Category Archives: Isaiah

Isaiah 65-66

is65.jpgGreetings!  This wraps up our study of Isaiah.  I’ve learned a lot, but must say it has been one of the most challenging books I’ve studied.  The largest barrier is the many people and places I am unfamiliar with. 

Judgment and Salvation

65     “I revealed myself to those who did not ask for me;

I was found by those who did not seek me.

To a nation that did not call on my name,

I said, ‘Here am I, here am I.’ 

God chose Israel, not the other way around. 

2 All day long I have held out my hands

to an obstinate people,

who walk in ways not good,

pursuing their own imaginations—

3 a people who continually provoke me

to my very face,

offering sacrifices in gardens

and burning incense on altars of brick;

4 who sit among the graves

and spend their nights keeping secret vigil;

who eat the flesh of pigs,

and whose pots hold broth of unclean meat;

5 who say, ‘Keep away; don’t come near me,

for I am too sacred for you!’

Such people are smoke in my nostrils,

a fire that keeps burning all day.

6 “See, it stands written before me:

I will not keep silent but will pay back in full;

I will pay it back into their laps—

7 both your sins and the sins of your fathers,”

says the Lord.

“Because they burned sacrifices on the mountains and defied me on the hills,

I will measure into their laps

the full payment for their former deeds.”

The Israelites committed spiritual adultery by worshiping other gods and sacrificing to them. 

8 This is what the Lord says:

“As when juice is still found in a cluster of grapes

and men say, ‘Don’t destroy it,

there is yet some good in it,’

so will I do in behalf of my servants;

I will not destroy them all.

9 I will bring forth descendants from Jacob,

and from Judah those who will possess my mountains;

my chosen people will inherit them,

and there will my servants live.

10 Sharon will become a pasture for flocks,

and the Valley of Achor a resting place for herds,

for my people who seek me.

11 “But as for you who forsake the Lord

and forget my holy mountain,

who spread a table for Fortune

and fill bowls of mixed wine for Destiny,

12 I will destine you for the sword,

and you will all bend down for the slaughter;

for I called but you did not answer,

I spoke but you did not listen.

You did evil in my sight

and chose what displeases me.”

13 Therefore this is what the Sovereign Lord says:

“My servants will eat,

but you will go hungry;

my servants will drink,

but you will go thirsty;

my servants will rejoice,

but you will be put to shame.

14 My servants will sing

out of the joy of their hearts,

but you will cry out

from anguish of heart

and wail in brokenness of spirit.

15 You will leave your name

to my chosen ones as a curse;

the Sovereign Lord will put you to death,

but to his servants he will give another name.

16 Whoever invokes a blessing in the land

will do so by the God of truth;

he who takes an oath in the land

will swear by the God of truth.

For the past troubles will be forgotten

and hidden from my eyes.

The following passage is a famous image of the future, either of Heaven and/or Christ’s reign on earth.  We are so used to sin and evil in the world that it is hard to imagine what life will be like for believers then – no fear, pain, mourning or death – only joy with our Savior!

New Heavens and a New Earth

17 “Behold, I will create

new heavens and a new earth.

The former things will not be remembered,

nor will they come to mind.

18 But be glad and rejoice forever

in what I will create,

for I will create Jerusalem to be a delight

and its people a joy.

19 I will rejoice over Jerusalem

and take delight in my people;

the sound of weeping and of crying

will be heard in it no more.

20 “Never again will there be in it

an infant who lives but a few days,

or an old man who does not live out his years;

he who dies at a hundred

will be thought a mere youth;

he who fails to reach a

hundred

will be considered accursed.

21 They will build houses and dwell in them;

they will plant vineyards and eat their fruit.

22 No longer will they build houses and others live in them,

or plant and others eat.

For as the days of a tree,

so will be the days of my people;

my chosen ones will long enjoy

the works of their hands.

23 They will not toil in vain

or bear children doomed to misfortune;

for they will be a people blessed by the Lord,

they and their descendants with them.

24 Before they call I will answer;

while they are still speaking I will hear.

25 The wolf and the lamb will feed together,

and the lion will eat straw like the ox,

but dust will be the serpent’s food.

They will neither harm nor destroy

on all my holy mountain,”

says the Lord.

Judgment and Hope

66     This is what the Lord says:

“Heaven is my throne,

and the earth is my footstool.

Where is the house you will build for me?

Where will my resting place be?

2 Has not my hand made all these things,

and so they came into being?”

declares the Lord.

“This is the one I esteem:

he who is humble and contrite in spirit,

and trembles at my word.

3 But whoever sacrifices a bull

is like one who kills a man,

and whoever offers a lamb,

like one who breaks a dog’s neck;

whoever makes a grain offering

is like one who presents pig’s blood,

and whoever burns memorial incense,

like one who worships an idol.

They have chosen their own ways,

and their souls delight in their abominations;

4 so I also will choose harsh treatment for them

and will bring upon them what they dread.

For when I called, no one answered,

when I spoke, no one listened.

They did evil in my sight

and chose what displeases me.”

5 Hear the word of the Lord,

you who tremble at his word:

“Your brothers who hate you,

and exclude you because of my name, have said,

‘Let the Lord be glorified,

that we may see your joy!’

Yet they will be put to shame.

6 Hear that uproar from the city,

hear that noise from the temple!

It is the sound of the Lord

repaying his enemies all they deserve.

7 “Before she goes into labor,

she gives birth;

before the pains come upon her,

she delivers a son.

8 Who has ever heard of such a thing?

Who has ever seen such things?

Can a country be born in a day

or a nation be brought forth in a moment?

Yet no sooner is Zion in labor

than she gives birth to her children.

9 Do I bring to the moment of birth

and not give delivery?” says the Lord.

“Do I close up the womb

when I bring to delivery?” says your God.

10 “Rejoice with Jerusalem and be glad for her,

all you who love her;

rejoice greatly with her,

all you who mourn over her.

11 For you will nurse and be satisfied

at her comforting breasts;

you will drink deeply

and delight in her overflowing abundance.”

12 For this is what the Lord says:

“I will extend peace to her like a river,

and the wealth of nations like a flooding stream;

you will nurse and be carried on her arm

and dandled on her knees.

13 As a mother comforts her child,

so will I comfort you;

and you will be comforted over Jerusalem.”

14 When you see this, your heart will rejoice

and you will flourish like grass;

the hand of the Lord will be made known to his servants,

but his fury will be shown to his foes.

15 See, the Lord is coming with fire,

and his chariots are like a whirlwind;

he will bring down his anger with fury,

and his rebuke with flames of fire.

16 For with fire and with his sword

the Lord will execute judgment upon all men,

and many will be those slain by the Lord.

17 “Those who consecrate and purify themselves to go into the gardens, following the one in the midst of those who eat the flesh of pigs and rats and other abominable things—they will meet their end together,” declares the Lord.

18 “And I, because of their actions and their imaginations, am about to come and gather all nations and tongues, and they will come and see my glory.

19 “I will set a sign among them, and I will send some of those who survive to the nations—to Tarshish, to the Libyans and Lydians (famous as archers), to Tubal and Greece, and to the distant islands that have not heard of my fame or seen my glory. They will proclaim my glory among the nations. 20 And they will bring all your brothers, from all the nations, to my holy mountain in Jerusalem as an offering to the Lord—on horses, in chariots and wagons, and on mules and camels,” says the Lord. “They will bring them, as the Israelites bring their grain offerings, to the temple of the Lord in ceremonially clean vessels. 21 And I will select some of them also to be priests and Levites,” says the Lord.

22 “As the new heavens and the new earth that I make will endure before me,” declares the Lord, “so will your name and descendants endure. 23 From one New Moon to another and from one Sabbath to another, all mankind will come and bow down before me,” says the Lord. 24 “And they will go out and look upon the dead bodies of those who rebelled against me; their worm will not die, nor will their fire be quenched, and they will be loathsome to all mankind.”

The Holy Bible : New International Version. 1996, c1984. Grand Rapids: Zondervan.

 Isaiah ends on a sober note, reminding us of the severe consequences for those who face God with their own “righteousness” and not that of Jesus the Messiah.

Isaiah 63-64

is63.jpgGreetings!

God has great patience, and mercifully his patience comes before his judgment.  But He will eventually judge, and the outcome is not pretty.

In chapter 64 their is a wise repentance and acknowledgement of all that God is and has done.  Confessing isn’t telling God something He doesn’t know, it is seeing things the way He does and admitting how we have fallen short.

God’s Day of Vengeance and Redemption

63     Who is this coming from Edom,

from Bozrah, with his garments stained crimson?

Who is this, robed in splendor,

striding forward in the greatness of his strength?

“It is I, speaking in righteousness,

mighty to save.”

2 Why are your garments red,

like those of one treading the winepress?

3 “I have trodden the winepress alone;

from the nations no one was with me.

I trampled them in my anger

and trod them down in my wrath;

their blood spattered my garments,

and I stained all my clothing.

4 For the day of vengeance was in my heart,

and the year of my redemption has come.

5 I looked, but there was no one to help,

I was appalled that no one gave support;

so my own arm worked salvation for me,

and my own wrath sustained me.

6 I trampled the nations in my anger;

in my wrath I made them drunk

and poured their blood on the ground.”

Praise and Prayer

7 I will tell of the kindnesses of the Lord,

the deeds for which he is to be praised,

according to all the Lord has done for us—

yes, the many good things he has done

for the house of Israel,

according to his compassion and many kindnesses.

8 He said, “Surely they are my people,

sons who will not be false to me”;

and so he became their Savior.

9 In all their distress he too was distressed,

and the angel of his presence saved them.

In his love and mercy he redeemed them;

he lifted them up and carried them

all the days of old.

10 Yet they rebelled

and grieved his Holy Spirit.

So he turned and became their enemy

and he himself fought against them.

11 Then his people recalled the days

of old,

the days of Moses and his people—

where is he who brought them through the sea,

with the shepherd of his flock?

Where is he who set

his Holy Spirit among them,

12 who sent his glorious arm of power

to be at Moses’ right hand,

who divided the waters before them,

to gain for himself everlasting renown,

13 who led them through the depths?

Like a horse in open country,

they did not stumble;

14 like cattle that go down to the plain,

they were given rest by the Spirit of the Lord.

This is how you guided your people

to make for yourself a glorious name.

15 Look down from heaven and see

from your lofty throne, holy and glorious.

Where are your zeal and your might?

Your tenderness and compassion are withheld from us.

16 But you are our Father,

though Abraham does not know us

or Israel acknowledge us;

you, O Lord, are our Father,

our Redeemer from of old is your name.

17 Why, O Lord, do you make us wander from your ways

and harden our hearts so we do not revere you?

Return for the sake of your servants,

the tribes that are your inheritance.

18 For a little while your people possessed your holy place,

but now our enemies have trampled down your sanctuary.

19 We are yours from of old;

but you have not ruled over them,

they have not been called by your name.

64     Oh, that you would rend the heavens and come down,

that the mountains would tremble before you!

2 As when fire sets twigs ablaze

and causes water to boil,

come down to make your name known to your enemies

and cause the nations to quake before you!

3 For when you did awesome things that we did not expect,

you came down, and the mountains trembled before you.

4 Since ancient times no one has heard,

no ear has perceived,

no eye has seen any God besides you,

who acts on behalf of those who wait for him.

5 You come to the help of those who gladly do right,

who remember your ways.

But when we continued to sin against them,

you were angry.

How then can we be saved?

6 All of us have become like one who is unclean,

and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags;

we all shrivel up like a leaf,

and like the wind our sins sweep us away.

7 No one calls on your name

or strives to lay hold of you;

for you have hidden your face from us

and made us waste away because of our sins.

8 Yet, O Lord, you are our Father.

We are the clay, you are the potter;

we are all the work of your hand.

9 Do not be angry beyond measure, O Lord;

do not remember our sins forever.

Oh, look upon us, we pray,

for we are all your people.

10 Your sacred cities have become a desert;

even Zion is a desert, Jerusalem a desolation.

11 Our holy and glorious temple, where our fathers praised you,

has been burned with fire,

and all that we treasured lies in ruins.

12 After all this, O Lord, will you hold yourself back?

Will you keep silent and punish us beyond measure?

The Holy Bible : New International Version. 1996, c1984. Grand Rapids: Zondervan.

 

Isaiah 61-62

is61.jpgGreetings! 

The Year of the Lord’s Favor

61     The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me,

because the Lord has anointed me

to preach good news to the poor.

He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,

to proclaim freedom for the captives

and release from darkness for the prisoners,

2 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor

Jesus quoted the section above in Luke 4 then added, “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.” (Luke 4:21).  The situation ended badly, with the people trying to kill Jesus.  He was the Messiah, but not the one they expected.

It seems to me that the poor above are poor in spirit and the prisoners are prisoners of sin.  Jesus didn’t literally release many people from prison, but He did release anyone from the judgment of sin who repents and believes in him.

and the day of vengeance of our God,

to comfort all who mourn,

3 and provide for those who grieve in Zion—

to bestow on them a crown of beauty

instead of ashes,

the oil of gladness

instead of mourning,

and a garment of praise

instead of a spirit of despair.

They will be called oaks of righteousness,

a planting of the Lord

for the display of his splendor.

4 They will rebuild the ancient ruins

and restore the places long devastated;

they will renew the ruined cities

that have been devastated for generations.

5 Aliens will shepherd your flocks;

foreigners will work your fields and vineyards.

6 And you will be called priests of the Lord,

you will be named ministers of our God.

V. 6 introduces a new concept, the “priesthood of all believers,” where the Jews didn’t have to go through the priests to reach God.  If you are a follower of Christ then you are his ambassador and “priest.”  May we live out our lives with that truth in mind!

You will feed on the wealth of nations,

and in their riches you will boast.

7 Instead of their shame

my people will receive a double portion,

and instead of disgrace

they will rejoice in their inheritance;

and so they will inherit a double portion in their land,

and everlasting joy will be theirs.

8 “For I, the Lord, love justice;

I hate robbery and iniquity.

In my faithfulness I will reward them

and make an everlasting covenant with them.

9 Their descendants will be known among the nations

and their offspring among the peoples.

All who see them will acknowledge

that they are a people the Lord has blessed.”

10 I delight greatly in the Lord;

my soul rejoices in my God.

For he has clothed me with garments of salvation

and arrayed me in a robe of righteousness,

as a bridegroom adorns his head like a priest,

and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.

11 For as the soil makes the sprout come up

and a garden causes seeds to grow,

so the Sovereign Lord will make righteousness and praise

spring up before all nations.

Zion’s New Name

62     For Zion’s sake I will not keep silent,

for Jerusalem’s sake I will not remain quiet,

till her righteousness shines out like the dawn,

her salvation like a blazing torch.

2 The nations will see your righteousness,

and all kings your glory;

you will be called by a new name

that the mouth of the Lord will bestow.

3 You will be a crown of splendor in the Lord’s hand,

a royal diadem in the hand of your God.

4 No longer will they call you Deserted,

or name your land Desolate.

But you will be called Hephzibah,

and your land Beulah;

for the Lord will take delight in you,

and your land will be married.

5 As a young man marries a maiden,

so will your sons marry you;

as a bridegroom rejoices over his bride,

so will your God rejoice over you.

6 I have posted watchmen on your walls, O Jerusalem;

they will never be silent day or night.

You who call on the Lord,

give yourselves no rest,

7 and give him no rest till he establishes Jerusalem

and makes her the praise of the earth.

8 The Lord has sworn by his right hand

and by his mighty arm:

“Never again will I give your grain

as food for your enemies,

and never again will foreigners drink the new wine

for which you have toiled;

9 but those who harvest it will eat it

and praise the Lord,

and those who gather the grapes will drink it

in the courts of my sanctuary.”

10 Pass through, pass through the gates!

Prepare the way for the people.

Build up, build up the highway!

Remove the stones.

Raise a banner for the nations.

11 The Lord has made proclamation

to the ends of the earth:

“Say to the Daughter of Zion,

‘See, your Savior comes!

See, his reward is with him,

and his recompense accompanies him.’”

12 They will be called the Holy People,

the Redeemed of the Lord;

and you will be called Sought After,

the City No Longer Deserted.

The Holy Bible : New International Version. 1996, c1984. Grand Rapids: Zondervan.

Though Jesus didn’t come for hundreds of years after this, the people were told to wait expectantly for him.

Isaiah 59-60

is59.jpgGreetings!

Sin, Confession and Redemption

59     Surely the arm of the Lord is not too short to save,

nor his ear too dull to hear.

2 But your iniquities have separated

you from your God;

your sins have hidden his face from you,

so that he will not hear.

3 For your hands are stained with blood,

your fingers with guilt.

Your lips have spoken lies,

and your tongue mutters wicked things.

4 No one calls for justice;

no one pleads his case with integrity.

They rely on empty arguments and speak lies;

they conceive trouble and give birth to evil.

5 They hatch the eggs of vipers

and spin a spider’s web.

Whoever eats their eggs will die,

and when one is broken, an adder is hatched.

6 Their cobwebs are useless for clothing;

they cannot cover themselves with what they make.

Their deeds are evil deeds,

and acts of violence are in their hands.

7 Their feet rush into sin;

they are swift to shed innocent blood.

Their thoughts are evil thoughts;

ruin and destruction mark their ways.

8 The way of peace they do not know;

there is no justice in their paths.

They have turned them into crooked roads;

no one who walks in them will know peace.

9 So justice is far from us,

and righteousness does not reach us.

We look for light, but all is darkness;

for brightness, but we walk in deep shadows.

10 Like the blind we grope along the wall,

feeling our way like men without eyes.

At midday we stumble as if it were twilight;

among the strong, we are like the dead.

11 We all growl like bears;

we moan mournfully like doves.

We look for justice, but find none;

for deliverance, but it is far away.

12 For our offenses are many in your sight,

and our sins testify against us.

Our offenses are ever with us,

and we acknowledge our iniquities:

13 rebellion and treachery against the Lord,

turning our backs on our God,

fomenting oppression and revolt,

uttering lies our hearts have conceived.

14 So justice is driven back,

and righteousness stands at a distance;

truth has stumbled in the streets,

honesty cannot enter.

15 Truth is nowhere to be found,

and whoever shuns evil becomes a prey.

The Lord looked and was displeased

that there was no justice.

16 He saw that there was no one,

he was appalled that there was no one to intervene;

so his own arm worked salvation for him,

and his own righteousness sustained him.

17 He put on righteousness as his breastplate,

and the helmet of salvation on his head;

he put on the garments of vengeance

and wrapped himself in zeal as in a cloak.

After the bleak opening highlighting our seemingly insurmountable problem with sin, God reveals his plan to work out salvation for us.  The breastplate / helmet part reminds me of “armor of God” passage in Ephesians 6.

18 According to what they have done,

so will he repay

wrath to his enemies

and retribution to his foes;

he will repay the islands their due.

19 From the west, men will fear the name of the Lord,

and from the rising of the sun, they will revere his glory.

For he will come like a pent-up flood

that the breath of the Lord drives along.

20 “The Redeemer will come to Zion,

to those in Jacob who repent of their sins,”

declares the Lord.

Repent and believe!  The message is still the same.

21 “As for me, this is my covenant with them,” says the Lord. “My Spirit, who is on you, and my words that I have put in your mouth will not depart from your mouth, or from the mouths of your children, or from the mouths of their descendants from this time on and forever,” says the Lord.

The Glory of Zion

60     “Arise, shine, for your light has come,

and the glory of the Lord rises upon you.

2 See, darkness covers the earth

and thick darkness is over the peoples,

but the Lord rises upon you

and his glory appears over you.

3 Nations will come to your light,

and kings to the brightness of your dawn.

4 “Lift up your eyes and look about you:

All assemble and come to you;

your sons come from afar,

and your daughters are carried on the arm.

5 Then you will look and be radiant,

your heart will throb and swell with joy;

the wealth on the seas will be brought to you,

to you the riches of the nations will come.

6 Herds of camels will cover your land,

young camels of Midian and Ephah.

And all from Sheba will come,

bearing gold and incense

and proclaiming the praise of the Lord.

7 All Kedar’s flocks will be gathered to you,

the rams of Nebaioth will serve you;

they will be accepted as offerings on my altar,

and I will adorn my glorious temple.

8 “Who are these that fly along like clouds,

like doves to their nests?

9 Surely the islands look to me;

in the lead are the ships of Tarshish,

bringing your sons from afar,

with their silver and gold,

to the honor of the Lord your God,

the Holy One of Israel,

for he has endowed you with splendor.

10 “Foreigners will rebuild your walls,

and their kings will serve you.

Though in anger I struck you,

in favor I will show you compassion.

11 Your gates will always stand open,

they will never be shut, day or night,

so that men may bring you the wealth of the nations—

their kings led in triumphal procession.

12 For the nation or kingdom that will not serve you will perish;

it will be utterly ruined.

13 “The glory of Lebanon will come to you,

the pine, the fir and the cypress together,

to adorn the place of my sanctuary;

and I will glorify the place of my feet.

14 The sons of your oppressors will come bowing before you;

all who despise you will bow down at your feet

and will call you the City of the Lord,

Zion of the Holy One of Israel.

15 “Although you have been forsaken and hated,

with no one traveling through,

I will make you the everlasting pride

and the joy of all generations.

16 You will drink the milk of nations

and be nursed at royal breasts.

Then you will know that I, the Lord, am your Savior,

your Redeemer, the Mighty One of Jacob.

17 Instead of bronze I will bring you gold,

and silver in place of iron.

Instead of wood I will bring you bronze,

and iron in place of stones.

I will make peace your governor

and righteousness your ruler.

18 No longer will violence be heard in your land,

nor ruin or destruction within your borders,

but you will call your walls Salvation

and your gates Praise.

19 The sun will no more be your light by day,

nor will the brightness of the moon shine on you,

for the Lord will be your everlasting light,

and your God will be your glory.

20 Your sun will never set again,

and your moon will wane no more;

the Lord will be your everlasting light,

and your days of sorrow will end.

21 Then will all your people be righteous

and they will possess the land forever.

They are the shoot I have planted,

the work of my hands,

for the display of my splendor.

22 The least of you will become a thousand,

the smallest a mighty nation.

I am the Lord;

in its time I will do this swiftly.”

The Holy Bible : New International Version. 1996, c1984. Grand Rapids: Zondervan.

These things will happen in the future.  The great promises of chapter 60 will be fulfilled eventually. 

Isaiah 57-58

is57.jpgGreetings!

57     The righteous perish,

and no one ponders it in his heart;

devout men are taken away,

and no one understands

that the righteous are taken away

to be spared from evil.

2 Those who walk uprightly

enter into peace;

they find rest as they lie in death.

I don’t think this is a Heaven / Hell passage per se, rather it notes that the society was so evil that the dead were in a better place.  Many Israelites had abandoned God and were involved in pagan fertility religions.

3 “But you—come here, you sons of a sorceress,

you offspring of adulterers and prostitutes!

4 Whom are you mocking?

At whom do you sneer

and stick out your tongue?

Are you not a brood of rebels,

the offspring of liars?

5 You burn with lust among the oaks

and under every spreading tree;

you sacrifice your children in the ravines

and under the overhanging crags.

6 The idols among the smooth stones of the ravines are your portion;

they, they are your lot.

Yes, to them you have poured out drink offerings

and offered grain offerings.

In the light of these things, should I relent?

7 You have made your bed on a high and lofty hill;

there you went up to offer your sacrifices.

8 Behind your doors and your doorposts

you have put your pagan symbols.

Forsaking me, you uncovered your bed,

you climbed into it and opened it wide;

you made a pact with those whose beds you love,

and you looked on their nakedness.

9 You went to Molech with olive oil

and increased your perfumes.

You sent your ambassadors far away;

you descended to the grave itself!

10 You were wearied by all your ways,

but you would not say, ‘It is hopeless.’

You found renewal of your strength,

and so you did not faint.

11 “Whom have you so dreaded and feared

that you have been false to me,

and have neither remembered me

nor pondered this in your hearts?

Is it not because I have long been silent

that you do not fear me?

12 I will expose your righteousness and your works,

and they will not benefit you.

13 When you cry out for help,

let your collection of idols save you!

The wind will carry all of them off,

a mere breath will blow them away.

But the man who makes me his refuge

will inherit the land

and possess my holy mountain.”

If we put our trust in idols or worldly things then we have no hope.  As Jonah 2:8 says, “Those who cling to worthless idols forfeit the grace that could be theirs.”

Comfort for the Contrite

14 And it will be said:

“Build up, build up, prepare the road!

Remove the obstacles out of the way of my people.”

15 For this is what the high and lofty One says—

he who lives forever, whose name is holy:

“I live in a high and holy place,

but also with him who is contrite and lowly in spirit,

to revive the spirit of the lowly

and to revive the heart of the contrite.

16 I will not accuse forever,

nor will I always be angry,

for then the spirit of man would grow faint before me—

the breath of man that I have created.

17 I was enraged by his sinful greed;

I punished him, and hid my face in anger,

yet he kept on in his willful ways.

18 I have seen his ways, but I will heal him;

I will guide him and restore comfort to him,

19 creating praise on the lips of the mourners in Israel.

Peace, peace, to those far and near,”

says the Lord. “And I will heal them.”

20 But the wicked are like the tossing sea,

which cannot rest,

whose waves cast up mire and mud.

21 “There is no peace,” says my God, “for the wicked.”

This next passage is very convicting.  Sometimes we can do the right things with the wrong motive, and they count for nothing.  It is so tempting to do the superficial things but not have my heart in the right place.

True Fasting

58     “Shout it aloud, do not hold back.

Raise your voice like a trumpet.

Declare to my people their rebellion

and to the house of Jacob their sins.

2 For day after day they seek me out;

they seem eager to know my ways,

as if they were a nation that does what is right

and has not forsaken the commands of its God.

They ask me for just decisions

and seem eager for God to come near them.

3 ‘Why have we fasted,’ they say,

‘and you have not seen it?

Why have we humbled ourselves,

and you have not noticed?’

“Yet on the day of your fasting, you do as you please

and exploit all your workers.

4 Your fasting ends in quarreling and strife,

and in striking each other with wicked fists.

You cannot fast as you do today

and expect your voice to be heard on high.

5 Is this the kind of fast I have chosen,

only a day for a man to humble himself?

Is it only for bowing one’s head like a reed

and for lying on sackcloth and ashes?

Is that what you call a fast,

a day acceptable to the Lord?

6 “Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen:

to loose the chains of injustice

and untie the cords of the yoke,

to set the oppressed free

and break every yoke?

7 Is it not to share your food with the hungry

and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter—

when you see the naked, to clothe him,

and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?

8 Then your light will break forth like the dawn,

and your healing will quickly appear;

then your righteousness will go before you,

and the glory of the Lord will be your rear guard.

9 Then you will call, and the Lord will answer;

you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I.

“If you do away with the yoke of oppression,

with the pointing finger and malicious talk,

10 and if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry

and satisfy the needs of the oppressed,

then your light will rise in the darkness,

and your night will become like the noonday.

11 The Lord will guide you always;

he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land

and will strengthen your frame.

You will be like a well-watered garden,

like a spring whose waters never fail.

12 Your people will rebuild the ancient ruins

and will raise up the age-old foundations;

you will be called Repairer of Broken Walls,

Restorer of Streets with Dwellings.

13 “If you keep your feet from breaking the Sabbath

and from doing as you please on my holy day,

if you call the Sabbath a delight

and the Lord’s holy day honorable,

and if you honor it by not going your own way

and not doing as you please or speaking idle words,

14 then you will find your joy in the Lord,

and I will cause you to ride on the heights of the land

and to feast on the inheritance of your father Jacob.”

The mouth of the Lord has spoken.

The Holy Bible : New International Version. 1996, c1984. Grand Rapids: Zondervan.

Isaiah 55-56

is55.jpgGreetings!  This opens with a beautiful passage where God invites us to come to him – for free!  Our souls can “delight” and “live” because of what He has to offer. 

Note the many examples of God offering his grace to all – through the Israelites, but not just for the Israelites. 

Invitation to the Thirsty

55     “Come, all you who are thirsty,

come to the waters;

and you who have no money,

come, buy and eat!

Come, buy wine and milk

without money and without cost.

2 Why spend money on what is not bread,

and your labor on what does not satisfy?

Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good,

and your soul will delight in the richest of fare.

3 Give ear and come to me;

hear me, that your soul may live.

I will make an everlasting covenant with you,

my faithful love promised to David.

4 See, I have made him a witness to the peoples,

a leader and commander of the peoples.

5 Surely you will summon nations you know not,

and nations that do not know you will hasten to you,

because of the Lord your God,

the Holy One of Israel,

for he has endowed you with splendor.”

6 Seek the Lord while he may be found;

call on him while he is near.

7 Let the wicked forsake his way

and the evil man his thoughts.

Let him turn to the Lord, and he will have mercy on him,

and to our God, for he will freely pardon.

8 “For my thoughts are not your thoughts,

neither are your ways my ways,”

declares the Lord.

9 “As the heavens are higher than the earth,

so are my ways higher than your ways

and my thoughts than your thoughts.

So often we make God in our own image and forget that the clay doesn’t tell the potter what to do.

10 As the rain and the snow

come down from heaven,

and do not return to it

without watering the earth

and making it bud and flourish,

so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater,

11 so is my word that goes out from my mouth:

It will not return to me empty,

but will accomplish what I desire

and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.

Verses 10-11 are a powerful passage to remember when sharing God’s word.  When in doubt we should use his words instead of ours.  He has promised that his will not return empty, but He makes no such promises about my words.

Side note: Consider how Isaiah outlines the hydrological cycle.  The Bible is not a science textbook, but the claims woven into it are accurate

12 You will go out in joy

and be led forth in peace;

the mountains and hills

will burst into song before you,

and all the trees of the field

will clap their hands.

13 Instead of the thornbush will grow the pine tree,

and instead of briers the myrtle will grow.

This will be for the Lord’s renown,

for an everlasting sign,

which will not be destroyed.”

Salvation for Others

56     This is what the Lord says:

“Maintain justice

and do what is right,

for my salvation is close at hand

and my righteousness will soon be revealed.

2 Blessed is the man who does this,

the man who holds it fast,

who keeps the Sabbath without desecrating it,

and keeps his hand from doing any evil.”

3 Let no foreigner who has bound himself to the Lord say,

“The Lord will surely exclude me from his people.”

And let not any eunuch complain,

“I am only a dry tree.”

4 For this is what the Lord says:

“To the eunuchs who keep my Sabbaths,

who choose what pleases me

and hold fast to my covenant—

5 to them I will give within my temple and its walls

a memorial and a name

better than sons and daughters;

I will give them an everlasting name

that will not be cut off.

6 And foreigners who bind themselves to the Lord

to serve him,

to love the name of the Lord,

and to worship him,

all who keep the Sabbath without desecrating it

and who hold fast to my covenant—

7 these I will bring to my holy mountain

and give them joy in my house of prayer.

Their burnt offerings and sacrifices

will be accepted on my altar;

for my house will be called

a house of prayer for all nations.”

Eunuchs and foreigners could not fully participate in the Israelite worship, but God was showing them the door was opening.

8 The Sovereign Lord declares—

he who gathers the exiles of Israel:

“I will gather still others to them

besides those already gathered.”

God’s Accusation Against the Wicked

9 Come, all you beasts of the field,

come and devour, all you beasts of the forest!

10 Israel’s watchmen are blind,

they all lack knowledge;

they are all mute dogs,

they cannot bark;

they lie around and dream,

they love to sleep.

11 They are dogs with mighty appetites;

they never have enough.

They are shepherds who lack understanding;

they all turn to their own way,

each seeks his own gain.

12 “Come,” each one cries, “let me get wine!

Let us drink our fill of beer!

And tomorrow will be like today,

or even far better.”

The Holy Bible : New International Version. 1996, c1984. Grand Rapids: Zondervan.

Isaiah 53-54

is53.jpgGreetings!  These are some of the most important passages in the Bible.  They reveal much about Jesus, the Messiah, and how He would come.  Yet they defied what the Jews had been expecting.  Who would have thought God would come as a humble servant?  It seems to be the opposite of what one would expect. 

53     Who has believed our message

and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?

2 He grew up before him like a tender shoot,

and like a root out of dry ground.

He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him,

nothing in his appearance that we should desire him.

Our culture worships beauty and appearance, yet the Messiah was so humble that He didn’t bring those qualities.

3 He was despised and rejected by men,

a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering.

Like one from whom men hide their faces

he was despised, and we esteemed him not.

4 Surely he took up our infirmities

and carried our sorrows,

yet we considered him stricken by God,

smitten by him, and afflicted.

5 But he was pierced for our transgressions,

he was crushed for our iniquities;

the punishment that brought us peace was upon him,

and by his wounds we are healed.

6 We all, like sheep, have gone astray,

each of us has turned to his own way;

and the Lord has laid on him

the iniquity of us all.

As Christians in the 21st century it is easy to think we would have treated Jesus differently, but the truth is that we would have rejected him like all the rest.  It is only by the power of the Holy Spirit that we believe him now.

He took our punishment, as painful as it was, so we could stand before God the Father.  What an endlessly incredible and wonderful thing to meditate on!

7 He was oppressed and afflicted,

yet he did not open his mouth;

he was led like a lamb to the slaughter,

and as a sheep before her shearers is silent,

so he did not open his mouth.

Jesus was silent before his accusers, including Pontius Pilate, in that He didn’t try to defend himself.

8 By oppression and judgment he was taken away.

And who can speak of his descendants?

For he was cut off from the land of the living;

for the transgression of my people he was stricken.

9 He was assigned a grave with the wicked,

and with the rich in his death,

though he had done no violence,

nor was any deceit in his mouth.

10 Yet it was the Lord’s will to crush him and cause him to suffer,

and though the Lord makes his

life a guilt offering,

he will see his offspring and prolong his days,

and the will of the Lord will prosper in his hand.

11 After the suffering of his soul,

he will see the light of life and be satisfied;

by his knowledge my righteous

servant will justify many,

and he will bear their iniquities.

12 Therefore I will give him a portion among the great,

and he will divide the spoils with the strong,

because he poured out his life unto death,

and was numbered with the transgressors.

For he bore the sin of many,

and made intercession for the transgressors.

We are justified not by what we do but by what Jesus did for us, if only we put our trust in him.

The Future Glory of Zion

54     “Sing, O barren woman,

you who never bore a child;

burst into song, shout for joy,

you who were never in labor;

because more are the children of the desolate woman

than of her who has a husband,”

says the Lord.

2 “Enlarge the place of your tent,

stretch your tent curtains wide,

do not hold back;

lengthen your cords,

strengthen your stakes.

3 For you will spread out to the right and to the left;

your descendants will dispossess nations

and settle in their desolate cities.

4 “Do not be afraid; you will not suffer shame.

Do not fear disgrace; you will not be humiliated.

You will forget the shame of your youth

and remember no more the reproach of your widowhood.

5 For your Maker is your husband—

the Lord Almighty is his name—

the Holy One of Israel is your Redeemer;

he is called the God of all the earth.

6 The Lord will call you back

as if you were a wife deserted and distressed in spirit—

a wife who married young,

only to be rejected,” says your God.

7 “For a brief moment I abandoned you,

but with deep compassion I will bring you back.

8 In a surge of anger

I hid my face from you for a moment,

but with everlasting kindness

I will have compassion on you,”

says the Lord your Redeemer.

9 “To me this is like the days of Noah,

when I swore that the waters of Noah would never again

cover the earth.

So now I have sworn not to be angry with you,

never to rebuke you again.

10 Though the mountains be shaken

and the hills be removed,

yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken

nor my covenant of peace be removed,”

says the Lord, who has compassion on you.

11 “O afflicted city, lashed by storms and not comforted,

I will build you with stones of turquoise,

your foundations with sapphires.

12 I will make your battlements of rubies,

your gates of sparkling jewels,

and all your walls of precious stones.

13 All your sons will be taught by the Lord,

and great will be your children’s peace.

14 In righteousness you will be established:

Tyranny will be far from you;

you will have nothing to fear.

Terror will be far removed;

it will not come near you.

15 If anyone does attack you, it will not be my doing;

whoever attacks you will surrender to you.

16 “See, it is I who created the blacksmith

who fans the coals into flame

and forges a weapon fit for its work.

And it is I who have created the destroyer to work havoc;

17 no weapon forged against you will prevail,

and you will refute every tongue that accuses you.

This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord,

and this is their vindication from me,”

declares the Lord.

The Holy Bible : New International Version. 1996, c1984. Grand Rapids: Zondervan.

Isaiah 51-52

is51.jpgGreetings!  These chapters begin some prophecies of the Messiah and lead into chapter 53, which is full of prophecies about Jesus.

Everlasting Salvation for Zion

51     “Listen to me, you who pursue righteousness

and who seek the Lord:

Look to the rock from which you were cut

and to the quarry from which you were hewn;

2 look to Abraham, your father,

and to Sarah, who gave you birth.

When I called him he was but one,

and I blessed him and made him many.

Do you ever feel alone as a Christian?  Remember that God has countless authentic Christians throughout the world. 

3 The Lord will surely comfort Zion

and will look with compassion on all her ruins;

he will make her deserts like Eden,

her wastelands like the garden of the Lord.

Joy and gladness will be found in her,

thanksgiving and the sound of singing.

4 “Listen to me, my people;

hear me, my nation:

The law will go out from me;

my justice will become a light to the nations.

5 My righteousness draws near speedily,

my salvation is on the way,

and my arm will bring justice to the nations.

The islands will look to me

and wait in hope for my arm.

6 Lift up your eyes to the heavens,

look at the earth beneath;

the heavens will vanish like smoke,

the earth will wear out like a garment

and its inhabitants die like flies.

But my salvation will last forever,

my righteousness will never fail.

7 “Hear me, you who know what is right,

you people who have my law in your hearts:

Do not fear the reproach of men

or be terrified by their insults.

8 For the moth will eat them up like a garment;

the worm will devour them like wool.

But my righteousness will last forever,

my salvation through all generations.”

9 Awake, awake! Clothe yourself with strength,

O arm of the Lord;

awake, as in days gone by,

as in generations of old.

Was it not you who cut Rahab to pieces,

who pierced that monster through?

10 Was it not you who dried up the sea,

the waters of the great deep,

who made a road in the depths of the sea

so that the redeemed might cross over?

Rahab is a nickname for Egypt.

11 The ransomed of the Lord 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.

12 “I, even I, am he who comforts you.

Who are you that you fear mortal men,

the sons of men, who are but grass,

13 that you forget the Lord your Maker,

who stretched out the heavens

and laid the foundations of the earth,

that you live in constant terror every day

because of the wrath of the oppressor,

who is bent on destruction?

For where is the wrath of the oppressor?

14 The cowering prisoners will soon be set free;

they will not die in their dungeon,

nor will they lack bread.

15 For I am the Lord your God,

who churns up the sea so that its waves roar—

the Lord Almighty is his name.

16 I have put my words in your mouth

and covered you with the shadow of my hand—

I who set the heavens in place,

who laid the foundations of the earth,

and who say to Zion, ‘You are my people.’”

When God points out that the Israelites should fear God and not mortals it reminds me of Matthew 10:28: Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell.

It is such a simple but reassuring truth: Why should we fear men when God is ultimately in control?  Faith is acting as if what you believe is really true.

The Cup of the Lord’s Wrath

17 Awake, awake!

Rise up, O Jerusalem,

you who have drunk from the hand of the Lord

the cup of his wrath,

you who have drained to its dregs

the goblet that makes men stagger.

18 Of all the sons she bore

there was none to guide her;

of all the sons she reared

there was none to take her by the hand.

19 These double calamities have come upon you—

who can comfort you?—

ruin and destruction, famine and sword—

who can console you?

20 Your sons have fainted;

they lie at the head of every street,

like antelope caught in a net.

They are filled with the wrath of the Lord

and the rebuke of your God.

21 Therefore hear this, you afflicted one,

made drunk, but not with wine.

22 This is what your Sovereign Lord says,

your God, who defends his people:

“See, I have taken out of your hand

the cup that made you stagger;

from that cup, the goblet of my wrath,

you will never drink again.

23 I will put it into the hands of your tormentors,

who said to you,

‘Fall prostrate that we may walk over you.’

And you made your back like the ground,

like a street to be walked over.”

52     Awake, awake, O Zion,

clothe yourself with strength.

Put on your garments of splendor,

O Jerusalem, the holy city.

The uncircumcised and defiled

will not enter you again.

2 Shake off your dust;

rise up, sit enthroned, O Jerusalem.

Free yourself from the chains on your neck,

O captive Daughter of Zion.

3 For this is what the Lord says:

“You were sold for nothing,

and without money you will be redeemed.”

4 For this is what the Sovereign Lord says:

“At first my people went down to Egypt to live;

lately, Assyria has oppressed them.

5 “And now what do I have here?” declares the Lord.

“For my people have been taken away for nothing,

and those who rule them mock,”

declares the Lord.

“And all day long

my name is constantly blasphemed.

6 Therefore my people will know my name;

therefore in that day they will know

that it is I who foretold it.

Yes, it is I.”

7 How beautiful on the mountains

are the feet of those who bring good news,

who proclaim peace,

who bring good tidings,

who proclaim salvation,

who say to Zion,

“Your God reigns!”

Paul quotes v. 7 in Romans 10:15.  We have the good news, but we often treat it like it is bad news.  But for those who need and want to hear it, it is beautiful.

8 Listen! Your watchmen lift up their voices;

together they shout for joy.

When the Lord returns to Zion,

they will see it with their own eyes.

9 Burst into songs of joy together,

you ruins of Jerusalem,

for the Lord has comforted his people,

he has redeemed Jerusalem.

10 The Lord will lay bare his holy arm

in the sight of all the nations,

and all the ends of the earth will see

the salvation of our God.

11 Depart, depart, go out from there!

Touch no unclean thing!

Come out from it and be pure,

you who carry the vessels of the Lord.

12 But you will not leave in haste

or go in flight;

for the Lord will go before you,

the God of Israel will be your rear guard.

The next section contains some interesting and even shocking predictions about the Messiah.  Rather than being revered by all, He will be rejected by many.

The Suffering and Glory of the Servant

13 See, my servant will act wisely;

he will be raised and lifted up and highly exalted.

14 Just as there were many who were appalled at him—

his appearance was so disfigured beyond that of any man

and his form marred beyond human likeness—

15 so will he sprinkle many nations,

and kings will shut their mouths because of him.

For what they were not told, they will see,

and what they have not heard, they will understand.

The Holy Bible : New International Version. 1996, c1984. Grand Rapids: Zondervan.

Isaiah 49-50

is491.jpgGreetings!

This section opens with another reminder that God gave his grace to the Israelites so they could be a light to all nations.  It was part of his plan from the beginning.  As a former pastor of mine would say, they were “blessed to be a blessing.”  I think the same way of us today as Christians.  We have been blessed with so many things that we can share with others – time, talent, treasure and the good news of the Gospel.

The Servant of the Lord

49     Listen to me, you islands;

hear this, you distant nations:

Before I was born the Lord called me;

from my birth he has made mention of my name.

2 He made my mouth like a sharpened sword,

in the shadow of his hand he hid me;

he made me into a polished arrow

and concealed me in his quiver.

3 He said to me, “You are my servant,

Israel, in whom I will display my splendor.”

4 But I said, “I have labored to no purpose;

I have spent my strength in vain and for nothing.

Yet what is due me is in the Lord’s hand,

and my reward is with my God.”

5 And now the Lord says—

he who formed me in the womb to be his servant

to bring Jacob back to him

and gather Israel to himself,

for I am honored in the eyes of the Lord

and my God has been my strength—

6 he says:

“It is too small a thing for you to be my servant

to restore the tribes of Jacob

and bring back those of Israel I have kept.

I will also make you a light for the Gentiles,

that you may bring my salvation to the ends of the earth.”

7 This is what the Lord says—

the Redeemer and Holy One of Israel—

to him who was despised and abhorred by the nation,

to the servant of rulers:

“Kings will see you and rise up,

princes will see and bow down,

because of the Lord, who is faithful,

the Holy One of Israel, who has chosen you.”

Restoration of Israel

8 This is what the Lord says:

“In the time of my favor I will answer you,

and in the day of salvation I will help you;

I will keep you and will make you

to be a covenant for the people,

to restore the land

and to reassign its desolate inheritances,

9 to say to the captives, ‘Come out,’

and to those in darkness, ‘Be free!’

“They will feed beside the roads

and find pasture on every barren hill.

10 They will neither hunger nor thirst,

nor will the desert heat or the sun beat upon them.

He who has compassion on them will guide them

and lead them beside springs of water.

11 I will turn all my mountains into roads,

and my highways will be raised up.

12 See, they will come from afar—

some from the north, some from the west,

some from the region of Aswan.”

13 Shout for joy, O heavens;

rejoice, O earth;

burst into song, O mountains!

For the Lord comforts his people

and will have compassion on his afflicted ones.

14 But Zion said, “The Lord has forsaken me,

the Lord has forgotten me.”

15 “Can a mother forget the baby at her breast

and have no compassion on the child she has borne?

Though she may forget,

I will not forget you!

16 See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands;

your walls are ever before me.

17 Your sons hasten back,

and those who laid you waste depart from you.

18 Lift up your eyes and look around;

all your sons gather and come to you.

As surely as I live,” declares the Lord,

“you will wear them all as ornaments;

you will put them on, like a bride.

19 “Though you were ruined and made desolate

and your land laid waste,

now you will be too small for your people,

and those who devoured you will be far away.

20 The children born during your bereavement

will yet say in your hearing,

‘This place is too small for us;

give us more space to live in.’

21 Then you will say in your heart,

‘Who bore me these?

I was bereaved and barren;

I was exiled and rejected.

Who brought these up?

I was left all alone,

but these—where have they come from?’”

22 This is what the Sovereign Lord says:

“See, I will beckon to the Gentiles,

I will lift up my banner to the peoples;

they will bring your sons in their arms

and carry your daughters on their shoulders.

23 Kings will be your foster fathers,

and their queens your nursing mothers.

They will bow down before you with their faces to the ground;

they will lick the dust at your feet.

Then you will know that I am the Lord;

those who hope in me will not be disappointed.”

24 Can plunder be taken from warriors,

or captives rescued from the fierce?

25 But this is what the Lord says:

“Yes, captives will be taken from warriors,

and plunder retrieved from the fierce;

I will contend with those who contend with you,

and your children I will save.

26 I will make your oppressors eat their own flesh;

they will be drunk on their own blood, as with wine.

Then all mankind will know

that I, the Lord, am your Savior,

your Redeemer, the Mighty One of Jacob.”

In chapter 50, God starts by pointing out the problem of the Israelites turning away to other nations for protection instead of turning to him.

Israel’s Sin and the Servant’s Obedience

50     This is what the Lord says:

“Where is your mother’s certificate of divorce

with which I sent her away?

Or to which of my creditors

did I sell you?

Because of your sins you were sold;

because of your transgressions your mother was sent away.

2 When I came, why was there no one?

When I called, why was there no one to answer?

Was my arm too short to ransom you?

Do I lack the strength to rescue you?

By a mere rebuke I dry up the sea,

I turn rivers into a desert;

their fish rot for lack of water

and die of thirst.

3 I clothe the sky with darkness

and make sackcloth its covering.”

4 The Sovereign Lord has given me an instructed tongue,

to know the word that sustains the weary.

He wakens me morning by morning,

wakens my ear to listen like one being taught.

5 The Sovereign Lord has opened my ears,

and I have not been rebellious;

I have not drawn back.

6 I offered my back to those who beat me,

my cheeks to those who pulled out my beard;

I did not hide my face

from mocking and spitting.

7 Because the Sovereign Lord helps me,

I will not be disgraced.

Therefore have I set my face like flint,

and I know I will not be put to shame.

8 He who vindicates me is near.

Who then will bring charges against me?

Let us face each other!

Who is my accuser?

Let him confront me!

9 It is the Sovereign Lord who helps me.

Who is he that will condemn me?

They will all wear out like a garment;

the moths will eat them up.

10 Who among you fears the Lord

and obeys the word of his servant?

Let him who walks in the dark,

who has no light,

trust in the name of the Lord

and rely on his God.

11 But now, all you who light fires

and provide yourselves with flaming torches,

go, walk in the light of your fires

and of the torches you have set ablaze.

This is what you shall receive from my hand:

You will lie down in torment.

The Holy Bible : New International Version. 1996, c1984. Grand Rapids: Zondervan.

Isaiah 47-48

is47.jpgGreetings! 

The fall of Babylon was predicted 150 years ahead of time.  It hadn’t even emerged as the strongest force on earth yet.  God used Babylon to punish his people, then used the Medo-Persian empire to destroy Babylon and set free his people.

Nebuchadnezzar’s ups and downs are chronicled in more detail in the Book of Daniel. 

The Fall of Babylon

47     “Go down, sit in the dust,

Virgin Daughter of Babylon;

sit on the ground without a throne,

Daughter of the Babylonians.

No more will you be called

tender or delicate.

2 Take millstones and grind flour;

take off your veil.

Lift up your skirts, bare your legs,

and wade through the streams.

3 Your nakedness will be exposed

and your shame uncovered.

I will take vengeance;

I will spare no one.”

4 Our Redeemer—the Lord Almighty is his name—

is the Holy One of Israel.

5 “Sit in silence, go into darkness,

Daughter of the Babylonians;

no more will you be called

queen of kingdoms.

6 I was angry with my people

and desecrated my inheritance;

I gave them into your hand,

and you showed them no mercy.

Even on the aged

you laid a very heavy yoke.

7 You said, ‘I will continue forever—

the eternal queen!’

But you did not consider these things

or reflect on what might happen.

8 “Now then, listen, you wanton creature,

lounging in your security

and saying to yourself,

‘I am, and there is none besides me.

I will never be a widow

or suffer the loss of children.’

9 Both of these will overtake you

in a moment, on a single day:

loss of children and widowhood.

They will come upon you in full measure,

in spite of your many sorceries

and all your potent spells.

10 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.’

11 Disaster will come upon you,

and you will not know how to conjure it away.

A calamity will fall upon you

that you cannot ward off with a ransom;

a catastrophe you cannot foresee

will suddenly come upon you.

12 “Keep on, then, with your magic spells

and with your many sorceries,

which you have labored at since childhood.

Perhaps you will succeed,

perhaps you will cause terror.

13 All the counsel you have received has only worn you out!

Let your astrologers come forward,

those stargazers who make predictions month by month,

let them save you from what is coming upon you.

14 Surely they are like stubble;

the fire will burn them up.

They cannot even save themselves

from the power of the flame.

Here are no coals to warm anyone;

here is no fire to sit by.

15 That is all they can do for you—

these you have labored with

and trafficked with since childhood.

Each of them goes on in his error;

there is not one that can save you.

Stubborn Israel

48     “Listen to this, O house of Jacob,

you who are called by the name of Israel

and come from the line of Judah,

you who take oaths in the name of the Lord

and invoke the God of Israel—

but not in truth or righteousness—

2 you who call yourselves citizens of the holy city

and rely on the God of Israel—

the Lord Almighty is his name:

3 I foretold the former things long ago,

my mouth announced them and I made them known;

then suddenly I acted, and they came to pass.

4 For I knew how stubborn you were;

the sinews of your neck were iron,

your forehead was bronze.

5 Therefore I told you these things long ago;

before they happened I announced them to you

so that you could not say,

‘My idols did them;

my wooden image and metal god ordained them.’

6 You have heard these things; look at them all.

Will you not admit them?

“From now on I will tell you of new things,

of hidden things unknown to you.

7 They are created now, and not long ago;

you have not heard of them before today.

So you cannot say,

‘Yes, I knew of them.’

8 You have neither heard nor understood;

from of old your ear has not been open.

Well do I know how treacherous you are;

you were called a rebel from birth.

9 For my own name’s sake I delay my wrath;

for the sake of my praise I hold it back from you,

so as not to cut you off.

God didn’t have to save Israel, He did it because He wanted to.  We have done nothing deserving of salvation; it is purely by God’s grace that He saves us.

10 See, I have refined you, though not as silver;

I have tested you in the furnace of affliction.

11 For my own sake, for my own sake, I do this.

How can I let myself be defamed?

I will not yield my glory to another.

Israel Freed

12 “Listen to me, O Jacob,

Israel, whom I have called:

I am he;

I am the first and I am the last.

13 My own hand laid the foundations of the earth,

and my right hand spread out the heavens;

when I summon them,

they all stand up together.

Verse 13 is important to show how Jesus is God.  The New Testament shows how Jesus is the creator (Colossians 1, John 1), and this passage shows that God is the creator. 

14 “Come together, all of you, and listen:

Which of the idols has foretold these things?

The Lord’s chosen ally

will carry out his purpose against Babylon;

his arm will be against the Babylonians.

Choosing Cyrus, a pagan King, as God’s ally must have shocked the Israelites. 

15 I, even I, have spoken;

yes, I have called him.

I will bring him,

and he will succeed in his mission.

16 “Come near me and listen to this:

“From the first announcement I have not spoken in secret;

at the time it happens, I am there.”

And now the Sovereign Lord has sent me,

with his Spirit.

17 This is what the Lord says—

your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel:

“I am the Lord your God,

who teaches you what is best for you,

who directs you in the way you should go.

18 If only you had paid attention to my commands,

your peace would have been like a river,

your righteousness like the waves of the sea.

19 Your descendants would have been like the sand,

your children like its numberless grains;

their name would never be cut off

nor destroyed from before me.”

20 Leave Babylon,

flee from the Babylonians!

Announce this with shouts of joy

and proclaim it.

Send it out to the ends of the earth;

say, “The Lord has redeemed his servant Jacob.”

21 They did not thirst when he led them through the deserts;

he made water flow for them from the rock;

he split the rock

and water gushed out.

22 “There is no peace,” says the Lord, “for the wicked.”

The Holy Bible : New International Version. 1996, c1984. Grand Rapids: Zondervan.

God shows ahead of time that while punishment is coming, so is ultimate deliverance and redemption.  Praise God for that!

Isaiah 45-46

is451.jpgGreetings!

These chapters repeat over and over that there is one God and He is not to be ignored.  As Jonah 2:8 says, Those who cling to worthless idols forfeit the grace that could be theirs.

Interestingly, Cyrus is the only Gentile (non-Jew) rule ever annointed in the Bible.  God used Cyrus to rebuild Jeruslaem and to set the exiles free without getting anything in return.  This was a highly unusual thing for a king to do.

45     “This is what the Lord says to his anointed,

to Cyrus, whose right hand I take hold of

to subdue nations before him

and to strip kings of their armor,

to open doors before him

so that gates will not be shut:

2 I will go before you

and will level the mountains;

I will break down gates of bronze

and cut through bars of iron.

3 I will give you the treasures of darkness,

riches stored in secret places,

so that you may know that I am the Lord,

the God of Israel, who summons you by name.

4 For the sake of Jacob my servant,

of Israel my chosen,

I summon you by name

and bestow on you a title of honor,

though you do not acknowledge me.

5 I am the Lord, and there is no other;

apart from me there is no God.

I will strengthen you,

though you have not acknowledged me,

6 so that from the rising of the sun

to the place of its setting

men may know there is none besides me.

I am the Lord, and there is no other.

7 I form the light and create darkness,

I bring prosperity and create disaster;

I, the Lord, do all these things.

God notes that He creates disaster and prosperity.  He is in control of everything, which causes us to wrestle with free will – which we intuitively know we have – and God’s sovereign power.

8 “You heavens above, rain down righteousness;

let the clouds shower it down.

Let the earth open wide,

let salvation spring up,

let righteousness grow with it;

I, the Lord, have created it.

9 “Woe to him who quarrels with his Maker,

to him who is but a potsherd among the potsherds on the ground.

Does the clay say to the potter,

‘What are you making?’

Does your work say,

‘He has no hands’?

What powerful words for those who criticize and judge God!

10 Woe to him who says to his father,

‘What have you begotten?’

or to his mother,

‘What have you brought to birth?’

11 “This is what the Lord says—

the Holy One of Israel, and its Maker:

Concerning things to come,

do you question me about my children,

or give me orders about the work of my hands?

12 It is I who made the earth

and created mankind upon it.

My own hands stretched out the heavens;

I marshaled their starry hosts.

13 I will raise up Cyrus in my righteousness:

I will make all his ways straight.

He will rebuild my city

and set my exiles free,

but not for a price or reward,

says the Lord Almighty.”

14 This is what the Lord says:

“The products of Egypt and the merchandise of Cush,

and those tall Sabeans—

they will come over to you

and will be yours;

they will trudge behind you,

coming over to you in chains.

They will bow down before you

and plead with you, saying,

‘Surely God is with you, and there is no other;

there is no other god.’”

15 Truly you are a God who hides himself,

O God and Savior of Israel.

16 All the makers of idols will be put to shame and disgraced;

they will go off into disgrace together.

17 But Israel will be saved by the Lord

with an everlasting salvation;

you will never be put to shame or disgraced,

to ages everlasting.

18 For this is what the Lord says—

he who created the heavens,

he is God;

he who fashioned and made the earth,

he founded it;

he did not create it to be empty,

but formed it to be inhabited—

he says:

“I am the Lord,

and there is no other.

19 I have not spoken in secret,

from somewhere in a land of darkness;

I have not said to Jacob’s descendants,

‘Seek me in vain.’

I, the Lord, speak the truth;

I declare what is right.

20 “Gather together and come;

assemble, you fugitives from the nations.

Ignorant are those who carry about idols of wood,

who pray to gods that cannot save.

21 Declare what is to be, present it—

let them take counsel together.

Who foretold this long ago,

who declared it from the distant past?

Was it not I, the Lord?

And there is no God apart from me,

a righteous God and a Savior;

there is none but me.

22 “Turn to me and be saved,

all you ends of the earth;

for I am God, and there is no other.

God offers salvation to all, and He is the only one to whom we can turn.

23 By myself I have sworn,

my mouth has uttered in all integrity

a word that will not be revoked:

Before me every knee will bow;

by me every tongue will swear.

24 They will say of me, ‘In the Lord alone

are righteousness and strength.’”

All who have raged against him

will come to him and be put to shame.

25 But in the Lord all the descendants of Israel

will be found righteous and will exult.

Gods of Babylon

46     Bel bows down, Nebo stoops low;

their idols are borne by beasts of burden.

The images that are carried about are burdensome,

a burden for the weary.

2 They stoop and bow down together;

unable to rescue the burden,

they themselves go off into captivity.

3 “Listen to me, O house of Jacob,

all you who remain of the house of Israel,

you whom I have upheld since you were conceived,

an have carried since your birth.

4 Even to your old age and gray hairs

I am he, I am he who will sustain you.

I have made you and I will carry you;

I will sustain you and I will rescue you.

5 “To whom will you compare me or count me equal?

To whom will you liken me that we may be compared?

6 Some pour out gold from their bags

and weigh out silver on the scales;

they hire a goldsmith to make it into a god,

and they bow down and worship it.

7 They lift it to their shoulders and carry it;

they set it up in its place, and there it stands.

From that spot it cannot move.

Though one cries out to it, it does not answer;

it cannot save him from his troubles.

8 “Remember this, fix it in mind,

take it to heart, you rebels.

9 Remember the former things, those of long ago;

I am God, and there is no other;

I am God, and there is none like me.

10 I make known the end from the beginning,

from ancient times, what is still to come.

I say: My purpose will stand,

and I will do all that I please.

11 From the east I summon a bird of prey;

from a far-off land, a man to fulfill my purpose.

What I have said, that will I bring about;

what I have planned, that will I do.

12 Listen to me, you stubborn-hearted,

you who are far from righteousness.

13 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.

The Holy Bible : New International Version. 1996, c1984. Grand Rapids: Zondervan.

Isaiah 43-44

is43.jpgGreetings!

Israel’s Only Savior

43     But now, this is what the Lord says—

he who created you, O Jacob,

he who formed you, O Israel:

“Fear not, for I have redeemed you;

I have summoned you by name; you are mine.

2 When you pass through the waters,

I will be with you;

and when you pass through the rivers,

they will not sweep over you.

When you walk through the fire,

you will not be burned;

the flames will not set you ablaze.

3 For I am the Lord, your God,

the Holy One of Israel, your Savior;

I give Egypt for your ransom,

Cush and Seba in your

stead.

4 Since you are precious and honored in my sight,

and because I love you,

I will give men in exchange for you,

and people in exchange for your life.

5 Do not be afraid, for I am with you;

I will bring your children from the east

and gather you from the west.

6 I will say to the north, ‘Give them up!’

and to the south, ‘Do not hold them back.’

Bring my sons from afar

and my daughters from the ends of the earth—

7 everyone who is called by my name,

whom I created for my glory,

whom I formed and made.”

8 Lead out those who have eyes but are blind,

who have ears but are deaf.

9 All the nations gather together

and the peoples assemble.

Which of them foretold this

and proclaimed to us the former things?

Let them bring in their witnesses to prove they were right,

so that others may hear and say, “It is true.”

10 “You are my witnesses,” declares the Lord,

“and my servant whom I have chosen,

so that you may know and believe me

and understand that I am he.

Before me no god was formed,

nor will there be one after me.

11 I, even I, am the Lord,

and apart from me there is no savior.

It is always interesting to search the scriptures for God’s promises.  God made many promises to the Israelites and He kept them all.

V. 11 notes how God is the only Savior.

12 I have revealed and saved and proclaimed—

I, and not some foreign god among you.

You are my witnesses,” declares the Lord, “that I am God.

13 Yes, and from ancient days I am he.

No one can deliver out of my hand.

When I act, who can reverse it?”

God’s Mercy and Israel’s Unfaithfulness

14 This is what the Lord says—

your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel:

“For your sake I will send to Babylon

and bring down as fugitives all the Babylonians,

in the ships in which they took pride.

15 I am the Lord, your Holy One,

Israel’s Creator, your King.”

16 This is what the Lord says—

he who made a way through the sea,

a path through the mighty waters,

17 who drew out the chariots and horses,

the army and reinforcements together,

and they lay there, never to rise again,

extinguished, snuffed out like a wick:

18 “Forget the former things;

do not dwell on the past.

19 See, I am doing a new thing!

Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?

I am making a way in the desert

and streams in the wasteland.

20 The wild animals honor me,

the jackals and the owls,

because I provide water in the desert

and streams in the wasteland,

to give drink to my people, my chosen,

21 the people I formed for myself

that they may proclaim my praise.

22 “Yet you have not called upon me, O Jacob,

you have not wearied yourselves for me, O Israel.

23 You have not brought me sheep for burnt offerings,

nor honored me with your sacrifices.

I have not burdened you with grain offerings

nor wearied you with demands for incense.

24 You have not bought any fragrant calamus for me,

or lavished on me the fat of your sacrifices.

But you have burdened me with your sins

and wearied me with your offenses.

25 “I, even I, am he who blots out

your transgressions, for my own sake,

and remembers your sins no more.

26 Review the past for me,

let us argue the matter together;

state the case for your innocence.

27 Your first father sinned;

your spokesmen rebelled against me.

28 So I will disgrace the dignitaries of your temple,

and I will consign Jacob to destruction

and Israel to scorn.

Israel the Chosen

44     “But now listen, O Jacob, my servant,

Israel, whom I have chosen.

2 This is what the Lord says—

he who made you, who formed you in the womb,

and who will help you:

Do not be afraid, O Jacob, my servant,

Jeshurun, whom I have chosen.

3 For I will pour water on the thirsty land,

and streams on the dry ground;

I will pour out my Spirit on your offspring,

and my blessing on your descendants.

4 They will spring up like grass in a meadow,

like poplar trees by flowing streams.

5 One will say, ‘I belong to the Lord’;

another will call himself by the name of Jacob;

still another will write on his hand, ‘The Lord’s,’

and will take the name Israel.

The Lord, Not Idols

6 “This is what the Lord says—

Israel’s King and Redeemer, the Lord Almighty:

I am the first and I am the last;

apart from me there is no God.

Many cults miss this, but there is just one God.  We don’t become Gods, as the Mormons teach.

7 Who then is like me? Let him proclaim it.

Let him declare and lay out before me

what has happened since I established my ancient people,

and what is yet to come—

yes, let him foretell what will come.

8 Do not tremble, do not be afraid.

Did I not proclaim this and foretell it long ago?

You are my witnesses. Is there any God besides me?

No, there is no other Rock; I know not one.”

9 All who make idols are nothing,

and the things they treasure are worthless.

Those who would speak up for them are blind;

they are ignorant, to their own shame.

10 Who shapes a god and casts an idol,

which can profit him nothing?

11 He and his kind will be put to shame;

craftsmen are nothing but men.

Let them all come together and take their stand;

they will be brought down to terror and infamy.

12 The blacksmith takes a tool

and works with it in the coals;

he shapes an idol with hammers,

he forges it with the might of his arm.

He gets hungry and loses his strength;

he drinks no water and grows faint.

13 The carpenter measures with a line

and makes an outline with a marker;

he roughs it out with chisels

and marks it with compasses.

He shapes it in the form of man,

of man in all his glory,

that it may dwell in a shrine.

14 He cut down cedars,

or perhaps took a cypress or oak.

He let it grow among the trees of the forest,

or planted a pine, and the rain made it grow.

15 It is man’s fuel for burning;

some of it he takes and warms himself,

he kindles a fire and bakes bread.

But he also fashions a god and worships it;

he makes an idol and bows down to it.

16 Half of the wood he burns in the fire;

over it he prepares his meal,

he roasts his meat and eats his fill.

He also warms himself and says,

“Ah! I am warm; I see the fire.”

17 From the rest he makes a god, his idol;

he bows down to it and worships.

He prays to it and says,

“Save me; you are my god.”

18 They know nothing, they understand nothing;

their eyes are plastered over so they cannot see,

and their minds closed so they cannot understand.

19 No one stops to think,

no one has the knowledge or understanding to say,

“Half of it I used for fuel;

I even baked bread over its coals,

I roasted meat and I ate.

Shall I make a detestable thing from what is left?

Shall I bow down to a block of wood?”

20 He feeds on ashes, a deluded heart misleads him;

he cannot save himself, or say,

“Is not this thing in my right hand a lie?”

The Bible often mocks those who make idols with their hands and don’t realize the foolishness of worshiping something they created. 

21 “Remember these things, O Jacob,

for you are my servant, O Israel.

I have made you, you are my servant;

O Israel, I will not forget you.

22 I have swept away your offenses like a cloud,

your sins like the morning mist.

Return to me,

for I have redeemed you.”

23 Sing for joy, O heavens, for the Lord has done this;

shout aloud, O earth beneath.

Burst into song, you mountains,

you forests and all your trees,

for the Lord has redeemed Jacob,

he displays his glory in Israel.

Jerusalem to Be Inhabited

24 “This is what the Lord says—

your Redeemer, who formed you in the womb:

I am the Lord,

who has made all things,

who alone stretched out the heavens,

who spread out the earth by myself,

25 who foils the signs of false prophets

and makes fools of diviners,

who overthrows the learning of the wise

and turns it into nonsense,

26 who carries out the words of his servants

and fulfills the predictions of his messengers,

who says of Jerusalem, ‘It shall be inhabited,’

of the towns of Judah, ‘They shall be built,’

and of their ruins, ‘I will restore them,’

27 who says to the watery deep, ‘Be dry,

and I will dry up your streams,’

28 who says of Cyrus, ‘He is my shepherd

and will accomplish all that I please;

he will say of Jerusalem, “Let it be rebuilt,”

and of the temple, “Let its foundations be laid.”’

The Holy Bible : New International Version. 1996, c1984. Grand Rapids: Zondervan.

Isaiah 41-42

is41.jpgGreetings!

The Helper of Israel

41     “Be silent before me, you islands!

Let the nations renew their strength!

Let them come forward and speak;

let us meet together at the place of judgment.

2 “Who has stirred up one from the east,

calling him in righteousness to his service?

He hands nations over to him

and subdues kings before him.

He turns them to dust with his sword,

to windblown chaff with his bow.

3 He pursues them and moves on unscathed,

by a path his feet have not traveled before.

4 Who has done this and carried it through,

calling forth the generations from the beginning?

I, the Lord—with the first of them

and with the last—I am he.”

5 The islands have seen it and fear;

the ends of the earth tremble.

They approach and come forward;

6 each helps the other

and says to his brother, “Be strong!”

7 The craftsman encourages the goldsmith,

and he who smooths with the hammer

spurs on him who strikes the anvil.

He says of the welding, “It is good.”

He nails down the idol so it will not topple.

8 “But you, O Israel, my servant,

Jacob, whom I have chosen,

you descendants of Abraham my friend,

9 I took you from the ends of the earth,

from its farthest corners I called you.

I said, ‘You are my servant’;

I have chosen you and have not rejected you.

10 So do not fear, for I am with you;

do not be dismayed, for I am your God.

I will strengthen you and help you;

I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

Verse 10 is an encouraging verse to memorize.

11 “All who rage against you

will surely be ashamed and disgraced;

those who oppose you

will be as nothing and perish.

12 Though you search for your enemies,

you will not find them.

Those who wage war against you

will be as nothing at all.

13 For I am the Lord, your God,

who takes hold of your right hand

and says to you, Do not fear;

I will help you.

14 Do not be afraid, O worm Jacob,

O little Israel,

for I myself will help you,” declares the Lord,

your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel.

15 “See, I will make you into a threshing sledge,

new and sharp, with many teeth.

You will thresh the mountains and crush them,

and reduce the hills to chaff.

16 You will winnow them, the wind will pick them up,

and a gale will blow them away.

But you will rejoice in the Lord

and glory in the Holy One of Israel.

17 “The poor and needy search for water,

but there is none;

their tongues are parched with thirst.

But I the Lord will answer them;

I, the God of Israel, will not forsake them.

18 I will make rivers flow on barren heights,

and springs within the valleys.

I will turn the desert into pools of water,

and the parched ground into springs.

19 I will put in the desert

the cedar and the acacia, the myrtle and the olive.

I will set pines in the wasteland,

the fir and the cypress together,

20 so that people may see and know,

may consider and understand,

that the hand of the Lord has done this,

that the Holy One of Israel has created it.

21 “Present your case,” says the Lord.

“Set forth your arguments,” says Jacob’s King.

22 “Bring in your idols to tell us

what is going to happen.

Tell us what the former things were,

so that we may consider them

and know their final outcome.

Or declare to us the things to come,

23 tell us what the future holds,

so we may know that you are gods.

Do something, whether good or bad,

so that we will be dismayed and filled with fear.

24 But you are less than nothing

and your works are utterly worthless;

he who chooses you is detestable.

God mocks those who think their false gods have any power. 

25 “I have stirred up one from the north, and he comes—

one from the rising sun who calls on my name.

He treads on rulers as if they were mortar,

as if he were a potter treading the clay.

26 Who told of this from the beginning, so we could know,

or beforehand, so we could say, ‘He was right’?

No one told of this,

no one foretold it,

no one heard any words from you.

27 I was the first to tell Zion, ‘Look, here they are!’

I gave to Jerusalem a messenger of good tidings.

28 I look but there is no one—

no one among them to give counsel,

no one to give answer when I ask them.

29 See, they are all false!

Their deeds amount to nothing;

their images are but wind and confusion.

The Servant of the Lord

42     “Here is my servant, whom I uphold,

my chosen one in whom I delight;

I will put my Spirit on him

and he will bring justice to the nations.

2 He will not shout or cry out,

or raise his voice in the streets.

3 A bruised reed he will not break,

and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out.

In faithfulness he will bring forth justice;

4 he will not falter or be discouraged

till he establishes justice on earth.

In his law the islands will put their hope.”

Verses 1-4 are quoted in Matthew 12:18-21 in reference to Jesus.  It is hard for us to imagine God coming as a servant, but that is what Jesus did.  Mark 10:45 For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.

5 This is what God the Lord says—

he who created the heavens and stretched them out,

who spread out the earth and all that comes out of it,

who gives breath to its people,

and life to those who walk on it:

6 “I, the Lord, have called you in righteousness;

I will take hold of your hand.

I will keep you and will make you

to be a covenant for the people

and a light for the Gentiles,

7 to open eyes that are blind,

to free captives from prison

and to release from the dungeon those who sit in darkness.

V. 6 is one of the many references to the Israelites being a light for the Gentiles (non-Jews).  God’s plan was always to redeem Jews and non-Jews who put their faith in him.

8 “I am the Lord; that is my name!

I will not give my glory to another

or my praise to idols.

9 See, the former things have taken place,

and new things I declare;

before they spring into being

I announce them to you.”

Song of Praise to the Lord

10 Sing to the Lord a new song,

his praise from the ends of the earth,

you who go down to the sea, and all that is in it,

you islands, and all who live in them.

11 Let the desert and its towns raise their voices;

let the settlements where Kedar lives rejoice.

Let the people of Sela sing for joy;

let them shout from the mountaintops.

12 Let them give glory to the Lord

and proclaim his praise in the islands.

13 The Lord will march out like a mighty man,

like a warrior he will stir up his zeal;

with a shout he will raise the battle cry

and will triumph over his enemies.

14 “For a long time I have kept silent,

I have been quiet and held myself back.

But now, like a woman in childbirth,

I cry out, I gasp and pant.

15 I will lay waste the mountains and hills

and dry up all their vegetation;

I will turn rivers into islands

and dry up the pools.

16 I will lead the blind by ways they have not known,

along unfamiliar paths I will guide them;

I will turn the darkness into light before them

and make the rough places smooth.

These are the things I will do;

I will not forsake them.

17 But those who trust in idols,

who say to images, ‘You are our gods,’

will be turned back in utter shame.

Israel Blind and Deaf

18 “Hear, you deaf;

look, you blind, and see!

19 Who is blind but my servant,

and deaf like the messenger I send?

Who is blind like the one committed to me,

blind like the servant of the Lord?

20 You have seen many things, but have paid no attention;

your ears are open, but you hear nothing.”

21 It pleased the Lord

for the sake of his righteousness

to make his law great and glorious.

22 But this is a people plundered and looted,

all of them trapped in pits

or hidden away in prisons.

They have become plunder,

with no one to rescue them;

they have been made loot,

with no one to say, “Send them back.”

23 Which of you will listen to this

or pay close attention in time to come?

24 Who handed Jacob over to become loot,

and Israel to the plunderers?

Was it not the Lord,

against whom we have sinned?

For they would not follow his ways;

they did not obey his law.

25 So he poured out on them his burning anger,

the violence of war.

It enveloped them in flames, yet they did not understand;

it consumed them, but they did not take it to heart.

The Holy Bible : New International Version. 1996, c1984. Grand Rapids: Zondervan.

Isaiah 39-40

is39.jpgGreetings!  Hezekiah had his life spared for 15 years, but he turns around and makes a foolish mistake.  Note his selfishness in v. 8!  Isaiah’s prophecy was amazing because Babylon was under Assyria at the time.

Envoys From Babylon

39     At that time Merodach-Baladan son of Baladan king of Babylon sent Hezekiah letters and a gift, because he had heard of his illness and recovery. 2 Hezekiah received the envoys gladly and showed them what was in his storehouses—the silver, the gold, the spices, the fine oil, his entire armory and everything found among his treasures. There was nothing in his palace or in all his kingdom that Hezekiah did not show them.

3 Then Isaiah the prophet went to King Hezekiah and asked, “What did those men say, and where did they come from?”

“From a distant land,” Hezekiah replied. “They came to me from Babylon.”

4 The prophet asked, “What did they see in your palace?”

“They saw everything in my palace,” Hezekiah said. “There is nothing among my treasures that I did not show them.”

5 Then Isaiah said to Hezekiah, “Hear the word of the Lord Almighty: 6 The time will surely come when everything in your palace, and all that your fathers have stored up until this day, will be carried off to Babylon. Nothing will be left, says the Lord. 7 And some of your descendants, your own flesh and blood who will be born to you, will be taken away, and they will become eunuchs in the palace of the king of Babylon.”

8 “The word of the Lord you have spoken is good,” Hezekiah replied. For he thought, “There will be peace and security in my lifetime.”

Comfort for God’s People

40     Comfort, comfort my people,

says your God.

2 Speak tenderly to Jerusalem,

and proclaim to her

that her hard service has been completed,

that her sin has been paid for,

that she has received from the Lord’s hand

double for all her sins.

3 A voice of one calling:

“In the desert prepare

the way for the Lord;

make straight in the wilderness

a highway for our God.

John the Baptist used v. 3 when telling people to prepare for the coming Messiah in Matthew 3:3.

4 Every valley shall be raised up,

every mountain and hill made low;

the rough ground shall become level,

the rugged places a plain.

5 And the glory of the Lord will be revealed,

and all mankind together will see it. For the mouth of the

Lord has spoken.”

6 A voice says, “Cry out.”

And I said, “What shall I cry?”

“All men are like grass,

and all their glory is like the flowers of the field.

7 The grass withers and the flowers fall,

because the breath of the Lord blows on them.

Surely the people are grass.

8 The grass withers and the flowers fall,

but the word of our God stands forever.”

In contrast to v. 8, many Christians scoff at the timeless word of God and instead think that people are the focal point of the universe. 

9 You who bring good tidings to Zion,

go up on a high mountain.

You who bring good tidings to Jerusalem,

lift up your voice with a shout,

lift it up, do not be afraid;

say to the towns of Judah,

“Here is your God!”

10 See, the Sovereign Lord comes with power,

and his arm rules for him.

See, his reward is with him,

and his recompense accompanies him.

11 He tends his flock like a shepherd:

He gathers the lambs in his arms

and carries them close to his heart;

he gently leads those that have young.

12 Who has measured the waters in the hollow of his hand,

or with the breadth of his hand marked off the heavens?

Who has held the dust of the earth in a basket,

or weighed the mountains on the scales

and the hills in a balance?

13 Who has understood the mind of

the Lord,

or instructed him as his counselor?

14 Whom did the Lord consult to enlighten him,

and who taught him the right way?

Who was it that taught him knowledge

or showed him the path of understanding?

15 Surely the nations are like a drop in a bucket;

they are regarded as dust on the scales;

he weighs the islands as though they were fine dust.

That passage helps put things in perspective.  We sometimes analyze God as if He had to answer to us.  But who are we?!  His creation!  We have nothing to offer him except our faith.

16 Lebanon is not sufficient for altar fires,

nor its animals enough for burnt offerings.

17 Before him all the nations are as nothing;

they are regarded by him as worthless

and less than nothing.

18 To whom, then, will you compare God?

What image will you compare him to?

19 As for an idol, a craftsman casts it,

and a goldsmith overlays it with gold

and fashions silver chains for it.

20 A man too poor to present such an offering

selects wood that will not rot.

He looks for a skilled craftsman

to set up an idol that will not topple.

21 Do you not know?

Have you not heard?

Has it not been told you from the beginning?

Have you not understood since the earth was founded?

22 He sits enthroned above the circle of the earth,

and its people are like grasshoppers.

He stretches out the heavens like a canopy,

and spreads them out like a tent to live in.

23 He brings princes to naught

and reduces the rulers of this world to nothing.

24 No sooner are they planted,

no sooner are they sown,

no sooner do they take root in the ground,

than he blows on them and they wither,

and a whirlwind sweeps them away like chaff.

25 “To whom will you compare me?

Or who is my equal?” says the Holy One.

26 Lift your eyes and look to the heavens:

Who created all these?

He who brings out the starry host one by one,

and calls them each by name.

Because of his great power and mighty strength,

not one of them is missing.

27 Why do you say, O Jacob,

and complain, O Israel,

“My way is hidden from the Lord;

my cause is disregarded by my God”?

28 Do you not know?

Have you not heard?

The Lord is the everlasting God,

the Creator of the ends of the earth.

He will not grow tired or weary,

and his understanding no one can fathom.

29 He gives strength to the weary

and increases the power of the weak.

30 Even youths grow tired and weary,

and young men stumble and fall;

31 but those who hope in the Lord

will renew their strength.

They will soar on wings like eagles;

they will run and not grow weary,

they will walk and not be faint.

The Holy Bible : New International Version. 1996, c1984. Grand Rapids: Zondervan.

Verse 31 is a famous verse, and a good one to commit to memory. 

Isaiah 37-38

is37.jpgGreetings!  This section occurs after King Sennacherib of Assyria threatened Judah. 

Jerusalem’s Deliverance Foretold

37     When King Hezekiah heard this, he tore his clothes and put on sackcloth and went into the temple of the Lord. 2 He sent Eliakim the palace administrator, Shebna the secretary, and the leading priests, all wearing sackcloth, to the prophet Isaiah son of Amoz. 3 They told him, “This is what Hezekiah says: This day is a day of distress and rebuke and disgrace, as when children come to the point of birth and there is no strength to deliver them. 4 It may be that the Lord your God will hear the words of the field commander, whom his master, the king of Assyria, has sent to ridicule the living God, and that he will rebuke him for the words the Lord your God has heard. Therefore pray for the remnant that still survives.”

5 When King Hezekiah’s officials came to Isaiah, 6 Isaiah said to them, “Tell your master, ‘This is what the Lord says: Do not be afraid of what you have heard—those words with which the underlings of the king of Assyria have blasphemed me. 7 Listen! I am going to put a spirit in him so that when he hears a certain report, he will return to his own country, and there I will have him cut down with the sword.’”

8 When the field commander heard that the king of Assyria had left Lachish, he withdrew and found the king fighting against Libnah.

9 Now Sennacherib received a report that Tirhakah, the Cushite king of Egypt, was marching out to fight against him. When he heard it, he sent messengers to Hezekiah with this word: 10 “Say to Hezekiah king of Judah: Do not let the god you depend on deceive you when he says, ‘Jerusalem will not be handed over to the king of Assyria.’ 11 Surely you have heard what the kings of Assyria have done to all the countries, destroying them completely. And will you be delivered? 12 Did the gods of the nations that were destroyed by my forefathers deliver them—the gods of Gozan, Haran, Rezeph and the people of Eden who were in Tel Assar? 13 Where is the king of Hamath, the king of Arpad, the king of the city of Sepharvaim, or of Hena or Ivvah?”

Hezekiah’s Prayer

14 Hezekiah received the letter from the messengers and read it. Then he went up to the temple of the Lord and spread it out before the Lord. 15 And Hezekiah prayed to the Lord: 16 “O Lord Almighty, God of Israel, enthroned between the cherubim, you alone are God over all the kingdoms of the earth. You have made heaven and earth. 17 Give ear, O Lord, and hear; open your eyes, O Lord, and see; listen to all the words Sennacherib has sent to insult the living God.

18 “It is true, O Lord, that the Assyrian kings have laid waste all these peoples and their lands. 19 They have thrown their gods into the fire and destroyed them, for they were not gods but only wood and stone, fashioned by human hands. 20 Now, O Lord our God, deliver us from his hand, so that all kingdoms on earth may know that you alone, O Lord, are God.”

Sennacherib’s Fall

21 Then Isaiah son of Amoz sent a message to Hezekiah: “This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: Because you have prayed to me concerning Sennacherib king of Assyria, 22 this is the word the Lord has spoken against him:

“The Virgin Daughter of Zion

despises and mocks you.

The Daughter of Jerusalem

tosses her head as you flee.

23 Who is it you have insulted and blasphemed?

Against whom have you raised your voice

and lifted your eyes in pride?

Against the Holy One of Israel!

24 By your messengers

you have heaped insults on the Lord.

And you have said,

‘With my many chariots

I have ascended the heights of the mountains,

the utmost heights of Lebanon.

I have cut down its tallest cedars,

the choicest of its pines.

I have reached its remotest heights,

the finest of its forests.

25 I have dug wells in foreign lands

and drunk the water there.

With the soles of my feet

I have dried up all the streams of Egypt.’

26 “Have you not heard?

Long ago I ordained it.

In days of old I planned it;

now I have brought it to pass,

that you have turned fortified cities

into piles of stone.

27 Their people, drained of power,

are dismayed and put to shame.

They are like plants in the field,

like tender green shoots,

like grass sprouting on the roof,

scorched before it grows up.

28 “But I know where you stay

and when you come and go

and how you rage against me.

29 Because you rage against me

and because your insolence has reached my ears,

I will put my hook in your nose

and my bit in your mouth,

and I will make you return

by the way you came.

That was a gruesome torture committed by the Assyrians.

30 “This will be the sign for you, O Hezekiah:

“This year you will eat what grows by itself,

and the second year what springs from that.

But in the third year sow and reap,

plant vineyards and eat their fruit.

31 Once more a remnant of the house of Judah

will take root below and bear fruit above.

32 For out of Jerusalem will come a remnant,

and out of Mount Zion a band of survivors.

The zeal of the Lord Almighty

will accomplish this.

33 “Therefore this is what the Lord says concerning the king of Assyria:

“He will not enter this city

or shoot an arrow here.

He will not come before it with shield

or build a siege ramp against it.

34 By the way that he came he will return;

he will not enter this city,”

declares the Lord.

35 “I will defend this city and save it,

for my sake and for the sake of David my servant!”

36 Then the angel of the Lord went out and put to death a hundred and eighty-five thousand men in the Assyrian camp. When the people got up the next morning—there were all the dead bodies! 37 So Sennacherib king of Assyria broke camp and withdrew. He returned to Nineveh and stayed there.

38 One day, while he was worshiping in the temple of his god Nisroch, his sons Adrammelech and Sharezer cut him down with the sword, and they escaped to the land of Ararat. And Esarhaddon his son succeeded him as king.

God was truly in control.  The people seemed to have no hope, but they prayed and Isaiah received a message from the Lord.  I am convicted of my lack of faithful prayer when I read passages like this.  I need to be more diligent about exercising my faith and praying for God’s intervention.

Hezekiah’s Illness

38     In those days Hezekiah became ill and was at the point of death. The prophet Isaiah son of Amoz went to him and said, “This is what the Lord says: Put your house in order, because you are going to die; you will not recover.”

2 Hezekiah turned his face to the wall and prayed to the Lord, 3 “Remember, O Lord, how I have walked before you faithfully and with wholehearted devotion and have done what is good in your eyes.” And Hezekiah wept bitterly.

4 Then the word of the Lord came to Isaiah: 5 “Go and tell Hezekiah, ‘This is what the Lord, the God of your father David, says: I have heard your prayer and seen your tears; I will add fifteen years to your life. 6 And I will deliver you and this city from the hand of the king of Assyria. I will defend this city.

7 “‘This is the Lord’s sign to you that the Lord will do what he has promised: 8 I will make the shadow cast by the sun go back the ten steps it has gone down on the stairway of Ahaz.’” So the sunlight went back the ten steps it had gone down.

Hezekiah pleaded with God and God answered him.  An interesting miracle occurred as a sign to Hezekiah.

9 A writing of Hezekiah king of Judah after his illness and recovery:

10 I said, “In the prime of my life

must I go through the gates of death

and be robbed of the rest of my years?”

11 I said, “I will not again see the Lord,

the Lord, in the land of the living;

no longer will I look on mankind,

or be with those who now dwell in this world.

12 Like a shepherd’s tent my house

has been pulled down and taken from me.

Like a weaver I have rolled up my life,

and he has cut me off from the loom;

day and night you made an end of me.

13 I waited patiently till dawn,

but like a lion he broke all my bones;

day and night you made an end of me.

14 I cried like a swift or thrush,

I moaned like a mourning dove.

My eyes grew weak as I looked to the heavens.

I am troubled; O Lord, come to my aid!”

15 But what can I say?

He has spoken to me, and he himself has done this.

I will walk humbly all my years

because of this anguish of my soul.

16 Lord, by such things men live;

and my spirit finds life in them too.

You restored me to health

and let me live.

17 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.

18 For the grave cannot praise you,

death cannot sing your praise;

those who go down to the pit

cannot hope for your faithfulness.

19 The living, the living—they praise you,

as I am doing today;

fathers tell their children

about your faithfulness.

20 The Lord will save me,

and we will sing with stringed instruments

all the days of our lives

in the temple of the Lord.

21 Isaiah had said, “Prepare a poultice of figs and apply it to the boil, and he will recover.”

22 Hezekiah had asked, “What will be the sign that I will go up to the temple of the Lord?”

The Holy Bible : New International Version. 1996, c1984. Grand Rapids: Zondervan.