Isaiah 39:1-41:16; Ephesians 1:1-23;
Psalm 66:1-20; Proverbs 23:25-28
In our reading today we see that in God's economy, He is in control of everything that happens on this earth. For God there are no surprises. In His graciousness, He has revealed His secret plans for the universe to mankind through the Bible. As we read today, Isaiah is given information on some things that had not occurred in Isaiah's day, but have already happened in our day. God also tells Isaiah information on future events that have not happened yet on earth. Without trickery or deceit, we are able to learn God's secret plans for this universe.
Chapter 39: Hezekiah's Bragging Has Consequences
Hezekiah has had quite a life so far. He has been a good king in Israel. He has shunned idolatry and promoted reconciling the people back to the One True God. With wisdom and prayer, he avoided an alliance with Egypt and relied on God to defeat the Assyrians. His fervent prayers to God even resulted in his healing from a deathly illness. It is with sadness that we see Hezekiah give into pride and haughtiness at the end of his life. Having recently been healed by God, Hezekiah receives a congratulatory visit from representatives from the king of Babylon. Hezekiah enthusiastically greets his visitors and proceeds to show them all of the riches acquired during the reigns of David and Solomon. The wealth of Israel is at its zenith. Hezekiah is filled with pride as he shows off his possessions.
Shortly after his brag-fest, Isaiah comes to Hezekiah with a gloomy prophecy from God. Here it is,
"The time is coming when everything you have-all the treasures stored up by your ancestors will be carried off to Babylon. Nothing will be left, says the Lord. Some of your own descendants will be taken away into exile. They will become eunuchs who will serve in the palace of Babylon's king." (Isaiah 39:6-7)Amazingly, we see that Hezekiah is not only prideful, he is also self-centered. His reaction is to be glad that this exile will not happen during his lifetime! Once again, we see that the Bible is a book that shows us the good, the bad, and the ugly.
Chapter 40: A Word of Comfort After A Hard Prophecy- God is in control of Creation
Verses 3-5 are some of the most famous verses in the Bible. These verses are quoted in all four gospel accounts as a description of what John the Baptist was saying as he ministered in Israel. Here are the verses,
"Listen! I hear a voice shouting in the wilderness. Make a straight, smooth road through the desert for our God. Fill the valleys and level the hills. Straighten out the curves and smooth off the rough spots. Then, the glory of the Lord will be revealed, and all people will see it together. The Lord has spoken!"You may remember that this is a description of creating a king's highway. When a king travelled throughout his kingdom, the roads were leveled and made smooth for his journey. John the Baptist is encouraging people to repent of their sins as a means of making a straight path for King Jesus.
Isaiah is then told to shout. When he asks what he should shout, he is given a beautiful prophetic teaching about the nature of God and His relationship to His creation. Verses 6-31 have beautiful jewels of truth in them. We will review some of the wonderful revelations in this section.
- People fade like grass, but the word of the Lord lasts forever. Remember, God is His Logos or word, essence. Jesus is also the Logos. God lasts forever. Vs. 7-8
- The good news to Israel is...your God is coming. Vs. 9
- He will feed his flock like a shepherd and carry the lambs in his arms, close to his heart. This is a picture of protection and intimacy. Vs. 10-11
- He is able to accomplish this and know this will happen because He is creator of the earth. Vs. 12-17
- He has the oceans in His hands. He measures the heavens with His fingers. He knows the weight of the earth and the weight of the mountains.
- Isaiah reminds the Jews that no image on earth can sufficiently represent God's character or power. Idolatry is pointless. Vs. 18-20
- Isaiah indicates that the earth is a circle. This is a divine revelation to Isaiah about the shape of the earth, which was undiscovered at the time of this writing. Vs. 22
- God does not get tired or worn out, and no one can measure the depths of His understanding. Vs. 27
- But those who wait on the Lord will find new strength. They will fly high on the wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint. Vs. 31
Chapter 41- Good News-God is in control of human history
The beginning of this chapter is a picture of Christ as a righteous king who has victory over all of his enemies. God is in control of history and all of mankind are moving towards a final day of judgment. We are reminded in verse 4 that the Lord directs the affairs of each new generation. He is the First and the Last. God is the only constant in the universe.
God entreats Israel to not carve images to pray to, but trust Him alone with their future. He has chosen them and is with them. Here is a beautiful verse,
"Don't be afraid, for I am with you. Do not be dismayed for I am your God. I will strengthen you. I will help you. I will uphold you with my righteous right hand." Isaiah 41:10What a wonderful promise for all who have been chosen by God and trust in His power.
Do you find comfort in the idea that God controls the affairs of mankind?
Paul had a wonderful relationship with the church that he founded in Ephesus. Their devotion and maturity provide the background for a deep and intimate epistle. Paul is able to share his heart and the heart of God with the knowledge that his audience can absorb the truth.
Unlike the Corinthians, Paul is able to share the meat of spirituality and not just the mother's milk of God's truths. The spiritual maturity of the Ephesians allows for them to chew on harder concepts.
Paul begins with the idea that God's secret plan was designed long ago before the foundations of the world. One of those plans was to choose who would belong to Christ. His plan was to adopt chosen humans into his family by bringing them to God through Jesus Christ. This is a mystery and includes God choosing us and then we, in turn, choose God. This process gives God great pleasure.
Paul reminds the Ephesians that in God's great kindness, He purchases believers' freedom through the blood of his Son so that our sins are forgiven.
So God's plan for this universe has always been that He would give authority to Christ as ruler of the universe. His creation would praise Him eternally for His power and love. The Westminster Confession of Faith states that the chief end of man is to love God and enjoy Him forever. This is our purpose and why we were created.
We know we are part of God's family when we receive the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit acts as our guarantee and deposit on our future inheritance of eternal life with God. This is another reason to praise God.
Paul prays that the Ephesian church will grow in their knowledge of God. When their hearts are filled with light, they will have the capacity to understand the future that God has promised to those He has called. They will also begin to understand the incredible power available to them. It is the same power that raised Jesus from the dead. It is God's love.
Paul reminds the Ephesians that God has given Christ all authority. This confirms Isaiah's prophecy that we read today!! Paul emphasizes that Christ fills everything everywhere with His presence.
Do you believe these words? How can you conduct your life in a manner that reflects belief in these truths? Does it change any of your attitudes?
Verse 2 says, "Sing about the glory of His name. Tell the world how glorious he is!" This is what the Apostle Paul was saying was part of God's secret plan!
Make your parents proud by avoiding prostitutes. Good advice.
What did you learn today?