**Personal note** Sorry for my lack of posting. Life got super hectic for awhile (ie. moving, business, still trying to figure out having a new baby, etc.). However, recently my problem has become that my usual time for blogging has gotten super busy now that I am working on a job change. Anyways, I am going to be trying out some new times for blogging. I will get this blog back on track and finish us the Book of Isaiah so we can talk about something new! Thank you for all your understanding.
Isaiah opens this section by addressing all of God’s people (Northern and Southern kingdoms), in order to give them comfort during a long hardship (probably the Exile). The call is for people to return to God because He remembers them and is there to take care of them. Before we get to that point, God reminds them that even though people change, He doesn’t. “Shout that people are like the grass. Their beauty fades as quickly as the flowers in a field. The grass withers and the flowers fade beneath the breath of the Lord. And so it is with people. The grass withers and the flowers fade, but the word of our God stands forever.” (40:6-8, NLT). He knows that they have had problems, and He knows that more are to come. Yet He reminds them to stay faithful because He does not change. Isaiah then switches gears somewhat to tell us about the greatness of God. God says “To whom will you compare me? Who is my equal?” (40:25, NLT). Through the preceding verse we know that none can compare to our God. Isaiah mentions that God has held the oceans in His hand, measure the entire heavens with His finger, knows the weight of the world and all its mountains and hills. None can advise God, and He doesn’t need advise. Isaiah even states, “He picks up the whole earth as though it were a grain of sand” (40:15, NLT). But then Isaiah brings it all back around for the ultimate comfort. “The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of all the earth. He never grows weak or weary. No one can measure the depth of his understanding. He give power to the weak and straight to the powerless … But those shoe trust int 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.” (40:28-29, 31, NLT).
The Lord then turns to the idols of the nations and asks them to make a case for themselves. The nations become prideful when they are successful in conquering, or outlasting other nations, yet none of them realize where that power comes from. They attribute it to their made up gods and say that they are greater than the God of Israel. God tells His people, “Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Don’t be discourage, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand.” (41:10, NLT). He provides for them a miracle to prove to the other nations that He is God. “I will open up rivers for them on the high plateaus. I will give them fountains of water in the valleys. I will fill the desert with pools of water. Rivers fed by springs will flow across the parched ground.” (41:18, NLT). God shows the other nations that He provides for His people. He asks the idols to perform something, do a good deed, tell of the past, or tell of the future, and none of them respond. None of the idols can stand in comparison to the God of the Isrealites. He says to them, “See, they are all foolish, worthless things. All your idols are as empty as the wind.” (41:29, NLT).
God sets His sights again on the future. He begins to talk about a servant that He has chosen to serve Him. God says, “I, the Lord, have called you to demonstrate my righteousness. I will take you by the hand and guard you, and I will give you to my people, Israel, as a symbol of my covenant with them. And you will be a light to guide the nations. You will open the eyes of the blind. You will free the captives from prison, releasing those who sit in dark dungeons.” (42:6-7, NLT). “I will lead blind Israel down a new path, guiding them along an unfamiliar way.” (42:16, NLT). God is seeking to correct His people. He goes on to discuss how they have become blind to His ways and are no longer keeping them. This is the reason for His servant to come. He will send His servant to correct Israel’s mistakes and bring them down a new path that will be unfamiliar to them, but is they one they should have been on all along.
God moves beyond a servant, and begins promising a savior. “When you go through deep waters, I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown. When you walk through the fire of oppression, you will not be burned up: the flames will not consume you.” (43:2, NLT). He speaks of bringing the people back to Israel, and tells them that they are to be His witnesses before all other nations. They are to proclaim, “There is no other God — there never has been, and there never will be.” (43;10, NLT). He promises to bring them victory over their sins. He goes on to talk about how they stopped presenting Him with offerings, but instead burdened Him with their sin. So He says to them, “I — yes, I alone — will blot out your sins for my own sake and will never think of them again.” (43:25, NLT). God then returns to the topic of the foolishness of idol worship. speaking to the people about how useless it is. “The person who made the idol never stops to reflect, ‘Why, it’s just a block of wood! I bunted half of it for heat and used it to bake my bread and roast my meat. Ho can the rest of it be a god? Should I bow down to worship a piece of wood?'” (44:19, NLT). The answer is, of course, NO! God says to His people, “I have swept away your sins like a cloud. I have scattered you offenses like the morning mist. Oh, return to me, for I have paid the price to set you free.” (44:22, NLT).
There is certainly a lot in these chapters of Isaiah. I feel as though each one deserves a post on their own. But there is a central theme here, God is always there for us. God was looking into the future and knew what was soon to happen to His people. They were going to continue to rebel, and not listen to the Prophets. This behavior ultimately lead them to be exiled into the land of Babylon. Yet, He wanted to give His people every opportunity to turn around and come back to Him. He promises them a Savior to come and pay the price of their sin. We live in a world where that price has been paid. When Jesus was hung on the cross, it was not simply for all the sins of the world that had happened up to that point. It wasn’t for all the sins of the people alive and around at that point. It was for every single person who ever lived, and will ever live. I love that tradition shows us that Christ was crucified on top of a hill. Not just any hill, but a hill that overlooks Jerusalem, and Israel for that matter. I love the imagery, because it says to me that Jesus had the perfect view to see through time and see me. He could see me and he knew that he was paying the price of my sins.
The same can be said of you. Christ saw you and knew that he was paying the price for you to be free. Paul writes, “and through him God reconciled everything to himself. He made peace with everything in heaven and on earth by means of Christ’s blood on the cross. This includes you who were once far away from God. You were his enemies, separated from him by your evil thoughts and actions. Yet now he has reconciled you to himself through the death of Christ in his physical body. As a result, he has brought you into his own presence, and you are holy and blameless as you stand before him without a single fault. But you must continue to believe this truth and stand firmly in it. Don’t drift away from the assurance you received when you heard the Good News.” (Colossians 1:20-23, NLT). Christ saw you on that day and is calling out to you. Will you respond to him, and say “Forgive me of my sins, Lord”, or are you able to come up with something on your own to justify yourself to God? I promise you nothing will succeed.
Psalms to Pray: Psalm 107
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