Trust is the Most Important (Isaiah 49-51)

Book of Isaiah

After telling the Israelites that they will be set free from captivity in Babylon, He reclaims them to be His servant nation. He starts with how intimately He knows them, “The Lord called me before my birth; from within the womb he called me by name.” (49:1, NLT). The Lord tells the people that He has given them the strength to do whatever it is required of them, to be His servants. Then, just as He had before, He begins to give His people promises for their redemption. He knows that they will have pain and He will remember it. “See, I have written your name on the palms of my hands. Always in my mind is a picture of Jerusalem’s walls.” (49:16, NLT). He will bring them back to their former glory, but not for them. They shall become a beacon to the nations that point back to God, “I will make you a light to the Gentiles,” (49:6, NLT). It will be His power that accomplishes this restoration, not the work of man. God asks of His people, “Who can snatch the plunder of war from the hands of a warrior? Who can demand that a tyrant let his captives go?” The answer is a resounding nobody. Yet God reveals, “The captives of warriors will be real eased, and the plunder of tyrants will be retrieved. For I will fight those who fight you, and I will save your children. I will feed your enemies with their own flesh. They will be drunk with rivers of their own blood. All the wold will know that I, the Lord, am your Savior and your Redeemer, the Mighty One of Israel.” (49:24-26, NLT). None can claim this same power that He wields, therefore, if it happens than it can only be God who has done it. God continues to describe His awesome power. “Why was no one there when I cakes? Why didn’t anyone answer when I called? Is it because I have no power to rescue? No, that is not the reason! For I can speak to the sea and make it dry up! I can turn rivers into deserts covered with dying fish.” (50:2, NLT).

Isaiah seems to take a break from speaking the words of God for a few verses and starts talking about being God’s servant in His own life. He states how morning after morning He is woken up and given new understanding for God’s will. He has to carry it out no matter what. This has lead him to being persecuted, beaten, and mocked for simply following the Lord’s instructions. Yet he has one bit of encouragement for his fellow Israelite, “See, the Sovereign Lord is on my side! Who will declare me guilty? All my enemies will be destroyed like old clothes that have been eaten by moths!” (50:9, NLT). He knows though, that men become proud and begin to claim that they are doing things by their own power, not God’s. But God has words for these people as well. “But watch out, you who live in your own light and warm yourselves by your own fires. This is the reward you will receive from [God]: You will soon fall down in great torment.” (50:11, NLT).

God brings forth a call for the people of Israel to trust in Him. Humanity has always had a problem with being able to trust the Lord, so He shows them ways that He has been faithful to them. He speaks of Abraham, who was old with no children and now exists as a once great nation (since they are now in Exile). He then looks to Moses, where He brought His people out of the land of Egypt. Yet the problem with trust seems to be what others think. God says, “I, yes I, am the one who comforts you. So why are you afraid of mere humans, who wither like the grass and disappear? … Will you remain in constant dread of human oppressors? Will you continue to fear the anger of your enemies? Where is their fury and ager now? It is gone!” (51:12-13, NLT). Yet his people know they have suffered His wrath before. God tells them, “See, I have taken the terrible cup from your hands. You will drink no more of my fury. Instead, I will hand that cup to your tormentors, those who said, ‘We will trample you into the dust and walk on your backs.'” (51:22-23, NLT).

We live in a world that stands against God. We cannot argue this fact. We constantly see laws being made that make being a Christian harder, we see laws being made and court cases being won against allowing the presence of God into our public lives. I know that the topic of homosexuality is very controversial, but it is a perfect example of this. The Bible teaches one thing, and the  world says something different. The beginning of Creation is another perfect example; the Bible says one thing, the world another. The list could go on and on. But God consistently offers us salvation for those who trust in Him. Paul writes to us in his letter to the Romans, “What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who is agains us? … But in all these things [tribulations, distress, persecution, famine, nakedness, peril, or sword (8:35)] we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us.” (Romans 8:31 & 37, NASB).

This is not a call to blind faith that simply pulls things from Scripture and trusts others to know what is right. We are called to question everything, and discern what God’s will for us is (Philippians 1:9). Yet there are things that God is clear about and that the Bible teaches. If we are to believe that the Scriptures are God-breathed and infallible, this leads us to some pretty uncomfortable conclusions, especially if we have listened to the world too much. God said to His people, “Why are you afraid of mere humans?” Maybe this call is to stand up for what is true. Take a stand against the world. We may lose friends and make enemies. But people can only attack our bodies, God deals with our eternal souls. Who should you be more scared of, man or God who spoke you into being?

 

Psalms to Pray: Psalm 109-110

 

Also in this Series

Advertisements

Bringing Down the House (Judges 16)

Bringing-Down-The-House

In today’s chapter, we see Samson’s weakness for Philistine women show up for the final time. The first one was labeled as a prostitute. The Philistine men learned that Samson was with her and decided when he came out, they would ambush and kill him. However, Samson outsmarted them all and snuck out in the middle of the night. The second woman is far more well-known, Delilah. She was the woman Samson fell in love with. She asked him three separate times what made him strong, and on each one of those occasions she sold him out to the Philistine leaders. The fourth and final time, he actually told her what made him so strong. She again sold him out, but this time the Philistines overpowered him and gouged out his eyes.  During a time of feast, the Philistine leaders brought Samson out to “entertain” them. Then Samson, realizing who he was in front of prayed, “Sovereign Lord, remember me again. O God, please strengthen me just one more time. With one blow let me pay back the Philistines for the loss of my two eyes.” (16:28, NLT).

I think that there are a couple powerful messages in this text. The first is that God can use a man, so covered in sin, to do great things. Of all the things that Samson was good at, he was really good at committing adultery. We all have a sin that we must fight all the time, and Samson’s was obviously lust and the lure to adultery. But God saw him, and used him to bring Israel out from the oppression of the Philistines. We know that we are all right there with Samson, just as guilty. Paul writes, “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,” (Romans 3:23, NASB). Since “all have sinned”, that puts us right in there, just as guilty, just as sinful. But God has another promise for us, “But those who trust in the Lord will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint.” (Isaiah 40:31, NLT). This says to me that, no matter our sinfulness, no matter how bad we’ve been, when we trust in the Lord, He will come to us and help us. “Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.” (Deuteronomy 31:6, NIV).

The second point I wanted to make comes from a psalm for today. “Your way, O God, is holy; What god is great like our God? You are the God who work wonder; You have made known Your strength among the peoples.” (Psalm 77:13-14, NASB). Our God is mightier than anything else. He is even more powerful than all the gods of this world. In our story of Samson, he was brought into a place where the Philistines were worshiping their god, Dagon. But what happen when Samson prays in v. 28? God brings the entire temple down upon them. I’m reminded of a message I heard about how great God is. The speaker was using the majesty of outer space to convey his point. He also used this passage from David that conveys the absolute wonder anyone has when they look at the night sky, “The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day the pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge.” (Psalm 19:1-2, NIV). There is no way that a deity, that created all of that, could be overcome by our own imaginings of what a god is. Our God is powerful, and He will bring down our temples to false gods.

This chapter really urges me to realize that, despite me sin and guiltiness, God still wants me. He will even still use me to accomplish His goals! The other thing is to take a moment to sit back and marvel at the glory of God. He truly is glorious, and all our praise should go to Him. I’m going to put a song up here. Take a moment to listen and think about the Creation that God has made. Both around us, and including us. And if you have time, take a listen at night and look at the stars (hopefully its a clear night). Even include reading Psalm 19 if you’d like.

Also in this series

Psalms to Pray: Psalm 74-77