Category Archives: Isaiah

Isaiah 65-66

is65.jpgGreetings!  This wraps up our study of Isaiah.  I’ve learned a lot, but must say it has been one of the most challenging books I’ve studied.  The largest barrier is the many people and places I am unfamiliar with. 

Judgment and Salvation

65     “I revealed myself to those who did not ask for me;

I was found by those who did not seek me.

To a nation that did not call on my name,

I said, ‘Here am I, here am I.’ 

God chose Israel, not the other way around. 

2 All day long I have held out my hands

to an obstinate people,

who walk in ways not good,

pursuing their own imaginations—

3 a people who continually provoke me

to my very face,

offering sacrifices in gardens

and burning incense on altars of brick;

4 who sit among the graves

and spend their nights keeping secret vigil;

who eat the flesh of pigs,

and whose pots hold broth of unclean meat;

5 who say, ‘Keep away; don’t come near me,

for I am too sacred for you!’

Such people are smoke in my nostrils,

a fire that keeps burning all day.

6 “See, it stands written before me:

I will not keep silent but will pay back in full;

I will pay it back into their laps—

7 both your sins and the sins of your fathers,”

says the Lord.

“Because they burned sacrifices on the mountains and defied me on the hills,

I will measure into their laps

the full payment for their former deeds.”

The Israelites committed spiritual adultery by worshiping other gods and sacrificing to them. 

8 This is what the Lord says:

“As when juice is still found in a cluster of grapes

and men say, ‘Don’t destroy it,

there is yet some good in it,’

so will I do in behalf of my servants;

I will not destroy them all.

9 I will bring forth descendants from Jacob,

and from Judah those who will possess my mountains;

my chosen people will inherit them,

and there will my servants live.

10 Sharon will become a pasture for flocks,

and the Valley of Achor a resting place for herds,

for my people who seek me.

11 “But as for you who forsake the Lord

and forget my holy mountain,

who spread a table for Fortune

and fill bowls of mixed wine for Destiny,

12 I will destine you for the sword,

and you will all bend down for the slaughter;

for I called but you did not answer,

I spoke but you did not listen.

You did evil in my sight

and chose what displeases me.”

13 Therefore this is what the Sovereign Lord says:

“My servants will eat,

but you will go hungry;

my servants will drink,

but you will go thirsty;

my servants will rejoice,

but you will be put to shame.

14 My servants will sing

out of the joy of their hearts,

but you will cry out

from anguish of heart

and wail in brokenness of spirit.

15 You will leave your name

to my chosen ones as a curse;

the Sovereign Lord will put you to death,

but to his servants he will give another name.

16 Whoever invokes a blessing in the land

will do so by the God of truth;

he who takes an oath in the land

will swear by the God of truth.

For the past troubles will be forgotten

and hidden from my eyes.

The following passage is a famous image of the future, either of Heaven and/or Christ’s reign on earth.  We are so used to sin and evil in the world that it is hard to imagine what life will be like for believers then – no fear, pain, mourning or death – only joy with our Savior!

New Heavens and a New Earth

17 “Behold, I will create

new heavens and a new earth.

The former things will not be remembered,

nor will they come to mind.

18 But be glad and rejoice forever

in what I will create,

for I will create Jerusalem to be a delight

and its people a joy.

19 I will rejoice over Jerusalem

and take delight in my people;

the sound of weeping and of crying

will be heard in it no more.

20 “Never again will there be in it

an infant who lives but a few days,

or an old man who does not live out his years;

he who dies at a hundred

will be thought a mere youth;

he who fails to reach a

hundred

will be considered accursed.

21 They will build houses and dwell in them;

they will plant vineyards and eat their fruit.

22 No longer will they build houses and others live in them,

or plant and others eat.

For as the days of a tree,

so will be the days of my people;

my chosen ones will long enjoy

the works of their hands.

23 They will not toil in vain

or bear children doomed to misfortune;

for they will be a people blessed by the Lord,

they and their descendants with them.

24 Before they call I will answer;

while they are still speaking I will hear.

25 The wolf and the lamb will feed together,

and the lion will eat straw like the ox,

but dust will be the serpent’s food.

They will neither harm nor destroy

on all my holy mountain,”

says the Lord.

Judgment and Hope

66     This is what the Lord says:

“Heaven is my throne,

and the earth is my footstool.

Where is the house you will build for me?

Where will my resting place be?

2 Has not my hand made all these things,

and so they came into being?”

declares the Lord.

“This is the one I esteem:

he who is humble and contrite in spirit,

and trembles at my word.

3 But whoever sacrifices a bull

is like one who kills a man,

and whoever offers a lamb,

like one who breaks a dog’s neck;

whoever makes a grain offering

is like one who presents pig’s blood,

and whoever burns memorial incense,

like one who worships an idol.

They have chosen their own ways,

and their souls delight in their abominations;

4 so I also will choose harsh treatment for them

and will bring upon them what they dread.

For when I called, no one answered,

when I spoke, no one listened.

They did evil in my sight

and chose what displeases me.”

5 Hear the word of the Lord,

you who tremble at his word:

“Your brothers who hate you,

and exclude you because of my name, have said,

‘Let the Lord be glorified,

that we may see your joy!’

Yet they will be put to shame.

6 Hear that uproar from the city,

hear that noise from the temple!

It is the sound of the Lord

repaying his enemies all they deserve.

7 “Before she goes into labor,

she gives birth;

before the pains come upon her,

she delivers a son.

8 Who has ever heard of such a thing?

Who has ever seen such things?

Can a country be born in a day

or a nation be brought forth in a moment?

Yet no sooner is Zion in labor

than she gives birth to her children.

9 Do I bring to the moment of birth

and not give delivery?” says the Lord.

“Do I close up the womb

when I bring to delivery?” says your God.

10 “Rejoice with Jerusalem and be glad for her,

all you who love her;

rejoice greatly with her,

all you who mourn over her.

11 For you will nurse and be satisfied

at her comforting breasts;

you will drink deeply

and delight in her overflowing abundance.”

12 For this is what the Lord says:

“I will extend peace to her like a river,

and the wealth of nations like a flooding stream;

you will nurse and be carried on her arm

and dandled on her knees.

13 As a mother comforts her child,

so will I comfort you;

and you will be comforted over Jerusalem.”

14 When you see this, your heart will rejoice

and you will flourish like grass;

the hand of the Lord will be made known to his servants,

but his fury will be shown to his foes.

15 See, the Lord is coming with fire,

and his chariots are like a whirlwind;

he will bring down his anger with fury,

and his rebuke with flames of fire.

16 For with fire and with his sword

the Lord will execute judgment upon all men,

and many will be those slain by the Lord.

17 “Those who consecrate and purify themselves to go into the gardens, following the one in the midst of those who eat the flesh of pigs and rats and other abominable things—they will meet their end together,” declares the Lord.

18 “And I, because of their actions and their imaginations, am about to come and gather all nations and tongues, and they will come and see my glory.

19 “I will set a sign among them, and I will send some of those who survive to the nations—to Tarshish, to the Libyans and Lydians (famous as archers), to Tubal and Greece, and to the distant islands that have not heard of my fame or seen my glory. They will proclaim my glory among the nations. 20 And they will bring all your brothers, from all the nations, to my holy mountain in Jerusalem as an offering to the Lord—on horses, in chariots and wagons, and on mules and camels,” says the Lord. “They will bring them, as the Israelites bring their grain offerings, to the temple of the Lord in ceremonially clean vessels. 21 And I will select some of them also to be priests and Levites,” says the Lord.

22 “As the new heavens and the new earth that I make will endure before me,” declares the Lord, “so will your name and descendants endure. 23 From one New Moon to another and from one Sabbath to another, all mankind will come and bow down before me,” says the Lord. 24 “And they will go out and look upon the dead bodies of those who rebelled against me; their worm will not die, nor will their fire be quenched, and they will be loathsome to all mankind.”

The Holy Bible : New International Version. 1996, c1984. Grand Rapids: Zondervan.

 Isaiah ends on a sober note, reminding us of the severe consequences for those who face God with their own “righteousness” and not that of Jesus the Messiah.

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Isaiah 63-64

is63.jpgGreetings!

God has great patience, and mercifully his patience comes before his judgment.  But He will eventually judge, and the outcome is not pretty.

In chapter 64 their is a wise repentance and acknowledgement of all that God is and has done.  Confessing isn’t telling God something He doesn’t know, it is seeing things the way He does and admitting how we have fallen short.

God’s Day of Vengeance and Redemption

63     Who is this coming from Edom,

from Bozrah, with his garments stained crimson?

Who is this, robed in splendor,

striding forward in the greatness of his strength?

“It is I, speaking in righteousness,

mighty to save.”

2 Why are your garments red,

like those of one treading the winepress?

3 “I have trodden the winepress alone;

from the nations no one was with me.

I trampled them in my anger

and trod them down in my wrath;

their blood spattered my garments,

and I stained all my clothing.

4 For the day of vengeance was in my heart,

and the year of my redemption has come.

5 I looked, but there was no one to help,

I was appalled that no one gave support;

so my own arm worked salvation for me,

and my own wrath sustained me.

6 I trampled the nations in my anger;

in my wrath I made them drunk

and poured their blood on the ground.”

Praise and Prayer

7 I will tell of the kindnesses of the Lord,

the deeds for which he is to be praised,

according to all the Lord has done for us—

yes, the many good things he has done

for the house of Israel,

according to his compassion and many kindnesses.

8 He said, “Surely they are my people,

sons who will not be false to me”;

and so he became their Savior.

9 In all their distress he too was distressed,

and the angel of his presence saved them.

In his love and mercy he redeemed them;

he lifted them up and carried them

all the days of old.

10 Yet they rebelled

and grieved his Holy Spirit.

So he turned and became their enemy

and he himself fought against them.

11 Then his people recalled the days

of old,

the days of Moses and his people—

where is he who brought them through the sea,

with the shepherd of his flock?

Where is he who set

his Holy Spirit among them,

12 who sent his glorious arm of power

to be at Moses’ right hand,

who divided the waters before them,

to gain for himself everlasting renown,

13 who led them through the depths?

Like a horse in open country,

they did not stumble;

14 like cattle that go down to the plain,

they were given rest by the Spirit of the Lord.

This is how you guided your people

to make for yourself a glorious name.

15 Look down from heaven and see

from your lofty throne, holy and glorious.

Where are your zeal and your might?

Your tenderness and compassion are withheld from us.

16 But you are our Father,

though Abraham does not know us

or Israel acknowledge us;

you, O Lord, are our Father,

our Redeemer from of old is your name.

17 Why, O Lord, do you make us wander from your ways

and harden our hearts so we do not revere you?

Return for the sake of your servants,

the tribes that are your inheritance.

18 For a little while your people possessed your holy place,

but now our enemies have trampled down your sanctuary.

19 We are yours from of old;

but you have not ruled over them,

they have not been called by your name.

64     Oh, that you would rend the heavens and come down,

that the mountains would tremble before you!

2 As when fire sets twigs ablaze

and causes water to boil,

come down to make your name known to your enemies

and cause the nations to quake before you!

3 For when you did awesome things that we did not expect,

you came down, and the mountains trembled before you.

4 Since ancient times no one has heard,

no ear has perceived,

no eye has seen any God besides you,

who acts on behalf of those who wait for him.

5 You come to the help of those who gladly do right,

who remember your ways.

But when we continued to sin against them,

you were angry.

How then can we be saved?

6 All of us have become like one who is unclean,

and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags;

we all shrivel up like a leaf,

and like the wind our sins sweep us away.

7 No one calls on your name

or strives to lay hold of you;

for you have hidden your face from us

and made us waste away because of our sins.

8 Yet, O Lord, you are our Father.

We are the clay, you are the potter;

we are all the work of your hand.

9 Do not be angry beyond measure, O Lord;

do not remember our sins forever.

Oh, look upon us, we pray,

for we are all your people.

10 Your sacred cities have become a desert;

even Zion is a desert, Jerusalem a desolation.

11 Our holy and glorious temple, where our fathers praised you,

has been burned with fire,

and all that we treasured lies in ruins.

12 After all this, O Lord, will you hold yourself back?

Will you keep silent and punish us beyond measure?

The Holy Bible : New International Version. 1996, c1984. Grand Rapids: Zondervan.

 

Isaiah 61-62

is61.jpgGreetings! 

The Year of the Lord’s Favor

61     The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me,

because the Lord has anointed me

to preach good news to the poor.

He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,

to proclaim freedom for the captives

and release from darkness for the prisoners,

2 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor

Jesus quoted the section above in Luke 4 then added, “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.” (Luke 4:21).  The situation ended badly, with the people trying to kill Jesus.  He was the Messiah, but not the one they expected.

It seems to me that the poor above are poor in spirit and the prisoners are prisoners of sin.  Jesus didn’t literally release many people from prison, but He did release anyone from the judgment of sin who repents and believes in him.

and the day of vengeance of our God,

to comfort all who mourn,

3 and provide for those who grieve in Zion—

to bestow on them a crown of beauty

instead of ashes,

the oil of gladness

instead of mourning,

and a garment of praise

instead of a spirit of despair.

They will be called oaks of righteousness,

a planting of the Lord

for the display of his splendor.

4 They will rebuild the ancient ruins

and restore the places long devastated;

they will renew the ruined cities

that have been devastated for generations.

5 Aliens will shepherd your flocks;

foreigners will work your fields and vineyards.

6 And you will be called priests of the Lord,

you will be named ministers of our God.

V. 6 introduces a new concept, the “priesthood of all believers,” where the Jews didn’t have to go through the priests to reach God.  If you are a follower of Christ then you are his ambassador and “priest.”  May we live out our lives with that truth in mind!

You will feed on the wealth of nations,

and in their riches you will boast.

7 Instead of their shame

my people will receive a double portion,

and instead of disgrace

they will rejoice in their inheritance;

and so they will inherit a double portion in their land,

and everlasting joy will be theirs.

8 “For I, the Lord, love justice;

I hate robbery and iniquity.

In my faithfulness I will reward them

and make an everlasting covenant with them.

9 Their descendants will be known among the nations

and their offspring among the peoples.

All who see them will acknowledge

that they are a people the Lord has blessed.”

10 I delight greatly in the Lord;

my soul rejoices in my God.

For he has clothed me with garments of salvation

and arrayed me in a robe of righteousness,

as a bridegroom adorns his head like a priest,

and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.

11 For as the soil makes the sprout come up

and a garden causes seeds to grow,

so the Sovereign Lord will make righteousness and praise

spring up before all nations.

Zion’s New Name

62     For Zion’s sake I will not keep silent,

for Jerusalem’s sake I will not remain quiet,

till her righteousness shines out like the dawn,

her salvation like a blazing torch.

2 The nations will see your righteousness,

and all kings your glory;

you will be called by a new name

that the mouth of the Lord will bestow.

3 You will be a crown of splendor in the Lord’s hand,

a royal diadem in the hand of your God.

4 No longer will they call you Deserted,

or name your land Desolate.

But you will be called Hephzibah,

and your land Beulah;

for the Lord will take delight in you,

and your land will be married.

5 As a young man marries a maiden,

so will your sons marry you;

as a bridegroom rejoices over his bride,

so will your God rejoice over you.

6 I have posted watchmen on your walls, O Jerusalem;

they will never be silent day or night.

You who call on the Lord,

give yourselves no rest,

7 and give him no rest till he establishes Jerusalem

and makes her the praise of the earth.

8 The Lord has sworn by his right hand

and by his mighty arm:

“Never again will I give your grain

as food for your enemies,

and never again will foreigners drink the new wine

for which you have toiled;

9 but those who harvest it will eat it

and praise the Lord,

and those who gather the grapes will drink it

in the courts of my sanctuary.”

10 Pass through, pass through the gates!

Prepare the way for the people.

Build up, build up the highway!

Remove the stones.

Raise a banner for the nations.

11 The Lord has made proclamation

to the ends of the earth:

“Say to the Daughter of Zion,

‘See, your Savior comes!

See, his reward is with him,

and his recompense accompanies him.’”

12 They will be called the Holy People,

the Redeemed of the Lord;

and you will be called Sought After,

the City No Longer Deserted.

The Holy Bible : New International Version. 1996, c1984. Grand Rapids: Zondervan.

Though Jesus didn’t come for hundreds of years after this, the people were told to wait expectantly for him.

Isaiah 59-60

is59.jpgGreetings!

Sin, Confession and Redemption

59     Surely the arm of the Lord is not too short to save,

nor his ear too dull to hear.

2 But your iniquities have separated

you from your God;

your sins have hidden his face from you,

so that he will not hear.

3 For your hands are stained with blood,

your fingers with guilt.

Your lips have spoken lies,

and your tongue mutters wicked things.

4 No one calls for justice;

no one pleads his case with integrity.

They rely on empty arguments and speak lies;

they conceive trouble and give birth to evil.

5 They hatch the eggs of vipers

and spin a spider’s web.

Whoever eats their eggs will die,

and when one is broken, an adder is hatched.

6 Their cobwebs are useless for clothing;

they cannot cover themselves with what they make.

Their deeds are evil deeds,

and acts of violence are in their hands.

7 Their feet rush into sin;

they are swift to shed innocent blood.

Their thoughts are evil thoughts;

ruin and destruction mark their ways.

8 The way of peace they do not know;

there is no justice in their paths.

They have turned them into crooked roads;

no one who walks in them will know peace.

9 So justice is far from us,

and righteousness does not reach us.

We look for light, but all is darkness;

for brightness, but we walk in deep shadows.

10 Like the blind we grope along the wall,

feeling our way like men without eyes.

At midday we stumble as if it were twilight;

among the strong, we are like the dead.

11 We all growl like bears;

we moan mournfully like doves.

We look for justice, but find none;

for deliverance, but it is far away.

12 For our offenses are many in your sight,

and our sins testify against us.

Our offenses are ever with us,

and we acknowledge our iniquities:

13 rebellion and treachery against the Lord,

turning our backs on our God,

fomenting oppression and revolt,

uttering lies our hearts have conceived.

14 So justice is driven back,

and righteousness stands at a distance;

truth has stumbled in the streets,

honesty cannot enter.

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 worked 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.

After the bleak opening highlighting our seemingly insurmountable problem with sin, God reveals his plan to work out salvation for us.  The breastplate / helmet part reminds me of “armor of God” passage in Ephesians 6.

18 According to what they have done,

so will he repay

wrath to his enemies

and retribution to his foes;

he will repay the islands their due.

19 From the west, men will fear the name of the Lord,

and from the rising of the sun, they will revere his glory.

For he will come like a pent-up flood

that the breath of the Lord drives along.

20 “The Redeemer will come to Zion,

to those in Jacob who repent of their sins,”

declares the Lord.

Repent and believe!  The message is still the same.

21 “As for me, this is my covenant with them,” says the Lord. “My Spirit, who is on you, and my words that I have put in your mouth will not depart from your mouth, or from the mouths of your children, or from the mouths of their descendants from this time on and forever,” says the Lord.

The Glory of Zion

60     “Arise, shine, for your light has come,

and the glory of the Lord rises upon you.

2 See, darkness covers the earth

and thick darkness is over the peoples,

but the Lord rises upon you

and his glory appears over you.

3 Nations will come to your light,

and kings to the brightness of your dawn.

4 “Lift up your eyes and look about you:

All assemble and come to you;

your sons come from afar,

and your daughters are carried on the arm.

5 Then you will look and be radiant,

your heart will throb and swell with joy;

the wealth on the seas will be brought to you,

to you the riches of the nations will come.

6 Herds of camels will cover your land,

young camels of Midian and Ephah.

And all from Sheba will come,

bearing gold and incense

and proclaiming the praise of the Lord.

7 All Kedar’s flocks will be gathered to you,

the rams of Nebaioth will serve you;

they will be accepted as offerings on my altar,

and I will adorn my glorious temple.

8 “Who are these that fly along like clouds,

like doves to their nests?

9 Surely the islands look to me;

in the lead are the ships of Tarshish,

bringing your sons from afar,

with their silver and gold,

to the honor of the Lord your God,

the Holy One of Israel,

for he has endowed you with splendor.

10 “Foreigners will rebuild your walls,

and their kings will serve you.

Though in anger I struck you,

in favor I will show you compassion.

11 Your gates will always stand open,

they will never be shut, day or night,

so that men may bring you the wealth of the nations—

their kings led in triumphal procession.

12 For the nation or kingdom that will not serve you will perish;

it will be utterly ruined.

13 “The glory of Lebanon will come to you,

the pine, the fir and the cypress together,

to adorn the place of my sanctuary;

and I will glorify the place of my feet.

14 The sons of your oppressors will come bowing before you;

all who despise you will bow down at your feet

and will call you the City of the Lord,

Zion of the Holy One of Israel.

15 “Although you have been forsaken and hated,

with no one traveling through,

I will make you the everlasting pride

and the joy of all generations.

16 You will drink the milk of nations

and be nursed at royal breasts.

Then you will know that I, the Lord, am your Savior,

your Redeemer, the Mighty One of Jacob.

17 Instead of bronze I will bring you gold,

and silver in place of iron.

Instead of wood I will bring you bronze,

and iron in place of stones.

I will make peace your governor

and righteousness your ruler.

18 No longer will violence be heard in your land,

nor ruin or destruction within your borders,

but you will call your walls Salvation

and your gates Praise.

19 The sun will no more be your light by day,

nor will the brightness of the moon shine on you,

for the Lord will be your everlasting light,

and your God will be your glory.

20 Your sun will never set again,

and your moon will wane no more;

the Lord will be your everlasting light,

and your days of sorrow will end.

21 Then will all your people be righteous

and they will possess the land forever.

They are the shoot I have planted,

the work of my hands,

for the display of my splendor.

22 The least of you will become a thousand,

the smallest a mighty nation.

I am the Lord;

in its time I will do this swiftly.”

The Holy Bible : New International Version. 1996, c1984. Grand Rapids: Zondervan.

These things will happen in the future.  The great promises of chapter 60 will be fulfilled eventually. 

Isaiah 57-58

is57.jpgGreetings!

57     The righteous perish,

and no one ponders it in his heart;

devout men are taken away,

and no one understands

that the righteous are taken away

to be spared from evil.

2 Those who walk uprightly

enter into peace;

they find rest as they lie in death.

I don’t think this is a Heaven / Hell passage per se, rather it notes that the society was so evil that the dead were in a better place.  Many Israelites had abandoned God and were involved in pagan fertility religions.

3 “But you—come here, you sons of a sorceress,

you offspring of adulterers and prostitutes!

4 Whom are you mocking?

At whom do you sneer

and stick out your tongue?

Are you not a brood of rebels,

the offspring of liars?

5 You burn with lust among the oaks

and under every spreading tree;

you sacrifice your children in the ravines

and under the overhanging crags.

6 The idols among the smooth stones of the ravines are your portion;

they, they are your lot.

Yes, to them you have poured out drink offerings

and offered grain offerings.

In the light of these things, should I relent?

7 You have made your bed on a high and lofty hill;

there you went up to offer your sacrifices.

8 Behind your doors and your doorposts

you have put your pagan symbols.

Forsaking me, you uncovered your bed,

you climbed into it and opened it wide;

you made a pact with those whose beds you love,

and you looked on their nakedness.

9 You went to Molech with olive oil

and increased your perfumes.

You sent your ambassadors far away;

you descended to the grave itself!

10 You were wearied by all your ways,

but you would not say, ‘It is hopeless.’

You found renewal of your strength,

and so you did not faint.

11 “Whom have you so dreaded and feared

that you have been false to me,

and have neither remembered me

nor pondered this in your hearts?

Is it not because I have long been silent

that you do not fear me?

12 I will expose your righteousness and your works,

and they will not benefit you.

13 When you cry out for help,

let your collection of idols save you!

The wind will carry all of them off,

a mere breath will blow them away.

But the man who makes me his refuge

will inherit the land

and possess my holy mountain.”

If we put our trust in idols or worldly things then we have no hope.  As Jonah 2:8 says, “Those who cling to worthless idols forfeit the grace that could be theirs.”

Comfort for the Contrite

14 And it will be said:

“Build up, build up, prepare the road!

Remove the obstacles out of the way of my people.”

15 For this is what the high and lofty One says—

he who lives forever, whose name is holy:

“I live in a high and holy place,

but also with him who is contrite and lowly in spirit,

to revive the spirit of the lowly

and to revive the heart of the contrite.

16 I will not accuse forever,

nor will I always be angry,

for then the spirit of man would grow faint before me—

the breath of man that I have created.

17 I was enraged by his sinful greed;

I punished him, and hid my face in anger,

yet he kept on in his willful ways.

18 I have seen his ways, but I will heal him;

I will guide him and restore comfort to him,

19 creating praise on the lips of the mourners in Israel.

Peace, peace, to those far and near,”

says the Lord. “And I will heal them.”

20 But the wicked are like the tossing sea,

which cannot rest,

whose waves cast up mire and mud.

21 “There is no peace,” says my God, “for the wicked.”

This next passage is very convicting.  Sometimes we can do the right things with the wrong motive, and they count for nothing.  It is so tempting to do the superficial things but not have my heart in the right place.

True Fasting

58     “Shout it aloud, do not hold back.

Raise your voice like a trumpet.

Declare to my people their rebellion

and to the house of Jacob their sins.

2 For day after day they seek me out;

they seem eager to know my ways,

as if they were a nation that does what is right

and has not forsaken the commands of its God.

They ask me for just decisions

and seem eager for God to come near them.

3 ‘Why have we fasted,’ they say,

‘and you have not seen it?

Why have we humbled ourselves,

and you have not noticed?’

“Yet on the day of your fasting, you do as you please

and exploit all your workers.

4 Your fasting ends in quarreling and strife,

and in striking each other with wicked fists.

You cannot fast as you do today

and expect your voice to be heard on high.

5 Is this the kind of fast I have chosen,

only a day for a man to humble himself?

Is it only for bowing one’s head like a reed

and for lying on sackcloth and ashes?

Is that what you call a fast,

a day acceptable to the Lord?

6 “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?

7 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 him,

and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?

8 Then your light will break forth like the dawn,

and your healing will quickly appear;

then your righteousness will go before you,

and the glory of the Lord will be your rear guard.

9 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.

11 The Lord will guide you always;

he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land

and will strengthen your frame.

You will be like a well-watered garden,

like a spring whose waters never fail.

12 Your people will rebuild the ancient ruins

and will raise up the age-old foundations;

you will be called Repairer of Broken Walls,

Restorer of Streets with Dwellings.

13 “If you keep your feet from breaking the Sabbath

and from doing as you please on my holy day,

if you call the Sabbath a delight

and the Lord’s holy day honorable,

and if you honor it by not going your own way

and not doing as you please or speaking idle words,

14 then you will find your joy in the Lord,

and I will cause you to ride on the heights of the land

and to feast on the inheritance of your father Jacob.”

The mouth of the Lord has spoken.

The Holy Bible : New International Version. 1996, c1984. Grand Rapids: Zondervan.

Isaiah 55-56

is55.jpgGreetings!  This opens with a beautiful passage where God invites us to come to him – for free!  Our souls can “delight” and “live” because of what He has to offer. 

Note the many examples of God offering his grace to all – through the Israelites, but not just for the Israelites. 

Invitation to the Thirsty

55     “Come, all you who are thirsty,

come to the waters;

and you who have no money,

come, buy and eat!

Come, buy wine and milk

without money and without cost.

2 Why spend money on what is not bread,

and your labor on what does not satisfy?

Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good,

and your soul will delight in the richest of fare.

3 Give ear and come to me;

hear me, that your soul may live.

I will make an everlasting covenant with you,

my faithful love promised to David.

4 See, I have made him a witness to the peoples,

a leader and commander of the peoples.

5 Surely you will summon nations you know not,

and nations that do not know you will hasten to you,

because of the Lord your God,

the Holy One of Israel,

for he has endowed you with splendor.”

6 Seek the Lord while he may be found;

call on him while he is near.

7 Let the wicked forsake his way

and the evil man his thoughts.

Let him turn to the Lord, and he will have mercy on him,

and to our God, for he will freely pardon.

8 “For my thoughts are not your thoughts,

neither are your ways my ways,”

declares the Lord.

9 “As the heavens are higher than the earth,

so are my ways higher than your ways

and my thoughts than your thoughts.

So often we make God in our own image and forget that the clay doesn’t tell the potter what to do.

10 As the rain and the snow

come down from heaven,

and do not return to it

without watering the earth

and making it bud and flourish,

so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater,

11 so is my word that goes out from my mouth:

It will not return to me empty,

but will accomplish what I desire

and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.

Verses 10-11 are a powerful passage to remember when sharing God’s word.  When in doubt we should use his words instead of ours.  He has promised that his will not return empty, but He makes no such promises about my words.

Side note: Consider how Isaiah outlines the hydrological cycle.  The Bible is not a science textbook, but the claims woven into it are accurate

12 You will go out in joy

and be led forth in peace;

the mountains and hills

will burst into song before you,

and all the trees of the field

will clap their hands.

13 Instead of the thornbush will grow the pine tree,

and instead of briers the myrtle will grow.

This will be for the Lord’s renown,

for an everlasting sign,

which will not be destroyed.”

Salvation for Others

56     This is what the Lord says:

“Maintain justice

and do what is right,

for my salvation is close at hand

and my righteousness will soon be revealed.

2 Blessed is the man who does this,

the man who holds it fast,

who keeps the Sabbath without desecrating it,

and keeps his hand from doing any evil.”

3 Let no foreigner who has bound himself to the Lord say,

“The Lord will surely exclude me from his people.”

And let not any eunuch complain,

“I am only a dry tree.”

4 For this is what the Lord says:

“To the eunuchs who keep my Sabbaths,

who choose what pleases me

and hold fast to my covenant—

5 to them I will give within my temple and its walls

a memorial and a name

better than sons and daughters;

I will give them an everlasting name

that will not be cut off.

6 And foreigners who bind themselves to the Lord

to serve him,

to love the name of the Lord,

and to worship him,

all who keep the Sabbath without desecrating it

and who hold fast to my covenant—

7 these I will bring to my holy mountain

and give them joy in my house of prayer.

Their burnt offerings and sacrifices

will be accepted on my altar;

for my house will be called

a house of prayer for all nations.”

Eunuchs and foreigners could not fully participate in the Israelite worship, but God was showing them the door was opening.

8 The Sovereign Lord declares—

he who gathers the exiles of Israel:

“I will gather still others to them

besides those already gathered.”

God’s Accusation Against the Wicked

9 Come, all you beasts of the field,

come and devour, all you beasts of the forest!

10 Israel’s watchmen are blind,

they all lack knowledge;

they are all mute dogs,

they cannot bark;

they lie around and dream,

they love to sleep.

11 They are dogs with mighty appetites;

they never have enough.

They are shepherds who lack understanding;

they all turn to their own way,

each seeks his own gain.

12 “Come,” each one cries, “let me get wine!

Let us drink our fill of beer!

And tomorrow will be like today,

or even far better.”

The Holy Bible : New International Version. 1996, c1984. Grand Rapids: Zondervan.

Isaiah 53-54

is53.jpgGreetings!  These are some of the most important passages in the Bible.  They reveal much about Jesus, the Messiah, and how He would come.  Yet they defied what the Jews had been expecting.  Who would have thought God would come as a humble servant?  It seems to be the opposite of what one would expect. 

53     Who has believed our message

and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?

2 He grew up before him like a tender shoot,

and like a root out of dry ground.

He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him,

nothing in his appearance that we should desire him.

Our culture worships beauty and appearance, yet the Messiah was so humble that He didn’t bring those qualities.

3 He was despised and rejected by men,

a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering.

Like one from whom men hide their faces

he was despised, and we esteemed him not.

4 Surely he took up our infirmities

and carried our sorrows,

yet we considered him stricken by God,

smitten by him, and afflicted.

5 But he was pierced for our transgressions,

he was crushed for our iniquities;

the punishment that brought us peace was upon him,

and by his wounds we are healed.

6 We all, like sheep, have gone astray,

each of us has turned to his own way;

and the Lord has laid on him

the iniquity of us all.

As Christians in the 21st century it is easy to think we would have treated Jesus differently, but the truth is that we would have rejected him like all the rest.  It is only by the power of the Holy Spirit that we believe him now.

He took our punishment, as painful as it was, so we could stand before God the Father.  What an endlessly incredible and wonderful thing to meditate on!

7 He was oppressed and afflicted,

yet he did not open his mouth;

he was led like a lamb to the slaughter,

and as a sheep before her shearers is silent,

so he did not open his mouth.

Jesus was silent before his accusers, including Pontius Pilate, in that He didn’t try to defend himself.

8 By oppression and judgment he was taken away.

And who can speak of his descendants?

For he was cut off from the land of the living;

for the transgression of my people he was stricken.

9 He was assigned a grave with the wicked,

and with the rich in his death,

though he had done no violence,

nor was any deceit in his mouth.

10 Yet it was the Lord’s will to crush him and cause him to suffer,

and though the Lord makes his

life a guilt offering,

he will see his offspring and prolong his days,

and the will of the Lord will prosper in his hand.

11 After the suffering of his soul,

he will see the light of life and be satisfied;

by his knowledge my righteous

servant will justify many,

and he will bear their iniquities.

12 Therefore I will give him a portion among the great,

and he will divide the spoils with the strong,

because he poured out his life unto death,

and was numbered with the transgressors.

For he bore the sin of many,

and made intercession for the transgressors.

We are justified not by what we do but by what Jesus did for us, if only we put our trust in him.

The Future Glory of Zion

54     “Sing, O barren woman,

you who never bore a child;

burst into song, shout for joy,

you who were never in labor;

because more are the children of the desolate woman

than of her who has a husband,”

says the Lord.

2 “Enlarge the place of your tent,

stretch your tent curtains wide,

do not hold back;

lengthen your cords,

strengthen your stakes.

3 For you will spread out to the right and to the left;

your descendants will dispossess nations

and settle in their desolate cities.

4 “Do not be afraid; you will not suffer shame.

Do not fear disgrace; you will not be humiliated.

You will forget the shame of your youth

and remember no more the reproach of your widowhood.

5 For your Maker is your husband—

the Lord Almighty is his name—

the Holy One of Israel is your Redeemer;

he is called the God of all the earth.

6 The Lord will call you back

as if you were a wife deserted and distressed in spirit—

a wife who married young,

only to be rejected,” says your God.

7 “For a brief moment I abandoned you,

but with deep compassion I will bring you back.

8 In a surge of anger

I hid my face from you for a moment,

but with everlasting kindness

I will have compassion on you,”

says the Lord your Redeemer.

9 “To me this is like the days of Noah,

when I swore that the waters of Noah would never again

cover the earth.

So now I have sworn not to be angry with you,

never to rebuke you again.

10 Though the mountains be shaken

and the hills be removed,

yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken

nor my covenant of peace be removed,”

says the Lord, who has compassion on you.

11 “O afflicted city, lashed by storms and not comforted,

I will build you with stones of turquoise,

your foundations with sapphires.

12 I will make your battlements of rubies,

your gates of sparkling jewels,

and all your walls of precious stones.

13 All your sons will be taught by the Lord,

and great will be your children’s peace.

14 In righteousness you will be established:

Tyranny will be far from you;

you will have nothing to fear.

Terror will be far removed;

it will not come near you.

15 If anyone does attack you, it will not be my doing;

whoever attacks you will surrender to you.

16 “See, it is I who created the blacksmith

who fans the coals into flame

and forges a weapon fit for its work.

And it is I who have created the destroyer to work havoc;

17 no weapon forged against you will prevail,

and you will refute every tongue that accuses you.

This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord,

and this is their vindication from me,”

declares the Lord.

The Holy Bible : New International Version. 1996, c1984. Grand Rapids: Zondervan.