Sunday, September 11, 2011

September 11- Can The Living Find Out The Future From The Dead?

September 11, 2011

Scripture Reading:
Isaiah 8:1-9:21; 2 Corinthians 12:1-10;
Psalm 55:1-23; Proverbs 23:4-5

Isaiah 8:1-9:21

Have you ever seen a television psychic work with an audience?  I was watching a show once that had a psychic on.  I was struck by how the whole audience wanted to speak with someone they loved who had died.  This is completely understandable, although forbidden by Scripture.  It is hard to lose communication with someone that you care about.  In today's reading, Isaiah is dealing with taking on the position of telling the people of Judah and Jerusalem what will happen to them in the future.  As a true prophet, he is God's mouthpiece of warning.  Isaiah is working to get the people to stop consulting the dead in order to find out the future.  He is admonishing them to listen to God for what the future holds and to stop their practice of using psychics and mediums.

The first proof that Isaiah gives of his authenticity as a prophet is that he predicts the name of his son, who gets his name from God before he is born.  He puts his son's name on a sign board and shows Uriah and Zechariah the board prior to even sleeping with his wife. The son is born and the Lord tells Isaiah to name him- Maher-shalalhash-baz. Isaiah has literally put out a sign that he and his son are a sign to the nation.  Isaiah means "The Lord is Salvation."  His son's name means "swift to plunder, quick to spoil."  Although this sounds like it is a description of what the Assyrians will be like in judgment, my study sources indicate that this is a reference to God defending those who are His own people, the nation of Israel.

Isaiah is giving these prophesies during the reign of evil King Ahaz.  The first prophecy is that the Northern Kingdom would be invaded by Assyria.  The Assyrian Empire was a mighty flood at that time.  This flood would overflow into Damascus and Samaria and carry away their riches ( Vs. 4). The same flood will overwhelm Judah because they have rejected the gentle care of God.

The Lord personally encourages Isaiah not to fear any person. Isaiah is to fear the Lord, alone.  God presents Isaiah with the same concept that He gave to Moses in Moses' final song to the nation of Israel before they marched into the Promised Land.  He identifies Himself as a stone.  Listen to Verses 14-15,
"But to Israel and Judah he will be a stone that causes people to stumble and a rock that makes them fall. And for the people of Jerusalem he will be a trap that entangles them. Many of them will stumble and fall, never to rise again. Many will be captured."
This pre-dates the words of the Apostle Peter in 1 Peter 2:4-8, where Peter discusses Christ being the stone that the builders rejected and he has become the cornerstone and a stone that causes people to stumble and a rock that makes them fall.

Isaiah was to record these words for a future generation according to Isaiah 8:16.  The Lord then argues that His words are trustworthy and true.  They will come to pass.

Chapter 9 of Isaiah begins God's turn from predicting judgment upon Israel to revealing His solution for the problem of sin. Isaiah 9:1 states, "Nevertheless, that time of darkness and despair will not go on forever."

Here is where we have a prediction that the Messiah will come from Galilee of the Gentiles (Vs. 1). In addition, Jesus is described as a great light that shines in the darkness.  His birth is quickly meshed with his millennial reign on earth, as Isaiah describes a day of peace where no battle gear is issued.  This occurs in Christ's earthly reign.  Verse 6 of chapter 9 is the Scripture passage associated with Christmas when we celebrate Christ's birth,
"For unto us a child is born, a son is given to us. And the government shall be on his shoulders. He shall be called: Wonderful Counselor, Might God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace."
It goes on to say that He will rule with fairness and justice from the throne of David, forever.  The passionate commitment of the Lord Almighty will guarantee this!  What a beautiful promise to a nation that is facing God's judgment.  What a beautiful promise to you and I, who also face judgment for our sins, unless we have accepted Christ's sacrifice for our sins.

Isaiah goes from this comforting passage to predict that God's fist is poised to strike against Israel.  God is laying out the story of Israel's punishment for sin and then, redemption through her Messiah.

Have you escaped God's judgment by resting in the work of Jesus Christ on the cross?  Is Jesus the cornerstone of your faith or a stumbling block to faith for you?  Do you believe that he will reign on earth in a time of peace?  Does this truth change the way you intend to live on this earth during your lifetime?

2 Corinthians 12:1-10

Paul is like Isaiah in that he has been given visions in order to spread God's truth on earth.  Today, as Paul has bragged about his suffering for God, he now adds the distinction of having a grand vision from God. 

Paul explains that fourteen years prior he was caught up in the third heaven.  We can only assume that this is above the sky and above our atmosphere.  He does not know if he was in his body or only in his spirit, but he does know that he was in paradise.  His reaction is to say that he heard things so wonderful that he cannot repeat them aloud.  To me, this is proof of the reality.  His realization from the experience was to see his own weakness before God.  This is a similar reaction to what Isaiah felt when he had his vision from God.  Any true encounter with the Creator leaves the creature in a state of realizing his/her inadequacy.

Paul explains that because of the privilege of having this vision, he was given a "thorn in the flesh" or physical ailment to keep him weak and humble.  This illness would cause Paul to not get puffed up with pride, but instead, be forced to rely on God in his life.  Paul has perspective.  We all need this type of perspective.

Has God given you a thorn in the flesh in order to force you to rely on Him?  This is one of the ways God works in our lives.  This is what the Scripture is explaining to us.  Paul gives us the clue to good Christian living in 2 Corinthians 2:10 (NLT),
"Since I know it is all for Christ's good, I am quite content with my weaknesses and with insults, hardships, persecution, and calamities.  For when I am weak, then I am strong."  
Do you share this sentiment?

Psalm 55:1-23

Verse 22 tells us a key to what David has learned, "give your burdens to the Lord, and he will take care of you."  Peter also speaks of this in 1 Peter 5:7. Both Isaiah and Paul express this today.  Only fear God, not men.

Proverbs 23:4-5

Don't weary yourself trying to get rich.  Riches don't last anyway.

What did you learn today?


Jubilee Gal
Kathy Fullerton

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