Isaiah 10

God’s grace is as dependable and regular as the ocean waves.

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 10.

More challenging words of gloom and destruction… My study today took me from Isaiah 10:3 to a couple of places in Matthew and to Revelation.

Isaiah warns about those who make laws that harm widows and orphans and asks: “What will you have to say on Judgment Day?” (v3, MSG).

Then I’m reminded of Jesus’ encouragement to us: “Whenever you did one of these things (acts of care) to someone overlooked or ignored (or widows or orphans, “the least of these”) that was me — you did it to me.” Matthew 25:40.  While the grace of Jesus always trumps good deeds, on the Day of Judgement we will want to be able to humbly answer that we were one of the few who responded with action and helped to care for the impoverished.

“Lord, how can we serve you today?”

Isaiah also reminds us that God will use other nations to bring justice and repentance to the people of Israel who have refused to repent on their own. And it may not be pretty for His children. But the good news? “A time is coming when the survivors from Israel and Judah will completely depend on the holy Lord of Israel, instead of the nation that defeated them.” (v20 CEV).

And there is this future promise: “Then they (the Assyrians) will no longer rule your nation. All will go well for you, and your burden will be lifted.” (v 27 CEV.)

Who will lift their burden? Jesus is coming soon! We can see it later in Isaiah (chapter 63) and in John’s Revelation (chapter 19). We can be assured our burdens will be lifted as well. Jesus promises this is Matthew 11:  “Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” (Matthew 11:28-30 MSG).

Let Jesus take your burdens today. The rhythms of His grace are like the waves of the ocean. They keep coming… day after day.  You can depend on it! You can depend on Him. It will go well for the people of Israel, eventually. That is a promise the people of The Land count on. It will go well for you and me too!

 

(c) 2020. Rich Ronald.

Isaiah 5

Isaiah 5 7

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.

There is a sad day coming, and some might ask if it’s not already here?

Isaiah opens this chapter with a hope that God has for His people. He has created a vineyard and tended it with care. “I had hoped for honesty and justice, but dishonesty and cries for mercy were all I found.” (v. 17 CEV). All God asks is that we, His children, live holy lives. Because He is holy. Yes, that might be a tall order, but can’t we at least try?

Some have said that we live in a time right now when “evil is called good and good is called evil.” This is right out of this chapter!

“Doom to you who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness in place of light and light in place of darkness… doom to you who think you are so smart.” (v 20-21 MSG).

Oh, we are doomed! Walk down the streets of any city, read the daily news, this IS an evil, vile generation. May our prayer be “Forgive us, Lord! Bring conviction on us, God. Bring peace. Bring your children, your people, all of us, to repentance!”

Isaiah continues: “They make sure their banquets are well-furnished… but they’ll have nothing to do with the work of God. Pay no mind to what He is doing.” (v 15 MSG).

We must find a way to turn this world around! It will only be by God’s care and grace! Or else: “Every light in the sky will be blacked out by the clouds.” (v 30 MSG).

Isaiah is shouting a warning siren that has fallen on deaf ears. Even today. This is very sad.

There is hope! We can be saved. But we must first admit that God is holy and we are not. Can we do that? Can we live justly and honestly before God and man?

(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.