Isaiah 9

Isaiah 9Because 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 9.

We’ve talked about doom and gloom here in Isaiah, and will continue to see warnings of doom and gloom in future chapters. But today there is hope and a promise!

“But those who have suffered will no longer be in pain.” (v 1 CEV).

What is the promise of this torment-free future?

“The people who walked in darkness
    have seen a great light.
For those who lived in a land of deep shadows—
    light! sunbursts of light!” (v 2 MSG)

Who is this great light?

“For to us a child is born,
    to us a son is given,
    and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called
    Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
    Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

Of the greatness of his government and peace
    there will be no end.
He will reign on David’s throne
    and over his kingdom,
establishing and upholding it
    with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever.” (v 6-7 NIV).

This is one of several famous prophesies of Jesus in the book of Isaiah. And, yes, He has come! But some people don’t call Jesus “wonderful counselor.” And is He really still reigning on David’s throne in Israel? Today the country is not governed by a king but by a prime minister and the Knesset.

So, how is it that His Kingdom will reign forever in The Land when it hasn’t?

The Spiritual reign of Jesus, which began on earth in Bethlehem 2000+ years ago continues forever. Even though some people have rejected His physical reign, His Kingdom of peace and righteousness is available to all who want to accept it.

The  Contemporary Jewish Bible translation makes it clearer (for me anyway…):

“For a child is born to us, a son is given to us; dominion will rest on his shoulders, and he will be given the name Pele-Yo‘etz El Gibbor Avi-‘Ad Sar-Shalom [Wonder of a Counselor, Mighty God, Father of Eternity, Prince of Peace], in order to extend the dominion and perpetuate the peace of the throne and kingdom of David, to secure it and sustain it through justice and righteousness henceforth and forever. The zeal of Adonai – Tzva’ot will accomplish this.” (v 5‭-‬6 CJB).

Through the dominion of Jesus there is perpetual peace, justice and righteousness forever!

Look at how the great rabbi Saul of Tarsus (later Paul) describes this kingdom and its availability to all who believe:

“This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference between Jew and Gentile, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.” (Romans 8:22-24 NIV).

God’s Kingdom, through the child king in the line of David, is given to us. To you. To me. Can you embrace this eternal peace? It is a great hope for everyone!

 

(c) 2020. Rich Ronald.

Isaiah 8

Isaiah 8
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 8.

There is trouble ahead for all who oppose God and oppress His people.

“But face the facts, all you oppressors, and then wring your hands.
    Listen, all of you, far and near.
Prepare for the worst and wring your hands.
    Yes, prepare for the worst and wring your hands!
Plan and plot all you want—nothing will come of it.
    All your talk is mere talk, empty words,
Because when all is said and done,
    the last word is Immanuel—God-With-Us.” (verses 9-10 MSG).

For the follower of God’s ways, He is with us. Always. His name is Immanuel. Where have we heard that name before? Just yesterday in Isaiah 7:14 (CEV): “But the Lord will still give you proof. A virgin is pregnant; she will have a son and will name him Immanuel, which means “God is with us.””

And He is! And I’m so thankful for that. Day after day. Month after month. Year after year. Many can offer proof that God has been with them when they least understood or least expected it. He has surprised many, including me, with His grace and provision and protection when I needed it most! He will do the same for you as you trust in Him.

One other note:  there’s a cross reference in verse 11 to the New Testament writer Peter: “Even if you have to suffer for doing good things, God will bless you. So stop being afraid and don’t worry what people may do. Honor Christ and let Him be the Lord of your life.” 1 Peter 3:14-15 (CEV).

God will bless you.

Yes! God will bless you!

 

 

(c) 2020. Rich Ronald.

Isaiah 7

Isaiah 7
Israeli olives fresh off the tree!

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 7 is a real mash up of several thoughts.

The first is to always put our trust in God, so we will not be defeated. (v 9).

Then there’s the famous prophecy of Jesus’ birth (v 14).

And finally, this passage contains caution to the whole land that it will become weeds and thorns. “This country that used to be covered with fine vineyards—thousands of them, worth millions!—will revert to a weed patch. Weeds and thornbushes everywhere! Good for nothing except, perhaps, hunting rabbits. Cattle and sheep will forage as best they can in the fields of weeds—but there won’t be a trace of all those fertile and well-tended gardens and fields.” (v 23-25 MSG).

Is that real or metaphorical? One commentary suggests it is an analogy to our sorrows if we neglect God’s great grace.

There are many, many fruit-filled fields in The Land today.  Tragic if they would turn to waste lands. Same for us. God desires that we produce great fruit. Yet, a question to the Christ-follower: Are our lives filled with thorns and weeds instead of fruit? The way great fruit is produced is when we abide with Him, hang out with Him and trust Him. (See John 15.) A good gardener will keep the trees and vines trimmed and pruned. It’s interesting that even the paring down of the smaller, first fruits leads to larger and better yields of the stronger, richer fruit! The best fruit!

“I am the Vine, you are the branches. When you’re joined with me and I with you, the relation intimate and organic, the harvest is sure to be abundant. Separated, you can’t produce a thing. Anyone who separates from me is deadwood, gathered up and thrown on the bonfire. But if you make yourselves at home with me and my words are at home in you, you can be sure that whatever you ask will be listened to and acted upon. This is how my Father shows who he is—when you produce grapes, when you mature as my disciples.” The words of Jesus in John 15:5‭-‬8 (MSG).

The call to the Believer is to be mature, always growing, always producing fruit. As followers of Jesus we need to ask regularly: “What might need to be pruned from our lives so that greater, juicier fruit might be produced… for the Kingdom?”

 

(c) 2020. Rich Ronald.

 

Isaiah 6

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 6. This is a power-packed chapter!

Let’s worship with the angels:

“Holy. Holy. Holy. Is the God-of-the-Angel-Armies. His bright glory fills the whole earth.” (v3 MSG).

We can approach the Throne only because He has chosen to forgive our sins. Gone is our guilt!

“Look. This coal has touched your lips. Gone your guilt, your sins wiped out.” And then I heard the voice of the Master: “Whom shall I send? Who will go for us?” (v8)

I see this little child, with his arm fully extended and his body bouncing up and down as he eagerly volunteers: “Oooo, I’ll go! Pick me! Pick me! Send me!” He can only be so eager because his sin has been so completely, so thoroughly, forgiven.

Can we be this enthused to represent God and to represent Jesus to the fallen world?

With open hands we ask God to lead us. Maybe He sends us as He leads us? He takes our hand and leads. But He also has our backs too.  Sometimes He’s pushing us along… to go out on His behalf. May we be sensitive to His Spirit as He leads and prods us along. And may we be comfortable with both ways, right?!

Are you willing to raise your hand? Am I? Where will He take us today?

 

 

(c) 2020. Rich Ronald.

Isaiah 3 and 4

Olive tree branch on the Mt. of Olives, Jerusalem.

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 3-4 need to be read together. And I’m just going to skip over the whole thing about the women of Jerusalem, except to say that much of Isaiah is sad…

Jerusalem and Judah, you rebelled against your glorious Lordyour words and your actions, made you stumble and fall. The look on your faces shows that you are sinful as Sodom, and you don’t try to hide it. You are in for trouble, and you have brought it all on yourselves. Isaiah 3:8-9 (CEV).

Some see this prophesy happening right now in the streets. You can see why many in Jerusalem, Orthodox Jews and even evangelical Christians, stand at the Western Wall and plead earnestly with God.
This prompts us to pray, as the Psalmist asked, for the peace of Jerusalem:
Jerusalem, we pray that you will have peace, and that all will go well for those who love you. May there be peace inside your city walls and in your palaces. Because of my friends and my relatives, I will pray for peace.
Psalm 122:6-8 (CEV).
Peace. Shalom. A deep seated safety and security. Complete. Lacking nothing. No stress or anxiety. Ahhhh. Isn’t that something we all desire?
And we can pray for people to see that God’s branch has sprouted… for Jesus to come again. There WILL be a time when those who remain in Jerusalem will be called special. His peace WILL ultimately prevail!
One day… once again “God’s own glory will be like a huge tent over the city.” Isaiah 4:6

That will be a beautiful day!

(c) 2020. Rich Ronald

Isaiah 2

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 2.
Let’s back up and look at the Introduction section of the book from the NIV: “Israel’s life is bound up with the affairs of the broader world.”
Even now, the nation is on the front pages of newspapers all over the world daily. No other country has been in the news as much or as long as Israel. The Chinese dynasties came and went. The Roman’s, the Ottoman’s, the British, some might suggest even America, has come and gone. Yet, there’s something special about The Land! It’s a key piece of real estate because it is on the crossroads of the world. It’s officially located on the continent of Asia, but a case can be made that it’s also in Europe and Africa geographically. And, because many Jewish people live in North America, it is deeply important to those on this continent as well. It’s a tiny country, yet its importance to the world cannot be minimized.
The Message Isaiah got regarding Judah and Jerusalem: There’s a day coming when the mountain of God ’s House Will be The Mountain— solid, towering over all mountains. All nations will river toward it, people from all over set out for it. They’ll say, “Come, let’s climb God ’s Mountain, go to the House of the God of Jacob. He’ll show us the way he works so we can live the way we’re made.” Zion’s the source of the revelation. God ’s Message comes from Jerusalem. He’ll settle things fairly between nations. He’ll make things right between many peoples. They’ll turn their swords into shovels, their spears into hoes. No more will nation fight nation; they won’t play war anymore. Come, family of Jacob, let’s live in the light of God .
Isaiah 2:1‭-‬5 MSG
He WILL show us the way He works so we can live the way we’re made. He WILL settle things fairly between nations.
Have you seen the recent news that the Jewish people have been allowed to pray once again at the top of Mt. Zion, the Muslim site that is known as The Dome of the Rock? That’s beautiful, isn’t it? God is moving! Next we can pray and ask God to bring Jews, Muslims and Christians together to pray on Mt. Zion.
I have been to the site on several occasions. Once we were quietly singing “Jesus Loves Me” and were chased away by armed Israeli Defense Force troops who are assigned with keeping the peace at Mt. Zion. I understand why. But there will be a day when all will worship the One True God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit at Mt. Zion!
A regular theme throughout the book of Isaiah is that God and God alone is worthy of our praise. We are called to put away idols and gods that get in our way of seeing God for who He is. The writer ends the chapter this admonishment:
“Stop trusting in mere humans, who have but a breath in their nostrils. Why hold them in esteem?” Isaiah 2:22 (NIV).
Come, let’s live in the light of God.
(c) 2020. Rich Ronald.

Isaiah 1

Growing up in a Christian, mainline denomination church we focused so much on Jesus that we didn’t spend much time in the Old Testament. As an adult, I’ve come to see that Jesus is on every page of the Bible, not just the New Testament! And that’s what makes the Text so wonderful. It’s God’s overarching story of His plan for the redemption of His children. Us.
     The story of Israel is both a New Testament story and an Old Testament story. It’s founding is detailed in the pages of Genesis through Malachi. And much of its history and future is found in the book of Isaiah. I had the chance to go to Israel twice in 2019.  I heard our Jewish tour guides quote from Isaiah daily.  So, I’ve decided to dive into the complex writings of the prophet for myself. What follows over the course of the next 66 days is my simple reading and pondering of what these words mean and how they might be applied in our context today.
     Here’s my highlight from Chapter 1 if you’re so inclined to join me…
“Wash yourselves clean! I hate your filthy deeds. Stop doing wrong  and learn to live right. See that justice is done. Defend widows and orphans and help the oppressed.”  I, the Lord, invite you to come and talk it over. Your sins are scarlet red, but they will be whiter than snow or wool.  If you willingly obey me, the best crops in the land will be yours. Isaiah 1:16-19 (CEV).
     “Wash yourselves clean…” The Jewish ritual bath is called a Mikveh and the ruins of these ancient sacraments are all over The Land. Unlike a Christian baptistry, a Mikveh has water flowing through the tank, usually by way of a natural spring. And they often have a wall separating the going down side from the coming up side. The idea is that one might enter the stream “unclean” or “filthy” and then, once the waters have washed over the person, they are free to ascend the steps on the clean side, washed a new.
     It’s not just a physical cleansing, which it is. It’s also symbolic of  being pure before God. The Old Testament people would go to the Mikveh every time they went to the synagogue or Temple. Some would go daily.
     Isaiah reminds those of us who are Believers in Jesus, we have been washed clean by His death, His sacrifice on the Cross, and His resurrection — once and for all.
Our sins are washed away and we are made clean because Christ gave His own body as a gift to God. He did this once for all time. Hebrews 10:10 (NLV)
     Our sins were scarlet red. But they are now whiter than snow!
But if we live in the light, as God does, we share in life with each other. And the blood of his Son Jesus washes all our sins away. 1 John 1:7 (CEV).
     Because of that sweet redemption, our response is to walk regularly “up the clean steps,” to be faithful in defending the oppressed, the widow, the orphan, those less fortunate.
     What steps can we take today to remember that we are redeemed and that we have a responsibility to “live right” before God and man?
     Oh, there’s a promise for us when we do. “The best crops in the land will be yours.” Our motivation for living right is to honor God, because it’s the right thing to do. An ancillary benefit is the gift of God’s provision and care. Because He loves us so.
     (c) 2020. Rich Ronald.