TODAY’S READING FROM THE OLD TESTAMENT- – ISAIAH 66:1-24;
Chapter 66 is a fitting climax for the Book of Isaiah.
Although the chapter and verse divisions in the Bible were not added until the 16th century, it is interesting to note that Isaiah is structured like a mini-Bible. The Bible contains 66 books and Isaiah contains 66 chapters. The Old Testament, the first 39 books of the Bible, contain promises of blessing and warnings of judgment. So do the first 39 chapters of Isaiah. Chapter 40 of Isaiah, like the beginning of the New Testament, begins with the voice of one crying in the wilderness with the message to prepare the way for the Lord. The last 27 chapters of Isaiah, like the 27 books of the New Testament, announce the good news of redemption through the Servant, the Messiah.
Chapter 66 concludes with promises that are reflected in the last book of the Bible, the Book of Revelation. God promises to lift up the humble who repent and believe, judge all people, destroy the wicked, bring all believers together, and establish a new heaven and a new earth.
The new and restored Israel will occur when they believe on Jesus Christ. They will worship the Lord in a new temple. The Lord will not look for outward conformity to religious ritual, but those who worship Him with a genuine recognition of Who He is!
God is transcendent. He is the Creator of all and is omnipresent, existing above and beyond all. He exists in His heaven, the third heaven, and made the heavens (the starry heavens of the universe- the second heaven; and the heaven (the earthly atmosphere, the firmament).
Isaiah 66:1-2 1 Thus says the LORD, “Heaven is My throne and the earth is My footstool. Where then is a house you could build for Me? And where is a place that I may rest? 2 “For My hand made all these things, thus all these things came into being,” declares the LORD.
He is looking for true worshipers- those of a humble heart, who worship in spirit and who will worship Him as He has revealed Himself to be according to His Word (Scripture).
Isaiah 66:3 “But to this one I will look, to him who is humble and contrite of spirit, and who trembles at My word.
He contrasts the genuine worshiper who has a disposition of trust and obedience with the disposition of the hypocrite.
God recognizes those who pretend to be worshipers, yet their feigned piety is an offense to God and will be judged.
3 “But he who kills an ox is like one who slays a man; He who sacrifices a lamb is like the one who breaks a dog’s neck; He who offers a grain offering is like one who offers swine’s blood; He who burns incense is like the one who blesses an idol. As they have chosen their own ways, And their soul delights in their abominations,
The Day of the Lord is prophesied in which there will be an outpouring of judgment upon those who have made gods for themselves.
The salvation of Israel is prophesied in Isaiah 66:8 and is underscored by the Apostle Paul who writes in his letter to the Romans that “all Israel will be saved” (Romans 11:26).
Isaiah 66:8 8 “Who has heard such a thing? Who has seen such things? Can a land be born in one day? Can a nation be brought forth all at once? As soon as Zion travailed, she also brought forth her sons.
There is a joyful picture of a restored Jerusalem in the millennium (Isaiah 66:10-14) and yet a final judgement by fire at the end of that thousand-year period (Isaiah 66:15-17). God’s maternal affection for Israel is expressed:
Isaiah 66:13 13 “As one whom his mother comforts, so I will comfort you; And you will be comforted in Jerusalem.”
The Book closes with a picture of the nations recognizing God’s glory and offering Him true worship (66:18-23). Those who transgress against God’s grace will experience the torments of eternal punishment in the lake of fire prepared for Satan and his angels (Isaiah 66:24; Mark 9:44, 46, 48).
TODAY’S READING FROM THE NEW TESTAMENT – PHILIPPIANS 3:4-21
Paul gives the example of his own life to describe what it means to put no confidence in the flesh. He once took pride in his Jewish status and pedigree, his training, his zeal as a persecutor of the church, and his attention to Law-keeping. Now he recognizes his former credentials as worthless, counting them as rubbish compared to the excellency of knowing Jesus and being found in Him, not having a righteousness of his own, but the gift of righteousness that comes through faith in the finished work of redemption.
What about you? Is your sense of worth found in your religious background or zeal? Is your confidence before God based on your moral behavior and Christian piety or the gift of Christ’s righteousness alone?
Paul’s solitary purpose is to know Christ and glorify Him. All else is worthless by comparison.
Warren Wiersbe writes: “Like most “religious” people today, Paul had enough morality to keep him out of trouble, but not enough righteousness to get him into heaven! It was not bad things that kept Paul away from Jesus—it was good things! He had to lose his “religion” to find salvation.”
The Christian life is never boring. There is always more of Christ to discover.
Philippians 3:12-14 12 Not that I have already obtained it or have already become perfect, but I press on so that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus. 13 Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.
Paul reminds the Philippians of their new citizenship. We are not living under slavish obedience to the law, but we are looking to Christ to be our justifier and our sanctifier.
Verse 20 and 21 tell it like it is:
Philippians 3:20-21 20 For our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ; 21 who will transform the body of our humble state into conformity with the body of His glory, by the exertion of the power that He has even to subject all things to Himself.
What a promise! We have a temporal body that is decaying. That is our humble state. But we have this promise that the same God who raised Jesus from the dead will exert His power in such a way that our physical bodies will be transformed into conformity to Jesus’ glorified body!
TODAY’S READING FROM THE BOOK OF PSALMS- PSALMS 74:1-23
This is a song in which Asaph prophetically sees the people of God in exile. The temple has been destroyed. They are in a foreign land under the dominion of an enemy. The first part of the Psalm describes all that the enemy has done. There is no longer a king on the throne in Israel or Judah. Yet there is a greater King. In their captivity they call this fact to their minds. They remember all that God has done. When the enemy comes in like a flood, we are to do the same: Remember the Lord!
Psalm 74:12 12 Yet God is my king from of old, who works deeds of deliverance in the midst of the earth.
The Psalmist makes his petition based on God’s unconditional covenant to Abraham (Genesis 17:7; Psalm 106:45).
He calls upon God to arise and plead His cause (vindicate His Name) (Psalm 74:22).
“Arise O God, defend Your cause!”
TODAY’S READING FROM THE BOOK OF PROVERBS – PROVERBS 24:15-16
Proverbs 24:15-16 15 Do not lie in wait, O wicked man, against the dwelling of the righteous; Do not destroy his resting place; 16 For a righteous man falls seven times, and rises again, But the wicked stumble in time of calamity.
What a great promise for the Christian (the ‘in Christ’ one). Those who have repented and are trusting Christ as their Lord and Savior have been clothed and credited with Christ’s righteousness. The overall pattern of their lives is that they are now pursuing righteousness. They are not perfect; they fall. But when they do, they fall into the arms of God’s grace that gets them back up on their feet again to continue to pursue righteousness in the power of the Spirit. They learn how to rebound when they fall. They confess their sins and God is faithful and just to forgive them of their sins and to cleanse them from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9). The Christian rises again through the grace of God. Not so, for those who die in their sins.
PRAY FOR THE NATIONS – PERU
(from the Prayer Guide “Operation World”)
Republic of Peru
Area: 1,285,216 sq. km
Three main zones: dry coastal plain in the west where most of the cities and industry are located, high Andean plateau which is more agricultural, and Amazon jungle in the east.
Population: 29,496,120 Annual Growth: 1.17%
Official language: Spanish, Quechua. Spanish-speakers 80.3%. Most Amerindians are Spanish-speaking or bilingual; 16.5% of the total population speak Quechua Languages: 93 All languages
Largest Religion: Christian
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Challenges for Prayer
Foreign missions have passed through difficult times, especially missions from the USA (over half of the missionary force in Peru); anti-US bias, accusations of espionage, occasional lack of cultural sensitivity, active hostility of anthropologists regarding Amerindian groups and widespread activities of Mormons and JWs have not helped. The majority of missionary effort is rightly directed to pioneer work in the eastern jungle, Bible translation, leadership training and the developing of holistic ministry. Some larger agencies are CB/CMML, ABWE, SIM, MTW, BMM, VDM.
Challenge areas for ministry:
- a) Lima is Latin America’s fifth-largest city. Almost two-thirds of the population live in slums ringing the city where abject poverty, unemployment and malnutrition are rife. Evangelization of the sprawling slums of Lima and nurture of churches in that difficult environment are a challenge, although Pentecostal groups, SAMS and Latin Link (LL) are seeing real progress. Praise God for the remarkable church growth in Lima through the work of foreign missions as well as many new Peruvian churches and ministries.
- b) Less reached Amerindian tribal peoples. There are still a number of unreached peoples (at least 12) with populations often only a few hundred per group. Wariness of outsiders and inaccessibility make reaching them extremely sensitive work that must be undertaken with great wisdom and patience.
- c) The business/professional and upper classes are traditionally staunchly Catholic and rather isolated from most existing evangelical witness. This is changing with the work of SIM and the influence of the emerging charismatic megachurches.
- d) Ethnic minorities. The 9,000 Gypsies are coming to Christ in significant numbers. The nearly 900,000 Chinese have only a few established evangelical churches, and the Japanese population (declining in number) needs more of a witness.
- e) Street children have multiplied in number, especially in certain areas of Lima. Poverty, social breakdown and war led to many being abused, exploited and forced to work long hours for a pittance. SU and others are working in their midst.
PRAYER: Lord, we do not want to be lukewarm hypocrites, giving lip-service and merely going through the motions of daily religious ritual. We humble our hearts before You and tremble at Your self-revelation in Your Word. Your Word is truth. Your Word defines reality. Our hearts find true peace when we are living in agreement with Your Word. We mix faith with Your promises and take action with Your warnings. Thank You for Your promise, Lord Jesus, that You will come again and call us to Yourself, transforming our humble bodies into conformity to Your body of glory! We look for the full vindication of Your cause and Your coming kingdom. We rest in Your victory accomplished through Your atoning death on the cross. May we, as citizens of heaven, exhibit the truth of Your character and accomplish Your purposes in a way that brings glory to Your Name. Amen.