Day 120 – Thru the Bible
Today we continue in Isaiah and Psalms.
Isaiah 45 – Cyrus is here described as the Lord’s “anointed”. Later, this title will have particular significance when applied to Jesus as the Anointed One (i.e., the Messiah), but even in this Old Testament text the title is striking. A high priest would be anointed or a ruler of Israel, but to apply “anointed” to a foreign leader who did not know Yahweh was shocking. Such anointing signified a commissioning from God, and here we see the Lord “grasping” Cyrus’s “right hand” with the purpose of subduing the nations.
While this can raise various questions, it also reminds us of a key biblical truth. In the ancient world, gods were often tied to territories or specific regions. This is why people wanted to fight in an area where their god would be present, because then he could fight for them. But Yahweh is not confined to a particular geographical location, nor restricted to a particular population. A pagan king is as much under God’s sovereign hand as is any Israelite.
“Turn to me and be saved”: God does not delight in human rebellion and death, and this text reminds us of His heartfelt invitation to “all the ends of the earth,” that they might receive His salvation. Since there are no other gods, God simply speaks the truth by calling for the world to return to their Creator and now Redeemer. Those who return become part of the “offspring of Israel,” even if they come from the distant four corners of the world. Isaiah 45:22 may be the best single-verse summary of the entire book of Isaiah, emphasizing God’s gracious salvation, its global scope, and the grounding of this comprehensive salvation in the utter supremacy of God.
Significantly, the New Testament applies verse 23b to Jesus: “to me every knee shall bow, every tongue shall swear allegiance.” Paul makes it clear that bowing down before God is now understood as bending the knee to Jesus the Messiah. Such will one day be the posture of all creation.
How is all of this ascribed to Jesus in the New Testament? Hint: Philippians 2:9–11; Romans 14:11.
Isaiah 46 – Idols cannot comfort or respond, for they are merely the result of human creativity: “if one cries to it, it does not answer or save him from his trouble.” Like no other, the Creator’s wisdom, eternal plans, and ability to forgive should prompt “the remnant” to “remember this and stand firm.” They stand secure, however, not on their own righteousness but by God’s salvation and righteousness that He will bring “near”.
How does our comfort come from receiving God’s righteousness, as revealed through faith in Jesus? Romans 3:21–22; 8:10–11.
What is ours in Jesus? Hint: Romans 5:17.
Isaiah 47 – While God did allow His wayward people to be handed over to the Babylonians, who “showed them no mercy” and made their lives a great burden, the Lord will not allow this situation to continue forever. He expects the discipline to lead to a renewed dependence on the grace that is His people’s eternal hope. By contrast, the Babylonians grow in their foolish arrogance. They begin to believe that they stand above everything, “secure in [their] wickedness,” imagining their sins will go unaccounted for.
Resembling Elijah mocking the false prophets and their lifeless gods (1 Kings 18:27), God offers a response full of sarcasm. He tells the Babylonians to try and “stand fast” in the powerlessness of their enchantments, sorceries, and false religion: “let them stand forth and save you.” Idols often have a trendy nature to them, and individuals and nations can be seduced by the proposed promises associated with them. But as time passes these idols are silenced and exposed as fraudulent, whereas the Lord God remains forever faithful and true.
How do you trust God’s sovereignty versus your own strength?
Isaiah 48 – Darkness had crept into the house of Jacob, for while claiming God, the people were “not in truth or right.” Rather than having contrite and thankful hearts, they had become like hardened iron or brass, obstinate rather than repentant. Yet again, God’s patience shines out of the darkness, for He reaffirms His self-identification with Israel. Like Moses’ plea that God relent lest His character be misunderstood (Exodus 32:11–13), so here God declares, “for my name’s sake I defer my anger, for the sake of my praise I restrain it for you, that I may not cut you off.”
Yet the hardness and disobedience of God’s people keep them from peace. Similarly, looking over Jerusalem, Jesus’ hilltop lament reflects His concern over this long-standing resistance to God’s gracious offers (Luke 13:34–35).
Yahweh’s holy love assuredly will not leave His people as they are, and thus refinement will be necessary. We are to reflect the holy God (1 Peter 1:15–16). Redemptive purification is carried out by the crucified Messiah, whose blood sanctifies the church.
How does Jesus hold up the Church to the Father? Hint: Ephesians 5:25–27, 29.
Psalm 119:33-64 – The main focus of the Psalm is the “Torah,” the graciously given “instruction” or “law” of the Lord given particularly in the first five books of the Bible (the “Books of Moses”). By extension, however, what is said here of God’s law and precepts and testimonies and statutes should be seen as referring to all that God has revealed to His people in the Law, the Prophets, and the Writings (see Luke 24:44 for this three-fold designation of the whole of the Old Testament Scriptures).
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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