Isaiah 61. Chosen to Proclaim the Good News and Heal the Brokenhearted!

The ruins of a synagogue from Jesus’ day. This one is in Capernaum, about 20 miles northeast of Nazareth.

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 61.

I love this chapter! Before we look at today’s text we must start in the Gospel of Luke, Chapter 4. Jesus has just spent 40 days in the desert, being tempted by the enemy. He kicks the devil to the curb each time He is tested. Now, filled with the power of the Holy Spirit (Luke 4:14), with a sense of true victory, and preparation for the ministry that is ahead He walks into the synagogue in his Nazareth hometown. Cue the epic music score.

In each synagogue, there were weekly, scheduled readings of the Torah and the Prophets. At that time it was called the “Haftarah.” These were preassigned for a given date. Jesus is so incredible! Because He grew up in this synagogue, He entered the house of worship knowing that a specific text would be the scripture reading of the day! And, He knew He would be chosen to read from the ancient parchments. What scrolls was He handed to read at His hometown synagogue that day? Isaiah 61!

“The Spirit of the LORD God has taken control of me! The LORD has chosen and sent me to tell the oppressed the good news, to heal the brokenhearted, and to announce freedom for prisoners and captives. This is the year when the LORD God will show kindness to us and punish our enemies. The LORD has sent me to comfort those who mourn, especially in Jerusalem. He sent me to give them flowers in place of their sorrow, olive oil in place of tears, and joyous praise in place of broken hearts. They will be called “Trees of Justice,” planted by the LORD to honor his name.” (v1-3, CEV).

What usually happened following the reading of the Prophets is that the reader would talk, or preach, giving His interpretation of the text He just read. What was Jesus’ sermon after reading Isaiah 61?

“He rolled up the scroll, handed it back to the attendant, and sat down. All eyes in the synagogue looked at him intently. Then he began to speak to them. “The Scripture you’ve just heard has been fulfilled this very day!” (Luke 4:20-21, NLT).

God sent Jesus to preach, to heal, to bring freedom, to pardon, to announce His grace, to comfort, to care, to bring flowers and messages of great joy!

And He continues to do so. Thankfully, He is no longer confined to a synagogue of unbelievers in His hometown. His offer of joy is available to us all. No matter our geography, race, culture or moment in time.

What is our response? To receive this beautiful gift of healing and freedom! And to offer Him praise!

If you’re new to this journey through Isaiah, you can start here.
(c) 2020. Rich Ronald.

Isaiah 60. Zion, a Source of Joy for Every Generation.

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 60.

It’s happening! Soon! This is when exciting things begin to happen. Isaiah is describing the New Jerusalem. It’s such a rich chapter full of hope and a future when all God’s children will return to Jerusalem to worship Him! The glory of God is shining on His people.

“Get out of bed, Jerusalem! Wake up. Put your face in the sunlight. God’s bright glory has risen for you. The whole earth is wrapped in darkness, all people sunk in deep darkness. But God rises on you, his sunrise glory breaks over you… Open your eyes! Look around! Crowds are coming… When you see them coming you’ll smile—big smiles! Your heart will swell and, yes, burst!” (v1-2,4-5, MSG).

God rises on His people! Isaiah is prophesying that everyone will return back to Jerusalem. Do you know that this is happening even today? The Jewish Virtual Library reports that:

“As of December 2019, Israel’s population stood at 9,136,000.  This is a more than 10-fold increase compared to when Israel was founded in 1948.  And the Jewish population makes up 6,772,000 (74.1%).” (Source: https://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/latest-population-statistics-for-israel). That’s roughly the same number who live in the United States today.

All that to say that Jews are returning to their homeland! Personally, I believe that is great news for Jews and Gentiles alike.

What great joy!

How about this: “Although once you were rejected and despised, undesirable for anyone to pass through you, I will make you majestic forever, a source of joy for every generation.” (v15, TPT). Zion will be a source of joy! It is a source of joy.

Finally, Isaiah shares a common vision with John, in Revelation: “Your sun will never set or your moon go down. I, the Lord, will be your everlasting light.” (v19, CEV).

“And the city did not need the sun or the moon. The glory of God was shining on it, and the Lamb was its light.” (Revelation 21:23, CEV). The Lamb is Jesus, the Passover Lamb: “The next day, John (the Baptizer) saw Jesus coming toward him and said: ‘Here is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!'” (John 1:29, CEV).

Isn’t it so amazing how many dots are connected here in this passage?

If you’re new to this journey through Isaiah, you can start here.
(c) 2020. Rich Ronald.

Isaiah 59. God’s Gifts to Us: Repentance, Redemption, Salvation, Spirit.

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 59.

This highlights in a very straightforward manner the cycle of sin, acknowledgment of wrongdoing which leads to repentance, and His gracious redemption.

Sin. 
“Your sins are the roadblock between you and your God. That’s why he doesn’t answer your prayers or let you see his face.” (v2, CEV). That’s pretty significant, isn’t it? Ever wonder why your prayers might not be answered? I’m not saying this is the reason behind every non-answer from God. But, examining our own heart might be a first step towards hearing from Heaven.

Confession/ Repentance.
“Our wrongdoings pile up before you, God, our sins stand up and accuse us. Our wrongdoings stare us down; we know in detail what we’ve done: Mocking and denying God, not following our God, Spreading false rumors, inciting sedition, pregnant with lies, muttering malice. Justice is beaten back, Righteousness is banished to the sidelines, Truth staggers down the street, Honesty is nowhere to be found, Good is missing in action. Anyone renouncing evil is beaten and robbed.” (v12-15, MSG). We live in an evil time, as did Isaiah. The key to a right standing with God is getting to a place where we can see our sin and repent. Turning toward God starts in a posture of humility and confession.

Redemption.
“God looked and saw evil looming on the horizon – so much evil and no sign of Justice… so He did it Himself, took on the work of Salvation, fueled by His own righteousness.” (v15, MSG). The Almighty turned to His one and only Son to provide our redemption. Thank you, God! “For this is how much God loved the world—he gave his one and only, unique Son as a gift. So now everyone who believes in him will never perish but experience everlasting life.” (John 3:16, TPT). Yep! He did it Himself. Wow!

Our Future.
“The Lord has promised to rescue the city of Zion and Jacob’s descendants who turn from sin.  The Lord says: “My people, I promise to give you my Spirit and my message. These will be my gifts to you and your families forever. I, the LORD, have spoken.”” (v20-21, CEV).

Let us all be thankful for His work of redemption through Jesus and the promise of His Spirit to us all!

If you’re new to this journey through Isaiah, you can start here.
(c) 2020. Rich Ronald.

Isaiah 58. A Light Shining Like the Dawn of a New Day.

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 58.

Another wow and convicting chapter. Let me encourage you to read it directly for yourself today. It’s just 14 verses.

God, through the prophet, is asking us to examine ourselves, to look at the motivations of our own heart. How often do we do spiritual things for the show of it and then complain, wonder and ask why He hasn’t answered our prayers? When talking about the spiritual discipline of fasting, for example,

“Do you think this is the kind of fast day I’m after? A day to show off humility?” (v5, MSG).

I’m reminded of a time when I was once asked, “What is the one thing you want to be remembered for long after you are gone?” With my tongue firmly planted in my cheek, I replied, “My humility.”

Have you ever engaged in the spiritual discipline of fasting? There have been times when I have refrained from food for my situation, for my breakthrough. Here the prophet says, no, the goal of fasting is not for our benefit: “I’ll tell you what it really means to worship the LORD. Remove the chains of prisoners who are bound unjustly, free those who are abused.” (v6, CEV).

Then… then when your heart is in the right place, when we are focused not on ourselves but on what God wants, then… “Then your light will shine like the dawning sun, and you will quickly be healed. Your honesty will protect you as you advance, and the glory of the LORD will defend you from behind.” (v8, CEV).

God reminds us of His faithfulness, how He will provide life-giving water in the dry lands. This occurs when we give of ourselves first and put His ways above our ways; when we give food to the hungry and care for the homeless, for example. When we pray for others, even our enemies, before we pray for ourselves.

One of the other ways we honor Him is via worship:

“But first, you must start respecting the Sabbath as a joyful day of worship. You must stop doing and saying whatever you please on this special day. Then you will truly enjoy knowing the Lord. He will let you rule from the highest mountains and bless you with the land of your ancestor Jacob. The Lord has spoken!” (v13‭-‬14, CEV).

Indeed. The Lord has spoken. A good word from Isaiah 58 today!

 

If you’re new to this journey through Isaiah, you can start here.
(c) 2020. Rich Ronald.

Isaiah 57. Sing Praises to the One Who Gives Us Peace.

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 57.

A back and forth message of hope and warning.

“Right living people die and no one gives them a thought… but in death they find peace for obeying God.” (v1-2, CEV).

And there is a dire warning to those who are unfaithful and worship fortune tellers, pagan idols, sexual lusts, and spirits of the dead. You can read it in Verse 3.

Your idols, whatever they may be, will not save you. But look at the hope of Verse 13: “But if you come to me for protection, this land and my holy mountain will always belong to you.” (v13, CEV).

God proclaims again and again that He is here for all of us. “I am here to help those who are humble and depend only on me.” (v15, CEV). Here’s how the Message says it: “What I do is put a new spirit in them, get them up and on their feet again.”

This reminds me of such a powerful promise from another prophet of old: “I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your impurities and from all your idols.  I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.  And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws. Then you will live in the land I gave your ancestors; you will be my people, and I will be your God.” (Ezekiel 36:25-28, NIV).

I’m so thankful that God is the only one upon whom we can depend. God is the one who gets us on our feet every day. It is only God who is the source of our true peace. He will, He has, put His Holy Spirit in us!

“I know what you are like! But I will heal you, lead you, and give you comfort, until those who are mourning, start singing my praises. No matter where you are, I, the Lord, will heal you and give you peace.” (v18-19, CEV).

He will heal us. He will lead us. He will give us peace! So, yes, let’s sing His praises. Today and every day!

One final note. This chapter ends on the same note as Isaiah 48: “There is no peace for the wicked.”

 

If you’re new to this journey through Isaiah, you can start here.
(c) 2020. Rich Ronald.

Isaiah 56. Joy for All Who Worship God.

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 56.

God calls us by name. He calls us to do what is right. There is joy for all who worship and pray. Whether we are “insiders” or “outsiders.” I’m thankful that every single one of us is adored by Him… especially when we take time to reach out to Him and pray. There is joy in the house of prayer. Let’s look at this full block of text:

God ’s Message: “Guard my common good: Do what’s right and do it in the right way, For salvation is just around the corner, my setting-things-right is about to go into action. How blessed are you who enter into these things, you men and women who embrace them, Who keep Sabbath and don’t defile it, who watch your step and don’t do anything evil! Make sure no outsider who now follows God ever has occasion to say, ‘God put me in second-class. I don’t really belong.’ And make sure no physically mutilated person is ever made to think, ‘I’m damaged goods. I don’t really belong.’”

For God says: “To the mutilated who keep my Sabbaths and choose what delights me and keep a firm grip on my covenant, I’ll provide them an honored place in my family and within my city, even more honored than that of sons and daughters. I’ll confer permanent honors on them that will never be revoked.

“And as for the outsiders who now follow me, working for me, loving my name, and wanting to be my servants— All who keep Sabbath and don’t defile it, holding fast to my covenant— I’ll bring them to my holy mountain and give them joy in my house of prayer. They’ll be welcome to worship the same as the ‘insiders,’ to bring burnt offerings and sacrifices to my altar. Oh yes, my house of worship will be known as a house of prayer for all people.” The Decree of the Master, God himself, who gathers in the exiles of Israel: “I will gather others also, gather them in with those already gathered.” (v1‭-‬8, MSG).

We all belong to God. No matter if our bodies work completely the way God created us to be. No matter if we are in the family tree or outside of it. Jews or Gentiles. If we acknowledge His covenant, believe in His plan of salvation, pray. We belong to Him.

In the New Testament, Paul, who had obviously studied the prophet Isaiah and actually quoted from these writings regularly, says it this way:

“So you will be saved, if you honestly say, “Jesus is Lord,” and if you believe with all your heart that God raised him from death. God will accept you and save you if you truly believe this and tell it to others. The Scriptures say that no one who has faith will be disappointed, no matter if that person is a Jew or a Gentile. There is only one Lord, and he is generous to everyone who asks for his help. All who call out to the Lord will be saved. (Romans 10:9-13, CEV).

His saving grace is for everyone. We belong to God. He is our Father. We are His children. Ask for His help. He is generous. No one who has faith will be disappointed. There is joy for all who worship Him and only Him.

 

If you’re new to this journey through Isaiah, you can start here.
(c) 2020. Rich Ronald.

Isaiah 55. Go with 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 55.

Eight wonderful, somewhat separate, thoughts in this 13 verse chapter.

Each one is a powerful reminder to us of God’s greatness and glory!

1. All who are thirsty, come. (v1).  See also Matt 5:4, John 4:14, John 7:37 and Rev 22:17.

2. Life-giving words: I’m making a lasting, covenant commitment with you: solid, enduring love. (v3)

3. Nations will run to you. You have what they want. (v5).

4. Seek after God while He is here to be found (v6).

5. Come back to our God who is lavish with forgiveness (v7).

6. The way God thinks and acts is way above the way we think and act (v8).

7. God’s words, even these words, will not come back empty. They will do the work God assigns (v11).

8. Go with joy! The mountains sing! The trees clap their hands. The giant sequoia trees are monuments to God, lasting and living evidence of God! (v12-13).

These are all things we can be joyful about! That’s who our great God is!

I’m so thankful for these life-giving words.

 

If you’re new to this journey through Isaiah, you can start here.
(c) 2020. Rich Ronald.