Isaiah 41. I Am the LORD.

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 41.

“Who controls human events? I do. I am the LORD.” (v4).

This is the first of nine “I am” proclamations in this chapter. Think back to the burning bush in Exodus 3 where God first identified Himself as “I Am that I Am.” Now, go forward to the gospel of John where Jesus proclaims eight times that “I am.”

Here in Isaiah 41:

    • I am the LORD (v4).
    • I am with you (v10).
    • I am your God (v10).
    • I am the LORD your God (v13).
    • I am holding your hand so you don’t have to be afraid (v13).
    • I am here to help you (v13).
    • I am the holy God of Israel (v14).
    • I am he who saves and protects you (v14).
    • I am the LORD, the King of Israel (v21).

Can we be thankful that the great “I Am that I Am” loves you and me deeply and fills us with strength and joy and hope and peace and grace? Even today!

I also love the heart behind this verse: “When the poor and needy are dying of thirst and cannot find water, I, the LORD God of Israel, will come to their rescue. I won’t forget them.” (v17, CEV).

Do you know people in third world countries? Children in Kenya or India? Medical professionals staffing a clinic in Malawi? Caregivers supporting an orphanage in Central America? Missionaries in Asia? God says, “I won’t forget them.”

How about our neighbors who may suffer from spiritual thirstiness?  Or those we know who are poor in spirit, or poor in hope, or poor in confidence,  or poor in  ____(fill in the blank)____. The great I Am comes to their rescue, comes to our rescue.

He won’t forget them. God is God. He won’t forget us.

This chapter is also filled with “I will” promises. God says:

    • I will be there (v4).
    • I will make you strong (v10).
    • I will come to their rescue (v17).
    • I will make rivers flow (v18).
    • I will send streams to fill the valleys (v18).
    • I will fill the desert with all kinds of trees (v19).

God keeps His promises. And nothing compares with Him. Isaiah concludes by noting that especially not even deities made by the hands of man can match God’s greatness. “None of these idols are able to give advice or answer questions. They are nothing, and they can do nothing…” (v28-29, CEV).

Today, let us put our trust and our hope in the great promise keeper, I Am that I Am.

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

(c) 2020. Rich Ronald.

 

Isaiah 40. Those Who Trust the LORD Will Find New Strength.

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 40.

“There is good news for the city of Zion. Shout it as loud as you can from the highest mountain. Don’t be afraid to shout to the towns of Judah, “Your God is here!” Look! The powerful Lord God is coming to rule with his mighty arm. He brings with him what he has taken in war, and he rewards his people. The Lord cares for his nation, just as shepherds care for their flocks. He carries the lambs in his arms, while gently leading the mother sheep.”” (v9-11, CEV).

Your God is here! He rewards His people.  Listen up, everyone! God knows you. He knows that you get exhausted in this life. He knows your struggles and daily challenges. He knows that we slog along through the daily grind and sometimes we fall. Sometimes we fail.  But, here is good news worth shouting from the rooftops:

“The Lord gives strength to those who are weary.  Even young people get tired, then stumble and fall. But those who trust the Lord will find new strength. They will be strong like eagles soaring upward on wings; they will walk and run without getting tired.” (v29‭-‬31, CEV).

Think of the eagle. It is created to soar high above the cliffs on its strong wings. Its eight-foot wingspan keeps it aloft for hours as it takes advantage of thermal updrafts from the surrounding terrain. Think of how you were created. Each one of us has various strengths and abilities that help us function daily. We even have a “sweet spot” that energizes and fills us up when we are doing it. What is that for you? I believe, like an eagle, whether you are a mom or a dad or an accountant or an artist or a construction worker or a pastor, if you are operating in that place where you flourish,  you will walk and run and thrive.

Yes, we will have the occasional struggle and set back. Paul addresses that in the New Testament:

“We are like clay jars in which this treasure is stored. The real power comes from God and not from us. We often suffer, but we are never crushed. Even when we don’t know what to do, we never give up. In times of trouble, God is with us, and when we are knocked down, we get up again.” (2 Corinthians 4:7-9, CEV).

The real power comes from God. May we all find new strength today as we trust in Yahweh! God is with you!

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

(c) 2020. Rich Ronald.

Isaiah 39. Whatever happens, keep thanking God.

Even during a spring storm in the Midwest… keep thanking God. From 1 Thessalonians 5:18.

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 39.

“Hezekiah replied to Isaiah, “Good. If God says so, it’s good.” Within himself he was thinking, “But surely nothing bad will happen in my lifetime. I’ll enjoy peace and stability as long as I live.”” (v8, MSG).

This is Hezekiah’s reply to what one might think was bad news. Isaiah has just warned Hezekiah that God says that one day there will be nothing left in the kings’ palace. And that even his sons will be enslaved in Babylon.

Yet Hezekiah has this amazing attitude: “If God says so, it’s good.”

No matter if it appears to be possible bad news, if God is in it, it is all good!

And that really is the truth, you know? It’s all good. We can’t have a bad day when we’ve given the day to the Lord. We might have challenging situations, we might be facing trials, storms, unemployment, hunger or grave illness, but we have a choice. We can allow them to be opportunities to see God’s glory and grace.

This is similar to the advice Paul gives to the believers in Thessalonica: “Always be joyful and never stop praying. Whatever happens, keep thanking God because of Jesus Christ. This is what God wants you to do.” (I Thessalonians 5:16-18, CEV.) There is great power in giving thanks. And that’s what Hezekiah was doing. And it’s what we are to do as well.

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

(c) 2020. Rich Ronald.

 

Isaiah 38. Changing God’s Direction? Yes.

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 38.

What an interesting and encouraging story! We can change God’s direction through our prayer!

This chapter opens with our friend Hezekiah gravely ill. In fact, he is told to put the affairs of his house in order for he will surely die soon. He begs God: “Remember, Lord, how I have walked before you faithfully and with wholehearted devotion and have done what is good in your eyes.” (v3, (NIV). He weeps before God as the prophet ponders that his work on earth might be finished.

The Lord’s answer? “I have heard your prayer and seen your tears; I will add fifteen years to your life.” (v5, NIV). And the sunlight went back 15 steps on the stairway!

About his near-death illness, he says: “Surely it was for my benefit that I suffered such anguish. In your love you kept me from the pit of destruction; you have put all my sins behind your back.” (v17, NIV).

“In your love…”

Can I tell you dear child, how much God loves you? How much He loves us all? Yes, He does things that we don’t understand, but they are for our benefit. Our gratefulness for those things is a blessing for our future.

It is up to us to share what God has done with our children: “Only the living can thank you, as I am doing today. Each generation tells the next about your faithfulness.” (v19, CEV).

“The Lord will save me, and we will sing with stringed instruments all the days of our lives in the temple of the Lord.” (v20, NIV).

Worship Him with Hezekiah… today and every day! And tell your kids about God’s trustworthiness. For He has saved you in His great love!

 

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

(c) 2020. Rich Ronald.

Isaiah 36 and 37. Pride vs. Humility.

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 36 & 37.

These two chapters tell a sad story of pride and the good story of humility before God.

Sennacherib, the king of Assyria arrogantly threatens Hezekiah and blasphemes the name of God in the process. He taunts Hezekiah by bragging about all his victories, and even lies saying “the LORD himself told me to march against this country and destroy it.” (36:10, NIV).

Hezekiah can respond in a couple of different ways. He might panic and accept the bribe of 2000 horses and sell his soul to the devil. Or, he might turn to God. Thankfully, he makes the right choice and lays before the Lord and proclaims “… You alone are God over all the kingdoms of the earth…” (37:15-18).

God affirms Hezekiah for making the right decision: “I will defend this city and save it, for my sake and for the sake of David my servant!” (Isaiah 37:35, NIV).

And, boy, does God bring His holy vengeance against Sennacherib:

v36: an angel of the LORD put to death 185,000 in the Assyrian camp.

v37: Sennacherib withdraws.

v38: While he is worshiping a false god back in his home temple, his two sons murder him.

Wow! What a story! What a mess for Sennacherib. Our faith lesson? Make the right choice. I used to tease my children when I dropped them off at high school with a similar caution: “If you don’t know which way to turn today, make the right choice.” It was a dad-ism with just a bit more direction than Yogi Berra’s “When you come to a fork in the road, take it.” But the point is this: Turn to God. Always. He will not only defend you, He will fight for you. He has a plan. In this case it was to defend Jerusalem for His servant David.

In the same way He has a plan and a warning for us. We might be tempted to believe it when someone  – like Sennacherib – says “the Lord told me to tell you…”  We must back away, take a moment or season to breathe and worship and seek God’s wisdom. Confirm the advice with a check of Scripture. And then, trust God as Hezekiah did. And we can stand on this promise: “The zeal of the LORD Almighty will accomplish this!” (37:32, NIV).

Humbly give your choices and challenges to the Lord and see what He will do!

One additional thought. I love the final words of the angel when he tells Mary that she will give birth to a son, the Messiah. The future mother of Jesus asks the messenger how this might happen. His reply is one we can own in whatever situation we might question: “Nothing is impossible for God.” (Luke 1:37, CEV).

The zeal of the Almighty will accomplish this for you and for me!

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

(c) 2020. Rich Ronald.

Isaiah 35. Redemption, Gladness and Joy!

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 35.

What a joyful vision of redemption! All that was destroyed will be new again. Just two chapters prior (33:9) specific places that were wilted in shame, desolate  and experienced loss — Lebanon, Sharon and Carmel — are now called glorious, splendid and majestic. The Message calls these cities a gift, awesome, and stunning. (v1-2, MSG).

The same will be said of us… can be said of us even now, thanks to who were are in Jesus! Yes, now! You are a gift. You are stunning. You are glorious.

“Strengthen the feeble hands, steady the knees that give way;  say to those with fearful hearts, “Be strong, do not fear; your God will come, he will come with vengeance; with divine retribution he will come to save you.” (v3-4, NIV).

Said another way:

“Energize the limp hands, strengthen the rubbery knees. Tell fearful souls, “Courage! Take heart! God is here, right here, on his way to put things right And redress all wrongs. He’s on his way! He’ll save you!” (v:3‭-‬4, MSG).

“Only the redeemed will walk there and those the Lord has rescued will return. They will enter Zion with singing; everlasting joy will crown their heads. Gladness and joy will overtake them, and sorrow and sighing will flee away.” (v10, NIV).

This whole chapter is a beautiful picture of what is to come. Rivers of Living Water. Glorious flowers will burst forth and rejoice. The blind will see. The deaf will hear. The lame will walk.

Everything will be redeemed in His glory!

That’s our story, too. We have been redeemed by the LORD. Will we walk along this Holy Road? Will we sing joyfully as we head up to Mt. Zion? We will allow gladness to overflow our hearts!

Yes! We will.

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

(c) 2020. Rich Ronald.

 

Isaiah 34. Choosing Grace over Wrath.

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 34.

This chapter is a very graphic picture of God’s wrath: “The Lord is terribly angry with the nations.” (v2, CEV).

He will start exercising His vengeance with Edom. Who? Scholars say the land south and east of the Dead Sea is typically thought of as the territory of the Edomites. —  mostly Jordan today. The family tree of the Edomites began with Esau, the twin brother of Jacob. You might recall, he sold his birthright for a bowl of soup (Genesis 25:31-34). The resulting relationships in the successive generations were complicated. One commentator notes: “Whether deserved or not, Edom is remembered in the biblical record as the sibling who doesn’t live up to family expectations.”

Isaiah spells out horrific doom and gloom on Edom in this chapter.  The Edomites reportedly were part of the army that destroyed  Jerusalem in the 6th century BC.  I wouldn’t  want to be remembered as a soldier who destroyed the City of David.

Isaiah clearly states that God is a just judge. The actions of the Edomites deserve His great wrath: “Edom will be called “Kingdom of Nothing.” Its rulers will also be nothing.” (v12, CEV).  I believe the Edomites represent any one who turns their back on God.

And yet, because of Jesus and the amazing grace we talked about yesterday, everyone on the resurrection side of the cross and empty tomb has a choice to accept that grace. I’m thankful for that! And once we accept that grace, we need not fear “God’s bad side” nor His coming wrath, which will likely begin in the lands surrounding Israel.

“Our Lord Jesus was kind to us, and we are saved by faith in Him.” (Acts 15:11, CEV).

We have the opportunity to decide every day. May we choose His grace over His wrath.

 

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

(c) 2020. Rich Ronald.