Sunday, September 4, 2016

Comfort My People: The Prophecies Of Isaiah, Day 68

Comfort My People:
The Prophecies Of Isaiah
Day 68

Today we conclude our look at Chapter 26. The redeemed are still singing a song of praise to the Lord and they tell Him that He is their only Lord and God.

"Lord our God, other lords besides You have ruled over us, but Your name alone do we honor. They are now dead, they live no more; their spirits do not rise. You punished them and brought them to ruin; You wiped out all memory of them." (Isaiah 26:13-14) In the day when Christ rules the world, there will be no other gods and no other kings. Idolatry will be no more and never again will any nation oppress God's people.

"You have enlarged the nation, Lord; You have enlarged the nation. You have gained glory for Yourself; You have extended all the borders of the nation." (Isaiah 26:15) It was the Lord who established Israel as a nation in the beginning and it is He who keeps them as a nation. In addition, the Lord has enlarged the nation by bringing the Gentiles to salvation and making them one family with Israel under the Messiah and King. 

Only God can fix what's wrong with any nation and the people now confess they were never able to bring about peace and prosperity by their own efforts. "Lord, they came to You in their distress; when You disciplined them, they could barely whisper a prayer. As a pregnant woman about to give birth writhes and cries out in her pain, so were we in Your presence, Lord. We were with child, we writhed in labor, but we gave birth to wind. We have not brought salvation to the earth, and the people of the world have not come to life." (Isaiah 26:16-18) The people have not achieved peace on earth and they certainly have not been able to make man at peace with God. They have labored at making peace treaties with other nations, but most nations have hated them. They have also attempted to be at peace with God through works and not faith, but this is impossible. Good works will naturally flow out of faith, but the works of man can never make him perfect before a holy God. Imperfect man can bring forth nothing perfect. It takes a perfect Man, the spotless Lamb of God, to bring mankind and God back together. It is faith in Christ and His completed work on the cross that saves us. 

The nation of Israel had the commandments, the law, the prophets, and the temple, but they had not been able to save souls. They had the tools necessary to tell mankind everything he needed to know about God, but it was up to each individual whether or not to accept the Lord on faith. As much as we would like to, we can't force our lost friends and family members into salvation. We couldn't save ourselves; how can we save anyone else? We have been commissioned to share the gospel, but the rest is the work of the Lord. There is an awesome promise here for all who, throughout the ages, have put their faith in Him. "But Your dead will live, Lord; their bodies will rise---let those who dwell in the dust wake up and shout for joy---Your dew is like the dew of the morning; the earth will give birth to her dead." (Isaiah 26:19) Those who die in Christ won't remain in the grave anymore than Christ remained in the grave. We will share in His resurrection and we will have immortal bodies like His. An eternal morning will break and we will live with Him forever.

The people of Israel and Judah were living in perilous times when Isaiah was ministering to them as a prophet. Israel fell to Assyria during Isaiah's ministry. Assyria made several forays into Judah and the people of Jerusalem were constantly in fear of being overcome by them. If the much larger northern kingdom had not been able to withstand the onslaught, how could Judah survive? And though God miraculously delivered Jerusalem from King Sennacherib's troops, another enemy was rising: the ancient people of Babylon. Babylon would be the instrument of discipline the Lord would eventually bring against Judah. It is during these times that Isaiah looks far into the future and sees another age of distress, the one known to us as the Great Tribulation and the one referred to by the prophet Jeremiah as the time of Jacob's trouble. (Jeremiah 30:7) The Lord says to the people through Isaiah, "Go, My people, enter your rooms and shut the doors behind you; hide yourselves for a little while until His wrath has passed by. See, the Lord is coming out of His dwelling to punish the people of the earth for their sins. The earth will disclose the blood shed on it; the earth will conceal its slain no longer." (Isaiah 26:20-21) The day of the Lord will be like no other, a time when all wicked secrets will be revealed. It will be a day of reckoning, when crimes that were not discovered and punished by earthly judges will be brought into the open and judged by a righteous God. There are thousands of open missing persons cases in every nation of the world, cases where no body has ever been found and no one has ever been prosecuted for murder, but the blood of the slain cries out to the Lord just as Abel's blood cried out to Him. "For there is nothing hidden that will not be disclosed, and nothing concealed that will not be known or brought out into the open." (Luke 8:17)

This can be brought down to a personal level, for the Lord doesn't bless hidden sin. The best thing we can do is confess to Him our faults, to willingly reveal them and ask for His help in overcoming them. It's such a relief to get before God and bring these things into the open so the Great Physician can treat our brokenness. As the KJV puts it, "Some men's sins are open beforehand, going before to judgment; and some men they follow after." (1 Timothy 5:24) When we come to Christ and confess we are sinners who need a Savior, we are opening our sins beforehand. After we become part of the family of God, we should continually examine our hearts and confess our sins to the One who can help us live lives that better honor Him. If our sins are open beforehand, when we stand in the presence of God someday we will have been washed clean of these sins by the blood of the Lamb. But for those who do not open their sins beforehand to the saving grace of a mighty Redeemer, their sins trail after them, clinging to them as they stand before the judgment seat. 

It may seem like a lot of people have gotten away with a lot of things over the ages, but God has seen every hidden act of wickedness and every concealed crime. Those who have never been brought to a court of justice in this life will be brought before the court of justice of Almighty God. This is why He says to us, "Vengeance is Mine." We can safely leave it all up to Him, in faith believing He will judge every wrong, every cruelty, every drop of blood that has been shed. Our God is faithful and just. 

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