Category: Isaiah–BibleTrekToday

Don’t bet on the horses!

Scripture reading for July 25: Isaiah 31-35

“Woe to those who go down to Egypt for help, who rely on horses, who trust in the multitude of their chariots and in the great strength of their horsemen, but do not look to the Holy One of Israel or seek help from the Lord. Yet He too is wise and can bring disaster, He does not take back His words.  He will rise up against the house of the wicked, against those who help evildoers.  But the Egyptians are men and not God; their horses are flesh and not spirit. When the Lord stretches out His hand, he who helps will stumble, he who is helped will fall; both will perish together.”  Isaiah 31:1-3

Our city, state and nation are obsessed with gambling.  Our state governor and some elected officials are constantly trying to find a way to institute more revenue through gambling. Betting on the horses, casinos, lottery or any other human scheme is a futile endeavor.

Now I know that Isaiah wasn’t writing about gambling.  He wasn’t writing about horse racing either.  He was writing to God’s people who had a tendency to trust in man and man’s ways rather than in the Lord and His ways.  It was a problem in Isaiah’s day and is still a problem today.  Trusting in man and horse-power is folly.  Man and horses are flesh.  The flesh profits us nothing; it is the Spirit that will bring life and peace.  (Romans 8:6-8)  Isaiah went on to tell the people what the real key to all that they needed.  If they would just fear the Lord, they would have all the treasures of security, righteousness, justice, wisdom and knowledge.  (Isaiah 33:5-6)

If you want a real tip for a winning ticket for life, don’t bet on the horses!  Fear the Lord and humbly trust in Him and He will bless you with all your heart desires and far more!

“The Lord is exalted, for He dwells on high; He will fill Zion with justice and righteousness.  He will be the sure foundation for your times, a rich store of salvation and wisdom and knowledge; the fear of the Lord is the key to this treasure.” Isaiah 33:5-6

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Our Precious Cornerstone!

Scripture reading for July 24: Isaiah 28-30

Beer and alcoholic beverages have been a source of trouble from ancient times.  Noah planted a vineyard after the flood and then proceeded to get drunk and exposed his nakedness.  (Genesis 9:20-24)  In today’s reading, the officials of Ephraim and Israel had a drinking problem. (Isaiah 28:1, 7) They were proud and thought they knew more than God.  They were under a delusion and lie of the devil, which was likened to drunkenness.  (Isaiah 28:15)  They thought that their “religion” had made them immune to any foreign invasion or correction from God. They were “good people” who were a part of “God’s chosen” and they had Abraham as their father!  What more could God want?

Part of the delusion was false religion.  The priest and prophets were “blinded” and “drunken” by their refusal to truly love and obey God from their hearts.  They were honoring God with their lips, but their hearts were far from Him! Their worship of Him was merely rules taught by men, not in Spirit and truth!  When we engage in false religion, we become drunk and delusional, but not with wine or beer!  They thought that they were doing fine but were really lost and heading for judgment!  (Isaiah 29:9-10)  In this state, they were worse off than an unbeliever because they were deceived! Jesus quoted Isaiah 29:13 (Matthew 15:8-9) when confronting the scribes and Pharisees of His day.

God has a strong foundation for His people who are trusting in Him.  He has a solid Cornerstone that He has placed in Zion.   It is a tested Stone that is precious and those who trust in this Stone will never be deceived or dismayed! (Isaiah 28:16)   This Stone is a living Stone.  (1st Peter 2:4)  This Stone is none other than Jesus Christ who has become the living Cornerstone of the New Temple.  We who trust and believe are resting on this Cornerstone and become ‘living stones’ in His temple!  Those who reject this Stone and stumble over Him do so because they disobey the message of God because of their pride and hard hearts! (1st Peter 2:7, Isaiah 8:14)  In repentance and rest on this Stone will be salvation for all who will trust in Him! (Isaiah 30:15)

The only sure foundation for our life today is to repent and rest on Jesus Christ and His finished work!  False religion keeps us trying to work our way into God’s favor.  This is a lie and delusion that results in drunken deception!  It is only by faith through grace we are saved from false religion and the lie of trusting in our own work.  What a place of quietness and confidence we have in Christ!  (1st Peter 2:9-11)

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From the ends of the earth: singing!

Scripture reading for July 23: Isaiah 24-27

Isaiah broke forth in a dissertation about the coming “day of the Lord”.  The watchman of Israel was given a description of that day to warn the people of Israel to be ready for what was coming.  God’s people are set apart from this day of wrath and welcome it with singing and joy. (Isaiah 24:14-16)  The people of earth without a knowledge of the Lord and faith in Him are filled with terror! (Isaiah 24:11-13)

Let’s focus on those who know the Lord!  Out of this vivid description of the terror for the lost comes bright rays of hope for those of faith!  Isaiah heard shouts of joy for the glory and majesty of the Lord arising from the East and West!  He heard singing coming from the islands of the sea and the ends of the earth!  God was bringing His people together!  (Isaiah 24:14-16)  God would reign in their midst on Mt. Zion and His glory would radiate through and in His people!  (Isaiah 24:23)

In Isaiah 25, Isaiah broke into praise for His fulfillment of God’s Word!  God spoke His plans from ancient days and then brought them to pass!  He humbled the proud and exalted His humble people!  He cared for the poor and needy and defeated all their enemies!  Isaiah saw the Lord preparing a banquet of rich foods for all peoples!  On Mt. Zion, God would destroy the shroud that enfolded all peoples and swallow up the ‘swallower’ of His people!  Death would be defeated and tears wiped away! 

The Apostle Paul quoted these truths in 1st Corinthians 15:50-57 to describe the resurrection body that would be given to each believer at the coming of Jesus Christ!  They were referred to by the Apostle John in his vision from the island of Patmos in Revelation 21:1-5 as he described the new heavens and new earth as the believer’s eternal home!  Revelation 19:6-9 describes the wedding supper of the Lamb!  When we receive Holy Communion, we are proclaiming that Jesus’ death destroyed the shroud of death over us and our hope of eating at that great banquet! 

“You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in You.  Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord, the Lord, is the Rock eternal.” (Isaiah 26:3-4) Put your trust in Jesus Christ again today!  He is our Rock eternal!  From your end of the earth let songs of worship resound and rest in Jesus!

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Watchman, what is left of the night?

Scripture reading for July 22: Isaiah 21-23

Prophets in the Old Testament were often likened to watchmen.  Watchmen were stationed on the city wall to give early warning of approaching danger or enemy attack.  They also functioned as an alarm clock to the people of the city.  They kept track of the time and announced the arrival of a new day.  When someone awoke, they could call out to the watchman on duty and inquire about the time. 

“Someone calls to me from Seir, “Watchman, what is left of the night?  Watchman, what is left of the night?”  The watchman replies, “Morning is coming, but also the night.  If you would ask, then ask; and come back yet again.” (Isaiah 21:11-12)

These ancient verses were a prophecy of Isaiah written down for Dumah,  a Hebrew word meaning “silence”.  This prophecy was meant for Edom and Seir was a city in Edom.  As we read these verses think about our day and time.  Many are asleep and living in darkness.  They don’t know what time it is prophetically and are unaware of the danger of the coming time. 

The question: “What is left of the night?” is applicable today! The disciples asked Jesus when He would come, what would be the signs of His coming and the end of the age.  (Matthew 24:3)   Jesus told them no man would know the day or the hour of His coming again.  (Matthew 24:38)  He also taught that many would be caught unaware and unprepared for that day!  (Matthew 24:37-41) His coming would be like a “thief in the night”!  (Matthew 24:42-44)

The watchman’s answer was revealing:  “The morning is coming, also the night”.  Many today are not aware that the “day” that is coming will be “night” for them!  They are living in perpetual darkness and are not ready for the arrival of the “Son”.  They are living in deception and are in danger of being cast into outer darkness for eternity!

Are you ready today?  Are you being a wise ‘watchman’ who is busy warning those of the coming “day” of the Lord?  Are you living in such a way that others can see your preparation or are you setting a bad example by living in the darkness?  “Wake up, O sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.”  “Be very careful, then, how you live–not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil.” (Ephesians 5:14-15)

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Sunday rest and reflection–Immanuel

Greetings friends!  God bless your day of rest!  God is with us and we are secure in His amazing love!

As we have read through the books of Solomon and now are beginning Isaiah, there are many topics that we could reflect on.  We could reflect on the life of Solomon who began so well.  He was visited by the Lord and was told that he could ask the Lord for anything.  Solomon wisely chose to ask for wisdom to govern the people of God.  God gave him wisdom and riches and honor as well.  (1st Kings 3:5-12)  He had this wisdom and wrote it down for us in the book of Proverbs.  He later violated the Word of God and took many wives from many lands.  These women corrupted him and led him into idolatry.  The book of Ecclesiastes is written later in his life and is a depressing account of his quest to find meaning in life under the sun!  The Song of Songs was probably written early in his life when he was close to God.

Even wise men go astray and God knew that man needed something more than a temple and animal sacrifices.  Just seeing God in a vision or having a Word from Him failed to prevent a man’s downfall.  Isaiah was given the task of telling God’s backslidden people, these descendants of David and Solomon, about God’s plan.  About 700 years before Christ, Isaiah spoke a Word from the Lord which was written down for us.  “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)  (Matthew 1:20-23) Matthew quoted this verse in his recounting of the birth of Jesus Christ, saying that Jesus’ birth was a fulfillment of what the Lord had spoken through the prophet Isaiah!

Mankind experienced “God with us” in the physical person of Jesus Christ for 33 years.  He lived among His people, the Jews.  They saw Him and heard His authoritative teaching and experienced His miraculous works.  His bigger goal was to have each of His followers throughout history to be indwelled with the Holy Spirit.  The Holy Spirit would be “God with us” to each individual as well as to His people when they gathered together in His name.  For nearly 2000 years this special empowerment has been available to believers everywhere who have asked for it.  ‘God with us’ is the mark of the New Testament Christian.  ‘God with us’ keeps us fresh and moving towards the goal of seeing the Lord.  We are so blessed to live in the wonderful dispensation of “Immanuel”! In His Love, Pastor John

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Let all nations trust the Lord for mercy!

Scripture reading for July 20: Isaiah 17-20

“Those who trusted in Cush and boasted in Egypt will be afraid and put to shame.  In that day the people  who live on this coast will say, ‘See what has happened to those we relied on, those we fled to for help and deliverance from the king of Assyria!  How then can we escape?” (Isaiah 20:5-6)

The fear of man is a snare (Proverbs 29:25).  When we rely on military power, political influence, money, or knowledge to provide a measure of safety and security we are trusting man.  We are taught that ‘might makes right’ and that the ‘fittest will survive’.  In the natural, this appears to be the smart way to live but it is a trap that catches many!

Americans have had a lot to boast about in this regard.  We are a nation that boasts of one of the most powerful militaries in the world.  We have vast resources and technology that enables us to use our resources to protect us and to free oppressed peoples in other parts of the world.  But can our great military power and technology bring us security?  The Bible says that God alone is our source of safety!

Isaiah spoke an oracle against Egypt.  Egypt was a powerful nation during this period of time.  They were a nation of idolaters who consulted sorcerers and mediums instead of God.  God’s prophet Isaiah warned them that they would find these leaders very unreliable and unstable and His judgment would expose them as false!  (Isaiah 19:1-4)  God would cause drought and famine to reduce the people to despair.  He would expose their officials as senseless and fools!   (Isaiah 19:11-14)  God would pour on them a spirit of dizziness causing them to stagger in their own vomit!  Trusting in men is futile! 

God’s mercy was extended to His Egyptian people through Isaiah.  He encouraged them that as they were going through judgment they should turn to the Lord, He would have mercy on them!  (Isaiah 19:19-22)  He would raise up a deliverer for them and make Himself known to them.  As they acknowledged the Lord, He would heal them!  This passage ends with God declaring a blessing over Egypt and Assyria:  “Blessed be Egypt My people, Assyria My handiwork, and Israel My inheritance.” (Isaiah 19:25)

God’s amazing mercy and love for all nations cause us to worship Him and willingly serve Him!  Take time today and repent of any ‘trust in man’ and thank God that He is trustworthy!  He alone is our source of protection and our way of escape! Pray for our enemies that they would cry out to God for mercy!

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God’s plan for ‘Babylon’!

Scripture reading for July 19: Isaiah 13-16

Babylon was an ancient kingdom in the time of Isaiah.  It rose to world-dominating status a few decades after the ministry of the prophet.  As a city, Babylon rose to legendary status with it’s walls surrounding it and it’s hanging gardens an imitation of God’s garden.  It was located in the present-day country of Iraq and was near to where the Garden of Eden was originally located.  Babylon was characterized by pride, false religion, idolatry and man-centered achievement.  Isaiah brought God’s Word to those in Babylon.

God has an army of “holy ones” who will carry out His wrath and judgment, (Isaiah 13:3)and in mercy warned the Babylonians that His judgment was coming.  God’s army would bring “the day of the Lord”, a day of wrath against sinners.  (Isaiah 13:6-9)  This judgment will put an end to pride and arrogance and the evil of the wicked.  It would be a day of trembling heavens and shaking on the earth!  (Isaiah 13:11-13)  This army of “holy ones” will be none other than the Medes in the immediate fulfilment!  (Isaiah 13:17)  Isaiah prophetically predicted what God would do over 150 years before it happened!  Daniel the prophet got to read the handwriting of God on the wall of Babylon the night it fell to the Medes!  (Daniel 5:25-28) The city would be like Sodom and Gomorrah, never to be inhabited again!  (Isaiah 13:19-20)

But God is a God of hope and vision. Isaiah saw a day when God would have compassion on Israel and settle them in their own land.  (Isaiah 14:1-2)  Others would join themselves to Israel and Israel would possess the nations that took them captive!  God’s foresight revealed brings faith to endure!

The rest of Isaiah 14 is a taunt against the “king of Babylon” to be spoken by God’s people in the day they were set free!  God, Himself, would break the power of this wicked king.  He would be brought down to the grave and maggots and worms would cover him.  This prophecy prefigures the final destruction of Babylon and Satan foretold in Revelation 18 and Revelation 20:1-3 and verse 10:

Behind all earthly power and humanistic pride lurks the evil influence of Satan!  God will judge Satan and those under him.  We must be born again to escape!  God has provided the way out in Jesus Christ!  Can you take up the taunt against the “king of Babylon” today!  God’s Word declares His ultimate defeat!

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A prophetic portrait of Jesus!

Scripture reading for July 18: Isaiah 9-12

Isaiah lived over 700 years before the coming of Jesus Christ.  He was an ordinary man who was by grace chosen to see the Lord in a glorious vision.  He humbled himself and responded to God’s call to go and become a prophet.  As he lived his life and shared from his heart and relationship with the Lord, God used him to give prophetic pictures of His Son, Jesus Christ.  These pictures encourage us today and inspire faith and trust!

After speaking of a virgin giving birth to a son who would be called “Immanuel”, God with us, Isaiah continued to write about this coming One.  (Isaiah 7:14)  He himself had two sons who were given prophetic names that spoke to the future of the nation of Israel.   He told that the nation would go into captivity but that God would bring back a remnant.  The people were caught up in conspiracy theories and were tormented by fears.  Isaiah warned them that the Lord was the only one to fear!  (Isaiah 8:12-14)  The Lord Himself would be a Stone to cause the nation to stumble and a Rock that would make them fall.  Seven Hundred years later, Jesus was that “Stumbling Stone” to the nation of Israel.

The coming Child who would be born would honor Galilee of the Gentiles, by way of the sea, along the Jordan River.  He would show God’s light to those living in darkness there.  (Isaiah 9:1-2)  He would carry the government on His shoulders.  This Child’s names signified that He would be special.  His names would be Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace!  His government would be one of peace and from everlasting to everlasting.  He would also reign on David’s throne, establishing it in justice and righteousness.  (Isaiah 9:6-7)  God’s own zeal would accomplish this!  These scriptures all speak of Jesus Christ Who lived and ministered in Galilee.  He did great miracles and mighty works there, bringing light to the Gentiles.  He is the fulfillment of the names given by Isaiah through the Holy Spirit!

In chapter 11, Isaiah spoke of Jesus.  He described a Shoot coming from the stump of Jesse that would become a Branch that would bear fruit.  After the judgment that Isaiah spoke of, the nation would resemble a stump.  God would have a remnant that would bring His Son to fulfill His purposes!  God would place His Spirit on this Branch.  It would be a Spirit of wisdom and understanding,  a Spirit of counsel and power, and a Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord.  (Isaiah 11:1-3)  He would delight in the fear of the Lord!  Jesus Christ fits this description perfectly!  He was wisdom and knowledge personified!  He had wise counsel and power to heal, save and deliver!  He knew all things and taught with authority!  He delighted in the fear of the Lord and only did what His Father showed Him.

There is so much more in these chapters today!  As you read Holy Scripture, ask the Holy Spirit to reveal Jesus Christ and transform you to be like Him! Jesus is the Incarnate Word of God!

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Response to a revelation of God’s holiness

Scripture reading for July 17th: Isaiah 5-8

In the presence of the Lord there is an awesome awareness of God’s holiness and glory and of our sinfulness and need of cleansing.  The stories of encounters with the Lord in Scripture record humbling effects on those so blessed to experience a personal visitation.  It is always by God’s initiative that He reveals Himself to a man or woman.  We can’t command a visitation although we can ask humbly.  Job asked to have an audience with His maker and found himself unable to answer and repented following the encounter.  (Job 42:2-6)   Isaiah had a visitation and confessed his sin quickly.

During Isaiah’s encounter, he beheld the Lord on a throne with His robe filling the temple.  Above and around Him were heavenly being called seraphs, or “burning ones”.  They had six wings and used these to fly and cover their faces and feet.  They were calling to each other “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty, the whole earth is full of His glory.”  (Isaiah 6:3)  When they spoke, their voices shook the doorposts and thresholds of the temple and smoke filled the house.  This ‘smoke’ was the tangible glory of God!

Isaiah himself began to cry out in terror of judgment in the presence of this Holy One and His burning angels!  He immediately knew his sin would bring judgment and death.  He understood that all people among whom he lived were also sinful and were in danger of judgment!  Seeing God’s great white throne would spell disaster!  (Revelation 20:11-14)  God saw his heart and repentance and heard his confession.  He sent one of the seraph’s with a burning coal from the altar and applied it to the prophet’s mouth. His sin was taken away and atoned for.  

After cleansing, Isaiah heard the Lord’s personal call: “Whom shall I send?  And who will go for Me?” Isaiah quickly responded with “Here am I, send me!” (Isaiah 6:8)  God told Isaiah that He was sending him to a people whose hearts were calloused and their ears were dull.  They had become hardened and would become harder as they refused to listen to God’s prophet!  (Isaiah 6:9-10)   Jesus quoted these verses as He spoke to the religious people of His day.  (Matthew 13:13-15)

In summary, the open heaven Isaiah experienced brought revelation of God’s glory.  This led to awareness and confession of his sinfulness and cleansing by God’s grace through fire from the altar. After cleansing he heard God’s call and obeyed!  Why not ask God for a fresh revelation of His holiness and glory?

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Come, let us reason together!

Scripture reading for July 16: Isaiah 1-4

The book of Isaiah is a rich resource of prophesy and New Testament truth.  Jesus Christ said of Isaiah that he “saw my glory and spoke about it.”  (John 12:41)    Jesus began His ministry quoting from Isaiah 61:1-2 as recorded in Luke 4:18-19.  Isaiah was a faithful prophet of the Lord during over 50 years of ministry under four different kings of Judah.  His book is considered by some to be a miniature of the Bible as a whole.  The first 39 chapters record Isaiah’s messages of judgment on the sins of a backslidden and lost people.  The last 27 chapters contain a message of hope and consolation to those God has disciplined. 

The first chapter contains a pattern of preaching that many of the prophets used and one that Isaiah adopted.  He used a four-point sermon outline:  (A) calling out sins,  (B)  threats of coming judgment, (C)  call to repent and return to God,  and  (D)  promises of healing and restoration if they repented.

The charges against Judah sound familiar!  The people of Judah were raised and delivered by God Himself, but they willfully chose not know God or do His will.  They turned their backs on God and rebelled against their own Maker!  (Isaiah 1:2-9)  The results were sores and infection, a land under judgment, drought, and cities burned with fire!  God likened them to Sodom and Gomorrah, two cities He had destroyed by fire because of their gross wickedness.

Because His people had provoked God in their rebellion and He called for judgment!  He was sick of their hollow religious meetings and meaningless offerings.  He hated their festivals and hypocrisy.  He promised to hide His face from them and would not respond to their prayers.  (Isaiah 1:10-15)

In mercy God asked them to turn from their sins while He waited.  Their hands were full of innocent blood and their land full of idols.  He called to them to seek justice and righteousness and begin to encourage the oppressed and help the fatherless and widow.  God was concerned with social justice and particularly with the needy and weak who were being exploited.  (Isaiah 1:16-17)  He tried to reason with them about the stain of their sins.  As red blood stains a white garment and is difficult to remove, God promised to blot out the stain of their sin and make them white as snow or white like a clean wool garment! (Isaiah 1:18-19) Repentance would bring healing, cleansing and blessing.

Take time to examine your own life in light of God’s mercy and grace he has extended to you. Do you have stains from sin, neglect of God, or putting on a religious show? God is listening for your call and ready to heal, cleanse and restore His blessings.

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