Day 113 – Thru the Bible
Today we continue in Isaiah and Psalms.
Isaiah 18 – How easy it is for us to look at our circumstances and imagine that God is not paying attention. Here God tells Isaiah from His throne room that He is fully aware of everything, and though for a time He will “quietly look from my dwelling”, He does not simply observe—He will act. In this case, God’s movements against His people’s foes come just when it appears that their crop will burst into full harvest. During times when it looks as if God has forgotten His people, we resiliently remember that in truth He is always as near as “clear heat in sunshine”. He knows. In His good time He will unmistakably act on behalf of His people.
It may appear that Zion is at risk of losing everything, but actually Isaiah prophesies that the time is coming when tribute will not be taken from Jerusalem but instead will be brought to “Mount Zion, the place of the name of the Lord of hosts.” Yahweh is not merely the God of the Promised Land; the entire world must come to recognize His lordship. At the end of all things, therefore, in the new earth, “the kings of the earth will bring their glory into it” (Revelation 21:24).
How does this chapter remind you that God is always fully aware of your situation?
Isaiah 19 – As is often the case in Isaiah, there is a movement between God’s strong chastisement for sin and His equally strong promise of deliverance. The first half of this chapter makes it clear that Egypt, Israel’s long-standing enemy, will face the great divine warrior who comes “riding on a swift cloud.” When He comes to fight on behalf of His people, Egypt is reduced from her previous wisdom and strength to utter confusion and weakness. No gods or governments can stand against Yahweh’s holy supremacy.
How does this prophecy reminds us that one day every knee will bow to Jesus? Hint: Philippians 2:10–11.
God always has a purpose when He confronts. In an unexpected way, Isaiah quickly turns from judgment to blessing. Look to the future, he promises, because “in that day” Yahweh will link together Egypt, Assyria, and Israel in joyful harmony: their antagonism will cease. Moving from a “terror” (19:17) to a “blessing” (v. 24), the divine warrior becomes “a savior and defender” who, by His actions, will achieve peace.
The universal focus of God’s grace is realized in bringing Egypt to be “my people” and Assyrians to be “the work of my hands.”
How does Paul emphasize this theme of Gentile inclusion? Hint: Romans 11:13; 15:4–12; Galatians 2:7–9; 1 Timothy 2:7.
Isaiah 20 – How easy it is for us to put our trust in the powers of this world, be they governments, institutions, people, or wealth. All too often we find that these supposed strengths fail to deliver. While we thought we were protected and secure, we come to realize we are vulnerable and exposed.
Isaiah highlights this very dynamic. Egypt had been busy provoking rebellion against Assyria in the Palestinian area. Ashdod decided to trust in Egypt and Cush (713 b.c.) only to find that they were no protection, with Egypt reneging on their promises to Ashdod, once confronted by Assyrian dominance (711 b.c.).
Isaiah personifies this vulnerability by stripping down to his loincloth and going about barefoo. Judah should not follow the example of Ashdod, trusting in Egypt rather than trusting in Yahweh. Those who trusted in Egypt for protection were now being taken into captivity by Assyria, going not with their heads held high but in public humiliation.
We will never find true security in the power of our state, race, or wealth.
How does this remind us that our strength is only found in the One who reigns with grace and goodness, leading to life-giving peace? Hint: John 14:27.
Isaiah 21 – With horsemen riding in pairs, the cry echoes, “Fallen, fallen is Babylon.” This very call reverberates all the way to Revelation—there, however, “Babylon” applies more broadly than to a mere geographical location (Revelation 14:8; 18:2–3). Babylon becomes a symbol of evil and rebellion against God and His people; it can even symbolize the sinful rebellion of God’s own people.
Yet Jesus the King and His kingdom will not be overcome. Babylon’s oppressive and unjust living will not stand, for the “great city” will fall (Rev. 18:4–24). As evil collapses, the heavenly city will rise, filling the air with the praises of God’s salvation, for His “judgments are true and just” (Revelation 19:1–5).
In the meantime, God’s people sometimes feel “threshed and winnowed”, yet such suffering will not last forever, for the oppression and pain will be put to an end and the eternal joy of the heavenly hallelujah will become the final reality.
How did Jesus, who was “threshed and winnowed” in an ultimate sense on our behalf on the cross, secured our eternal joy?
Isaiah 22 – Attention now turns back to Jerusalem. A strong disconnect is exposed between the superficial merriment and momentary glee of the people and the timely repentance called for by God. Catastrophe was coming to them, for they resisted turning to Yahweh. Thus, “in that day” their military and domestic preparations for security would not hold, exposing their vulnerability when attacked.
What is truly uncovered, however, is the sins of the people which are not atoned for. Shebna, a self-possessed and arrogant leader in Jerusalem, is set out as an example of this false trust in the strength of foreign powers with their “glorious chariots”. Trusting in Egypt rather than Yahweh is a losing proposition. Shebna will be brought down and replaced by Eliakim, who is called God’s “servant”.
But even Eliakim, who is much more loyal than Shebna, will fall short. The “key of the house of David” will be given to him, and God will “fasten him like a peg in a secure place. . . . And they will hang on him the whole honor of his father’s house.” Unfortunately, this responsibility and honor will prove too heavy for Eliakim to bear, and the “peg” will “give way”.
Jesus is the true holder of the “keys” (Revelation 1:18; 3:7; 9:1; 20:1). He alone can lead people out of judgment and death and into His resurrection life. Jesus gives Peter the “keys of the kingdom” (Matthew 16:18–19), a gift that is not for Peter alone but for the church, which echoes Peter’s confession that Jesus is the Messiah. Jesus is the one around whom all true repentance and forgiveness must be centered (Matthew 18:18–19).
The church employs these keys only as an extension of Jesus’ finished work, for only the King can carry the full weight of His Father’s house. He alone is able to bear the weight and not “give way.”
How does this truth give peace?
Psalm 113 – This is a hymn of praise to God for His greatness and supremacy over all nations and above all creation, and also for His kindness and compassion to the needy and destitute. That God is both great and gracious, majestic and merciful, is strong reason to offer to Him ceaseless praise. That such a great and awesome God should care so deeply for hopeless and helpless people fills our minds and hearts with a deep sense of awe, wonder, and thanksgiving.
The mercy of God is shown to His needy creatures as He raises the poor from the ash heap and seats them with princes, and as He grants the barren woman the joy of motherhood. As Hannah of old praised God for his answer to her prayers in the birth of Samuel (1 Samuel 2:1–10), so all who know their destitute condition praise God for daily and everlasting grace. Ceaseless praise marks our lives.
The God who showed His grace to those so in need in this Psalm magnifies that grace in the provision of Jesus. Because God has proved Himself in Jesus to be not only great but also exceedingly and eternally good, how does this lead us to look to Him with a sure and fixed confidence?
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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