Sunday, July 10, 2016

Comfort My People: The Prophecies Of Isaiah, Day 19

Comfort My People:
The Prophecies Of Isaiah
Day 19

The Lord has been telling Isaiah not to fear what the people fear. The royal household and most of the citizens of Judah are in a panic over the conspiracy between the king of Israel and the king of Aram. These enemies want to come down to Jerusalem and depose King Ahaz, putting their own man in his place and forcing the people to join with them against Assyria. Isaiah said in our passage yesterday that the Lord told him not to fear "with His strong hand upon me". Aren't we thankful that, when everything seems to be falling apart all around us, our Daddy in heaven puts His big strong hand on us and says, "Do not fear"? I believe when the Lord reached down and touched Isaiah, the prophet felt the awesome power of God. I believe this steadied him in his time of distress. The Lord wouldn't have told Isaiah not to fear if Isaiah weren't on the verge of panic himself and this too comforts me, knowing that even a man as strong in the faith as Isaiah had moments when fear threatened to overtake him.  

Isaiah was reminded that the only One he should fear and reverence is the Lord Himself. God has promised not to let Jerusalem fall at this point in history and the city has an opportunity right now to turn back to the Lord and honor Him. It will be about another century before Jerusalem falls to Babylon but the Lord is giving her a reprieve in the current crisis. Her king and citizens could have allowed the trouble with Israel and Aram to drive them back to the Lord but instead we know the spiritual situation there continues to fall farther into decay over the coming decades. So the Lord says of Himself, "He will be a holy place; for both Israel and Judah He will be a stone that causes people to stumble and a rock that makes them fall. And for the people of Jerusalem He will be a trap and a snare. Many of them will stumble; they will fall and be broken, they will be snared and captured.'" (Isaiah 8:14-15) 

The statement above would seem almost contradictory to a non-believer, as if the Lord is promising to be both a helper and an enemy. But it's up to us which way the Lord deals with us, just as it was up to Israel and Judah. God is merciful and gracious. He loves us. He has made a way for us to be right with Him and if we choose that way, we find in Him a Helper like no other. But God is also holy and righteous. If we reject His offer to be right with Him, we find ourselves at odds with our Maker. We can come to Him in humility, broken over our sins, and be made whole. Or we can stand before Him someday unrepentant and prideful and be broken by the penalties we've earned. Pastor and author David Guzik has this to say about verses 14 and 15, "We love to sing the song, 'What A Friend We Have In Jesus', and every line of the song is true. But for those who reject the Lord, they could sing, 'What An Enemy I Have In God.'" 

The Apostle Peter quotes several passages from the book of Isaiah in regard to the Lord Jesus Christ, including our passage today. "For in Scripture it says: 'See, I lay a stone in Zion, a chosen and precious cornerstone, and the one who trusts in Him will never be put to shame.' Now to you who believe, this stone is precious. But to those who do not believe, 'The stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone,' and, 'A stone that causes people to stumble and a rock that makes them fall.'" (1 Peter 2:6-8a) Christ is precious to all who belong to Him. To the believer He is the protective Shepherd, the meek and humble Servant who laid aside His glory to take our place on the cross, the Friend of sinners who came to seek and save the lost. To the unbeliever He is the coming King who will crush His enemies, who will break them like an iron rod and dash them to pieces like pottery (Psalm 2:9), who will rule over them with an iron scepter (Revelation 2:27) Our loving God would far rather be our friend than our enemy, but the choice is up to us.

The Lord Jesus Christ is the sweetest, most precious Person I know. No one else has ever extended such grace and mercy to me. No one has ever known me like He does and in spite of knowing everything about me, He loves me anyway. There are things in my past that I wouldn't want to tell you or anyone else. Most of my worst mistakes were made before I came to Christ but I've fallen flat on my face in a big way several times since. If somebody wrote an account of my life in a book, the way the authors of the Bible wrote the mistakes of Israel and Judah in a book, I'd flee to some cave in the mountains and never come out. I'd be too ashamed to show my face again. But Jesus knew all these things and still held His hand out to me. Knowing all my mistakes, all my petty hangups, all my wrong attitudes, He didn't turn His face away from me. This is why one of my favorite titles for Jesus is "Friend Of Sinners" because, despite knowing every wicked act I've ever committed and every wicked thought that's ever been in my head, Jesus offered me His friendship. He said to me, "I am the chosen and precious cornerstone; if you will trust in Me you will never be put to shame." I've done many things I'm ashamed of, things I should be ashamed of, but because Jesus has saved me by grace through faith, I can stand in the presence of a holy God someday without squirming in shame and disgrace. That's good news! That's the good news of the gospel! And the best part of it is He makes the same offer to every one of us. Not a single soul who ever comes to Him in brokenness and repentance will be turned away. 

Our worship song link for today is below.

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