Monday, November 21, 2016

Comfort My People: The Prophecies Of Isaiah, Day 146

Comfort My People:
The Prophecies Of Isaiah
Day 146

Yesterday we concluded with the Messiah speaking of the scorn and pain He will endure, yet He said, "I will not be put to shame," because He knew the Father would vindicate Him. The Father was going to give Him the name above all names and the highest honors.

"He who vindicates Me is near. Who then will bring charges against Me? Let us face each other! Who is My accuser? Let him confront Me!" (Isaiah 50:8) Many accusers came forward both in the court of the Sanhedrin and in the court of Pontius Pilate, but none could prove their charges. They had difficulty even making their stories agree with each other. Pilate found Jesus innocent and blameless but gave in to the religious leaders who shouted in riotous fervor, "Crucify Him!" There was no charge Pilate could write on the board nailed above Jesus' head except what His detractors accused Him of: declaring Himself king of the Jews. Since this statement was the truth, since "He came to that which was His own, but His own did not receive Him" (John 1:11), this was not a charge of crime but a statement of fact. Who, indeed, will bring any charges against Christ the Lord? Who can stand and face Him and prove there is any fault in Him? No one! His miracles and the power in His teaching provided His credentials as Messiah and His rising from the grave should have put an end to all dispute over His claims to deity. Nevertheless, though there are still those who argue the divinity of Christ and whether or not He was just a good man or a prophet, His ultimate vindication and reward will come from God the Father.

We who are in Christ can say something quite similar of ourselves when the world assaults our character. "Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died---more than that, who was raised to life---is at the right hand of God and is interceding for us." (Romans 8:33-34) God, as the lawgiver and judge, is the One who has been trespassed against when we sin. Since He has chosen in Christ to declare us not guilty, who then can bring any charges against us? The highest authority has ruled that we are innocent! Who can accuse us to Him? If one should confront God with a list of the sins of the redeemed, all He has to do is say, "But those are under the blood of My Son! They are where I cannot look at them anymore, so I have cast their sins as far from them as the east is from the west. I have put their sins out of My mind for the sake of My Son whom they trust in. He has redeemed them and set them free. He daily intercedes with Me on their behalf. I will not bring up again what I have already forgiven them for." 

The Messiah continues, "It is the Sovereign Lord who helps Me. Who will condemn Me? They will all wear out like a garment; the moths will eat them up." (Isaiah 50:9) His accusers, the unbelievers, are as fragile as a cloth garment stored up on earth "where moths and vermin destroy". (Matthew 6:19) There is no substance to them or to their accusations. Where will they be when Christ stands before the Father to receive His reward? They will be gone, like a moth-eaten garment; they will not be hurling insults at God's chosen Servant or at any whom the Servant has redeemed.

"Who among you fears the Lord and obeys the word of His servant? Let the one who walks in the dark, who has no light, trust in the name of the Lord and rely on their God." (Isaiah 50:10) This world seems dark and scary a lot of the time but we who have trusted in Christ know our God is with us. Whom shall we fear? We are not like those who stumble about in the dark with no sense of direction, but we have this sure and certain promise, "I am the light of the world. Whoever follows Me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life." (John 8:12) This is the reward of those who trust in the name of Jesus Christ. 

In contrast to the redeemed who say of God's word, "Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light for my path" (Psalm 119:105), those who go their own way are trying to warm themselves by fires that will never give comfort. The Lord has sobering words for those who reject Him in favor of other gods or in favor of making gods of themselves. "But now, all you who light fires and provide yourselves with flaming torches, go, walk in the light of your fires and of the torches you have set ablaze. This is what you shall receive from My hand: You will lie down in torment." (Isaiah 50:11) A campfire can only provide limited light and warmth in a circle around it. If a person should wander a few feet from it, he would find himself in the dark and the cold  A torch, though held in the hand, only enlightens the path a few steps ahead of a person: he could run up to a cliff's edge at any moment. Living without the Lord, by our own standards and in our own worldly lusts and ambitions, won't keep us very warm. We will be like a man tossing and turning in his sleeping bag beside a feeble fire, unable to find peace or rest, cold and uncomfortable, tormented by a sense of emptiness in the soul. This is the reward of those who reject Jesus Christ.

Chapter 50 ends on a very solemn note with the wicked reaping what they have sown. We humans tend to like ending things on a positive note, but I think maybe the Lord ended this chapter with such bleak words because He wanted mankind to stop and think about them. Who wants to lie down in torment? Who wants to toss and turn and find no rest or comfort? The only escape is in the One who is justified by the Father, who is not guilty of any sin and who can make us clean from our own sins. 

We find here the righteousness of the Lord's judgments. He will let man have what he wants. To the person who seeks Christ, daily taking up their cross and following Him, the light of life is given. To the person who rejects Christ, daily following the lusts and ambitions of the flesh, the reward is the darkness that he preferred over the light. As the late C.S. Lewis once said, there are those faithful ones who say to the Lord, "Thy will be done." And then there are those who wanted nothing to do with Him, to whom the Lord will say, "Thy will be done."

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