion and Jesus was ready to speak the right words at the right time. The man by the pool was weary of the mess he had brought on himself and Jesus came to him just when he was finally ready to stand up and make different choices. The Samaritan woman was weary of her cycle of dysfunctional relationships and Jesus was there to affirm her, and set her on a new course. "If you had asked Me I would have given you Living Water...".

Neither of these three were deserving of what Jesus said to them and did for them but they all had one thing in common. They were weary. Humanity is weary. The most common thing I hear people say is "I'm so tired" yet I don't think it's really the kind of tired nightly sleep fixes. It is deeper than that. It's weariness of soul.

That's why Jesus came and every morning Jesus was awakened by His Father before the riding of the sun and God continued His ongoing course about how to speak to and listen to the cries of the weary, both spoken and unspoken. He taught Jesus how to watch for the right moment to speak into their weariness and how to know when to say nothing.

Remember earlier in Isaiah when we read another prophecy about Jesus and Isaiah wrote: "...a bruised reed He will not break and s smoking flax He will not quench."?

We are those bruised reeds. We are those smoking stalks of flax. We're weary and He knows it. He sent His Son to speak hope, life, and love into our weariness.

I want to enter the same school. I want to take the same course. I want to be a voice of encouragement and an ear for the weary.

"Father save me from myself and make me more like You."

Merry Christmas everyone. If ever there was a celebration rooted in hope, it is the truth that Heaven came down to lift us up.


Isaiah Day 158 - Jesus the Human Student

50:4  “The Lord God has given Me
The tongue of the learned,
That I should know how to speak
A word in season to him who is weary.
He awakens Me morning by morning,
He awakens My ear
To hear as the learned.
5 The Lord God has opened My ear;
And I was not rebellious,
Nor did I turn away.

If you are wondering if I found the right time/opportunity yesterday to speak to the person I need to speak to, I did not. I also haven't forgotten the message, nor the deep implications of this passage.

Jesus was born into the human family fully as one of us. He had no advantages. After 4000 years of degradation He was tasked with succeeding where Adam and Eve failed. He, like them, was a student. God was the teacher. The only two possible "grades" was O for Obedience or R for Rebellion.

When He was just twelve, God gave Him the assignment of staying behind in Jerusalem to meet with the religious leaders in the temple. He likely had no money. He likely had no place to stay. He didn't know how or when He would get back home, a journey of great distance and great danger. He had multiple legitimate reasons for not obeying the instruction to stay back in Jerusalem while His parents went unknowingly home without Him. If you are wondering how it was possible for His parents to be leave without Him on such a journey you have to know they were traveling in a large caravan of relatives, friends, and neighbours. You also have to remember Jesus was an obedient, trustworthy child/young man. They had no cause to worry about Him.

Now come back to our verses above. Jesus was a human student. God was His teacher. The main subject He had to master was how to listen to and speak to weary humanity. Have you ever had someone come along "beside" you and you truly felt they understood how you felt and spoke hope and encouragement into your situation? It's a rare and beautiful thing. On the flip side have you ever been in a situation where you could see someone needed that hope and encouragement but you didn't know how to help them? I have been there... lots.

It is humbling and frustrating to realize that the lessons I have yet to learn that would make me a greater blessing to others are my fault. God is not an unwilling Teacher. The Holy Spirit is not skipping classes or slacking off. The delinquency is on my part. Too busy on my own agenda. Too many excuses for not choosing obedience. Too unaware of what the subject matter that matters really is: "Hearing and speaking into the lives of the weary."

I'm sadly not alone in my delinquency and rebellion. Decades in church and years of education and not once do I remember any fellow human telling me that our mission as followers of Jesus is to hear and speak life and hope into the lives of our fellow man.

To the crippled man let down through the roof Jesus said "Your sins are forgiven you." Did his doctors or his sincere friends even realize that was the real problem? I wonder how many people today are suffering and being diagnosed by their symptoms while the root cause is never addressed because we don't have the wisdom to hear and recognize what that root cause is.

"Father help me be a willing and cooperative student in Your school of compassion. Give me ears that hear the heart of others, even if their mouths never utter a word. Give me eyes that see the right time to listen and/or speak. Give me a heart that seeks after the weary. Give me boldness to say what You would have me say when You would have me say it. Help me spot the Zacchaeus in the crowd, the man in the hospital who is ready to be made well, the woman who is ready to change course, the child who is eager to find and follow his or her Lord. Give me a heart like yours and help me to be willing to receive it."


Isaiah Day 159 - He Knew Who He Was

50:5  The Lord God has opened My ear;
And I was not rebellious,
Nor did I turn away.
6 I gave My back to those who struck Me,
And My cheeks to those who plucked out the beard;
I did not hide My face from shame and spitting.

7 “For the Lord God will help Me;
Therefore I will not be disgraced;
Therefore I have set My face like a flint,
And I know that I will not be ashamed.
8 He is near who justifies Me;
Who will contend with Me?
Let us stand together.
Who is My adversary?
Let him come near Me.
9 Surely the Lord God will help Me;
Who is he who will condemn Me?

Different can mean a lot of things. Two identical cars can be painted two different colours. Now they are different but really they are the same. There could also be two cars that are in the same class, similar size, similar engine output, similar gas mileage etc... Totally different from a parts and manufacturer perspective but very similar in function and capability. Keeping on the same theme, a small fuel sipping or electric car and a large, lifted, turbo charged, 4x4 truck are vastly different yet both are transportation so similar in that way. As we said from the top, different can mean a lot of different things. Are you ready for a different focus now? ;)

How about opposite? What we need to come to terms with as people seeking after Jesus is that He is not just different, He is opposite. Everything we think of as normal and right and the thing to do in any given situation is pretty much the opposite of Jesus.

When I was in upper elementary school a kid punched me. I punched him back. It's not what Jesus would have done. I could come up with a long colourful list of things I have done that Jesus wouldn't have and things I did not do that Jesus would have. I will spare you the time and agony. It is sufficient to say that our natural reaction in pretty much any difficult situation is the opposite of what Jesus would do because His Kingdom is opposite from the kingdom of this world.

Here's the kicker. Jesus had the same inclination as us but He stuck to the Kingdom plan His Father was teaching Him, always. How did He do it? That's the question. What was it about Him that enabled Him to hold His tongue when I would lash out and to speak when I would not?

He allowed His enemies to lash His back. He who walked on water and raised the dead submitted to our fury. He gave His cheek to be struck. He allowed them to pluck out His beard without resistance or complaint. We would call Him a loser. Hollywood would not feature Him as a hero. Here is a window into why and how He did it:

“For the Lord God will help Me;
Therefore I will not be disgraced;
Therefore I have set My face like a flint,
And I know that I will not be ashamed."

He knew who He was and He knew why He was here and He knew where He was going. Do we live with that kind of purpose? Do we see that far ahead? Are we that committed to the welfare of others, even our enemies, that we would be willing to lose in the hope that they will eventually see and choose differently?
Jesus set His face like a flint. It's a colourful way of saying He was pointed in one direction and He wasn't swerving right or left. He was as unchanging as the relentless tides. The tides may seem erratic and hard to figure out but they have a set pattern and no one can stop it or even alter it.
In the kingdom of this world you fight to win or die trying. If you run it isn't for some grander purpose, it's just for self-preservation. Jesus never ran and never fought back. He didn't come to save Himself, He came to spend Himself. He came to live and teach that losing is winning and surrender is strength. Blessed are the poor in spirit. Blessed are the meek. Blessed are the peacemakers, blessed are they who hunger and thirst after a different Kingdom.
That wimp on the cross from that loser town who has a bunch of uneducated hillbilly followers; the Guy who claims He can do all kinds of things and says He is God's Son yet was reduced to a human punching bag, He's your Saviour? Not much of a movie script. "Come down from the cross if You are Who You say You are. Come down and show us what you've got and we'll believe You!"
He didn't move. He didn't react. He didn't even say anything witty or ask a question they couldn't answer. He just hung there as if that was His reply...
"Who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising it's shame and is set down at the right hand of His Father..."
There is a new Kingdom coming. It has already begun. It's not just different, it is opposite...


Isaiah Day 160 - Your Fire Will Burn You

50:10 “Who among you fears the Lord?
Who obeys the voice of His Servant?
Who walks in darkness
And has no light?
Let him trust in the name of the Lord
And rely upon his God.
11 Look, all you who kindle a fire,
Who encircle yourselves with sparks:
Walk in the light of your fire and in the sparks you have kindled—
This you shall have from My hand:
You shall lie down in torment.

Today's message is short but not sweet:

Fire is symbolic in the Bible for purifying. Remember how Isaiah was unworthy to speak for God when he received a vision of God's Holiness in the temple? He felt so small, so inadequate, so unholy. Then an angel took a live coal from the fire and touched his lips and then Isaiah shouted "Here I am Lord, send me!".

It's the reason why the New Testament tells us to do good to our enemies and then it says "By so doing you will heap coals of fire on their heads." Isaiah didn't get burned lips and no one is setting heads on fire. It's the Bible's way of representing cleansing. All impurities are "burned" away. When we treat our enemies with love, love awakens love, and their inclination to hurt us lessens. It doesn't always win them over but love is the only thing that has a chance.

So what is Jesus telling us here in Isaiah? It's a warning to those who kindle their own fire. Are you catching it? It's a warning to those who attempt to purify themselves. Notice all they can generate are some sparks. Ever tried to light your way with sparks? Keep warm with sparks? Cook something with sparks?

There is a reason why the Bible declares that all our righteousness is like filthy rags. We are not purifiers. It isn't in us. How can a dirty rag make anything it touches clean?

Jesus warns here that anyone who attempts to make him or herself better, nicer, holier by their own fire will end up lying down in their own mess.

Satan's mission statement for His life was "I will." We already read about it earlier in Isaiah:

14:13
‘I will ascend into heaven,
I will exalt my throne above the stars of God;
I will also sit on the mount of the congregation
On the farthest sides of the north;
14 I will ascend above the heights of the clouds,
I will be like the Most High.’

God's mission statement seems similar but is entirely opposite:

Ezekiel 34:11 ‘For thus says the Lord God: “Indeed I Myself will search for My sheep and seek them out. 12 As a shepherd seeks out his flock on the day he is among his scattered sheep, so will I seek out My sheep and deliver them from all the places where they were scattered on a cloudy and dark day. 13 And I will bring them out from the peoples and gather them from the countries, and will bring them to their own land; I will feed them on the mountains of Israel, in the valleys and in all the inhabited places of the country. 14 I will feed them in good pasture, and their fold shall be on the high mountains of Israel. There they shall lie down in a good fold and feed in rich pasture on the mountains of Israel. 15 I will feed My flock, and I will make them lie down,” says the Lord God. 16 “I will seek what was lost and bring back what was driven away, bind up the broken and strengthen what was sick; but I will destroy the fat and the strong, and feed them in judgment.”

Both mission statements are full of "I will" but the focus is completely opposite. Satan's efforts are all about himself, Jesus is all about others, namely us.

Jesus said: "Those who seek to save their lives will lose them but those who lose their lives for My sake will find them."

Love is other centered and we don't get a life until we give ours away. Stop kindling your own fire and live in the Light provided by the Light of the world. He will give you life more abundant. You will lose nothing but empty selfishness and gain everything else: Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, self-control.

Don't find yourself dead in your own fire. :(

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