Monday, December 5, 2016

Comfort My People: The Prophecies Of Isaiah, Day 156

Comfort My People:
The Prophecies Of Isaiah
Day 156

The Lord has been promising a glorious future for Zion and He will never take His word back. He uses the example of the covenant He made with Noah as proof that He will never change His mind, "To Me this is like the days of Noah, when I swore that the waters of Noah would never again cover the earth. So now I have sworn not to be angry with you, never to rebuke you again." (Isaiah 54:9)

The Lord set the rainbow in the sky to remind Noah every time it rained that He would never again destroy the earth with a flood. He has kept that promise. The earth sometimes experiences regional flooding but never again has the world stood submerged in water. His covenant with Zion is equally as binding as the covenant with Noah. 

Yesterday the Lord compared His people to an unfaithful wife with whom He separated temporarily but whom He never stopped loving. Now He has taken her back and forgiven her. Her mistakes will never be flung in her face. He will not bring them up. "I have sworn not to be angry with you, never to rebuke you again." When we have truly forgiven, the anger fades away. God is able to look upon these once wayward people only in love, with no desire to harp on past infidelities.

The Lord's covenant is so unbreakable that even if the earth itself crumbles and falls apart, His love will remain, "Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, yet My unfailing love for you will not be shaken nor My covenant of peace be removed,' says the Lord, who has compassion on you." (Isaiah 54:10) Bible scholar J. Alec Motyer explains verse 10 like this, "For Noah, a stable ordinance of creation became the guarantee of peace with God, but Isaiah goes further: even should creation lose its stable permanence with mountains shaking and hills tottering, there is a covenant that cannot totter. The Servant bore the punishment that made peace and now that peace is a covenanted reality, more steadfast than the cosmic fabric and rooted in the divine compassion." (from Isaiah, pg 341)

"Afflicted city, lashed by storms and not comforted, I will rebuild you with stones of turquoise, your foundations with lapis lazuli. I will make your battlements of rubies, your gates of sparkling jewels, and all your walls of precious stones." (Isaiah 54:11-12) About a century later, the people will study the words of Isaiah while they are captives in Babylon. Jerusalem will be an "afflicted city", razed to the ground with the temple burned. But God presents a beautiful picture of restoration and redemption. Something beautiful will rise from the ashes. Jerusalem will someday be, not only the capitol of Israel, but the capitol of the world. In Revelation 21:18-20 we find a description of the New Jerusalem, "The wall was made of jasper, and the city of pure gold, as pure as glass. The foundations of the city walls were decorated with every kind of precious stone. The first foundation was jasper, the second sapphire, the third agate, the fourth emerald, the fifth onyx, the sixth ruby, the seventh chrysolite, the eighth beryl, the ninth topaz, the tenth turquoise, the eleventh jacinth, and the twelfth amethyst." In our times we value gold and gemstones, but the riches that God bestows on us are so great that in comparison the gold and costly jewels are nothing but building materials. God is promising His very best to those who trust Him.

"All your children will be taught by the Lord, and great will be their peace. In righteousness you will be established: tyranny will be far from you; you will have nothing to fear. Terror will be far removed; it will not come near you. If anyone does attack you, it will not be My doing; whoever attacks you will surrender to you." (Isaiah 54:13-15) Some of the materials I studied state that the literal translation of verse 13 is "all of your children will be disciples of the Lord". When the Lord Jesus walked the earth, some of Zion's children were His disciples. After He died and rose again, many more of Zion's children became His disciples. But there is a day in the future in which all of Zion's children will be His disciples. 

When Isaiah gave these prophecies, the northern kingdom of Israel had been taken captive by Assyria, and he was predicting captivity in Babylon for the southern kingdom of Judah. Isaiah, along with all the other prophets, clearly stated that these calamities were a result of sin. But God has promised that a day is coming in which He will never allow Zion to be conquered again, because as He said in verse 9, He will never be angry with her again. As He said in verse 13, all her children will be His disciples, therefore Zion will no longer be the wayward wife we studied yesterday, but she will be faithful and true to the One who calls Himself "Faithful and True". (Revelation 9:11) All those who have hated her in the past will now be joined with her in worship of the one true God. Those who surrender to her in verse 15 are not people who have been beaten down, conquered, and forced to kneel. But they are people who have seen the light, who desert their positions in the enemy camp and join themselves with the people of God. It's a surrender to righteousness, an acknowledgment of the God of Israel, and a joyful abandonment of self in favor of pouring out adulation on the Lord alone.

The Lord can make the promise of peace forevermore because He created all things and is in control of all things. "See, it is I who created the blacksmith who fans the coals into flame and forges a weapon fit for its work. And it is I who have created the destroyer to wreak havoc." (Isaiah 54:16) 

One of my favorite verses concludes Chapter 54, "No weapon forged against you will prevail, and you will refute every tongue that accuses you. This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord, and this is their vindication from Me,' declares the Lord." (Isaiah 54:17) We will have enemies in this world and they will forge weapons against us. Plus we have an enemy who hates our very souls, and he will forge weapons against us. But if our trust is in the Lord, He will take these weapons and change them from instruments that hurt into instruments that help. What Joseph said to his brothers, we can say to our enemies, "You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good." (Genesis 50:20a) Our human enemies may temporarily gloat over the harm done to us, and Satan may think he has us beaten, but God just continues His miraculous work of turning swords into plowshares and spears into pruning hooks. The sword our enemy intended to pierce us with becomes, in the Lord's hand, a plow that breaks up the stony ground of our hearts. The spear our enemy used to thrust us through becomes a pruning hook that snips off our dead and unfruitful parts so that we become even more fruitful. And through all these things our Lord continues the most miraculous work of all: conforming us into the image of His Son. Because we are in Christ, we will stand before our Judge someday and be able to refute every tongue that accuses us. Mankind will not be able to lay any charge against us, nor will Satan be able to prove any iniquity in us. And on that day, God the Father will vindicate us. He will declare us holy and righteous and not guilty for the sake of His Son. This is our heritage! This is our precious possession! Jesus wrote us into His will and when the proper time comes, we will inherit every blessing.

Our worship song link for today is below.

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