Monday, October 31, 2016

Comfort My People: The Prophecies Of Isaiah, Day 125

Comfort My People:
The Prophecies Of Isaiah
Day 125

The people of Judah are going to be taken captive to Babylon about a hundred years from the time Isaiah preached these words, but even in a foreign land the Lord won't desert them, anymore than He deserted them while they were slaves in Egypt. Judah is going into captivity but her God is going with her. He will preserve her and bring her back home.

"When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze." (Isaiah 43:2) Bible commentator Harry Bultema says of this passage, "Israel is just as indestructible as God's word and covenant are. Whoever can annihilate Israel can do more than Satan and all the powers of hell have been able to do in ages past." God has made a covenant promise and He will keep it, even as His people make the long forced march to Babylon, as they cross swift streams, and as they follow the Euphrates River. The Lord will even be with Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego as they stand in the fiery hot furnace of Nebuchadnezzar and He will bring them through safely. "The fire had not harmed their bodies, nor was a hair of their heads singed; their robes were not scorched, and there was no smell of fire on them." (Daniel 3:27b)

"For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior; I give Egypt for your ransom, Cush and Seba in your stead." (Isaiah 43:3) The Lord reminds His people He is the same one who said, "I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery." (Exodus 20:2) If God was able to rescue them from Pharaoh and the great nation of Egypt, can He not also rescue them from King Nebuchadnezzar and the Babylonian Empire? What are kings and empires compared to the Lord? He has already proven His dominion over them. "Faced with Egyptian intransigent refusal to let the people go, the Lord, so to speak, weighed up whether He was prepared to shatter Egypt in order to free Israel. There was no contest, and it was at the expense of' Egypt that Israel were freed." (from Isaiah, by J. Alec Motyer, pg 268)

"Since you are precious and honored in My sight, and because I love you, I will give people in exchange for you, nations in exchange for your life." (Isaiah 43:4) The Lord will shatter Babylon as He did Egypt, calling a man named Cyrus of Persia to set His people free. Babylon will reap what she has sown and will be plundered as she plundered Jerusalem.

"Do not be afraid, for I am with you; I will bring your children from the east and gather you from the west. I will say to the north, 'Give them up!' and to the south, 'Do not hold them back'. Bring My sons from afar and My daughters from the ends of the earth---everyone who is called by My name, whom I created for My glory, whom I formed and made." (Isaiah 43:5-7) This passage is about more than just the return of the Babylonian exiles to the land. It sees far into the future to a time when God will gather all twelve tribes of Israel from every corner of the earth. This is a new exodus, greater than that from Egypt or from Babylon. The Hebrew people have been scattered all over the world but God knows every one by name. They will be recalled to their homeland, never again to be threatened or dispersed, when Christ claims the throne of David.

In Christ, we who are Gentiles can claim some of the promises from Chapter 43. We can certainly take to heart, "Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name, you are Mine." (v 1b) We can count on the Lord's word, "I will be with you." (v 2a) And we firmly stand on the assurance that God says to us, "you are precious and honored in My sight...I love you". (v 4a) As the little children's song goes, "Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so". 

Our world seems so dark and uncertain and insecure at times. This election year appears to have been more about which candidate is the "least worse" than the other. We turn on the news to hear of wars and rumors of wars, terrorist attacks, workplace or schoolhouse shootings, parents killing their children and children killing their parents. On top of all this we each have our daily struggles to deal with: stress on the job, problems in our families, marital discord, health issues or unpaid bills. Some days the only thing we can really be sure of is, "Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so." We have moments when all we can cling to is the promise, "I will be with you." The death of Christ was enough to cover every sin and save every soul of all who will trust in Him. Won't His life and His continual presence with us be enough to see us through? How can He possibly be less than enough, the One who created us and called us by name, who spoke the word and a universe sprang out of a vast nothingness, who rose victoriously from the grave holding the keys of death and hell in His hand? Let's lay our troubles at the feet of the One who laid His life down for us. 

Our worship song link is below. This song is special to me; it was my "theme song" for several years. I was going through a time when it felt like the Lord was all I had but in that time I learned He was all I needed. He was enough. He meant it when He said, "I love you. I will be with you." 

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