Day 116 – Thru the Bible
Today we continue in Isaiah and Psalms.
Isaiah 31 – A common refrain throughout Isaiah is the warning not to trust in political muscle more than in God’s provision. Egypt again represents military and economic strength, yet God will win the battle as He fights on behalf of Zion. Trusting in Egypt represents trusting in the “idols” of silver and gold, but God’s people must instead “turn to Him” who created such materials and stands over even the strongest powers.
Likewise, in our own day, let us always be mindful to not place our security in any political or military might but rather in the Lord of heaven and earth. Lurking behind well-intentioned patriotism can be ugly idolatry.
How does Jesus and His kingdom ground our true citizenship and security? Hint: Philippians 3:20.
Isaiah 32 – A vivid contrast is presented to the reader. The reign of a just and righteous king is juxtaposed with the self-serving rule of the “scoundrel” who hurts the poor and needy. Whereas the fool seeks to satisfy his own cravings, this glorious king provides shelter and protection for the vulnerable.
In Jesus we see with unprecedented clarity and vividness the Lord as a refuge. He helps the poor and needy. He is the friend of failures. The only prerequisite for His glad and delighted favor is the open hands of need and faith.
It can be too easy for us to stand at a distance and blame our leaders for the injustices that occur in this world, even as we are benefitting from those inequities. But Isaiah’s warnings are next turned toward those who benefit from the injustices even if they are not legislating them.
We also see an example of how our Messiah King’s reign must be framed in terms of a fresh outpouring of the Spirit. In this new age comes the fruit of justice and righteousness, and so under His reign and by His Spirit the people can “abide in a peaceful habitation.” When Jesus the risen King pours out His Spirit at Pentecost (Acts 2:1–41), God’s people immediately begin caring for the needy, bringing together people from every tongue and land in anticipatory expression of Jesus’ kingdom (Acts 2:42–47; 4:23–37).
How are you experiencing the outpouring of His Spirit in community with others?
Isaiah 33 – While times of disorder come, those who promote such an environment end up destroying and devouring themselves. We echo the people’s cry of dependence on the gracious God who provides salvation in such times. His exaltation is one governed by the twin characteristics of justice and righteousness, attributes exercised by God to bring “stability” and, in the end, the “abundance of salvation, wisdom, and knowledge.”
The “covenants are broken,” and humanity’s dignity is disregarded. Yet Jesus comes as the climax of the covenants, faithful to maintain God’s covenant promises to His people even when it means He must die on their behalf. In an astonishing exchange, God the Son absorbs the punishment for His faithless covenant partner—us.
Isaiah asks, who can withstand “the consuming fire” (Hebrews 12:29)? His answer likewise points to a unique King who could represent the people: He must be the blameless One who resists corruption, brutality, and oppression.
Jesus the Messiah is the long-expected One who is God’s “judge” (Matthew 25:34; 2 Corinthians 5:10), “lawgiver” (James. 4:12), and “king” (Matthew 21:5; Revelation 19:16): “He will save us.”
How does seeing Jesus this clearly portrayed in these prophesies help you see that the entire Bible is pointing us to Him?
Isaiah 34 – Where is your citizenship? Are you united to the King of Zion, or do you follow the idolatry of others? Isaiah speaks sternly of a coming universal judgment against the nations of the earth. Frighteningly, the warning is that the Lord’s “sword” will have its way. Devastation is coming, threatening a return to the chaos of the unformed “void” of creation that existed before God’s Spirit brought about order (Genesis 1:2).
Important in these descriptions of judgment is the note that it comes, at least in part, on behalf of God’s people. We need not exact our own vengeance, or fear that we shall not be vindicated, for wrongs committed against us. God will set right the scales of justice with His ultimate and righteous judgment.
How surprising and glorious to read then that “God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16). In John’s Gospel, the “world” often signifies rebellion against God (e.g., John 7:7; 12:31; 14:17; 15:18–19). The Son came for those who were hostile toward Him (Romans 5:10); he was willing to take the sword for us so that “the world might be saved through him” (John 3:17; cf. 1:29). God’s Son has brought light to this dark world, so that salvation could reach throughout the whole world (e.g., John 1:9; 4:42; 6:33, 51; 8:12–30; 9:5).
How does this view help you go out to the world, not ignorant of their sin (nor our own) but nevertheless confident of Jesus’ ability to rescue and release those who are in its blinding darkness?
Isaiah 35 – After so many warnings and confrontations, Isaiah offers a glorious word of hope: there is a coming exodus that will exceed the first one. The imagery is of a flower-lined highway of “holiness” reconnecting the people with their glorious God. They have been “ransomed” by their Lord, securing their return. Such divine deliverance points well beyond the immediate historical restoration from exile, for the anticipation is ultimately of “everlasting joy,” singing, and gladness that will become the new reality of the redeemed.
What are the signs that the time of God’s visitation and liberation has come? The blind will see, the deaf will hear, the lame will walk, and the mute will speak. And this is exactly what we find when Jesus answers John the Baptist’s question about Jesus’ identity and relation to messianic kingdom expectations (Matthew 11:4–5; Luke 7:22).
Hebrews echoes Isaiah’s encouragement to “lift your drooping hands and strengthen your weak knees” (Hebrews 12:12), applying it to Believers. As sons and daughters of God we do not stand under divine wrath. But we do experience His loving fatherly discipline, which is “for our good, that we may share His holiness” (Hebrews 12:10). God’s forgiveness and grace is meant to be life-giving, bringing about the way of holiness and peace rather than immorality and chaos (Hebrews 12:14–17).
How do you experience God’s life-giving peace?
Psalm 116 – This Psalm is a personal hymn of thanksgiving to God for the gracious compassion and powerful deliverance He has extended toward His servant who hopes and trusts in the Lord. Only two passages in the Psalter directly express love for God (the other being Psalm 18:1), so the intimacy of the opening expression—“I love the Lord”—indicates the depth of the psalmist’s warmth and gratitude toward God. Indeed, God has shown this psalmist such kindness, care, and protection amid agonizing affliction; he therefore wants to express his deep and abiding thanksgiving.
Two observations are noteworthy:
(1) The psalmist’s expression of thanksgiving is not just personal; he feels the need to express his gratitude “in the presence of all his people.” Public worship rightly includes expressions of public praise and thanksgiving to God for personal deliverance.
(2) As the psalmist reflects on what he may best “render to the Lord for all His benefits” to him, the answer is surprising. He responds, “I will lift up the cup of salvation and call on the name of the Lord.” Lifting up the cup of salvation is a means of putting on public display that it is God who has heard, and come, and delivered, and saved. And calling on the name of the Lord indicates the psalmist’s determination to trust God in the days ahead.
The ultimate “benefit” for Believers today is the redemptive work of Jesus. When we call on the name of the Lord, it is on Jesus that we call (Romans 10:13–17). The “cup of salvation” that is ours has been granted to us by virtue of God’s free grace in Jesus.
How does this truth lead you to worship Jesus today?
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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