Monday, November 28, 2016

Comfort My People: The Prophecies Of Isaiah, Day 149

Comfort My People:
The Prophecies Of Isaiah
Day 149

This morning we continue on in Chapter 51 regarding the deliverance of God's people. There will come a day when they can say, "Where is the wrath of the oppressor?"(Isaiah 51:13b) The enemy will be no more.

"The cowering prisoners will soon be set free; they will not die in their dungeon, nor will they lack bread. For I am the Lord your God, who stirs up the sea so that its waves roar---the Lord Almighty is His name. I have put My words in your mouth and covered you with the shadow of My hand---I who set the heavens in place, who laid the foundations of the earth, and who says to Zion, 'You are My people.'" (Isaiah 51:14-16) Nothing can get to God's people without going through Him first. They are covered by the shadow of His hand and no affliction that is not divinely ordained by Him can touch them. If He says they are going into captivity, they are going into captivity. But if He says they will be freed from the dungeon, they will be freed from the dungeon. The One who created the heavens and the earth is in control.

"Awake, awake! Rise up, Jerusalem, you who have drunk from the hand of the Lord the cup of His wrath, you who have drained to its dregs the goblet that makes people stagger." (Isaiah 51:17) The people are going to suffer the consequences of their unfaithfulness and idolatry but, once the time of their chastening is past, the Lord will call, "Awake! Awake! Be sober and alert; your time of deliverance is at hand!"

"Among the children she bore there was none to guide her; among all the children she reared there was none to take her by the hand. These double calamities have come upon you---who can comfort you?---ruin and destruction, famine and sword---who can console you? Your children have fainted; they lie at every street corner, like antelope caught in a net. They are filled with the wrath of the Lord, with the rebuke of your God." (Isaiah 51:18-20) By the time Jerusalem would fall to Babylon, the times of the good kings was past. The last several kings were wicked and ruled for short periods of time; there was no one among the people who could or would rise up and be a leader like Moses or Joshua or David. So war and destruction came because everyone had gone his own way. As King Solomon once said, "Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he that keepeth the law, happy is he." (Proverbs 19:18) 

"Therefore hear this, you afflicted one, made drunk, but not with wine. This is what your Sovereign Lord says, your God, who defends His people: 'See, I have taken out of your hand the cup that made you stagger; from that cup, the goblet of My wrath, you will never drink again." (Isaiah 51:21-22) The Lord, like a good Father, knows exactly how long to carry out discipline. He won't make us endure it one second longer than necessary. Quite honestly, I've been through discipline that seemed way too long to me, but the Lord knew what He was doing.

Not only is the Lord going to remove the cup of wrath from His people at the proper time, He is then going to force the cup into the hand of their enemy. "I will put it into the hands of your tormentors, who said to you, 'Fall prostrate that we may walk on you.' And you made your back like the ground, like a street to be walked on." (Isaiah 51:23) This was a literal practice in ancient times. The enemy would tell the conquered people to lie on the ground to be walked on and humiliated. The Assyrians, who conquered the northern kingdom of Israel, were especially known for enjoying this type of inhumane treatment of prisoners. It wasn't enough that they had conquered them; they wanted to push them into the dirt. They wanted to kick people while they were down and the Lord is disgusted with that attitude. Yes, Assyria conquered Israel according to the Lord's purpose, just as Babylon conquered Judah according to the Lord's purpose. But they didn't have to add insult to injury. They didn't have to be cruel and spiteful. So now the Lord is going to put the cup of His wrath into the hands of those who who treated His people so brutally. Because they had no pity on God's people, He will show them no pity as they drink the bitter cup. 

There are those who gloat when God disciplines His children. There are those who have a desire to walk by and kick us when they see us on the ground, who want to step on us, who rejoice when Christians are in troubled circumstances. But God is severely displeased by that attitude. He sees it and it will not go unpunished. During a time of deep distress and troubles, this verse was a comfort to me, "Do not gloat over me, my enemy! Though I have fallen, I will rise. Though I sit in darkness, the Lord will be my light." (Micah 7:8) We can say this of those who are our enemies and of that one who is our chief enemy: the devil. "Do not gloat when I'm down! Unlike the wicked, I will rise again. My God will lift me up! He has hidden me in the shadow of His hand and at the proper time will relieve me of my distress and give the cup of His wrath into the hands of my enemy. Do not gloat, for your time is coming, and the fall of the wicked will be without remedy. But I, a child of the living God, will see His goodness in the land of the living."

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