Scripture reading for July 25th: 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 even correction and teaching 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! (Isaiah 29:13) 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) They could not understand God’s Word and His commands because their attitude of pride and self-sufficiency made their hearts hard! What a terrible condition to be in! In this state, they were worse off than an unbeliever because they were deceived!
God has strength for His people who are by faith 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 arrogance 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 doing and trying to work our way into God’s favor. This is a lie and delusion that results in drunken deception! When we rest in Christ’s sacrifice, 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! Take time today and thank Him for His gift to you! (1st Peter 2:9-11)
Scripture reading for July 24th: Isaiah 24-27
Isaiah breaks forth in a dissertation about the coming “day of the Lord”. The watchman of Israel is given a description of that day to warn the people of Israel to be ready for what is coming on the people of earth. 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, those without a knowledge of the Lord and faith in Him, are filled with mourning and terror at this day! (Isaiah 24:11-13)
Let’s focus on those who know the Lord today! Out of this vivid description of the terror of the lost comes bright rays of joy and hope for those of faith! Isaiah hears shouts of joy and acclaim for the glory and majesty of the Lord arising from the East and West! He hears singing coming from the islands of the sea and the ends of the earth! God is bringing His people together and they are joyful in His presence! (Isaiah 24:14-16) God is reigning in their midst on Mt. Zion and His glory radiates through and in His people! (Isaiah 24:23)
In Isaiah 25:1-4, Isaiah breaks into praise of the Lord for His fulfillment of His Word! God speaks out His plans from ancient days and then brings them to pass! He knows how to humble the proud and how to exalt his humble people! He cares for the poor and needy and defeats all their enemies! Isaiah then sees the Lord preparing a banquet of rich foods for all peoples! On the mountain of the Lord, Mt. Zion, God will destroy the shroud that enfolds all peoples and swallow up the swallower of His people! Death will be defeated and tears will be wiped away! Wow! What a picture of joy! No wonder His people are singing from the ends of the earth!
Of course, these verses were used by the Apostle Paul 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 also 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 where believers would dwell with the Lord forever! There is also a reference to the great banquet in Revelation 19:6-9 as John describes the wedding supper of the Lamb! Whenever we receive Holy Communion, we are proclaiming His death destroying the shroud of death over us and our hope of eating at that great banquet! No wonder we are singing from the ends of the earth!
One last nugget from these chapters of Isaiah comes in Isaiah 26:3-4. “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.” Put your trust in Jesus Christ again today! He is our Rock eternal! From your end of the earth, sing songs of worship without ceasing as you rest in His perfect peace!
Scripture reading for July 23rd: 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 in the night, they could call out to the watchman on duty and inquire about the time. That’s what we find in today’s reading in the prophet Isaiah!
“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 I read these verses, I could not help 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. Those who are aware of the coming day, listen for the watchman! They know the signs of the times. They prepare for the coming day and the rising of the Son!
The question: “What is left of the night?” is applicable today! The disciples of Jesus asked Him that question in a slightly different form. They asked Him when He would come and what would be the signs of His coming and the end of the age. (Matthew 24:3) Jesus Christ taught that 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” that the owner of the house was unprepared for! (Matthew 24:42-44) The owner should have kept watch and been ready!
The watchman’s answer is 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 judgment 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? Today is a day of mercy if you will repent and turn to the Lord, the great “Watchman” of our souls!
“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)
Scripture reading for July 22nd: 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 that many men and women fall into. They look to a man or a nation of people for help or protection. They rely on military power, political influence, money, or knowledge to provide them a measure of safety and security. 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 and get along in this world.
We in the United States of America have had a lot to boast about in this regard. We are a nation that boasts of the most powerful and feared military capabilities in the world. We have vast resources and technology that enables us to use our resources to protect us and even to free oppressed peoples in other parts of the world. We have sought to use our power and resources to protect freedom and fight against oppression and wickedness. But in spite of our great resources and technology, can these give us true safety and security? The Bible says that God alone is our source of safety!
In today’s reading, Isaiah was speaking an oracle against Egypt. Egypt was a powerful nation even 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 politicians and 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! There is no security there!
God’s mercy is extended to these in Egypt in this passage. As they are going through this judgment, if they will turn to the Lord, He will have mercy on them! (Isaiah 19:19-22) He will raise up a deliverer for them and make Himself known to them. They will worship and acknowledge the Lord, and He will 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!
Scripture reading for July 21st: 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. 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. God, however, hates pride and idolatry, and promises judgment on those made in His image who oppose His people and plans. Isaiah, in the chapters for today, brings 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) He warns the Babylonians that His judgment is coming. God is merciful to those outside of His covenant as well as to His own people! God’s army will 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 will 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! (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 destroyed like Sodom and Gomorrah, never to be inhabited again! (Isaiah 13:19-20)
Isaiah sees the day when God will have compassion on Israel and settle them in their own land. (Isaiah 14:1-2) Others will join themselves to Israel and Israel will possess the nations that have taken them captive! What an amazing picture of hope to a people who would be judged and scattered throughout the world! God’s Word is amazing and true!
The rest of Isaiah 14 is a taunt against the “king of Babylon” to be spoken by God’s people in the day they are 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. All those leaders of the world now in the grave will be stirred and respond to this ‘king’ in ridicule. (Isaiah 14:9-11) The ridicule then turns into what some believe is a description of Satan and his pride and fall. The “king” is called “morning star” and is cast down to the earth. He is cast down because he has said in his heart that he will raise his throne above the stars of God. (Isaiah 14:12-15) In a series of five “I will” statements, this “king” promises he will make himself like the “Most High”! God, however, judges this “king” and brings him down to the grave!
Behind all earthly political power and humanistic pride lurks the evil influence of Satan! God is in control and will judge him and all who stay under Satan’s influence. We must be born again to escape! God has provided the way out in Jesus Christ! We can take up the taunt today against the “king of Babylon”! He loses and we win!
Scripture reading for July 20th: 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 speaks again of Jesus. He talks of a shoot coming from the stump of Jesse that will 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 in that He only did what His Father showed Him to do and always did that which pleased His Father!
There is so much more in these chapters today! Read and enjoy and rejoice in God’s faithfulness to fulfill His Word!
Greetings! God bless your day of rest! God is with us and we are safe and 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”!
Scripture reading for July 18th: 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 have very 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 in dust and ashes for words he had said. (Job 42:2-6) Isaiah had a visitation and saw the Lord in the year that King Uzziah died. (about 740 B.C.)
The first thing Isaiah experienced when he saw the Lord was a vision of the throne room in Heaven. He noticed the Lord on a throne and 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. It wasn’t a fire-like smoke but was the glory of God Almighty!
The next thing that happened was that 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 ruin and 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. The seraph took the coal and applied it to the prophet’s mouth and told him that his sin was taken away and atoned for. All sin has a cost and must be paid for. Death is the payment unless someone dies for us!
After cleansing, Isaiah heard the Lord asking a question. “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 from not listening to God’s prophet give them God’s Word! (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 encounter Isaiah had with the Lord brought revelation of God’s glory. This led to recognition of his sinfulness and confession. Repentance and confession brought cleansing by God’s grace through fire from the altar. After cleansing he heard God’s call and willingly obeyed! This is a pattern for all disciples of Jesus Christ!
Scripture reading for July 17th: 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 quoted from Isaiah a number of times and 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. It is said that Isaiah was sawn asunder by Manasseh, the wicked son of good king Hezekiah. As we study this amazing book of prophesy, ask the Lord to show you His glory as well!
The first chapter contain a pattern of preaching that many of the prophets used and one that Isaiah used repeatedly as well. He had a four-point sermon outline that goes something like this: (A) Charges of accusation of 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 with other prophets and in the church today! The people of Judah were raised and delivered by God himself, but willfully did not know God. They were sinful people who had actually 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 and 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.
God was fed up and threatened judgment! He was sick of their hollow religious meetings and meaningless offerings. He hated their festivals and was burdened by their show with no substance. He promised to hide his face from them and would not respond to their prayers. (Isaiah 1:10-15)
God asked them to turn from their sins while there was still time. Their hands were full of blood and needed washing. They needed to turn from evil and learn to do right. They should 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)
The final section promises more blessings and healing. He promised that if they were willing and obedient, they would eat the best of the land, but if they refused and rebelled against His advice they would be devoured by the sword. What a deal! God will get revenge on the wicked rebels and afterward He will restore the godly judges and counselors. He will have mercy on those who are penitent but will punish those who are evil!
Scripture reading for July 16th: Song of Songs 1-8
Everyone loves a good love story. I first met my wife-to-be at a state science fair in Iowa. Mary had a project right next to mine, but I had another girlfriend at the time. We enjoyed talking for the two days of the science fair. Two years later, we both enrolled at Iowa State University. We had classes in the chemistry building and seemed to run into each other frequently there. (I am sure she plotted it that way!) We began to do lots of things together and found ourselves in love! The summer before we got married, I had to go away for basic training at Ft. Campbell, Kentucky. Mary wrote often and I loved getting the letters. Being apart was hard but the letters, sometimes laced with perfume, brought fond memories and kept love growing! We have been married for 41 years and still love each other!
The Song of Songs is a love poem or play, the greatest of many songs that Solomon composed. It tells the story of his courtship and marriage to one of his many wives. It details the interaction and passion between the two of them. I have always enjoyed reading this book and have a few favorite passages. “Pleasing is the fragrance of your perfumes; your name is like perfume poured out.” Song of Songs 1:3 Perfumes have a fragrance that can bring pleasant sensations and arouse passions. How lovers say each others names or even give each other “pet” names can be a special form of communication that is pleasant to the ear and heart! “While the king was at his table, my perfume spread its fragrance. My lover is to me a sachet of myrrh resting between my breasts.” Song of Songs 1:12 The beloved wife used her perfume to entice her husband at dinner. Her vision of him was one of pleasant and close intimacy! “He has taken me into His banquet hall, and His banner over me is love.” Song of Songs 2:4 The beloved is invited into the banqueting hall and enjoys the covering of his love!
“I slept but my heart was awake. Listen! My lover is knocking: Open to me, my sister, my darling, my dove, my flawless one.” Song of Songs 5:2a Often time when sleeping, we are still aware of our lover even when they are not there . Our heart is awake with love. This time, the beloved wife fails to respond to the knock and call for intimacy. She hears the call, but her own comfort is more important. She delays responding until she realizes as she awakes that the fragrance of myrrh is on the door latch arousing her desire for him. “I opened for my lover, but my lover had left. He was gone. My heart sank at his departure. I looked for him but did not find him. I called him but he did not answer.” Song of Songs 5:6 Love drove her to action to restore the intimacy!
The love story ends with a call to intimacy and permanence. “Place me like a seal over your heart, like a seal on your arm; for love is as strong as death, its jealousy unyielding as the grave. It burns like blazing fire, like a mighty flame. Many waters cannot quench love; rivers cannot wash it away.” (Song of Songs 8:6-7) “Let me hear your voice”. . . “Come away, my lover. . .” Song of Songs 8:13-14 Listen closely, Jesus is calling!