Isaiah 1:1-2:22; 2 Corinthians 10:1-18;
Psalm 52:1-9; Proverbs 22:26-27
I tell our runners to divide the race into thirds. Run the first part with your head,
the middle part with your personality and the last part with your heart.
the middle part with your personality and the last part with your heart.
Today, we begin the book of Isaiah. Isaiah's name means The Lord is Salvation. It is appropriate that he is named this because Isaiah is the prophet who tells us about the coming Messiah. Isaiah mentions salvation in his book twenty-six times. Isaiah is the most frequently quoted prophet in the New Testament (54 times), and Jesus particularly focused on the book of Isaiah when describing himself. Another interesting point about the book of Isaiah is that it is often called "The Little Bible." Just as the Bible has sixty-six books, Isaiah has sixty-six chapters. The theme of the Bible is salvation in Christ. Isaiah's theme is also salvation in Christ. The book of Isaiah begins with the problem of sin. The Bible begins in the Garden of Eden with the problem of sin entering the world. I believe you are get the point!
Isaiah prophesied during a critical time in the history of Israel. During his lifetime, the Northern Kingdom is in captivity under the Assyrians. The Southern Kingdom in Judah and Jerusalem are tempted to form alliances with Egypt and Syria. The influence of the prophet Isaiah prevented these human alliances and encouraged the nation to trust in God. Isaiah's godly influence also helped to prevent the Southern Kingdom's captivity by the Assyrians.
Isaiah prophesied during the reigns of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah. These were all kings of the Southern Kingdom. Isaiah was probably killed by Hezekiah's evil son King Manasseh. Although Isaiah is prophesying during the zenith in prosperity and political power of the kingdom, idolatry and the associated vices are also increasing. God's judgment upon these behaviors is imminent. The good news that Isaiah brings is that in the future, Israel and all of the world will receive salvation from their sins through the Messiah.
A very brief outline of the book of Isaiah brings us the following divisions:
I. Judgment, Chapters 1-35
II. Historic Interlude, Chapters 36-39
III. Salvation, Chapters 40-66
Okay, let's begin to analyze today's reading. We mentioned that the first part of Isaiah's book deals with God's Judgment. Today, chapter one is a call to the universe to witness God's charge against the nation of Israel.
Warning of Judgment (Chapter 1)
As Isaiah begins to write, the Northern Kingdom has been taken into captivity by Assyria. As the Bible tells us, this is due to Israel's rejection of God and pursuit of idolatry. Isaiah begins his prophecy by indicating that this particular vision is for Judah and Jerusalem (the Southern Kingdom). God states that He nourished and brought up a child who is rebelling against him. You may remember from Deuteronomy that the condition upon which the Jews were allowed to stay in The Promised Land was their obedience to God's Laws. In this opening statement, God is proving that He is just in removing the Israelites from the land because of their rebellion and sin.
The Israelites are compared to the rulers of Sodom and Gomorrah. God does not want to see the blood of their sacrifices and offerings, because these offerings were simply religious posturing. Their hypocrisy is causing God to look away as they lift their hands in prayer. God reminds them to learn to do good, seek justice, help the oppressed, defend the orphan, and fight for widows.
God must judge the nation's sins because of His holiness, but then we come to a beautiful section where God provides a solution for the problem of sin. Isaiah 1:18 states,
"Come now, let us reason together, says the Lord. 'No matter how deep the stain of your sins, I can remove it. I can make you as cleans as freshly fallen snow. Even if you are stained as red as crimson, I can make you as white as wool.'" (NLT)God emphasizes that He can take Jerusalem, which has become a religious prostitute, and make her a place that is once again called the Home of Justice and the Faithful City. This is God's heart and His ultimate will for this land on earth. God's resolution to His grand story will include the redemption of the land and the people. Sinners will be destroyed and the righteous will live. Next, we see that God gives Isaiah a vision of that future day.
The Last Days including The Millennial Kingdom and the Tribulation (Chapter 2)
This section begins with a description of the Temple of the Lord being rebuilt in Jerusalem and it becoming the most important place on earth. People from across the earth will come to this Temple to worship God. God will be there and will teach the people of the earth about Himself. The Lord will settle international disputes. Swords will be beaten into plowshares and there will be peace that is maintained because no weapons of war are allowed to be made. This is a description of Christ's earthly reign. You may remember God's promise to the people of Israel to have a king through the line of David that will rule on the earth for His people. When Christ came the first time, the Israelites initially looked to Jesus as a military and earthly ruler. Because that was not the intent of his first coming, Christ did not allow the people to elevate him to the position of an earthly king. How then does Israel ever receive her promise of an earthly king? Isaiah is describing how this fulfillment will occur. It is revealed in the Bible that the Jewish nation receives their earthly king and the fulfillment of that promise at Christ's second coming.
The Apostle Paul tells us in his writings that the Church of Christ, which includes the Gentile nations being grafted in, was a mystery that was only revealed in the New Testament. Therefore, we can be assured that this prophecy of the Millennial reign of Christ is directed to the nation of Israel and not the Church. The Great Tribulation period ends with Christ returning and setting up his earthly kingdom. His Church returns with Him to participate in this. This is what is meant by "in the last days." This is a reference to the last days of the nation of Israel on earth. Under this interpretation, the Church of Jesus Christ has been raptured prior to the Great Tribulation that occurs upon the earth. They return with Him to experience His earthly reign.
Chapter 2 Verses 6-22 begins a description of why Israel is rejected by God for a period of time. It describes the time in the Great Tribulation when mankind is brought low through God's judgment upon the pride of man, governments and society, military power, commerce and art, pride and pomp, and all false religions. This is prior to the Millennial Kingdom. People are described as trying to hide from the judgment of God by crawling into caves and hiding. We see this same description in the book of Revelation 6:15-16.
Isaiah admonishes the nations to not rely on human strength in the face of God's judgment. This ends this portion of Isaiah's vision.
Do you find the predictions of God's fulfillment of His promises to the nation of Israel exciting or disturbing? Have you established your own beliefs about the end times based on extensive study of God's Word?
2 Corinthians 10:1-18
It is interesting to note that people are commenting that the Apostle Paul was bold in his writings, but timid in person. Does that surprise you? It reminds me that Moses was considered meek. Paul is passionate about the Lord, but must have been meek in his demeanor.
We see that Paul is having to defend himself to the Corinthians because of other men who have ministries and are silver-tongued devils. It is hard to compete against charisma!
Paul concludes that anyone who boasts should only boast in what the Lord has done. Paul has the correct perspective. This is one of the keys to the Christian life. When faced with hardship like the Apostle Paul was facing, we must turn to the Word of God and get proper perspective.
Do you turn to the Bible to correct your thinking in a difficult situation and get proper perspective?
Here is David getting proper perspective in the face of enemies. This fits nicely with what the Apostle Paul was doing.
Don't co-sign a loan. This is good advice!
What did you learn today?