Saturday, August 13, 2016

Comfort My People: The Prophecies Of Isaiah, Day 46

Comfort My People:
The Prophecies Of Isaiah
Day 46

We continue this morning with Chapter 17 which is a prophecy against Damascus. By association, it's also a prophecy against the northern kingdom of Israel, because she is allied with Aram whose capitol city is Damascus. The two nations intend to push back against Assyrian domination of the region, but the Lord has already determined to allow them to be overcome because of their idolatry.

The Lord is speaking here through Isaiah, "'In that day the glory of Jacob will fade; the fat of his body will waste away. It will be as when reapers harvest the standing grain, gathering the grain in their arms---as when someone gleans heads of grain in the Valley of Rephaim. Yet some gleanings will remain, as when an olive tree is beaten, leaving two or three olives on the topmost branches, four or five on the fruitful boughs.' declares the Lord, the God of Israel." (Isaiah 17:4-6) When conquering Israel, the Assyrians carried a huge majority of the people captive back to their own land, leaving only the poorest citizens and unskilled laborers behind. Israel was not left completely desolate of her people but the remnant left behind was so small that the Lord compares them to dropped sheaves of wheat in a field after harvest. 

The Lord's discipline upon Israel and Aram was not for the purpose of destroying them, but for the purpose of bringing them into a right relationship with their Maker. "In that day people will look to their Maker and turn their eyes to the Holy One of Israel. They will not look to the altars, the work of their hands, and they will have no regard for the Asherah poles and the incense altars their fingers have made." (Isaiah 17:7-8) Miserable in a foreign land, the citizens of Israel and Aram will have time to think about the fact that their idols did nothing to help them. Much expense and manpower had been expended building altars and burning incense upon them and bringing offerings, but it was all in vain. Imagine the heartbreak of looking back on your life and realizing how much of it was wasted in serving false gods. But then again, haven't we all done this? On the day when we finally turned our eyes to the Holy One, we looked back on our past and saw the futility of the things we served before we came to know Christ. As the Apostle Paul said when speaking of the way we lived before we knew our Savior, "What benefit did you reap at that time from the things you are now ashamed of?" (Romans 6:21) 

Isaiah is saying that Israel and Aram, sitting captive in a foreign land, will realize they reaped no benefit from their idolatry. In fact, idolatry is what has brought them as slaves to Assyria. While they lived in their own land they served the flesh and brought offerings to false gods. They were "slaves to sin", as Paul says in Romans 6. But some of these citizens will come to know the one true God while in exile. They will remember the One who brought them out of Egypt and gave them a fertile land. They will remember the God who was David's helper. They will understand that their current situation is a result of their sins and will turn to the only One who can make them clean. Though they are prisoners in a foreign land, their souls will no longer be held prisoner by sin. They will cry out to the Holy One of Israel and then it can be said of them, "You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness." (Romans 6:18) 

I'm ashamed of the way I lived my life before I gave my heart to Christ. I didn't reap anything worthwhile when I lived in opposition to God. I was a slave to sin. But on the day I bowed my knees to the Lord Jesus, He broke my bonds and set me free. I'm not perfect and never will be as long as I live in this mortal body, but I am a child of God and He is constantly working to conform me to the image of His dear Son. (Romans 8:29) 

Like the Apostle Paul said, we have not attained perfection, but we must keep pressing on toward the goal of godly living, leaving behind the sins of our past, keeping our eyes on Jesus. Christ Jesus took hold of us and drew us out of the deep well of sin and despair and now we walk in His light as servants of the living God, ever learning to be more like our Savior.

Our worship song link for today is below.

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