Day 111 – Thru the Bible
Today we continue in Isaiah and Psalms.
Isaiah 9 – Here we read one of the most memorable messianic expectations from the book of Isaiah. For the promise is that a child is coming (Matthew 4:15–16), breaking into the darkness and bringing His life-giving light (John 1:9–13; 1 Peter 2:9). This coming “child,” a “son,” is the embodiment of Immanuel. His character displays His divine identity: He is a Wonderful Counselor (Judges 13:18; Isaiah 28:29), the very Might of God (Deuteronomy 10:17), an Everlasting Father (a royal One who is like a loving father to His people), and the Prince of Peace (Ephesians 2:14).
The Gospels are built on this confession that, with the birth of Jesus, the Messiah has come (Luke 2:11). Jesus the King establishes His kingdom, not for a time but for eternity. “Justice” and “righteousness” mark His kingdom, for which there will “be no end” (Revelation 11:15; 21:6). What the gospel makes clear, however, is that in our sin we are dependent on the gift of God’s righteousness to us, since as sinners we are not righteous in and of ourselves (Romans 3:23–24). We need Jesus to bear our sin and God to credit His righteousness to our account (2 Corinthians 5:21).
As God’s people who are united to Jesus by His Spirit, the church is now able to be marked by the characteristics of Jesus, such as justice, mercy, righteousness, wisdom, and peace (Galatians 5:22–25). In a word, we become known by love. What we have received from God, we gladly extend to others (1 John 4:11).
How is this Gospel good news to you?
Isaiah 10 – God’s love bends toward those in need, and when the most vulnerable are mistreated, His righteous anger grows fierce. Here we read of warnings against leaders who promote “oppression” and people who carry it out, who “turn aside the needy from justice” and by their action—or inaction—steal from the poor and mistreat the widows and fatherless. While God promises to be their help, He asks those who mistreat them, “to whom will you flee for help?”
The sovereign God identifies with the weak and has always told His people to be quick to care for the poor and need, to protect workers against oppression, and to uphold justice for the fatherless and widows. Even today, God’s people find ministries of mercy an essential outworking of our “religion” (James 1:27). For to neglect these needs is to misunderstand our own utter dependence on God—and His extravagant mercy toward us.
Despite its apparent power, Assyria also is not self-sufficient but is reliant upon God’s providential sustenance and patience. Such divine long-suffering, however, is not endless. Consequently, the end of Assyria’s reign is contrasted with the promise that “the remnant of Israel” will return to the Lord, their Mighty God. “The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise” (2 Peter 3:9).
How does God’s grace towards you lead you to extend grace towards those around you, especially those in need?
Isaiah 11 – God never abandoned Israel, promising that amid the apparently destitute land there remained “the holy seed” found in a stump (6:13). Coming forth from the line of David (11:1), this “root of Jesse” would signal to the nations a new reality.
At Jesus’ baptism, as He rose out of the water, the Spirit descended upon Him like a dove, and the Gospel writers appear to connect this event with the messianic expectations of Isaiah (see Matthew 3:16; Mark 1:10; Luke 3:22). Here is the true fulfillment of this expectation, as the one conceived by the Holy Spirit (Luke 1:35) grows in wisdom, understanding, and counsel, so that “his delight shall be in the fear of the Lord” (Hebrews 5:7–9).
These words provide one of the most profound definitions of “the fear of the Lord” in the Old Testament. We hardly have a modern word equivalent to this Hebrew word for “fear.” The word cannot simply mean “terror,” because God’s people are called to love their Lord—impossible if they only live in terror of Him. Many theologians, therefore, substitute words such as “awe” or “reverence” for this Old Testament use of “fear.” Such words help our understanding, but this passage (11:2–3) reminds us that Jesus will “delight” in the fear of the Lord. So, we are made to understand that the loving regard that the eternal Son has for his Father is the fear of the Lord. This is not merely reverence for divine power but is proper regard for all that God is: just, holy, powerful, wise, loving, compassionate, and merciful.
Contributing to this “proper regard” are Isaiah’s prophecies of the new world order. After Jesus’ death and resurrection, all who believe in Him become a part of this promised new creation. With the coming of this “stump of Jesse” a radical shift in the way of the world is expected: chaos will turn to harmony, fear to laughter, death to life. We who are new creatures in Jesus joyfully participate in the work of the kingdom that we anticipate, seeking reconciliation in Jesus’ name by pursuing peace, justice, creation care, and life-promoting goodness.
In part we do this by putting on the full armor of God, first truly worn by Jesus but now given to us by His Spirit. In so doing we wage the battle not against foreign political powers but against “the schemes of the devil” (Ephesians 6:11). Echoing the words of Isaiah, we are encouraged to stand, to put on the “belt of truth, and . . . the breastplate of righteousness,” being ready “by the gospel of peace” to hold up “the shield of faith” and the “helmet of salvation,” fighting back with the “sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God” (Ephesians 6:13–17).
How does it help you to know that the “fear of the Lord,” is not about terror, but reverence?
Isaiah 12 – Those who have been rescued from a frightening reality want to tell others about it. Such experiences naturally bring forth song, story, and renewed hope. Isaiah promises that such a time is coming, when God’s saving work will be celebrated, when trust in Yahweh will replace their fears, and when God’s strength—rather than fragile national power—will become the center of their song. Courage to face future challenges can be found from the experiences of past deliverances.
How has the Gospel replaced fear in your life?
Psalm 111 – This is a corporate Psalm of praise to God for His faithfulness to His people and for the wondrous works He has done. God’s glorious works are expressions of His character. God’s righteousness, grace and mercy, power, and faithfulness and justice are emphasized as those qualities exhibited in the work that He does.
Among the works of God that display the glory of His character are His giving the nations to His people as their inheritance and the covenant redemption He has provided for them. These character qualities and attending works anticipate the even greater works—and hence greater display of His character—that He shows forth in the redeeming work of His Son.
All the qualities mentioned in this Psalm—God’s righteousness, grace, mercy, power, faithfulness, justice—are seen in even greater measure in the cross and resurrection of Jesus. Just as God should be praised by the corporate assembly for the redemption He carried out in the exodus, now there is even greater reason to praise this glorious God for the redemption He has won for His people in Jesus. The bondage from which we have been freed through Jesus is not physical slavery in Egypt but ultimate slavery to sin.
How does your freedom in Jesus lead you to worship Him?
What other thoughts or questions does today’s reading bring up?
Some of these notes are from the ESV Gospel Transformation Bible study notes. We highly recommend this study Bible.
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