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Day 124 – Thru the Bible
Today we continue in Isaiah and Psalms.
Isaiah 58 – Echoing the divine concerns highlighted earlier in Isaiah 1:2–31, God makes it clear that He is not interested in empty rituals but desires heartfelt humility and life-giving action. Here the perversion of the Sabbath serves as the example. While the people “Sabbath” and fast, they do so in a way that ironically promotes self-righteousness and self-absorption rather than authentic humility and concern for neighbor. Emptied of love, such ritual observance “will not make your voice to be heard on high.”
God brings rest for His people, and this is meant to provide “rest” from the chaos and tyranny of a fallen world. Therefore, a genuine Sabbath promotes justice rather than neglect. Such rest seeks to reverse the destabilizing effects of sin by providing food to the hungry and shelter to the homeless. Sabbath rest is meant to simultaneously point back to the goodness of creation and forward to the promise of God’s new creation.
A wonderful irony emerges. By forgetting yourself and your own pleasures on the Sabbath, your pleasure and satisfaction in God increases. And this is what Jesus taught all along: “the Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath” (Mark 2:27). God was not trying to make life miserable or rigid by calling for Sabbath observance, but it was always His desire to foster healing, rest, renewal, and grace.
Rightly understood, Sabbath rest promotes communion between God and man, between man and man, and even between humanity and the rest of creation. Only Jesus, the Son of Man, is Lord of the Sabbath (Matthew 12:8; Luke 6:5; Hebrews 4:1–16). It was Jesus who “scandalously” worked on this day to forgive the sinner, heal the sick, and enjoy creation (Matthew 12:1–21; Luke 13:10–16; John 9:13–17). As we find our rest in Him, our communion with God and others is properly renewed.
The gospel is God’s final, eschatological (end times theology) word of rest. While we will not be finally at rest until the new earth, true soul-rest has broken into this diseased world.
How does the Sabbath point to and anticipate the rest found in the gospel of grace, in which Jesus worked for us so that we can rest in Him? Hint: Matthew 11:28–30; Hebrews 3:1–4:13.
Isaiah 59 – Sin gives birth to sin (James 1:15). We cannot merely look within ourselves in morbid introspection to properly assess our spiritual state, since often private and public transgressions go together. Here Isaiah places the people’s sin and guilt in the public arena. He is again concerned that their apathy about justice is a sign of deeper problems, both for individuals and for the community (Romans 3:15–17). Such indifference places them at odds with God, who declares, “I the Lord love justice; I hate robbery and wrong” (Isaiah 61:8). When He sees injustice unaddressed, He is “displeased”. Consequently, when calls for repentance are ignored, such iniquities make “a separation between you and your God.”
Out of His commitment to His holy justice, the Creator will act. God will hear and He will act. Seeing none able to make intercession in this situation, God promises that “His own arm” will bring salvation. His salvation comes clothed in righteousness, bringing redemption and restoration (Romans 11:26–27). Those filled with God’s Spirit go forth as God’s offspring, now seeking to reflect His values and grace.
In Isaiah, God arms Himself for war. In the New Testament, however, it is Believers who are armed for spiritual war (Ephesians 6:10–18; 1 Timothy 1:18; 6:12). How can this be? The answer lies in the glorious truth that we are united to Jesus, who vanquished the enemy (Colossians 2:15) and whose Spirit enables us to do likewise (John 14:12; 16:7).
How does this truth encourage you?
Isaiah 60 – Darkness is contrasted with Zion’s light, which arises as the Lord and His glory shine forth. Escape from darkness is possible as “nations” and “kings” come to the Lord’s light, gathering together from near and far as the call goes forth. Seeing the Lord’s grace, people are changed, becoming “radiant” with hearts overflowing with worship and confidence in God’s promises. God declares that He himself “has made . . . beautiful” His children—they did not beautify themselves. As always, the message of grace is that God meets us in the moral mud and then cleanses and beautifies us by His own initiative of love.
True radiance comes only from beholding Jesus who makes us shine (2 Corinthians 3:18; Philippians 2:15). Look at Him. Seek Him. Be transformed by His beauty.
In the end, the vivid portrait reveals only two options: be part of the city of God that glories in the Lord, or perish. Sober as the words are, they also offered Israel comfort and strength in the midst of facing divine chastisement. For a time was coming when those who seemed mighty and able to abuse the people would come to bow down before their victims. Ultimate justice for God’s people is sure. We can wait on the Lord with patient, calm hope.
Beautiful images portray the Creator as Redeemer, so that earthly elements (e.g., sun, moon) are not necessary, for “the Lord will be your everlasting light” and “glory” (1 Peter 2:9). Such imagery is richly repeated in the book of Revelation, where the scenes that speak of no sun and moon are not meant as scientific description but rather as the fulfillment of the promise of God’s perfect presence: no darkness exists in His all-encompassing grace.
His grace is the overarching reality of the new creation (Revelation 21:23; 22:5). Looking to these promises as they are fulfilled in Jesus reminds us why He Himself is “the light of the world” (John 8:12), and we patiently await and long for His day of light and rest.
How does this truth bring you peace?
Psalm 119:153-176 – Again, reading Psalm 119 should bring Jesus to mind in at least two ways. First, He lived out the principles and commandments of this Psalm perfectly as He loved the law of the Lord and meditated on it day and night. Second, His very life gave the fullest expression possible of this Word, as He came as the very living Word of God Himself. Jesus is Himself God’s message to the world.
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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