Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Comfort My People: The Prophecies Of Isaiah, Day 77

Comfort My People:
The Prophecies Of Isaiah
Day 77

In Chapter 28 the Lord said the spiritual leaders of Israel and Judah have become prideful and drunken. They have fallen into excessive habits just like anyone else and are no longer fit to lead. Because they willingly numbed themselves against the pleading of the Lord, He will let a spirit of stupor come over them. "Be stunned and amazed, blind yourselves and be sightless; be drunk, but not from wine, stagger, but not from beer. The Lord has brought over you a deep sleep: He has sealed your eyes (the prophets); He has covered your heads (the seers)." (Isaiah 29:9-10)

The priests have lost their zeal for God's word and have become indistinguishable from any other citizen in Jerusalem. The prophets are prophesying falsehood, promising the people peace when peace is not coming. Because the priests are intentionally blind to the word of God, the Lord is leaving them in that state for a while. Because the prophets are intentionally prophesying a lie, the Lord is covering their heads so they cannot receive a true vision. Sometimes, when we are wayward, God sees it's better to leave us on that bad path until we realize it's leading us nowhere. Sometimes He has to let us take ourselves down a dead end road before we will humble ourselves and call out to Him for help.

Nevertheless, God had His true prophets during this period of history. He has always had a faithful remnant in every age. Isaiah is daily delivering the message of the Lord to the people. But because the religious leaders have rejected the message for so long, now its meaning is hidden to them. "For you this whole vision is nothing but words sealed in a scroll. And if you give the scroll to someone who can read, and say, 'Read this, please,' they will answer, 'I can't; it is sealed.' Or if you give the scroll to someone who cannot read, and say, 'Read this, please,' they will answer, 'I don't know how to read.'" (Isaiah 29:11-12) These educated men have become like illiterate peasants. They can see the words but the words have no meaning to them. They don't want the words to have any meaning. It's so much more pleasant to believe everything is going to be fine, that they don't need to repent, that the Lord won't bring trouble to Jerusalem because His temple is there. 

The temple means nothing to the Lord without the love of the people. In fact, it wasn't even His idea to build a temple in the first place. King David, out of his love and gratitude for the Lord, wanted to build Him a house, but the Lord was satisfied with the tent of meeting the nation had always used. What is a magnificent temple to the One who owns the universe? Does He have any need of awesome cathedrals? All He ever asked for was a place to meet with the people. He could meet with them just as easily in a tent as in the opulent temple Solomon built. In fact, the tent may have served the people better, for the glory in it was of the Lord and not of the work of man. The people in Isaiah's day were still observing the temple rituals but they were simply going through the motions. Why should God protect His temple if the hearts of the people had strayed from Him? The temple of the heart is where He wants to live, not in monuments made by man. "The Lord says: 'These people come near to Me with their mouth and honor Me with their lips, but their hearts are far from Me. Their worship of Me is based on merely human rules they have been taught." (Isaiah 29:13) It's possible to follow the letter of the law while neglecting the heart of the law.

"Therefore once more I will astound these people with wonder upon wonder; the wisdom of the wise will perish, the intelligence of the intelligent will vanish." (Isaiah 29:14) The Apostle Paul took this verse from the book of Isaiah and applied it to the cross of Christ: the wonder of all wonders. (1 Corinthians 1:19) The Lord chose the message of the cross, something so simple it became a stumbling block for those wise in their own eyes. The message is so simple that the intelligent thought it was beneath them. "Jews demand signs and Greeks look for wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God." (1 Corinthians 1:22-24) 

The plan of salvation comes from the brilliant mind of Almighty God, yet He made it so simple even small children can understand it. The proud mind rejects it but the humble mind is drawn to it. Those who are wise in their own eyes scoff at it but those who acknowledge their need for a Savior find peace in it. True wisdom is opening our eyes to our deplorable sinful condition and reaching out for the hand of the One who can deliver us. 

Yesterday my boss brought a book to work that gives a short synopsis of the beliefs of all the various religions of the world. (I'm not here to put down other religions; I'm here to lift up the name of Christ.) But I couldn't help noticing that the theme running through all of them, other than Christianity, is that man can achieve salvation through good works. None of them, other than Christianity, appeared to require man to admit he is broken and helpless and unable to save himself. If anyone believes man can improve himself or the world by doing good works with his own hands, I say all we need to do is look around us to realize this is a false idea. The world grows more wicked by the day. Wars and rumors of wars increase. Lawlessness abounds. Cruelty has reached new and shocking depths. An hour spent with one of the news networks will tell us all we need to know about what a miserable failure man's plan to improve the world has been. How can weak and imperfect creatures like us make ourselves better? How can we make the world better? Only by admitting we are weak and imperfect, by acknowledging that we are sinners, by calling out, "Lord, save me!" to the One who can take all our broken pieces and fashion us into something better and more honorable. 

We have an awesome opportunity to fulfill our destiny but it can only be accomplished through fellowship with the Creator. And He has chosen His Son as the only way to Him. The Lord Jesus was broken for us. He was bruised for us. He suffered being forsaken by God and going to the grave in our place. And He rose on the third day to prove that everything He said about Himself was true. The book my boss brought to work yesterday gave the date of death (or approximate date) of each of the founders of each religion and then it made the remark, "And he remained dead." But we who are in Christ have a Leader, a Redeemer, and a Savior who is alive! Today we could visit the tombs and gravesites of a number of religious leaders but they are still in their graves. We can go to the Holy Land and visit what is thought to be the garden tomb where Christ was laid on Friday evening. But He, unlike the others, is not there. This is wisdom: putting all our hope in the One who conquered death.

Our worship song link for today is below.

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