Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Comfort My People: The Prophecies Of Isaiah, Day 151

Comfort My People:
The Prophecies Of Isaiah
Day 151

This morning we begin the section that Isaiah has been moving us toward all along. In my Bible it's titled "The Suffering And Glory Of The Servant". Isaiah has revealed glimpses of this Servant to us from time to time, but the passage that begins in Chapter 52 and goes through Chapter 53 describes in detail the crucifixion seven hundred years before the birth of Christ. The prophet has been proclaiming, on inspiration of the Holy Spirit, freedom for the captives, and this freedom bought for us by the Servant is greater and more all-encompassing than the people of Isaiah's day could have imagined. It may have been more than Isaiah himself could quite imagine, but he believed the word of the Lord, and he obediently passed along the message he received regarding this perfect and holy Servant who would do God's will and justify by faith all who would believe on Him.

I feel overwhelmed at the thought of tackling this portion of Scripture. It feels too holy for my hands to touch, too sacred for me to attempt to write about, yet the Lord placed these words in our Bibles for our instruction and our salvation and He intends for us to study and interpret them. So, with the help of the Lord, I believe we will receive a fresh glimpse of our Savior as we look at this portion of the holy word of God for the next several days. 

"See, my Servant will act wisely; He will be raised and lifted up and highly exalted." (Isaiah 52:1) The Lord Jesus was "raised and lifted up" on the cross for us as He worked redemption for mankind, and because He was willing to suffer in our place, He deserves to be "raised and lifted up and highly exalted" in our hearts. He will be exalted by those who believe on Him and He will be exalted by God the Father. The Lord says, "See, my Servant!" in the same tone one would announce the arrival of a great king, and it's in contrast to the mocking words Pontius Pilate used when he presented the beaten and broken man from Nazareth, "Here is your king." (John 19:14) 

"Just as there were many who were appalled at Him---His appearance was so disfigured beyond that of any human being and His form marred beyond human likeness---so He will sprinkle many nations, and kings will shut their mouths because of Him. For what they were not told, they will see, and what they have not heard, they will understand." (Isaiah 52:14-15) When Pilate brought Jesus out before the people after the Roman soldiers beat Him, I believe quite a few people in the crowd covered their eyes. I believe many people's mouths dropped open. I think a great deal of those who had gathered to see the spectacle were sickened and shocked and rendered speechless. But the blood they viewed on this Man was the blood that would sprinkle many nations, the blood of an offering so pure that it sanctifies forever those who are made clean by it. On the day of the crucifixion, there were those who were appalled and unable to speak at the sight of Him. There were those rendered unable to say anything against Him, and this is why Isaiah says "kings will shut their mouths because of Him". The word of God and the convicting power of the Holy Spirit will convert kings and subjects alike, bringing salvation to the Gentiles, and rendering those coming to the faith incapable of finding anything to say against the Lord Jesus or against His gospel. When the Apostle Paul stood before King Agrippa and presented the gospel, Agrippa said, "Almost you persuade me to be a Christian," and then he sent Paul out of his presence speedily so he would have to hear no more. Agrippa was under conviction of the Holy Spirit. He could not speak a word against Christ or against the gospel, so the only thing he could think to do was to stop listening. He could come up with no argument against believing on Christ and becoming a Christian, (as Isaiah says, kings will shut their mouths because of Him), and because he did not want to submit to the Lord he shut his ears to the truth.

We have to do something with the gospel of Jesus Christ. We can dismiss it as a fairy tale or reject Christ as our King in favor of serving the "caesars" of this world as the chief priests did. We can close our eyes and cover our ears to the truth as King Agrippa did. Or we can join the joyful ranks of the faithful, believing on this wise Servant of God who wrought salvation for us, who secured our freedom by taking the punishment we deserved. We can have new life in Him and become new creatures. We can honor and exalt the One who gave up everything for us. He thought we were worth dying for. He paid for all our sins and failures and mistakes so we wouldn't have to. He rose from the dead so that we who believe on Him could have eternal life. We need not fear the grave or the judgment because Christ has gone before us, suffering death and the grave and the judgment of sin in our place. Who else offers a deal like this? 

We must do something with the gospel of Jesus Christ and I'm going to close today with my favorite quote by the late C.S. Lewis, "I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: 'I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept his claim to be God.' That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic — on the level with the man who says he is a poached egg — or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God, or else a madman or something worse. You can shut him up for a fool, you can spit at him and kill him as a demon or you can fall at his feet and call him Lord and God, but let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about his being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.”

Our worship song link and video for today is below.

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