TODAY’S READING FROM THE OLD TESTAMENT- ISAIAH 10:1- 11:16
We continue to read Isaiah’s series of prophecies that have both short and long-term fulfillments of an invading darkness and a coming dawn. There is the prophecy of the Assyrian conquest of the northern kingdom and the Babylonian captivity of the southern kingdom. These events will be followed by the dawn of a returning remnant to Jerusalem after the Babylonian exile.
The far distant application, as we have already seen, touches on the greater deliverance of salvation through faith in the Messiah, Jesus Christ, and the promise of His kingdom reign upon the earth.
As we read Isaiah pronouncing judgment on the society in which he lived, we can see how applicable it is to our society today.
He rebukes the law-makers and the judicial courts and reminds them of their responsibility and accountability to God. This is what the expression “one nation, under God” in our American pledge is all about. God is not our mascot, He is our Creator, Redeemer, and Judge.
Hebrews 4:13 13 And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are open and laid bare to the eyes of Him with whom we have to do.
Isaiah 10:1-4 1 Woe to those who enact evil statutes And to those who constantly record unjust decisions, 2 So as to deprive the needy of justice And rob the poor of My people of their rights, So that widows may be their spoil And that they may plunder the orphans. 3 Now what will you do in the day of punishment, and in the devastation which will come from afar? To whom will you flee for help? And where will you leave your wealth? 4 Nothing remains but to crouch among the captives or fall among the slain. In spite of all this, His anger does not turn away And His hand is still stretched out.
Whereas Isaiah’s prophecy has the judgment of the invasion of foreign armies in view, he also is referencing the day when we all must appear before the judgment seat of Christ (2 Cor 5:10; Acts 17:31).
Daniel Webster, the great statesman and orator who served in the US House of Representatives, Senate, and as Secretary of State for three presidents, was once asked, “What is the most important thought that ever crossed your mind?” He replied, “The most important thought that ever crossed my mind is that of my individual responsibility before God.”
After exacting the prescribed punishment, the Lord’s anger is still not exhausted. God’s hand of justice that demands punishment for sin is still upraised. In sinning against the eternal God, His eternal wrath calls for either everlasting punishment upon the sinner, or that punishment being taken on the body of the Eternal God Himself on the cross.
The key verse follows. God is using the Assyrian nation as the rod for the chastisement of His people. After He accomplishes this, He will then act justly and punish Assria.
Isaiah 10:5 5 Woe to Assyria, the rod of My anger and the staff in whose hands is My indignation,
Isaiah 10:12 12 So it will be that when the Lord has completed all His work on Mount Zion and on Jerusalem, He will say, “I will punish the fruit of the arrogant heart of the king of Assyria and the pomp of his haughtiness.”
Although Assyria is the instrument that God chooses to demonstrate His wrath against the sins of His people, Israel, the axe can not raise itself above Him who swings it (10:15). Therefore, the Lord Almighty will bring judgment on the Assyrian forces (10:16-20).
Verse 20 focuses on the restoration of Israel after a remnant returns from the exile in Babylon.
Isaiah 10:20-21 20 Now in that day the remnant of Israel, and those of the house of Jacob who have escaped, will never again rely on the one who struck them, but will truly rely on the LORD, the Holy One of Israel. 21 A remnant will return, the remnant of Jacob, to the mighty God.
Therefore, the Lord, through the words of the prophet, exhorts His people to see the big picture and put their trust in God who has a greater plan. Our God is so great that He makes even the wrath of men to praise Him (Psalm 76:10).
Those in Judah should not be afraid of the Assyrians.
Isaiah 10:25 25 “For in a very little while My indignation against you will be spent and My anger will be directed to their destruction.”
The long-range vision focuses on the Messianic hope in Isaiah Chapter 11.
Isaiah 11:1-5 1 Then a shoot will spring from the stem of Jesse, and a branch from his roots will bear fruit. 2 The Spirit of the LORD will rest on Him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, The spirit of counsel and strength, The spirit of knowledge and the fear of the LORD. 3 And He will delight in the fear of the LORD, And He will not judge by what His eyes see, Nor make a decision by what His ears hear; 4 But with righteousness He will judge the poor, And decide with fairness for the afflicted of the earth; And He will strike the earth with the rod of His mouth, And with the breath of His lips He will slay the wicked. 5 Also righteousness will be the belt about His loins, And faithfulness the belt about His waist.
This is followed by a picture of the peaceable kingdom of God:
Isaiah 11:6 6 And the wolf will dwell with the lamb, And the leopard will lie down with the young goat, And the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; And a little boy will lead them.
The ecosystems will be in balance. It will no longer be a matter of the survival of the fittest. All creation will worship Him by functioning in submission to His righteous rule.
The earth shall be full of the knowledge of the glory of the Lord.
The measure of all things in this kingdom is Christ Jesus.
He will reign and make His enemies His footstool.
Isaiah 11:12 12 And He will lift up a standard for the nations and assemble the banished ones of Israel, and will gather the dispersed of Judah from the four corners of the earth.
As He did for Israel when He opened up a way where there was no way, a way of salvation, by parting the Red Sea and enabling His people to cross over on dry ground, He will open a way for the believing remnant of Assyria, and all nations.
TODAY’S READING FROM THE NEW TESTAMENT – 2 CORINTHIANS 12:11-21
Paul continues to defend his apostleship. He recognizes that in himself, he is nothing. Yet his life and ministry testify that he is the real deal. He is an apostle, a servant of Jesus Christ.
His critics would have Paul operate the way they do, charging fees and placing a heavy burden on them. But that is not Paul’s heart. He does not exploit; He makes spiritual investments through the power of God’s sacrificial love.
2 Corinthians 12:15 15 I will most gladly spend and be expended for your souls. If I love you more, am I to be loved less?
Paul’s team members, such as Titus, have that same spirit of love.
His confidence is in being an ‘in Christ one’. All that he does, he does for their strengthening in Christ.
He challenges them to act like “in Christ ones” so he won’t have to reprimand them in person, for that would grieve him.
He lists the sins that they need to give attention to putting away.
2 Corinthians 12:20-21 20 For I am afraid that perhaps when I come I may find you to be not what I wish and may be found by you to be not what you wish; that perhaps there will be strife, jealousy, angry tempers, disputes, slanders, gossip, arrogance, disturbances; 21 I am afraid that when I come again my God may humiliate me before you, and I may mourn over many of those who have sinned in the past and not repented of the impurity, immorality and sensuality which they have practiced.
TODAY’S READING FROM THE BOOK OF PSALMS – PSALM 56:1-13
Once again, the Psalmist is under attack. He notes that they do so in pride. They twist his words and are always plotting to harm him.
He is not ashamed to confess his emotional griefs and fears.
Psalm 56:3-4 3 When I am afraid, I will put my trust in You. 4 In God, whose word I praise, In God I have put my trust; I shall not be afraid. What can mere man do to me?
He asks the Lord to be mindful of his prayer, record his lament, list his tears, and come to his aid.
He resolves to be faithful to praise the Lord and fulfill his vows as a worshiper, and to put his trust in His holy word and unfailing promise.
Psalm 56:13 13 For You have delivered my soul from death, indeed my feet from stumbling, so that I may walk before God In the light of the living.
TODAY’S READING FROM THE BOOK OF PROVERBS – PROVERBS 23:6-8
Proverbs 23:6-8 6 Do not eat the bread of a selfish man, or desire his delicacies; 7 For as he thinks within himself, so he is. He says to you, “Eat and drink!” But his heart is not with you. 8 You will vomit up the morsel you have eaten, and waste your compliments.
PRAY FOR THE NATIONS – NAURU
The Lord is interested in the smallest as well as the largest of nations. Nauru is one of the smallest.
Pray with the believers here:
Republic of Nauru
Area: 21 sq. km
A raised coral atoll ringed with sandy beaches, with a central plateau of phosphates from fossilized bird droppings; 300 km west of Banaba, Kiribati.
Population: 10,254 Annual Growth: 0.28%
Capital: None, but administrative center in Yaren
Official language: Nauruan, English Languages: 9 All languages
Largest Religion: Christian
Challenges for Prayer
Spiritual awareness grows as the economy shrinks. Materialism’s decline is faith’s gain. Church life is reawakening, and evangelical numbers are growing. The Nauru Independent Church is the largest evangelical group, but there are believers in the other denominations as well. The JESUS film has been seen by almost the entire population.
- Pray for God’s provision for the 90% who are unemployed in this predominantly Christian nation.
- Pray for the despair of people’s economic condition to turn their softened hearts to Christ.
- Pray for great spiritual growth in the midst of increased poverty
Thousands of miles from any other land, the tiny island of Nauru sits isolated in the Pacific. Home to just over 10,000 people, this small island of only 21 square miles is the world’s smallest republic. When first discovered, it was named “pleasant island” in reference to its lush vegetation and friendly culture. But Nauru is a land of drastic contrasts. Although its location is exotic, its people are quite westernized. The island has seen both independence and brutal occupation, immense wealth and dire economic meltdown.
Early in the 20th century, phosphate mining became central to this small nation’s economy. With four-fifths of the island being mined out, though, development came at great cost. As phosphate resources decreased, off-shore banking became a source of immense and immediate wealth. With this increasing wealth came decreasing health. Today over 50% of the population suffers from diabetes, and 90% are overweight and unemployed. With phosphate resources dwindling, the mining industry is no longer a source of substantial income. Off-shore banking was ended to sever ties with money-laundering and criminal activity. These factors, along with immense debt, plunged Nauru into economic ruin. With few jobs, little to no income, and heavy dependence on imports for all its major needs, this nation is in grave economic danger.
Having received the Gospel in the early 1900s, Nauruans are still quite religious (91.5% Christian), with most attending church on a regular basis. Their nation’s motto, “God’s will first,” signifies their deeply religious roots. But, for many, their faith is works-based, with little understanding of the Gospel. As the economy has crashed, many are seeking answers, and churches are growing. With the JESUS film seen by the entire island and the Bible translated into Nauruan in the 1930’s, the people of Nauru have received the opportunity to hear of salvation found in Jesus and his work on the cross.
PRAYER: Lord God Almighty, thank You for sending forth Your light into the darkness. We who once sat in darkness have received the Light of Life who has enlightened our heart’s understanding and has come to reign within as the Prince of Peace. He is the Wonderful Counselor, the Mighty God the second person of the Trinity Who has shown us the truth of Who You are as our Everlasting Father! You so loved us that, in Your wisdom, You gave Your Son to us, to be for us our Righteousness, Sanctification and Redemption. All that we need is found in Him. By the Spirit of burning, continue to sanctify us according to Your Word and empower us to take the gospel to the nations, that the earth may be full of the knowledge of Your glory as the waters cover the sea. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.