Isaiah 48. Celebrate! Be Happy! Shout as You Go!

Because of the importance of Israel and its people, and my personal love for The Land, I’m inviting you to join me through the key Old Testament book of Isaiah.  Each day I’m posting some simple thoughts about this complex prophet.

Isaiah 48.

This is the culmination of 400 years of Babylonian captivity. Today is a day to rejoice!

“Today I am doing something new, something you cannot say you have heard before.” (v7, CEV).

The Lord says He tested the people of Israel in the hard times of captivity, tested them to refine them as silver is refined in the fire. You’ve heard this example, I’m sure: As silver is purified there is a black dross that separates from the genuine silver. How does the silversmith know when the silver is perfectly refined? When the dross is completely burned off and he can see his reflection in the pure silver.

So, today, the refining process is complete. Israel finally, once again, is reflecting the image of God, not of other idols or gods.

So, this leads to their freedom!

“I am the holy LORD God. The One who rescues you. For your own good, I teach you and I lead you among the right path… Now leave Babylon! Celebrate as you go! Be happy and shout for everyone to hear: “The LORD has rescued, has redeemed His servant Israel!” (v17,20, CEV).

He has redeemed us, too. The people of Israel were rescued by God at the hand of King Cyrus. We are redeemed by Jesus!

Celebrate! Be happy! Shout as you go!

And as for the people of Babylon? “There is no peace, says the LORD,  for the wicked.” (v22, NIV).

I believe the flip side is also true. There IS peace in abundance for those who live in goodness and grace. In Jesus, there is freedom from the captivity of sin and an overflow of peace. His perfect Shalom. His perfect joy!

 

If you’re new to this journey through Isaiah, you can start here.

(c) 2020. Rich Ronald.

Isaiah 47. Only God is Holy.

Because of the importance of Israel and its people, and my personal love for The Land, I’m inviting you to join me through the key Old Testament book of Isaiah.  Each day I’m posting some simple thoughts about this complex prophet.

Isaiah 47.

Here’s a simple reminder that self-centeredness leads to calamity. The warning of this chapter is to the “great” Babylon. God is a holy God. He sits on the throne of Heaven. When we as individuals, or as nations, dethrone Him in exchange for the things we deem for our pleasure, it is not a good thing.

“Our Redeemer—the Lord Almighty is his name— is the Holy One of Israel.” (v4, NIV).

Only God is holy. Only the triune God, only Jesus, only the Holy Spirit sits on Heaven’s throne.

“You have trusted in your wickedness and have said, ‘No one sees me. Your wisdom and knowledge mislead you when you say to yourself, ‘I am, and there is none besides me.’” (v10, NIV). How many people believe they are above the law? How many believe they are more important than God?

We cannot say “I Am.” That is something only God can say. I can say “I am nothing,” because that is true. Without Jesus, without the Holy Spirit, I am nothing. We are nothing. Once again, we are reminded why the Jewish leaders falsely called Jesus a blasphemer for He dared to say “I am.”

And yet, He was the “I Am!” And He is! And He is to come again! Only He is Holy!

And Babylon? It’s been gone for centuries and centuries.  And dare we say the same will happen to us here in America if we continue to choose to put any political agenda above the trust that we proclaimed in God at the outset of this nation’s founding?

My heart grieves for the next generations.  There is a warning for us in the Old Testament, many years before Isaiah. “After a while, the people of Joshua’s generation died, and the next generation did not know the Lord or any of the things he had done for Israel.” (Judges 2:10, CEV). Those immediately following the generation of the great leader, Joshua, completely turned their backs on God! These are the children of the father who boldly proclaimed, “As for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.” (Joshua 24:15, NIV). It doesn’t take much. In fact, all it takes is apathy.

And yet, my heart also has hope because of the remnant few who put their trust in Jesus. Keep trusting, keep worshipping. Watch what God can do with a small group who are faithful.

Here is how Paul sees it: “God can do anything, you know—far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams! He does it not by pushing us around but by working within us, his Spirit deeply and gently within us.” (Ephesians 3:20-21, MSG).

Let’s all take Isaiah’s warning to heart. Do not trust in yourself. Do not let your self-centeredness lead to your calamity. Let us all be obedient to the leading of the Holy Spirit — to the leading of God — today.

If you’re new to this journey through Isaiah, you can start here.

(c) 2020. Rich Ronald.

Isaiah 46. God is Indescribable, Incomparable.

Because of the importance of Israel and its people, and my personal love for The Land, I’m inviting you to join me through the key Old Testament book of Isaiah.  Each day I’m posting some simple thoughts about this complex prophet.

Isaiah 46.

The prophet paints a picture of gods made by man being hauled around by mules, then set up and worshipped. Deadweight idols being carried by beasts of burdens.

And God says, “I’ve been carrying you on my back from the day you were born, and I’ll keep on carrying you! When you are old, I’ll be there, bearing you when you’re old and gray.” (v 3-4, MSG).

And then there is this: “I am GOD, the only God you’ve had or ever will have, incomparable, irreplaceable.” (v9, MSG).

This reminds me of the Chris Tomlin song called Indescribable* from his Arriving CD in 2004. The lyrics affirm the words of Isaiah:

Indescribable, uncontainable,
You placed the stars in the sky and You know them by name
You are amazing God.
All powerful, untameable,
Awestruck we fall to our knees as we humbly proclaim
You are amazing God.

Nothing compares to God. He is amazing! He is alive. He’s not a dead-weight lifeless idol. He carries our burdens and He does so with joy because He loves us so! Nothing compares to Him. Nothing!

That’s why we worship Him. That’s why we serve Him and serve others in His name.

Isaiah ends this word with a promise of salvation, a promise of deliverance, for the people of Israel, for all of us: “I am bringing my righteousness near, it is not far away; and my salvation will not be delayed. I will grant salvation to Zion, my splendor to Israel.” (v13, NIV). 

Indeed, God delivered His children from exile in Babylon which is what most scholars believe Isaiah is talking about here in this passage. But, can I assure you, He will deliver you and me from sin and the bondage Babylon represents. He has done so by the sacrifice of Jesus.

It is worth repeating: That’s why we worship Him.

 

If you’re new to this journey through Isaiah, you can start here.

(c) 2020. Rich Ronald.

*Indescribable written by Jesse Reeves and Laura Story.

Isaiah 45. Every Knee Will Bow.

Everyone will bow to Jesus, who walked along this shoreline of the Sea of Galilee.

Because of the importance of Israel and its people, and my personal love for The Land, I’m inviting you to join me through the key Old Testament book of Isaiah.  Each day I’m posting some simple thoughts about this complex prophet.

Isaiah 45.

This chapter opens with what some commentators suggest is a continuation of the last verse of chapter 44. We see that someone named Cyrus is called His anointed. And we ask, “Is he talking about King Cyrus or maybe Jesus? Most agree this is a prophecy about King Cyrus, written 150 years before Cyrus led the Jews out of captivity and even helped them build the temple in Jerusalem! How did Isaiah know?

Then the prophet pivots to again using “I Am” statements. Four of those are “I Am the LORD, and there is no other.” You think he repeats it four times for emphasis?

Nothing is more important in our lives than our relationship with God through Jesus. He alone will sustain and provide. He alone is our joy! And, like God used Cyrus, He uses all kinds of things and people and circumstances to meet our needs and bring us peace and joy!

Key to those who live in Israel today and are waiting for Messiah: “But Israel will be saved by the LORD with an everlasting salvation; you will never be put to shame or disgraced to ages everlasting.” (v 17, NIV).

And then there is this celebratory conclusion:

“Before me every knee will bow; by me every tongue will swear. They will say of me, ‘In the LORD alone are deliverance and strength.’ …All the descendants of Israel will find deliverance in the LORD and will make their boast in him. (v 23-25, NIV).

See why the words of Isaiah are so important to Israel?! The people of The Land will find their salvation, their deliverance, their strength in God alone! And, because there is only One True God, their salvation will also be found only in Jesus from Galilee!

If you’re new to this journey through Isaiah, you can start here.

(c) 2020. Rich Ronald.

Isaiah 44. The LORD is the Source of Your Life.

Because of the importance of Israel and its people, and my personal love for The Land, I’m inviting you to join me through the key Old Testament book of Isaiah.  Each day I’m posting some simple thoughts about this complex prophet.

Isaiah 44.

We start with a promise that was fulfilled on the Day of Pentecost, in Acts, Chapter 2: “I will pour my Spirit into your descendants and my blessing on your children.” (v3, MSG). Can we live today without the Holy Spirit? Not at all! God has blessed us with His Spirit. That’s a direct answer to this prophecy!

Isaiah continues to speak about the greatness of God, quoting God himself. Again, as in chapter 42, there are lots of “I Am” statements, which are really big deals.

That’s why Jesus raised so many eyebrows when He used the phrase “I Am…” in the Gospel of John. Only God is the great “I Am.” And how could Jesus, a man, also be God? The Pharisees who challenged Jesus found out at the resurrection, the Son, the Messiah, is also God!

Isaiah also takes note of the eminence of God in comparison to idols made with mere human hands. There is God. Then there is the polar opposite: an idol made of wood. The same wood used to cook your dinner can be fashioned into something one might worship? “How can anyone be stupid enough to trust something that can be burned to ashes?” (v20, CEV).

And it causes me to ask, “What man-made object am I trusting in?” I might not worship money, but do I trust it to provide security for my future? Or do I truly trust only God? Are there things in our life that consume more of our energy than the Lord and serving Him?

“I am the LORD. The source of your life and I have rescued you!” (v 24).

He is worthy of our worship. He is worthy of our praise and our complete trust! Let everything in all of Creation praise the Almighty.

“Tell the heavens and the earth to start singing! Tell the mountains and every tree in the forest to join in the song! The Lord has rescued his people; now they will worship Him.” (v23, CEV).

If you’re new to this journey through Isaiah, you can start here.

(c) 2020. Rich Ronald.

 

Isaiah 43. I’m About to do Something Brand New.

Because of the importance of Israel and its people, and my personal love for The Land, I’m inviting you to join me through the key Old Testament book of Isaiah.  Each day I’m posting some simple thoughts about this complex prophet.

Isaiah 43.

Wow wow wow!

Oh, how much God loves Israel. How much He loves you! He’d trade the whole of creation for you! For me! He calls us by name! Can you hear Him?

“But now, God’s Message, the God who made you in the first place, Jacob, the One who got you started, Israel: “Don’t be afraid, I’ve redeemed you. I’ve called your name. You’re mine. When you’re in over your head, I’ll be there with you. When you’re in rough waters, you will not go down. When you’re between a rock and a hard place, it won’t be a dead-end— Because I am God, your personal God, The Holy of Israel, your Savior. I paid a huge price for you: all of Egypt, with rich Cush and Seba thrown in! That’s how much you mean to me! That’s how much I love you! I’d sell off the whole world to get you back, trade the creation just for you.” (v1-4, MSG).

I’ve called your name. You’re mine.

When you’re in over your head, I’ll be there with you.

He has paid a price for you. I believe that the price He paid was with the life of His one and only son, Jesus.

Isaiah continues with this beautiful, amazing promise:

“Be alert. Be present. I’m about to do something brand new. It’s bursting out! Don’t you see it? There it is! I’m making a road through the desert, rivers in the badlands.” (v19, MSG).

Doesn’t that just fill your heart with hope?! I’m so thankful that, as we trust Him, He’s quick to do new things in our lives. New seasons of radical blessing. New seasons of His provision. A roadway, a path, through a rocky, desolate, desert.  And streams of living water, where there are fish and life and quenching a thirsty soul.

Certainly, Isaiah had traveled through the desert south in Israel. If you’ve been to Ein Gedi, you can see it!

May He give us all eyes to see this new thing He is doing! Can you join me in joyfully trusting this promise today? I hope so.

If you’re new to this journey through Isaiah, you can start here.

(c) 2020. Rich Ronald.

Isaiah 42. God Will Guide Us.

Because of the importance of Israel and its people, and my personal love for The Land, I’m inviting you to join me through the key Old Testament book of Isaiah.  Each day I’m posting some simple thoughts about this complex prophet.

Isaiah 42.

“I am God. That’s my name. I don’t franchise my glory.” (v8, MSG).

There is so much in that statement.  “I Am.”  His name is our life and breath. You’ve likely heard how “I Am” is often translated “Yahweh.” When you pronounce “Yahweh” in Hebrew it can sound like breathing. “Yah. Hey. Wey. Hey.” Each breath we take is a gift from the great I Am. There is none like Him. Look around. God created all of this.  He is the only One who deserves our praise, our worship. He is the One we give our lives to. He is the One True God. There is no other.

“Sing to God a new song, sing His praises over all the world… make God’s glory resound; echo His praises from coast to coast. ” (v10, 12 MSG).

This God who reigns in Glory, whose praises are sung from sea to sea and mountaintop to mountaintop, this God doesn’t merely sit on a giant throne somewhere demanding our homage. No, look at this:

“I’ll take the hand of those who don’t know the way, who can’t see where they’re going. I’ll be a personal guide to them, directing them through unknown country. I’ll be right there to show them what roads to take, make sure they don’t fall into the ditch. These are the things I’ll be doing for them— sticking with them, not leaving them for a minute.” (v16, MSG).

Yes, LORD, guide us. Lead us by your Spirit. Show us your ways. Show us which roads to take. Thank you that you are a personal God who is always with us, protecting us, never leaving us.

If you’re new to this journey through Isaiah, you can start here.

(c) 2020. Rich Ronald.