Saturday, June 21, 2014

This Week in Isaiah (30-50)

This week I am posting from Palau where we are participating in the PIU Annual Board of Trustees meeting and celebrating the Palau Gospel Days. I have still been able to post my daily Facebook readings (not always as early in the morning as usual). Isaiah is an artistic writer, who uses several different styles of literature to make basically the same point throughout the book. God has proven Himself over and over to be the only One who is reliable and powerful enough to trust as God. Idolatry (creature worship) is foolish when you can worship and rely on the Creator. Smith sees the action of God in destroying the 185,000 soldiers of the invading Assyrian army in 701 BC as a pivotal event in the message of the book. If God can do that, he has shown that he can be trusted. God is the all-powerful Creator of everything who loves and forgives those who place their allegiance in Him. The proper response must be trust no matter what the circumstances.

Quotes are from the New American Commentary Isaiah by Gary Smith….

Although positive messages of hope are much more encouraging and enjoyable to hear, the truth should always be valued above a deceptive lie that lulls one to sleep... The Holy God requires righteous behavior, holy living, obedience to his instructions, and trust in his deliverance, but Isaiah’s audience just did not want to be reminded of these things. In many ways things are not much better than in the days of Isaiah. People still want to follow their own plans, not God’s. Isaiah 30.8-11, 515.

What does one have to do to truly trust God? Isaiah indicates the people need to (a) repent of their present rebellious acts; (b) rest securely in God’s salvation; (c) be calm rather than fearful; (d) rely on God’s heroic strength; and (e) stop trusting in human power... Faith is not blind acceptance of something totally unknown; it is a confident relational walk based on spiritual knowledge that directs the will to act in reliance on the character and promises of someone who sovereignly controls this world. Isaiah 30, 527–528.

God’s messengers need to present people with a sure hope to give people real security.
The theological principle that Isaiah teaches is that true security and peace are by-products of righteous living, and righteous living is made possible through the gift of God’s Spirit and the rule of his just king. Isaiah 32, 548.

Righteousness involves right actions in social relationships, but also straight talk that is consistent with the truth. These positive criteria are not limited solely to behavior in courts of law, for righteous action should be a characteristic that transforms a person’s behavior in every area of life.  Isaiah 33.15, 559.

Isaiah emphasizes that “faith” is not just rituals of worship or assent to principles. Instead it is a living, active allegiance to God and His agenda in daily life. It involves actions of love (righteousness) that serve God’s people

Many times God simply acts out of inexplicable divine grace that fits his eternal plans and his present purposes. No rational explanation is available; but a proper response is appropriate. When God stretches out his hand to carry out his gracious will, people need to humbly bow and acknowledge where their help has come from. Isaiah 31, 536.

However, we cannot put God in a human box. Often his actions are inscrutable. Our actions do not bind God to a certain response. He will always act according to His character, but we do not fullt understand it. Sometimes God’s blessing happens just because He is gracious.

It is important to recognize that this desolate state will be the fate of all the great civilizations that continue to oppose God. No one and nothing will remain; people, places, palaces, and power will not survive the wrath of God.  Isaiah 34.15, 575.

The theological principle here is that everyone should be encouraged to experience the salvation of God, no matter how weak or blind they are. God is not only able to remove blindness and strengthen the weak; he will also miraculously open the eyes of many. Isaiah 35, 581.

It is never wise for anyone to depend on those who try to play God with other people’s lives and in the process blaspheme the name of God. Such situations give God an excellent opportunity to demonstrate his sovereignty. Isaiah 36, 607.

God’s offer of salvation is open to all, but judgment follows wrong choices. Those that oppress others and do not serve should expect God justice.

The story of Hezekiah does provide great encouragement for believers to trust God, but trusting God does not assure anyone that all their prayers will be answered with a miraculous work of divine deliverance...Faith is a commitment to trust the will of God for whatever he may ask one to experience; it is not a key that will force God’s hand to unlock his treasure house. Isaiah 37, 634–635.

Yes, God does miracles; he heals the sick and controls the solar system. He is the one that deserves all praise—when people are well, when they are sick, and when they die. He has a plan and all of his servants need to accept and follow his plan. Isaiah 38, 653–654.

Faith follows God because of who he is, not to get something from him.

The final Hezekiah narrative illustrates how easy it is for even the greatest of God’s people to momentarily slip in their thinking and do things that reveal an underlying trust in human attempts to control the world, rather than trusting in God’s sovereign plan to deal with threats and conflict. Isaiah 39, 660.

Even in the midst of great blessing, we can fall to the temptation to try to control and manage our lives without reliance on God.

The challenge is for Isaiah’s audience, and everyone who hears the prophet’s words today, to prepare their hearts to meet the Lord face to face. He offers comfort, forgiveness of sins, his holy presence, protection, gentle care, and an appropriate blessing of salvation. These factors should legitimate a decision by all hearers to respond positively to God’s compassionate grace. Isaiah 40.1-11, 101.

When trials and doubts arise, the people of God today must return to the foundation of their faith, the character of God that is revealed in Scripture. It pictures a great God who is worthy of trust. Isaiah 40.30-31, 123

Every person needs to examine their perception of God to make sure that it is not just an illusion that arises from one’s own philosophical presuppositions, modern cultural impressions, religious tradition, or personal desires. In this portion of Scripture the prophet reminds the reader about the true identity of God. Isaiah 41.25-29, 151–152.

We need to know God as revealed in His Word and respond with a faith that allows us to know him through experience as he works in our lives.

The Servant of the Lord sets an example and an ideal for every believer who desires to truly serve God. All of God’s servants are his special chosen vessels who are filled with his Spirit so that he can use them to accomplish his will on earth. All are upheld by his power and kept through his providence. All should be concerned to not break or discourage the weak. Isaiah 42.1-13, 174.

These theological struggles with God’s providential control of history only demonstrate how blind people are when it comes to understanding the ways of God. The fact is that God groans in agony and pain (42:14) as he watches his struggling people groan in agony and pain with the hard events in life. He will allow them to suffer, but he will not completely forsake them. Isaiah 43.1-7, 196.

Although everyone can rest assuredly that the future is securely in God’s hands, the present destiny of every generation is partially in their own hands. Every reader of the prophet’s words has the choice of responding to God’s offer to forgive their sins. Although some may refuse to repent and consequently suffer under the curse of God’s judgment, God’s gracious offer of forgiveness is available for all who will confess their sins and determine to live a life that honors God.  Isaiah 43.27-28, 217.

We serve God by serving people. God Himself serves us as a parent does with a child. God’s love and covenant commitment to us should encourage us to trust him.

Since every man-made source of meaning and security will result in failure and hopelessness, the only real solid hope for humanity is in God and his plans for this world. Isaiah 44.23, 240.

The message is clear to Hebrew and foreigners in both testaments. Everyone must make the important and practical decisions about God based on the knowledge that there will be a final day when every knee will bow before him. Isaiah 45.24-25, 282.

Although it may sometimes seem like this world is going to self-destruct because of the wars and terrible atrocities people inflict on one another, the world is not drifting aimlessly out of control toward a hopeless end. Kings and presidents may try to strategize and work together to direct the political affairs of the nations, but in reality it is the sovereign power of God’s hand that will bring his plans (not ours) to fruition. Isaiah 46.10, 292.

Not all paths lead to the same place in the afterworld. Therefore, people in every generation need to pay attention to the reality behind all religious claims so that they do not foolishly doubt or rebel against God’s plans and end up trusting in a religious system that offers only false hopes. Isaiah 47, 311.

This must be a key part of the “meta-narrative” of our world view. At some point we will give an account of our lives to God and the bottom line of that judgment will “did we serve him or serve ourselves.”

God calls for his people to listen to him, to hear him out, and respond accordingly. If they would just take into consideration who God is (the Creator, Lord of history, Redeemer, Holy One, Teacher, and Leader), then God would be able to pour out his blessing on his people. Unfortunately, many times people miss the blessings God has prepared for them (48:18–20) simply because they do not listen and respond appropriately. Isaiah 48, 333–334.

Although life may be difficult today, on some tomorrow God will bring about a new day when his enemies will be defeated and every person on earth will acknowledge and glorify the God of Israel. That future hope motivates every believer to not give up hope because of the trials and tribulations of this present age. Isaiah 50.1-3, 377.

The prayer of all believers should be that God would open their ears to new ways of understanding and applying what God has communicated in his word.  Isaiah 50,5, 381.

It is an amazing thing to me that the LORD and creator of this universe cares about me and wants to have a relationship with me. He wants to bless me as I bless the people around me.

No comments: