March 31 - Hezekiah

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

March 31 - Hezekiah - Isaiah 38:1-39:8

Before Sennacherib actually ended up outside Jerusalem's walls, Hezekiah fell ill and nearly died. Because he was relatively famous throughout the region (2 Chron. 32:23), when he regained his health, the king of Babylon sent envoys to him. Hezekiah showed them everything! He was very proud of his wealth. This happened before the invasion by Sennacherib.

Isaiah was certain that they came to see everything so that they could report back to their king on Hezekiah's wealth. Hezekiah was very close to making a deal with them to offer more protection against Assyria. His pride forced him to show off, but he retained his sense and did not bind a relationship with them. (Isaiah 39:1-8)

When Hezekiah was sick, the Lord told him to be prepared to die. But, he begged for more time and the Lord responded. Not only did he offer him 15 more years, but he promised Hezekiah that the Assyrians would not take Jerusalem (Isaiah 38:1-6)

With this, Hezekiah penned a Psalm (Isaiah 38:9-20). He learned to understand the preciousness of life (Isaiah 38:10-12), he learned how important prayer was (Isaiah 38:13-14) and he gained a greater understanding of his position in life ... he would walk humbly and learn to praise the Lord (Isaiah 38:15-20).

Hezekiah was given more time ... and he brought glory to the Lord with those additional years. His years on earth allowed Judah a time of peace. That peace would end when Babylon came in and took the Jews into exile. Hezekiah's temple was looted ... everything was taken. But, for now ... peace.

Tomorrow, we will leave Isaiah for a time and move to the New Testament. But, I will come back this summer and move through the rest of this book. In it we will then meet the suffering servant (Jesus). Warren Wiersbe calls the second portion of the book of Isaiah its 'new testament' portion. The grace of God is emphasized and there are many references to the Messiah ... Jesus Christ. Isaiah looks far into the future and sees the time of Babylonian captivity and the release of the Jews back into their homeland. We will finish this book and fall in love with Isaiah all over again!

March 30 - Sennacherib Threatens/Deliverance Foretold

Monday, March 30, 2009

March 30 - Sennacherib Threatens / Deliverance Foretold - Isaiah 36:1-37:38

Isaiah 36-39 is a bit of an interlude in Isaiah's prophecy. This is the story of King Hezekiah and is found nearly in its entirety in 2 Kings 18-20.

King Hezekiah was a godly man, but he was still a man. He was afraid, he was frail, he was easily swayed by his human side. However, when Isaiah stood by him and reminded him that their God was the Lord Almighty, Hezekiah listened.

Sennacherib believed that the God of Israel was the same as the gods of the other countries that he had absorbed in his mad dash across the region.

He sent his commanders to the walls of Jerusalem. He knew that Hezekiah had met with the Egyptians to form an alliance and that the alliance would not hold against his immense army (Isaiah 36:6-10).

Did you notice his words in Isaiah 36:10? The commander had the audacity to claim that the Lord had sent Assyria to destroy Jerusalem. Famous last words? I do believe they will be!

The commander continued to try to fill the people of Jerusalem with fear, speaking words against Hezekiah. He tried to incite them, but they remained silent. (Isaiah 36:11-22)

Hezekiah was in complete panic. The Assyrian army had finally advanced to the gates of Jerusalem. He didn't know what else to do. He sent for Isaiah. We see that Hezekiah feels that it is soon to be over and there will simply be a surviving remnant ... not much more (Isaiah 37:1-4).

Isaiah hears from Hezekiah's priests and associates and encourages them to tell Hezekiah to not be afraid ... the Lord will take care of it. (Isaiah 37:5-7) But, Sennacherib, sends a message to Hezekiah asking him to remember the kings of all of the other kingdoms that had fallen to him - did their gods help them in any way? (Isaiah 37:8-13)

And here is where we find out what kind of man Hezekiah is. When he got that letter from Sennacherib, he went to the temple and spread it out before the Lord and he prayed. He prayed! Rather than counting on other gods or other human leaders, he fell on his knees before the Lord Almighty and he prayed. (Isaiah 37:14-20)

And because he prayed and acknowledged the power of the Lord, the Assyrians were now going to have to face the power of the Almighty God. No more would He allow them to insult Him. (Isaiah 37:21-27) I don't know about you, but the threat that is found in Isaiah 37:28-29 would absolutely terrify me.

It is one thing to know as a Christian that the Lord knows all of my ways, but as a King that has insulted and blasphemed the Lord, I would be running for my life. And after 185,000 men were killed in the Assyrian camp, he returned to Nineveh, where he stayed until his sons murdered him in the temple of his god. (Isaiah 37:36-38)

Hezekiah was promised years of hope and a remnant that would be strong in Jerusalem. He was promised that the Assyrians would not enter the city but that the Lord would defend it.

Why? Because he prayed. That's all it took. The Lord wanted nothing more than to care for His people, but they couldn't simply humble themselves before Him. Human pride destroyed so many ... humility saved the remnant.

March 29 - Joy of the Redeemed

Sunday, March 29, 2009

March 29 - Joy of the Redeemed - Isaiah 35:1-10

This chapter is filled with joy. I want to start with the last verses first today.

"The Way of Holiness." The redeemed and ransomed of the Lord will enter Zion with singing; everlasting joy will crown their heads. Gladness and joy will overtake them. (Isaiah 35:10)

We all know the Yellow Brick Road and I'm certain that we can bring up the picture in our minds of Dorothy, the Tin Man, the Scarecrow and the Lion arm in arm as they walk down the beautiful road together.

Now, think a little bit longer, but imagine this beautiful Way of Holiness leading to the City of God! You are dancing on this road with your friends and others who have come out of the worst parts of their lives. They have been redeemed from blackness and darkness. The joy and relief of being clean brings exuberance! There are no more fears ... Isaiah says that lions and ferocious beasts can't get on to this road, the unclean won't be on it, wicked fools will not be on the Way of Holiness. Sorrow and sighing will flee away ... You are on this road! (Isaiah 35:8-10)

The deserts and wilderness will bloom forth. The greatest glories of the land of Lebanon, Carmel and Sharon will be more than ever seen before. The Lord is coming! (Isaiah 35:1-2)

Isaiah reminds the people in Jerusalem to have faith and he reminds us to do the same. Care for those that have grown feeble, steady the weakened, encourage the frightened. These people that have remained in Jerusalem while the Assyrians destroyed Judah outside their walls were exhausted and weary from waiting. But, it was nearly over! (Isaiah 35:3-4)

When the Lord comes, everything will change! Blind and deaf, lame and dumb will be made whole. Streams will flow in the desert bringing life to once dead land ... and once dead hearts.

In our overabundance, we think that we have it all. We accept material things and the meeting of human desires as ways to fill our hearts and bring us hope. We don't even know what it means to desire relief from darkness and freedom from the ties that bind us here on earth. We can't imagine the extravagance of grace that God has prepared for us.

God calls us to throw off our fears and worries - release humanity's ties. We are called to be filled with Him and to walk with Him, absorbing all the goodness and light that He can pour into us. We are redeemed! The ransom has been paid.

Prepare the Way of the Lord! Prepare to walk the Way of Holiness! Make straight the highway for our Lord.


Saturday, March 28, 2009

March 28 - Judgment - Isaiah 34:1-17

I can not imagine being Isaiah. He was being told over and over by the Lord what terrible things were going to befall the children of Israel and they simply weren't listening. Now, if God's own children refused to listen to Him, I suspect it was difficult for anyone else to hear God speaking of their destruction.

When the Day of the Lord comes, it isn't going to be good ... for anyone. The Lord sees the death of the wicked as a sacrifice ... lambs, goats, oxen, calves, bulls ... as the blood of the sacrifices drenches the altar of the Lord in the Temple, so the sacrifice will drench the land. (Isaiah 34:1-7)

The picture that we see in Isaiah 8-10 is reminiscent of the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah (Genesis 18-19). Jesus tells us in Luke 17:28 that just before the end of the world, society will be much like the days of Lot.

Isaiah 34:11-15 describe the wilderness that will follow the Lord's vengeance being taken out on Edom - signifying the Gentile nations that refuse to come before Him. The birds of prey will be given everything they need and no man can take it from them (Isaiah 34:16-17)

This is a rough chapter. Isaiah foresees so much of the destruction that John also sees in the Revelation. The world is going to be a desolate place, stars in the heaven will be gone, the moon and the sun will be nearly destroyed. Every moment on the earth will be painful for those who remain. Can you imagine having the hand of God lifted from this earth so that it spins into oblivion?

The Day of the Lord is coming ... the warnings have been in place for millennia ... but no one listens.

March 27 - Final Woe

Friday, March 27, 2009

March 27 - Final Woe - Isaiah 33:1-24

This chapter begins with words spoken against Sennacherib, the king of the Assyrians. Hezekiah had tried to buy him off (2 Kings 18:13-15), but he invaded Judah anyway. (I think Isaiah had been prophecying this, but no one seemed to listen!)

The people of Jerusalem now see the destruction that lies outside their walls. It has finally occurred to them that they are in trouble! The Lord promised, though that Sennacherib would be defeated. The Assyrians had torn through countries like locusts, but the Lord promised that He would redeem Judah. (Isaiah 33:2-4)

Hezekiah had paid Sennacherib off using the temple treasury. What was the Lord's response? Forgiveness and a reminder that the fear of the Lord is the key to the treasure - which is salvation and wisdom and knowledge. (Isaiah 33:5-6)

The men in Jerusalem were upset because of what was happening outside the city walls, envoys returned frustrated from failed treaties, no one was safe on the highways ... everything was coming apart around them. But, the Lord was nearly finished with Assyria. All of their plans would be nothing more than chaff, straw ... easily consumed. (Isaiah 33:7-12)

Then came the day when the Lord destroyed the Assyrian army - 185,000 soldiers in one day! Consuming fire? You bet! But that event scared the people inside Jerusalem as much as it did the Assyrians ... they had forgotten the power of the Lord. (Isaiah 33:13-14)

What kind of person can live with the consuming fire ... who will the Lord accept? The description of that person is found here. (Isaiah 33:15) He will dwell on the heights and find refuge and his needs will be met. He will see the Lord and the new Jerusalem while the memories of those that he knew in the past ... the thieves and the arrogant ... will be nothing more than passing thoughts. (Isaiah 33:16-19)

Isaiah ends this passage with another look into the future when the Messiah reigns and we live in that New Jerusalem with us ... the Lord is our king; it is he who will save us. (Isaiah 33:20-24)

March 26 - Righteousness & Peace

Thursday, March 26, 2009

March 26 - Righteousness & Peace - Isaiah 32:1-20

Do you ever get tired of watching people who cheat, lie, and make terrible decisions have terrific lives? Isaiah tells us that the day will come when scoundrels will no longer be highly respected.

Righteousness and peace will one day prevail. It's not here yet and there will be a lot of strife before it gets here. But, the king will reign in righteousness and rulers will rule with justice. The day will come! (Isaiah 32:1-8)

The women in this passage may very well be the same that Isaiah spoke of in Isaiah 3:16-19. They have been complacent and felt secure hiding in Jerusalem. But, the seige that Sennacherib and the Assyrians are bringing against the city will drain all of the resources. While they worry about the fields outside the city, they will end up selling off all of their beautiful clothing and accessorie. They will be taken down to nothing. (Isaiah 32:9-14)

Isaiah's prophecy shows that the world is going to continue to spin into chaos until God decides to set things aright. The day of the Lord will come!

The Spirit will be poured upon us from on high ...

Other prophets spoke these same words! Joel said, "And afterward, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your old men will dream dreams, your young men will see visions. Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days. I will show wonders in the heavens and on the earth, blood and fire and billows of smoke." (Joel 2:28-29)

From Zechariah 12:10, "And I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirita of grace and supplication. They will look onb me, the one they have pierced, and they will mourn for him as one mourns for an only child, and grieve bitterly for him as one grieves for a firstborn son."

And finally, from Ezekiel 36:26-27, "I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws."

When the Spirit of the Lord pours out over the earth, everything will be transformed! Righteousness and peace will prevail.

"The fruit of righteousness will be peace; the effect of righteousness will be quietness and confidence forever. My people will live in peaceful dwelling places, in secure homes, in undisturbed places of rest." (Isaiah 32:17-18)

Jesus said, “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in Goda; trust also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going.” (John 14:1-4)

A peaceful dwelling place, prepared for us by the Lamb of God.

April Blogging

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

There is less than a week left in the Isaiah study. We're going to stop at Isaiah 39 this month. Isaiah 40-66 is practically a different book, so this is a good place to break. I'm really weary. This study has taxed my brain more than any other so far. I've learned a lot, but I'll be thankful to leave the prophecies of Isaiah for awhile.

April's study will be on the book of Mark. The timing won't be perfect because Easter will come in the middle of the month rather than at the end of the month when I'll be writing about it, but c'est la vie! We'll just have to face the crucifixion and resurrection twice this next month.

I can't wait to bring May's study to you. It's going to be great! But, I'm not going to tell you about it right now, you'll just have to wait.

The next few days would be a great time for your friends to sign up for the email reminders. Just have them email me at nammynools (@) cox (.) net [remove the parentheses and spaces] and I will get them on the reminder email list right away. If this blog would be an encouragement for someone you know, please tell them about it!

March 25 - Woe Cubed

March 25 - Woe Cubed - Isaiah 29:1-31:9

Ariel (Isaiah 29:1-2) literally means 'hearth of God.' So, this refers to Jerusalem. In 701 bc, Sennacherib led the Assyrians and they surrounded Jerusalem. There should have been no possible way that they wouldn't take the city, but they didn't! (Isaiah 29:1-10) In verse 5, we find that all of a sudden they are blown away like chaff or fine dust.

What we read in Isaiah 29:11-12 is that the seers couldn't understand the prophecies that Isaiah was delivering. They were blind to the truth that he was bringing to them from God.

You might recognize Isaiah 29:13-14. These words were spoken by Jesus in Matthew 15:1-9 when he rebuked the Pharisees for spending more time on the rules than they did in worshipping the Lord. In Isaiah 29:15-24, we find that the people of Jerusalem actually thought they could hide the plans from the Lord. And then, they planned to tell Him what they were going to do and what He would do for them. While we may think that all of those ideas are insane, I do believe that deep down, our plans don't go far astray from theirs.

Isaiah sees far into the future, to the day when understanding will come over the people of the Lord and He will redeem His people.

After all the Lord had done for His people, they still insisted upon rebelling against Him. I think that many times we look back at the children of Jacob and scoff at their stupidity and wonder how they could not see the hand of the Lord leading them all of that time. Before we get too self-righteous, I think it would be appropriate to look back along the timeline of our own lives and hesitate over those moments of rebellion and self-indulgence when we forget to invite God to participate in our lives or strip things away from Him thinking that we can do it better.

They thought they could appeal to Egypt for help - rather than the Lord (Isaiah 30:1-7). God told Isaiah to write words out on a placard - "These are a rebellious people!" Isaiah carried this with him as he walked around the streets of Jerusalem. But the people only wanted to hear pleasant words, illusions. Sound familiar? (Isaiah 30:8-14)

What a patient God we have. Isaiah begged and pleaded with the people to trust in God, even as he told them what God would do. Read the words of Isaiah 30:15 "In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength." But what is their response? They would have none of that. They insisted on doing it themselves. Sound familiar? (Isaiah 30:15-17)

Yet, the Lord longs ... He LONGS to be gracious to you; he rises to show you compassion. For the Lord is a God of justice. Blessed are all who wait for him!" (Isaiah 30:18)

The promises of God are so amazing, we are deaf and blind ... God longs to bring us into restoration. (Isaiah 30:18-26)

The final passage of this chapter (Isaiah 30:27-33) tells of the punishment that Assyria will receive from the Lord. Topheth (Isaiah 30:33) is a location outside Jerusalem where the worshipers of Molech sacrificed their children (2 Kings 16:3; 21:6; Jer. 7:31–32; 19:6, 11–14). It was later turned into a garbage dump and named 'Gehanna,' which is a New Testament word for hell.

Isaiah 31:1-9 is a recap of what Isaiah has been saying to the people of Jerusalem. He kept saying these things over and over to a rebellious people. It would do them no good to trust in an alliance with Egypt and would only incense their Lord. And why should they worry over Assyria? The Lord is a great lion and they are no more than sheep with shepherds. He is not afraid of them and will care for His people.

We would do well to heed the words of Isaiah. The words that he spoke to the people of Judah as a unit, are spoken to us as individuals. We are a rebellious people, preferring to take matters into our own hands and if we don't see the Lord acting within our timeline, we will move forward with or without Him!

March 24 - The Cornerstone

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

March 24 - The Cornerstone - Isaiah 28:1-29

Isaiah's words are awesome, aren't they? A wreath filled with fading flowers ... Ephraim's drunkards (Ephraim was the largest of the ten northern tribes that made up the kingdom of Israel - sometimes Isaiah used that name to refer to the northern kingdom) were so proud of it, but Assyria comes through like a hailstorm and destructive wind (can anyone in Omaha relate to that tonight?) with a downpour and that wreath will be trampled underfoot. (Isaiah 28:1-4)

Then comes a comparison ... but how can it even be called that? In that day the Lord will be a beautiful wreath for the remnant of his people. Instead of fading flowers, subject to the whims of earth-bound armies, He stands as justice and strength. (Isaiah 28:5-6)

The next two verses are a little disgusting and visceral, but he gets his point across. Those that are supposed to be the Lord's hands and voices on earth are drunk to the point of staggering and vomiting. The place is disgusting because they can not raise themselves above their personal desires. They see visions through the veil of drunkenness. These people were advising leaders. They are lost. (Isaiah 28:7-8)

They mock Isaiah in Isaiah 28:9-13, telling him that he speaks to them as if they are children. They use rhymes as children do as they laugh at him and scoff (do and do, do and do, rule on rule, rule on rule, a little here, a little there).

Then Isaiah moves to the scoffers in Judah. They were as guilty of sin as those in the north. They made pacts with other countries ... symbolized here by death and the grave ... thinking that would keep them safe. But, rather than trusting in the Lord ... they were trusting in a lie. (Isaiah 28:14-15)

Instead of the lie, they needed to trust in the cornerstone. While this is definitely a reference to the Messiah, in essence, the One in whom we need to place our trust is the Sovereign Lord. His faithfulness will be our foundation - if we simply trust in Him. Isaiah 28:17-20 describes how He can not only redeem the errors that have been made, but how He will protect.

The final verses of this pronouncement are Isaiah's words guaranteeing that if they think that God will not follow through and judge them, they are mistaken. The Lord sees through it all, He recognizes the differences in people's hearts and whatever it takes to deal with His people, He will do.

God's punishment on a sinful world will come, but the promise for today is from 2 Peter 3:9, "The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance."

The warning follows immediately "But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything in it will be laid bare." (2 Peter 3:10)

Be prepared.

March 23 - Deliverance

Monday, March 23, 2009

March 23 - Deliverance - Isaiah 27:1-13

Sometimes there is just so much information bursting out of these passages, I have an incredibly difficult time figuring out where to start. And then I can't figure out how to even put into words the feelings and sensations that wash over me as I process God's Word. This passage is causing me a lot of grief because of those issues. I'll do what I can ... whoosh!

The Leviathan was probably a crocodile. Most of the nations surrounding Israel worshiped many gods and many myths regarding the sea monster. Wiersbe says that satan was holding these nations hostage by their beliefs. It is no coincidence then, that the great sea monster of Revelation 13, the antichrist will be slain by the Lord in this passage. This is just the beginning of the release that He offers the world ... in that day. (Isaiah 27:1)

The Lord refers to Israel (Judah) as a fruitful vineyard. He fully intends for them to fill the world. The vineyard is used to describe three different groups of people in scripture. In Isaiah it refers to Judah, in John 15 it describes the relationship between Christ and the church and in Revelation 14:18, it is referring to 'earth's vine,' the godless Gentiles. (Isaiah 27:2-6)

We see the Lord's protective hand over Judah as Isaiah describes it in Isaiah 27:7, but he shows us how the Lord has removed the northern kingdom from the equation by warfare and Judah will be taken into exile (Isaiah 27:8).

There will be a day when Jacob's (northern Kingdom - Israel) guilt will be atoned for. All of the remnants of worship to idols and gods will be purged. No single human can achieve this removal of sin ... only God can. Only God can offer that kind of sacrifice. (Isaiah 27:9)

Knowing partial bits of information is difficult for me. When I can see that the information is out there and available, but I can't get my hands on it, I am miserable. My strengths lie in gathering information and then processing it and sharing it. I would have been a horrendous prophet, though I am always open to allowing God to use me. Isaiah saw all of this, but did not see the whole story of the Messiah, the beginning of the redemption of Israel and the world by Jesus Christ. How he must have yearned for the entire picture!

Isaiah 27:10-11 speaks of the desolation of Jerusalem because of Judah's sin. It is impossible to imagine that God would remove His mercy from this world. But, that day is coming. It won't be long ... but, He will come to a point where punishment outweighs mercy for those that continue to refuse Him. But, we have to get past that point so that we can get to the eternal city. Judah has to face her punishment ... the time has to come ... the day of the Lord.

And in that day, the Israelites will be gathered, one by one from wherever they were in exile to return to the holy mountain - Zion and worship in Jerusalem again. How will they know? Oh ... this part fills my heart.

A great trumpet will sound! Jesus speaks of it in Matthew 24:31, Paul tells of us this great trumpet in 1 Cor. 15:50-58 and 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 sounding to announce the return of the Lord to gather His church. Before I leave this today, read the words from Revelation 1:10, "On the Lord's Day I was in the Spirit, and I heard behind me a loud voice like a trumpet ..." The voice of Jesus will call out, a voice that we will be very familiar with when the day comes. Oh Lord, I pray ... Your Kingdom Come!

March 22 - Praise the Lord

Sunday, March 22, 2009

March 22 - Praise the Lord - Isaiah 25:1-26:21

Do you ever wish you had words that were profound enough to lift your praises to the Lord? After the destruction of the earth is prophesied, Isaiah found those words. This is as beautiful as any of David's Psalms. He begins by affirming that the Lord's plans have been in process since long ago and describes the power of the Lord. (Isaiah 25:1-5)

The great banquet that Jesus spoke of in Matthew 22:1-14 is told of by Isaiah in this chapter and verse 8 is quoted twice in the New Testament (1 Corinthians 15:54 and Revelations 21:4). (Isaiah 25:6-8)

God's people will cry out with praises while His enemies will be ground to dust. (Isaiah 25:9-12)

The great Song of Praise will be sung in Judah. The redeemed will sing this when the Messiah's Kingdom comes into existence. Can you imagine standing in the new Jerusalem ... the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple and give off so much light that there is no need for sun nor moon. (Revelation 21:22)

There is so much within the verses of Isaiah 26 and there is no way that I have the time to lift each point up ... maybe someday I will just take these two chapters apart verse by verse, but for now ... take your time to read through this and allow your memory to lead you through scriptures all through the Bible. God's Word threads from Genesis to Revelation.

Go on through this passage in Isaiah 26:1-5 and compare it to the verses in Revelation 21:22-26. The gates will be ever open and the nations will walk in the light of the city! Oh, how I love God's Word. He consistently draws things together and shows us over and over how He was working through His prophets and then the New Testament disciples to give us a cohesive, living Word!

The Lord is the rock eternal! Deuteronomy 32:3-4 proclaims that.

Righteousness and Peace are the watchwords of this Song of Praise. What does Psalm 85:10 say? Psalm 85 is a psalm of prophecy, but the words in that verse are gorgeous, "...righteousness and peace kiss each other." These two will come to us - together.

The path of the righteous is level ... but it is by walking in the way of His laws ... or by following the Word of God that we find ourselves walking on that level path. Why did John the Baptist come? He was sent to prepare the way of the Messiah ... to make straight the paths (Mark 1:2-3).

God wants His world to learn righteousness. He has done everything He can to draw His people, but the world just doesn't learn. (Isaiah 26:9-11)

Paul also uses the imagery of the woman laboring in birth in 1 Thessalonians 5:1-3. The day of the Lord will come swiftly and will bring great pain. (Isaiah 26:12-18)

The final words of this song promise safety for the people of the Lord. He will protect them as He punishes the sinful. (Isaiah 26:19-21)

Much of this imagery is similar to that given to John in the Revelation. God's Word is exciting!

March 21 - In that day

Saturday, March 21, 2009

March 21 - In that day - Isaiah 24:1-23

After Isaiah finished dealing with all of the nations that associated with God's people, he needed to ensure that we fully understand the scope of God's punishment for sin. Whether you are wealthy or poor, have status or have nothing, it will not matter. Everything will be laid to waste. (Isaiah 24:1-2)

The Lord has spoken this word.

I want to take you on a roundabout journey right now. We'll make it back here, I promise. Let's start with John 1:1. In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning."

Now, back to Genesis 1:1-3a, "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters. And God said ... And God said ... And God said ..."

Jesus Christ was the act of Creation. I know that this is a strange leap to take for some, but when you realize that Jesus was the Word of God - spoken to bring life into existence, you begin to comprehend the immense power of God!

I'm not done yet. Turn to Revelation 1:16b, "...out of his mouth came a sharp doubled edged sword." Don't get hung up here too long, because I want you to see Ephesians 6:17b, "...and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God."

Whew! That should be enough to get my point across. Jesus was the spoken word of creation made flesh. But ... at the end, He is the sword that will bring the end of all nations and devastate the earth.

For you and for me, this should be an immense comfort. We have no greater advocate before the throne in heaven than Jesus Christ. He went to the cross for us! But, it will be Jesus that wields the sword - the word of the Lord - to lay waste to the earth.

Jesus Christ IS the Word of God. The living, active Word of God.

As you read Isaiah 24:4-13, 16b-20 you will see this devastation.

In Isaiah 24:14-16, we see the remnant - those who continued to trust in the Lord. They understand that in His righteousness, He brought judgment to earth.

In Isaiah 24:21-22, Isaiah prophesies about the 'powers in the heavens above.' We might know these better as the unholy trinity found in Revelation 13 ... satan (the dragon), the antichrist (the beast from the sea) and the false prophet (the beast out of the earth).

Isaiah says that they will be herded together and after many days will be punished. (Isaiah 24:21-22) John's vision of them being imprisoned and then released only to be thrown in the lake of burning sulfur to be tormented forever and ever seems to reinforce the truth of this prophecy. (Revelation 20)

Revelation 21:23-24 says "The city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light and the Lamb is its lamp. The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their splendor into it."

Isaiah's words in Isaiah 24:23 are "The moon will be abashed and teh sun ashamed; for the Lord Almighty will reign on Mount Zion and in Jerusalem, and before its elders, gloriously."

Do you doubt the Word of the Lord? As I read these prophecies, I can only pray "Lord, come quickly."

March 20 - Tyre & the great sailing ships

Friday, March 20, 2009

March 20 - Tyre and the great sailing ships

The history of Tyre is quite interesting. This port city of Phoenicia (now Lebanon) was instrumental in the trading that happened between the cities of Old Testament times. It was said that the commerce of the whole world was gathered into the warehouses of Tyre. King Hiram provided great cedars to both King David and Solomon for building the palace and temple in Jerusalem. (2 Sam. 5:11; 1 Kings 5:1; 2 Chr. 2:3) It has been besieged and destroyed by various kingdoms throughout its history, but it still exists today. A church was founded there soon after Stephen's death and the city remains today ... archeologists have taken 'deep soundings' and find Phoenician layers buried deep within the city. The city is filled with excavations and ruins and is a popular tourist spot.

Because the shipping industry in Tyre was so enmeshed in the economy of the Mediterranean, the destruction of this city would bring great devastation. The ships of Tarshish were great trading ships from either the coast of Spain or the coast of northern Africa that traveled along with the great ships of Tyre throughout the area. No one is absolutely certain where this city is located. (Isaiah 23:1-3)

Sidon (Isaiah 23:4-5) was another Phoenician city along the coast of what we know now as Lebanon. It also still exists today.

Who planned the destruction of Phoenicia? (Isaiah 23:6-8) The Lord Almighty did to "bring low the pride of all glory and to humble all who are renowned on the earth." (Isaiah 23:9-12)

For seventy years, Tyre will not trade with the world, Isaiah says. The Assyrians restricted trade from the Phoenicians from 700 to 630 bc when Assyria began to lose its power base. Isaiah prophesied that it wouldn't be as easy for Tyre to regain her position, that she would be like a prostitute playing a harp to gather customers.

Zechariah 9:3 tells us that silver was like dust and gold like the dirt of the streets in Tyre during the final days of the Messianic kingdom. A day would come when the city would bring an offering to the Lord.

We are at the end of the prophecies regarding the cities and powers of the middle east. God told the people of Judah and all those surrounding them that He was in charge of the governments and nations. Judah was the only nation that relied on the Lord and even then, she generally was frightened into attempting to align herself with other powers.

Will we ... will mankind ever learn that God is our strength and our provider?

March 19 - Jerusalem?!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

March 19 - Jerusalem?! - Isaiah 22:1-25

Jerusalem is acting no better than its neighbors and for that Isaiah hears from the Lord regarding the city. Remember back in Isaiah 5:11-13 when we saw the people of the city cavorting around drinking and partying? Things look a little different to Isaiah's eyes in this vision. They were on their rooftops looking into the distance to see the trouble that was about to descend upon them. (Isaiah 22:1-4)

Weirsbe (Be Comforted) says that while some parts of this vision may seem to apply to the Assyrian invasion in Hezekiah’s day (Isaiah 36–37; 2 Kings 18–19; 2 Chron. 32), the primary reference is to the Babylonian conquest of Jerusalem in 586 B.C.

In Isaiah 22:8-11, we see the greatest sin that these people could commit. They refused to trust the Lord, but looked only to themselves to handle the siege. They strengthened the wall, they built a reservoir, but they refused to call on the One who planned things long ago. They continued to feast when they should have been fasting before Him and weeping with sorrow over their sins. "Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die?" This was as popular then as it is now. (Isaiah 22:8-13)

Shebna is the epitome of those that believe they are above the law and will exploit wealth no matter what is happening around them. He was the steward for Hezekiah and Isaiah prophesied that he would find himself carted off to Assyria, where he would die and not be buried in the fancy tomb that he was creating for himself. In building this tomb, he was trying to emulate the cultures that surrounded Judah, but God would have none of that. (Isaiah 22:15-19)

In his place, Eliakim would be raised up. This man is an early image of the Messiah. We see the prophecy from Isaiah 22:22 again in Revelation 3:22 where Jesus describes himself to the church in Philadelphia. But, even though he was a godly leader, he would not be able to hold Judah against the Babylonian assault. Jerusalem would fall one day. The Lord has spoken (Isaiah 22:20-25).

March 18 - Alas, Babylon

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

March 18 - Alas, Babylon - Isaiah 21:1-17

Isaiah foresees actions that happen about 150-200 years into the future with this prophecy. Elam and Media are both part of Persia. Elam was actually much more prominent in the days of Isaiah than Persia was, but by the time they conquered Babylon, they were part of the empire.

Can you imagine seeing destruction the type of destruction that Isaiah sees whenever you shut your eyes, or for that matter, even when your eyes were open. This is painful for Isaiah. (Isaiah 21:3-4)

In Isaiah 5, he sees the banquets that Belshazzar held with the princes of Babylon. They were so confident in their power that they were careless. The shields that the officers used consisted of layers of leather, without regular oiling they would dry up and become useless. Isaiah warns that they should be prepared, have lookouts, be alert.

This is a strong reminder of the words that Jesus, Paul and John all used to tell us to continually be alert. This prophecy was spoken 150+ years before it came to be ... do you suppose that people ignored it much as we do?

Judah counted on the fact that Babylon would stand against the Assyrians, against the Persians. In fact, Hezekiah attempted to be their ally ... But, Babylon couldn't stand against invaders anymore than anyone else could.

In Isaiah 21:11-12, Dumah is a word play on the name Edom. The Edomites were from the line of Esau. Dumah then means silence, which the Psalmist used to describe the realm of the dead. (Psalm 94:17; 115:17) Isaiah is the watchman, though morning (deliverance) comes for Israel, darkness will be at hand for the Edomites.

The final prophecy in this chapter is delivered for Arabia. (Isaiah 21:13-17) The had aligned with the Philistines and had plundered Jerusalem in about 845 bc during the reign of Jehoram. Uzziah had finally defeated them. Here, they are warned of the coming destruction from Assyria and then later the Chaldeans who would make Tema (Isaiah 21:14) their capital.

The Lord, the God of Israel, has spoken.

March 17 - Egypt

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

March 17 - Egypt - Isaiah 19:1-20:6

You know, just about the time I weary of these prophecies, God allows me to see amazing things within them ... so, I'm reminded night after night that His Word is alive!

Isaiah prophesied that God's judgment against Egypt was coming (Isaiah 19:1-15; 20:1-6). The 42 provinces would fight among themselves, though the Egyptian wise men were known throughout the region, they would have no idea what to do. In 670 bc, Esar-haddon, King of Assyrian conquered Egypt, there was nothing that any of their Gods could do to save the country.

God wants the people of Judah to hear over and over again that if He wills a thing to happen, it's going to happen and that only by trusting in Him and none of the leaders of their country or personal idols or wise counselors or officials will be able to stop Him. And when the time of destruction comes, only God can rescue a people.

"In that day ..." Isaiah uses this phrase several times in the next verses and the prophecy has changed to the far future. (Isaiah 19:16-25) When Jesus returns and brings the Messianic Kingdom to bear, there will be many changes. Egypt will fear Israel (Isaiah 19:16-17), Egypt will then become converted to the one true God. (Isaiah 19:18-22)

These spiritual changes will bring political changes. Egypt, Assyria AND Israel will worship together. Not only will these countries be changed by the Lord, but they will become a blessing to the entire earth.

Can you see what God is promising here? The nations of the earth will be blessed by the unification of groups that have despised each other for millennia. But never forget who is actually doing all of this. No amount of political wrangling or Christian good intentions can force this day to come. Only God will bring this to pass and it will happen in His time.

Isaiah 20:1-6 is inserted here by Isaiah to remind his people of the prophecies that God has laid out for Cush and for Egypt. The people of Judah considered aligning themselves with Egypt so that they could hold Assyria off. Isaiah 20:5 says "Those who trusted in Cush and boasted in Egypt will be afraid and put to shame." Why? Because God wants His people to rely on Him. He will protect them and He will care for them.

The biggest lesson we can learn is that when we try to do this alone, we limit ourselves. And when we try to force God's hand, we will fail. What can we do? Pray.

Martin Luther wrote a letter to his wife and he ended it with, "Pray. And let God worry."

March 16 - Cush / Ethiopia

Monday, March 16, 2009

March 16 - Cush / Ethiopia - Isaiah 18:1-7

The land of Cush actually includes modern day Ethiopia, Somalia and Sudan. Isaiah 18:1 calls it the land of 'whirring wings.' While this refers to the locusts that were prevalent there, it also refers to the flurry of messengers and envoys traveling between countries that were trying to establish relationships so as to hold off the press of the Assyrians. (Isaiah 18:1-3)

Contrast this with the Lord's demeanor in Isaiah 18:4, "I will remain quiet and will look on from my dwelling place, like shimmering heat in the sunshine, like a cloud of dew in the heat of harvest."

I often wonder what God thinks as He looks at our lives ... we run around like bees with whirring winds, rushing from one thing to the next, keeping everyone busy and rushing right along with us. We allow so little peace and quiet into our lives and generally fall into bed at night completely exhausted.

The One who is in charge of all of the nations of the world, all of the activities of mankind, nature, the heavens and all that exists can look at our incessant activity with words like this. He will remain quiet ...

A lesson that we don't learn easily from our Lord.

Isaiah tells us that the Assyrians will be like a vine that the Lord prunes and clears away. He spreads the branches so that the birds of prey will feed on them. This imagery is reiterated in Revelation 14:14-20 and Revelation 19:17-21 in the last days. (Isaiah 18:5-6)

The Cushites will bring gifts to the Lord in Jerusalem, this happened during Hezekiah's reign (2 Chronicles 32:20-23). Isaiah also tells us in Isaiah 60:1-7 that the Gentile nations will bring gifts before the Lord as well.

Isaiah moves back and forth between prophecies for the immediate years to come and the last days. Many times he is able to simply expand the prophecy from the immediate to the far reaching.

His words have come down through the millennia to encourage us and to challenge us.

March 15 - Damascus

Sunday, March 15, 2009

March 15 - Damascus - Isaiah 17:1-14

I've been going back and forth this month between really loving that I'm learning more about the northern and southern kingdoms during Isaiah's life and being really worn out by the prophecies of destruction! I'm so thankful that God has more patience that I can imagine. Because if I were in charge? These rotten humans would not have had all of the chances at redemption that God continually offers us.

Consider, as a parent, the sorrow that God faced each day as He watched His chosen people turn away from Him and choose to worship other Gods. Know that we continue to break His heart.

In Isaiah 17, we find the prophecy against Damascus. Back in Isaiah 7, we found that the northern kingdom of Israel had joined forces with Aram to hold off the Assyrians, rather than trusting that God would protect them. Isaiah's prophecy that Aram (capital: Damascus) would perish. Aram fell to the Assyrians in 732 bc. This warning was meant for Israel as well.

In Isaiah 17:7, he says that men will return to God and will ignore the Asherah poles (wooden pillars representing Canaanite fertility goddess). The Israelites became so sinful that there was nothing tying them to their Lord. They planted seed, but the harvest was nothing (Isaiah 17:10-11), the nations raged and brought floods to them (Isaiah 17:12), they were nothing more than chaff or a tumbleweed in a strong wind (Isaiah 17:13).

Israel (the northern Kingdom) fell to Assyria in 722 bc. But, there was always a reminder - especially to the people of Judah. Even though the Assyrians brought terror, before morning they would be gone. His words served as a warning that went unheeded by the northern kingdom. Would Judah listen?

March 14 - Prophecies

Saturday, March 14, 2009

March 14 - Prophecies - Isaiah 14:24-16:13

Assyria (Isaiah 14:24-27)

God's purpose will be fulfilled. He planned it (Isaiah 25:1) and it would happen. Assyria invaded Judah during Hezekiah's reign (701 bc) and as the army approached Jerusalem, it was destroyed. (Isaiah 37:36)

Philistines (Isaiah 14:28-32)

The King of Assyria (Ahaz) died and the Philistines rejoiced. The year that Isaiah received this prophecy was 715 bc and in only four years, Assyria had defeated Philistia and made them a province. Isaiah spoke words of comfort to Judah while speaking prophecy against Philistia. The Lord established her and the afflicted would find refuge there.

Moab (Isaiah 15:1-16:13)

The Moabites were the product of Lot's union with his daughter. They had always been enemies of the Israelites. Just some of the altercations the two people had were: Moabite women seduced Israel’s men (Num. 31:15-17). In the time of the Judges Israel was oppressed by Moab for 18 years Jud. 3:12-14). Saul fought Moab (1 Sam. 14:47) and David defeated Moab (2 Sam. 8:2, 12). Solomon was influenced by his wives to build an altar to Moab’s god Chemosh (1 Kings 11:7-8). Mesha, Moab’s king, had to pay tribute to Ahab, king of Israel (2 Kings 3:4). After Ahab died (in 853 b.c.) Mesha rebelled against Joram (also called Jehoram) but was defeated (2 Kings 3:5-27). The destruction of Moab described in Isaiah 15-16 caused the Moabites, under Assyrian attack, to flee south to Edom. (from the Bible Knowledge Commentary)

In Isaiah 16:3-4 we find the Moabites pleading for the people of Judah to protect them. They wanted Judah's help, but didn't want anything to do with God. We find that their pride stopped them from allowing them to turn to the God of Judah and led to their defeat. (Isaiah 16:5-8)

Isaiah says that he wept for Moab. It did not have to be this way. Everything would be removed from them, and then in three years the country would no longer exist. Moab was attacked several times, finally by Sennacherib in 701 bc when he entered Judah. Her splendor would be no more. (Isaiah 16:9-13)

March 13 - Babylon

Friday, March 13, 2009

March 13 - Babylon - Isaiah 13:1-14:23

We are going to tear through a large chunk of Isaiah today. Warren Weirsbe says in "Be Comforted" that Babylon represents the world system man has built in defiance of God. Babylon means "gateway to a god." In contrast, Jerusalem is the chosen city of God. That these two cities continually come into conflict in Scripture and in the world symbolizes the ongoing battle between God and man's fallen nature.

This battle is played out in Revelation 19:11-21, but throughout the Revelation, Babylon is attacked (Rev. 14:8; 16:19; 17–18). This battle will be an awful thing, can you imagine destruction from the Almighty? (Isaiah 13:6) Isaiah can barely describe it (Isaiah 13:1-8).

But the day of the Lord is coming! Isaiah tells us that it is a cruel day, with wrath and fierce anger. In fact, so many will be killed in that battle that man will be scarcer than pure gold. (Isaiah 13:9-13)

The horrors that he speaks of are unbelievable and while he talks of Babylon far in the distant future, he also proclaims a future that isn't that far away. Babylon was destroyed several years later (689 BC), rebuilt and though it wasn't then fully destroyed, it did slowly die away and was never rebuilt to its former glory. (Isaiah 13:14-22)

Isaiah spends much of Chapter 14 speaking of a mighty Babylonian ruler who was destroyed because of his pride. Darius the Mede conquered Babylon and brought down Belshazzar (Daniel 5). This king ended up in Sheol where other kings were there to welcome him to the grave. (Isaiah 14:4-23).

The morning star was there - Lucifer. His star shone in the darkness of night, but Jesus is the bright and morning star (Rev. 22:16) and with the rising of the sun, the Lucifer's star faded to nothingness. Isaiah saw more than just the battle for Babylon, he saw further out into the battle between Satan and God. Lucifer wanted the worship that is God's (Matthew 4:8-10). The comparison between the king of Babylon and Lucifer is plain ... both will be defeated in the end ... both will be brought down because of their pride.

March 12 - Songs of Praise

Thursday, March 12, 2009

March 12 - Songs of Praise - Isaiah 12:1-6

In that day ... Isaiah is referring to the day that the remnant (Israel) is restored and Christ reigns over all the nations of the earth. Revelation 21 and 22 describe the events of that day, but for now, all we can do is look forward to it.

Today ... read these two songs of praise. The first speaks of salvation. Isaiah's name means, "Jehovah is Salvation." The second song sings praises to the Lord!

"I will praise you, O Lord. Although you were angry with me, your anger has turned away and you have comforted me. Surely God is my salvation; I will trust and not be afraid. The Lord, the Lord is my strength and my song; he has become my salvation." With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation. (Isaiah 12:1-3)

Wells of salvation? Read Zechariah 13:1 “On that day a fountain will be opened to the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem, to cleanse them from sin and impurity." and then Revelation 7:17, "For the Lamb at the center of the throne will be their shepherd; he will lead them to springs of living water. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.”

We find cleansing and salvation at the center of the throne ... Jesus.

The second song:

"Give thanks to the Lord, call on his name, make known among the nations what he has done and proclaim that his name is exalted. Sing to the Lord for he has done glorious things; let this be known to all the world. Shout aloud and sing for joy, people of Zion, for great is the Holy One of Israel among you." (Isaiah 12:4-6)

Zion is Jerusalem.

Jeremiah 3:17 says, "At that time they will call Jerusalem The Throne of the Lord, and all nations will gather in Jerusalem to honor the name of the Lord. No longer will they follow the stubbornness of their evil hearts."

Zechariah 2:10 tells us, "Shout and be glad, O Daughter of Zion. For I am coming, and I will live among you,” declares the Lord."

In that day, there will be no need for a temple ... the Lord God will live among us. (Rev. 21:22)

In that day ...

March 11 - Jesse's Branch

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

March 11 - Jesse's Branch - Isaiah 11:1-16

Hmmm ... sorry 'bout that, I just had "Jesse's Girl" (1981) by Rick Springfield go through my head AND I have memories of Jesse Katsopolis from "Full House." It's going to take me a moment to track back a few thousand years to David's father, Jesse, who is the real reference of this passage.

Jesus calls Himself this root in Revelation 22:16 and Isaiah 11:1-5 offers a description of the coming Messiah. Isaiah would probably have based some of this on God's promise to David in 2 Samuel 7:16 that a descendant of his would rule over his kingdom.

The Peacable Kingdom. Isaiah 11:6-9. This is another of my favorite passages. I remember my mother quoting this often. The peace that it brings to mind is so calming. It ends with, "They will neither harm nor destroy on all my holy mountain, for the earth will be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea."

A second exodus. A second time for God to rescue His people from bondage. But, this time the Messiah will stand as the banner and not only will the remnant of His people be reclaimed, but Gentiles as well. Israel and Judah will reunite after centuries (by this point) of division. (Isaiah 11:10-13)

Not only will God gather His people from all over the world, but He will again cause a river to be spread out so that people can cross it (Isaiah 11:15)

The highway is one of Isaiah's favorite images. The righteous will have a smooth place on which to walk (Isaiah 26:7), the prophecy that John the Baptist calls out says that he is "A voice of one calling: 'In the desert prepare the way for the Lord; make straight in the wilderness a highway for our God.'" (Isaiah 40:3), " And a highway will be there; it will be called the Way of Holiness. The unclean will not journey on it; it will be for those who walk in that Way; wicked fools will not go about on it."

Isaiah saw that God's highway would be holy and that His sinful children would one day walk on that highway.

March 10 - I'd hate to be Assyrian

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

March 10 - I'd hate to be Assyrian - Isaiah 10:1-34

Actually, I'd hate to be anyone who decides to move against the Lord God Almighty. As I read through this book, I see Isaiah pleading with the people around him to pay attention to the decrees of the Lord and they not only refuse, but find all sorts of ways to be disobedient. Max often comments that there is no limit to the perversion of mankind. He's right! Look what we have going on here and this is among God's people!

Unjust and oppressive laws coming from lawmakers. These rob oppressed people of justice and prey on widows and orphans. There was no one to stand up to this. No one but Isaiah and several other prophets who were willing to stand before these criminals and tell them that the Lord would make them pay for their activities (Isaiah 10:1-4).

God was more than willing to use Assyria. They are the rod of His anger and the club of His wrath. God said that Israel was a godless nation and the people angered him. (Isaiah 10:5-6)

If Assyria simply intended to act as the bringer of God's wrath that would have been enough, but no, they intended to do far more than that and God would punish them. The Assyrians wanted to come into Jerusalem and destroy it as they had Samaria (the capital of Israel). (Isaiah 10:7-11)

Because the king of Assyria was prideful and refused to acknowledge the power of the Lord God, there would be punishment. Who of us has not taken pride in the things that we do? In the deepest, darkest corners of our minds, do we believe that we alone are responsible for things because of our strength and our wisdom? The king of Assyria saw the ease with which he plundered nations - as easy as gathering eggs. (Isaiah 10:12-14)

God promised punishment and it would come (Isaiah 10:15-19).

The remnant.

Isaiah 10:20 begins to talk about the remnant of Israel (the northern Kingdom). Even though they were broken by the Assyrians and exiled throughout the region, there would be some who would remember and would return to the Mighty One. (Isaiah 10:20-23)

For those who live in Zion - the Southern Kingdom - Judah, the Lord would soon remove His anger from them and go after Assyria. He had already told Judah that He was on their side. Even though they pass near Jerusalem (Isaiah 10:32) they will not be able to destroy it. They will be destroyed instead. (Isaiah 10:24-34)

Warnings ... Destruction ... Hope. How far would they push God? How far will we push Him?

March 9 - To Us a Child is Born

Monday, March 9, 2009

March 9 - To Us a Child is Born - Isaiah 9:1-21

Isaiah often moved back and forth between words of hope & blessing and words of judgment. We find both in this chapter. He even announces the change in perspective in the first verse by saying, "Nevertheless."

The first half of this chapter is completely taken up with the announcement of the coming of the child-Messiah. Matthew used part of this chapter in Matthew 4:15-16 when describing the beginning of Jesus' ministry in the region of Galilee. Zebulun and Naphtali represented the northern kingdom which fell to Tiglath-Pileser III. Under Gentile domination, it becae known as Galilee of the Gentiles. The 'way of the sea' is the international highway that ran through this region. This was how the Assyrians had such easy access to the Northern Kingdom. (Isaiah 9:1)

Isaiah 9:2-3 describes the dawning of a new day when the Messiah would bring light back to a fallen nation and the battle of Midian from Isaiah 9:4-5 is the story of the nation's deliverance by Gideon in Judges 7:1-24.

Isaiah then goes on to describe 5 things about the coming Messiah. He would be a child, born to the nation of Israel under the Covenant. He will rule over not only Israel, but also the entire world. There are four descriptive words to describe His character: Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Seated on David's throne, His rule will be eternal. This will all be accomplished by the zeal of the Lord Almighty. (Isaiah 9:6-7)

The Messiah is promised ... He is coming!

In the final portion of this chapter, Isaiah tries to warn Judah using the Northern Kingdom as an example. Ephraim has not fallen yet, but Isaiah wants the people of Judah to listen to his words. If they act as Israel/Ephraim did, they will face the same fate.

We see terrible things coming to the Northern Kingdom (Isaiah 9:8-12) and we see that the Lord is furious. But, the people refuse to seek the Lord. (Isaiah 9:13)

So, the Lord will cut Israel off. He is furious with the leaders that have taken his people into this catastrophe and the prophets who lie to them. But, that doesn't remove the responsibility from the people, for everyone is ungodly and wicked, every mouth speaks vileness. (Isaiah 9:14-17)

The final verses of this chapter show a nation imploding. They have brought this on themselves and what's more, they battle against each other. (Isaiah 9:18-21)

Isaiah has more to say ... will they listen? Will we?

March 8 - Signs & Symbols

Sunday, March 8, 2009

March 8 - Signs & Symbols - Isaiah 8:1-22

I'd really be interested in knowing whether or not any of you heard the Lord telling you to write a name on a piece of poster board and then later, heard the Lord tell you that was the name you were to give your son. The name that Isaiah was given for his second son meant, "quick to the plunder, swift to the spoil" and was the promise that Aram and Ephraim would fall to Assyria. (Isaiah 8:1-4)

Because Israel chose to align itself with Aram rather than Judah (Jerusalem's water came from the pool of Siloam or Shiloah), Assyria was seen as the mighty floodwaters of the Euphrates. And because King Ahaz of Judah had not fully trusted the Lord, it would sweep on into Judah. Through all of that, though, men's plans would be thwarted. Why? Isaiah says, "For God is with us." (Isaiah 8:5-10)

Isaiah spent so much time with the Lord, he was able to make very personal observations. For instance, Isaiah 8:11, "The Lord spoke to me with his strong hand upon me, warning me not to follow the way of the people." When Isaiah heard these words coming from the Lord, he also felt the presence of God's hand upon him.

Do you find yourself tossed back and forth from fear to fear? Do you watch the news and react to everything you read or hear? Do you spread the fear to others? These verses in Isaiah will call you to task.

Are you better served by fearing what mankind puts before you or is your time better spent hearing from the Lord? Well, though the answer is obvious, we tend to ignore it.

"The Lord Almighty is the one you are to regard as holy, he is the one you are to fear, he is the one you are to dread, and he will be a sanctuary; but for both houses of Israel he will be a stone that causes men to stumble and a rock that makes them fall. And for the people of Jerusalem he will be a trap and a snare. Many of them will stumble; they will fall and be broken, they will be snared and captured." (Isaiah 8:12-15)

Jesus would be known as this stone (Luke 2:34, Rom. 9:33, 1 Peter 2:8). Those who aren't ready to trust in the Lord should definitely be ready to fall splat on their face when they trip over the stone that He has laid in front of them. When we choose to put our fear in man rather than in the Lord, we make a dreadful mistake.

Isaiah says in Isaiah 8:20-22, "If they do not speak according to this word (the law), they have no light of dawn ... then they will look toward the earth and see only distress and darkness and fearful gloom, and they will be thrust into utter darkness."

Will you wait for the Lord? Or will you follow all of the conspiracies, read about fear and dread in the newspapers? Will you put your trust in Him?

March 7 - Immanuel

Saturday, March 7, 2009

March 7 - Immanuel - Isaiah 7:1-25

The northern country of Israel and Aram had formed an alliance against Assyria. They had asked King Ahaz to join them, but he refused. Consequently, they attacked. If your Bible translation reads "Ephraim" in Isaiah 7:2, that is the same thing as Israel. When the northern tribes united, they went by either name as a kingdom.

Ephraim (Israel) and Aram united and as a force tried to march against Jerusalem. This panicked the people and King Ahaz. (Isaiah 7:2) But, the Lord told Isaiah to take his son Shear-Jashub (a remnant will return) and go out to Ahaz. Isaiah was to comfort him and assure him that they would not fall to the invaders.

God says that these are only men ... but, if Ahaz can't stand firm in his faith, he won't stand at all. (Isaiah 7:7-9)

And then, the Lord asks for proof of his faith. "Ask the Lord your God for a sign, whether in the deepest depths or in the highest heights." Ahaz quotes Deuteronomy 6:16 when he says "I will not ask; I will not put the Lord to the test." (Isaiah 7:10-12). These are the same words that Jesus quotes when Satan confronts him in Matthew 4:7.

Isaiah catches Ahaz's intent immediately. He sounds like he's being humble before the Lord, but in reality, he's scared to death and truly doesn't trust that the Lord will follow through! I can imagine that many of us have wanted to shout these words in the past, "Is it not enough to try the patience of men? Will you try the patience of my God also? (Isaiah 7:13)

Isaiah goes on to speak words that we know intimately. "Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son and will call him Immanuel." (Isaiah 7:14)

The word used here for 'virgin' is a word that can mean either young maiden or virgin. The Greek Septuagint translated it as virgin and used the same word when describing Mary .

Many times Old Testament prophecy had a two-fold meaning. The first would impact the listeners immediately, yet it would also hold true far into the future. Isaiah was telling Ahaz that a young woman would give birth to a child who would not be very old when the kings of Aram and Ephraim would break their alliance (Isaiah 7:15-17).

The alliance was broken in 732 bc when the Assyrian king Tigleth Pileser defeated Aram. Ahaz went to visit him and saw an altar in Damascus that he liked (2 Kings 16:7-10). God ... and Isaiah were furious with him. Although Judah did not fall to Assyria, she had to pay a heavy tribute. Isaiah foresaw this.

The prophecies in Isaiah 7:18-25 are horrendous. Shame followed any Israelite who allowed their head to be shaved. Assyria was the razor that would shave the hair from Judah. And though abundance of milk sounds like a good thing, it's not ... for that means that there are not enough animals to consume it. Honey would be plentiful because instead of crops in the fields, wildflowers would abound and bee swarms would be everywhere.

Isaiah saw the end of Judah. Ahaz had not yet turned completely against the Lord, but he was certainly treading into dangerous places.

March 6 - I Saw the Lord

Friday, March 6, 2009

March 6 - I Saw the Lord - Isaiah 6:1-13

A lifetime of serving the Lord ... "Until the cities lie ruined ... the houses are left deserted ... fields ruined and ravaged, until the Lord has sent everyone far away and the land is utterly forsaken." (Isaiah 6:11-12) How long shall I serve you, Isaiah asked? That long. Would you give up everything that you know to serve the Lord?

This chapter is filled with visions of glory, and a commission greater than any of us has ever experienced.

My dad talked about his ordination ... it was a pretty big deal. The Bishop and the Cabinet came to a small town in Iowa to lay hands on Dad as he knelt at the altar, commissioning him into the service of the Lord within the United Methodist Church. But there were no angels to touch his lips with a burning coal, no one expected him to throw himself on the altar with cries of his unworthiness. This was 1960, not 739 bc and while Dad was answering a call that God had placed on his heart, he was not caught up into a vision and was not expected to be the prophet for God's people.

Isaiah was. This commissioning ... from the Lord Himself gave Isaiah the permission and power to speak to the nation of Judah with words of condemnation and hope from the Lord on High!

First he was caught up into a most amazing vision.

"I saw the Lord seated on a throne, high and exalted, and the train of his robe filled the temple." (Isaiah 6:1)

Can you see that? Take just a moment to allow the glory of that image to overwhelm you.

Now, add 6 seraphs (angels), each with six wings. This might be a little more difficult to imagine unless you have an artistic mind. But, give it a shot. You might find that you have more in you than you know!

"With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they were flying." (Isaiah 6:2)

Think about that for a moment - see these 6 angels flying - surrounding this great throne. Everything is filled with light ... the Lord is in His temple ... the train of His robe ... fills that temple!

"And they were calling to one another: Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory." At the sound of their voices the doorposts and thresholds shook and the temple was filled with smoke." (Isaiah 6:3-4)

Isaiah's senses were on overload. Smell the smoke, hear the sound of the voices and sense the trembling of the threshold. See the Lord before you.

How could any normal man be worthy to be in the presence of the Lord? Isaiah knew that he wasn't. "Woe is me!" he cried. "I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the Lord Almighty." (Isaiah 6:5)

He knew that no man can look on the face of God and live. But, God was not prepared for him to die. God wanted more from this man. An angel flew to Isaiah with a live coal from the altar. He touched Isaiah's mouth ... removing the guilt and granting atonement for his sin. Isaiah was clean.

When the Lord asked who it was that could go out into the world, Isaiah knew that he was prepared. Could anyone be more prepared?

"Here I am. Send me." (Isaiah 6:8)

What is God calling you to do? You aren't here to do nothing. Have you asked Him lately? Are you prepared? Can you cry out to the Lord, "Here I am. Send me."?

March 5 - Woe!

Thursday, March 5, 2009

March 5 - Woe! - Isaiah 5:1-30

As I read the opening verses of this chapter, I just want to weep for what could have been. Do you see the depth of love the Lord has for His people? Do you sense the extent of His desire for a relationship with them?

Isaiah 5:4 asks, "what more could have been done for my vineyard than I have done for it?" Yet the vineyard yielded only bad grapes. The vineyard is Israel and the men of Judah are the garden of his delight (Isaiah 5:7). Instead of justice and righteousness, the Lord found bloodshed and cries of distress.

There are six 'Woes' in Isaiah 5:8-23. These are just a sampling of the evils that Judah has allowed in, not the entire list. The first shows that Judah has completely ignored the property law from Leviticus 25:23. All land is to revert to original owners in the Year of Jubilee. But, rich men have swept in and taken land from the poor by fraud. (Isaiah 5:8-10)

The second Woe regards drunken partygoers. They get up early in the morning to begin drinking and stay up late into the night. They are so out of it that they can't even consider the Lord. (Isaiah 5:11-17)

Woe to those who speak lightly of the Lord and think that they can get away with it. They want God to fix everything that they themselves have broken, they want the Lord to show up and do His thing without taking any responsibility for their own actions. Let the plan of the Holy One come? They do not know what they are asking for! (Isaiah 5:18-19)

Deceit is the fourth Woe. In many cases it is what we know as 'being politically correct.' You can call something by another name, but evil remains evil and good is still good. (Isaiah 5:20)

The fifth Woe is pride. Instead of asking for God's help, men believe that we are better equipped to answer our own needs and giving advice to each other. (Isaiah 5:21)

The final Woe in this section is Injustice. Judges who are responsible for the law are more interested in parties and drinking with their friends than in handling their proper responsibilities. They free the guilty and imprison the innocent for a little bit of money. (Isaiah 5:22-25)

The warning has been made clear. In Isaiah 5:5, the people are warned that the hedge of protection will be removed from around them and in these final verses, they are told that not only will the protection be removed, but God will call in the nations to seize their prey.

Warren Wiersbe says, "God was serious about the nation's sin. If they would not repent and accept his offer of pardon (Isaiah 1:18), then all he could do was send judgment." (Be Comforted, Warren W. Wiersbe)


March 4 - Tribulation ... then Hope

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

March 4 - Tribulation ... then Hope - Isaiah 3:1-4:6

Isaiah continues to prophesy about Jerusalem and Judah. Much of this chapter regards the time when Babylon will destroy the land.

Before we look at what is going to happen, read why it is going to happen in Isaiah 3:8-9. We become so complacent in our relationships that we forget who is watching us. God is always watching! In these two verses, the things that the Israelites are doing tend to be things that we are just as guilty of: speaking against the Lord - maybe it's just claiming our own sovereignty over our lives, defying his glorious presence, parading sin like Sodom - we tend to find ways to justify sin - if we have to justify it ... it's still sin. These people, much like we are today, were very open about their sin.

In Isaiah 3:14-15, we find more reasons that the Lord is angry. They have ruined his vineyard - that is - His people. They distorted the message of the Lord so much that those who were searching for the truth couldn't find it. Today it is obviously found in hypocrites and those that use religion to make a quick dollar. In verse 15, he says that they are crushing his people. Not only that, but they are stealing from the poor and keeping it for themselves! I would wonder if the extreme materialism we live in today while there are people with no food for dinner would constitute this level of the Lord's anger.

Moving on to Isaiah 3:16 we find that the women are parading around drawing attention to their bodies. Their necks are outstretched, they flirt and 'trip along with mincing steps.' (that's awesome)

What is going to happen? Things are going to get so bad that the leaders will lose their positions and mere children will be running things. If you simply have a cloak, you can take charge - but, all that you will have charge of is ruins. (Isaiah 3:1-7)

Isaiah 3:11-12 tells us that the inexperienced will be in charge and by the time we read through to Isaiah 3:26-4:1, we find that things are in such bad shape, women are reducing themselves to polygamy so that they have some sort of protection from the world.

In that day

But, there is hope. Isaiah interjects a ray of hope in Isaiah 4:2-6. The branch of the Lord is a Messianic title for Jesus. Those who are left in Zion, who remain in Jerusalem, will be called holy. It isn't about wealth or prestige. The cleansing will be done by the Lord - not by anything that mankind can do.

He will bring shelter and protection. He will be a refuge and hiding place.

March 3 - Take refuge!

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

March 3 - Take refuge! - Isaiah 2:1-22

Take a few minutes to compare Isaiah 2:2-4 and Micah 4:1-3. Interesting, eh? Scholars have debated whether there was a third source for these words, if Micah copied this from Isaiah or the other way around, or did God actually give the same words to both prophets. Any of these could be a possibility, but what stands is that this is a profound Word of God that describes the last days.

Isaiah 2:6-9 should scare each of us as we read them. It is readily apparent that Isaiah's words fit our time as well as any other. Superstitions from the east, divination, prosperity, machines of war, self-preservation and idolizing the work that we do. All of these things lead to Isaiah 2:9 "So man will be brought low and mankind humbled." I know of no one (including myself) that can avoid the shame that will be brought by our focus on at least one of these things. It is much, much too easy to be caught up in the belief structure that the world teaches.

And please, do not fool yourself by judging someone else ... I know that I dare not. All I can do is ask forgiveness and look for repentance! Because as Isaiah continues, arrogance and pride will be brought low.

The Lord alone will be exalted in that day. (Isaiah 2:11b, 17b). Isaiah repeats those words. He also repeats the words, "...from dread of the Lord and the splendor of his majesty!" (Isaiah 2:10, 21b).

The mountain of the Lord ... lifted high above any other. The Lord alone will be exalted. We will hide from the dread of the Lord and the splendor of His majesty! We have raised ourselves above all else. We allow God a little bit of our time. What are we thinking?!?! This is the Creator! You should hear that name spoken in your mind with a loud, booming, thunderous voice. He is above all things. He is above your schedules and your fears, your plans and even your family! All things.

And yet ... we place all things in front of Him ... not before Him. All of the things that we worship instead of God. Is it no wonder that these prophecies still ring throughout the ages?

Flee! Hide! Take refuge!

Jesus said that we would say to the mountains, "Fall on us!" and to the hills, "Cover us!" in Luke 23:30 as he was quoting from this chapter.

In Revelation 6:12-14, John watched as the sixth seal was opened. Earthquakes, blackened sun, bloodred moon, stars falling from the sky, mountains and islands removed from their places all heralded the end of days.

Read these words from Revelation 6:15-17, "Then the kings of the earth, the princes, the generals, the rich, the mighty, and every slave and every free man hid in caves and among the rocks of the mountains. They called to the mountains and the rocks, 'Fall on us and hide us from the face of him who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb! For the great day of their wrath has come, and who can stand?'"

Isaiah prophesied about the last days. John saw the revelation of Jesus Christ. Jesus himself, spoke of these days. Whether they happen tomorrow, in several years, or in several hundred years ... we have to answer for our own actions. The people of Judah faced certain doom because of their refusal to obey their God ... can we expect any less?

March 2 - The Gavel Sounds ... Guilt is Proclaimed

Monday, March 2, 2009

March 2 - The Gavel Sounds ... Guilt is Proclaimed - Isaiah 1:2-31

A hush falls over the courtroom, everyone stands and the Judge enters. He convenes his court.

"Hear, O heavens! Listen O earth! For the Lord has spoken: I reared children and brought them up, but they have rebelled against me." (Isaiah 1:2)

The charges are set forth in the next passage (Isaiah 1:3-8). Israel isn't even as obedient animals such as the ox and donkey. They are a sinful nation, loaded with guilt and have turned their backs on the Lord. Not only that, but they have rebelled against the covenant the the Lord made with them.

Isaiah 1:5-6 describes the autopsy of the nation, while Isaiah 1:7-8 describes a ravaged battlefield. His words in Isaiah 1:9 would have shocked the readers. They could never imagine being compared to Sodom and Gomorrah.

The Lord presents His case in Isaiah 1:10-15. Though the people are religious, because of their rebellion, it means nothing to Him. If you read through this passage, take a few moments to identify how these same sins are prevalent in today's society. Can you see how nothing has changed in thousands of years?

But, the book of Isaiah was not written to bring judgment down on God's people. It was written to bring them to repentance. Throughout this book, we will read the Lord's anger, but we will also discover that Isaiah teaches repentance, forgiveness and offers hope.

This is found right away. In Isaiah 1:16-17, the Lord offers ways for the people to repent. Remember, 'repentance' means to turn away. 'Stop doing wrong, learn to do right."

One of my favorite passages (I will have a lot in this book, so bear with me) comes next. Isaiah 1:18, " 'Come now, let us reason together,' says the Lord. 'Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be as wool.'"

The word 'reason' in that verse is actually a word that means 'to decide a case in court.' The Lord is offering pardon. All we have to do is be willing and obedient. Can we do that?

The obvious answer looks as if it is 'no.' As you read to the end of the chapter (Isaiah 1:19-31), there doesn't seem to be much hope until punishment is meted out by the judge.

God's people have deliberately spurned their Lord. They made choices to worship other gods and follow after the ways of the nations that surround them. Isaiah is calling out ... pleading with them to repent and to turn back to the Covenant that was established in Exodus 19-20.

And you ... me ... do you see yourself in this chapter? It is so much easier to follow the ways of the world that surrounds us. We worship God on Sunday morning for an hour or two and then turn away from Him during the rest of the week.

Isaiah's words have come down through the eons to call us and plead with us to repent and turn back.