Day 118 – Thru the Bible
Today we continue Isaiah and Psalms.
Here’s the video for the rest of Isaiah.
Video – Read Scripture: Isaiah 40-66
Isaiah 39 – Even when God has been gracious to us we must be vigilant against reverting back to self-absorption and arrogance.
Having experienced a wonder of God’s grace, Hezekiah appears to let down his guard and opens himself up to flattery, boasting as he shows off the glories of the house of Israel. Rather than being wise, he acts foolishly. As the apostle Paul would later warn, “let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall” (1 Corinthians 10:12). We will all be tempted, even after we have received God’s grace, but God is faithful and will provide a “way of escape” so that we can endure the trial (1 Corinthians 10:13).
When we, like Hezekiah, fail to resist, temptation lingers; such sins often lead to pain not only for ourselves but for others as well. By loving himself more than the good of his people, Hezekiah set Judah up to face captivity to Babylon in the future. Exile was still coming, only not from the Assyrians but from Babylon.
Recognizing that our relationship with God is on solid ground, in Jesus, but that our sin still hurts us and those around us, how do you allow God to continue to transform and mature you?
Isaiah 40 – Moving from the first part of Isaiah to the next major section (chs. 40–55), readers will notice a shift in historical concerns and application. Much of the earlier section of Isaiah (chs. 7–39) presents consistent themes of divine judgment and confrontation, with vital but less extensive pronouncements of divine promises of hope. In the earlier section, the eighth-century Assyrian threat formed the context in which God’s people were called to trust in Him rather than in political and military power. Unfortunately, they consistently fail to believe, and thus they imitate the nations rather than imitating God.
This failure to trust in Yahweh as King—the only one who can truly defend them—resulted in Israel’s tragic exile to Assyria in 722 b.c., yet much of Judah had thus far been spared. As we move from chapter 39 to 40 it is as if, in the blink of an eye, Isaiah moves from addressing the problems in his own day, to anticipating Judah’s exile to Babylon (39:5–7). Then, when he opens his eyes again (chs. 40–55), he sees God’s people anew, only now he addresses them after the deportation has already occurred (in 586 b.c.). In short, this section seems to address the people living in exile (after 586), whereas earlier in the book they were living in Judah but fearing exile (after 722 b.c.).
As we move into Isaiah 40, the themes of comfort, deliverance, and the revelation of God’s glory explode onto the scene. The exiles would be returning, for Yahweh never forgets His people. Yet the temptation to harden their hearts toward God and neighbor remains.
“Comfort, comfort my people, says your God.” When the Babylonians brought their threats of exile to Jerusalem, there was great grief. Out of this context the book of Lamentations emerged, reverberating with sorrows and mourning the pain and loss. Again and again in that context we see a great longing to be consoled, but Jerusalem “has none to comfort her” (Lamentations 1:2, 9, 17, 21). As Isaiah records Yahweh’s gracious declaration, the promise of comfort has come. It needs to be announced, believed, and rested in. Yet this proclamation was to be given “tenderly,” for here was God’s promise that “her warfare is ended” and “her iniquity is pardoned.”
For comfort to be received, it needs a voice to serve as the “herald of good news.” It is interesting, that in Isaiah 40:1, the call to “comfort” is in the plural, not singular, making it clear that this comfort was to be offered through a prophetic word echoed by many.
Our comfort rests not in the consistency of human leaders, even ecclesial ones, but in the certainty of the divine word.
Here the “word of God” is spoken, but with the coming of the Messiah, the Word is made flesh. He will come as a shepherd who “will gather the lambs in his arms,” carrying them “in his bosom” as a loving Lord despite His great power. Jesus self-identifies with this portrait, describing himself as the “good shepherd” who “lays down his life for the sheep” (John 10:1–18). The Messiah will face a withering, even unto death, but this incarnate Word, with power beyond this world, overcomes death and sin, rising from the grave and making it certain that God’s Word will never die and can be trusted unto death. The apostle Peter even describes the unfading word of God of Isaiah 40:8 as the gospel message itself (1 Peter 1:25).
When we are exhausted, when we wonder how we can continue, Isaiah reminds us not to look at ourselves and our own resources. Instead we turn our eyes to the all-knowing, sustainin, and creating God who “does not faint or grow weary,” but rather “gives power to the faint.” Strength from God in this context comes not from self-improvement but from waiting on the Lord, who promises to sustain us as we make this pilgrim journey.
As new covenant Believers, we see with unprecedented clarity exactly why we are free to wait on the Lord. For God used His resources of wisdom, power, and creation to send His own Son to do all that we cannot do, and to suffer the penalty of all that we have done wrongly. Nothing is left but to wait on the Lord, trusting Him and walking with Him in quiet confidence and courage.
How will you rest in this truth today?
Isaiah 41 – After quieting the coastlands and reminding the unbelieving nations that Yahweh alone is “the first and the last”, words of warmth and comfort are directed to Israel. A beautiful reminder arises in which God’s willingness to link Himself with the people of Jacob is His people’s foundation for comfort. Israel did not choose God; God chose them.
They must therefore “fear not,” since He is their God and is with them: “I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” When Israel looks around at the dangers, she is prone to anxiety, but when she looks to the sovereign Lord, fear loses its paralyzing power.
God acts on behalf of His people, not because they are mighty or wise but out of His good pleasure and love. “Your Redeemer is the Holy One of Israel” who condescends to help the “poor and needy”, answering them in the depth of their need and providing the waters of life in the midst of deserts and bare lands.
Jesus the Messiah comes as God’s Son, bringing true and lasting redemption for the people of God (Luke 21:28; Romans 3:24; 1 Corinthians 1:30; Hebrews 9:12). This redemptive love came not in response to our love for God but as the overflow of God’s love for us. Our security is “not that we have loved God but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins” (1 John 4:10).
How do we extend His movement of divine love by sacrificially loving others: knowing “We love because He first loved us” (1 John 4:19)?
Psalm 118 – Clearly, this Psalm centers on praise of the God of Israel. It begins and ends with praise and thanksgiving. What stands behind these expressions of praise are both the character and the works of God. By character, God is faithful, gracious, loving, powerful, and steadfast in His love for His people. By works, God has saved and delivered His people by His covenant faithfulness and inexorable power. He is, then, the faithful God and the saving God.
God can be trusted implicitly because of the constancy of His character and the sovereign grace shown in His works. Key statements in Psalm 118:22–23 deserve special comment due to their Christological application. The “stone that the builders rejected” (v. 22) in context here likely refers to Israel, who was afflicted and rejected by the nations. But we understand from the New Testament use of these verses (see Matthew 21:42; Acts 4:11; Ephesians 2:20; 1 Peter 2:4–7) that this rejected stone, though typified by Israel, is fulfilled directly in Jesus who, ironically, was rejected by the very people of Israel who themselves had been rejected by the other nations.
But unlike the rejected stone Israel (also identified as God’s “firstborn son,” prefiguring Jesus; see Exodus 4:22), the rejected stone Jesus became the cornerstone and fulfilled all the wondrous things God had envisioned to be brought about through Him. Where Israel failed, Jesus succeeded. Where Israel sinned, Jesus obeyed. Jesus’ accomplishment of bringing an end to sin and oppression and guilt and misery truly was, then, “the Lord’s doing” and is “marvelous in our eyes”.
Here again we can clearly see how the Old Testament points us to perfect fulfillment in Jesus.
How will you praise God for this truth today?
What other thoughts or questions does today’s video and reading bring up?
Some of these notes are from the ESV Gospel Transformation Bible study notes. We highly recommend this study Bible.
Videos produced by www.TheGospelProject.com.
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