TODAY’S READING FROM THE OLD TESTAMENT- ISAIAH 30:12- 33:12

The prophecy begins with the announcement of God’s Name, used 23 times in Isaiah’s prophecy.

Isaiah 30:12-13 12  Therefore thus says the Holy One of Israel, “Since you have rejected this word And have put your trust in oppression and guile, and have relied on them, 13  Therefore this iniquity will be to you Like a breach about to fall, A bulge in a high wall, Whose collapse comes suddenly in an instant.

The offer of salvation was made available through faith in God’s Word. But that word was rejected.

Isaiah 30:15 15 For thus the Lord GOD, the Holy One of Israel, has said, “In repentance and rest you will be saved, in quietness and trust is your strength.” But you were not willing,

What other plans of deliverance can we come up with? They are futile.

Isaiah 30:18 18 Therefore the LORD longs to be gracious to you, and therefore He waits on high to have compassion on you. For the LORD is a God of justice; How blessed are all those who long for Him.

The Lord graciously spares Jerusalem from the invasion of the Assyrians when they cease to trust in their unholy alliances and heed God’s Word. They are promised blessings if they remain obedient to what the Scriptures teach.

The prophetic language hints that Isaiah is speaking of something greater than the Lord bringing retribution upon the Assyrian king.

Isaiah 30:31-33 31 For at the voice of the LORD Assyria will be terrified, When He strikes with the rod. 32 And every blow of the rod of punishment, Which the LORD will lay on him, Will be with the music of tambourines and lyres; And in battles, brandishing weapons, He will fight them. 33 For Topheth has long been ready, Indeed, it has been prepared for the king. He has made it deep and large, A pyre of fire with plenty of wood; The breath of the LORD, like a torrent of brimstone, sets it afire.

A similar description of retribution is given concerning the devil, the beast (Antichrist), and the false prophet in Revelation 20:10:

Revelation 20:10 10 And the devil who deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are also; and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.

In Chapter 31, Isaiah warns Jerusalem again not to go to Egypt for help. Egypt here is a type of the world system built on Satan’s lies. Believers must recognize that the world by its wisdom did not know God and therefore should not be trusted. 

Isaiah 31:1 1  Woe to those who go down to Egypt for help And rely on horses, and trust in chariots because they are many and in horsemen because they are very strong, But they do not look to the Holy One of Israel, nor seek the LORD!

The Lord promises to bring the wisdom of this world to naught. There is a danger when we are strained by circumstances to turn to ungodly counsel rather than the sure word of God.

Earlier, the Lord urged Judah to trust in Him as the sure foundation stone that can be relied upon.

Isaiah 28:16 16 Therefore thus says the Lord GOD, “Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone, a tested stone, A costly cornerstone for the foundation, firmly placed. He who believes in it will not be disturbed.

The Lord pledges His protection to Jerusalem, to shield and to deliver it from the Assyrians. He will bring them low, and they will flee before the sword (31:8).

Chapter 32 is a bright prophecy between the 5th and 6th woes. Not only will God defeat those who oppose Him, but He pledges to reign in righteousness.

Isaiah 32:1 1 Behold, a king will reign righteously, and princes will rule justly.

Many thrones throughout history have been established through lawlessness. But the kingdom of our God and of His Christ will be established through the righteous work of the cross.

There is a prophetic picture of Christ the King- The citizens of the kingdom will not be like the foolish of our day.

Isaiah 32:3 3 Then the eyes of those who see will not be blinded, And the ears of those who hear will listen.

1 Corinthians 13:12 12 For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I will know fully just as I also have been fully known.

Isaiah 32:5 5 No longer will the fool be called noble, Or the rogue be spoken of as generous.

Isaiah 32:8 8 But the noble man devises noble plans; And by noble plans he stands.

Before the sunshine era of the reign of Christ, there is the darkness of the Great Tribulation.

Luke 21:20 20 “But when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then recognize that her desolation is near.

The Lord gives warning to the women, perhaps because they are more likely to listen. He gives a warning of what will happen in a little more than a year from then.

Isaiah 32:10 10 Within a year and a few days You will be troubled, O complacent daughters; For the vintage is ended, And the fruit gathering will not come.

After Judgment will come repentance and faith. The prophet keeps the outpouring of the Spirit and the coming kingdom in view.

Isaiah 32:15 15 Until the Spirit is poured out upon us from on high, And the wilderness becomes a fertile field, And the fertile field is considered as a forest.

The reign of Christ in our hearts and in our land is only made possible through Christ’s finished work of righteousness on the cross.

Isaiah 32:17 17 And the work of righteousness will be peace, And the service of righteousness, quietness and confidence forever.

Although Assyria and Babylon will be instruments of winnowing and bringing punishment upon the northern kingdom of Israel and the southern kingdom of Judah, once that judgment has been executed, the Lord promises to deal with these instruments of destruction (Isaiah 33:1). This prophecy looks beyond Assyria and Babylon to all who seek to destroy God’s people.

Galatians 6:7 7 Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap.

In verse 1, ‘the destroyer’ refers to Sennacherib. This is the 6th and final ‘woe’ in the series that began with Chapter 28.

Isaiah 33:1 1 Woe to you, O destroyer, while you were not destroyed; And he who is treacherous, while others did not deal treacherously with him. As soon as you finish destroying, you will be destroyed; As soon as you cease to deal treacherously, others will deal treacherously with you.

God promises to take vengeance on behalf of His people.

The prayer of the godly remnant is found in verse 2.

Isaiah 33:2 2 O LORD, be gracious to us; we have waited for You. Be their strength every morning, Our salvation also in the time of distress.

The reading closes with a contrast between the security of those who trust in God’s Word, and the desolation of those who trust in human wisdom.

A sure foundation is available to those who believe, that is, who fear the Lord.

Isaiah 33:6 6 And He will be the stability of your times, A wealth of salvation, wisdom and knowledge; The fear of the LORD is his treasure.

Isaiah 33:12 12 “The peoples will be burned to lime, like cut thorns which are burned in the fire.

TODAY’S READING FROM THE NEW TESTAMENT – GALATIANS 5:1-12

This exhortation summarizes Paul’s letter to the Galatians:

Galatians 5:1 1 It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery.

Christ sets us free from our death sentence due to our guilt. He frees us from our bondage to self-centeredness, evidencing the rule of sin. He frees us also from a life of self-conscious rule-keeping. That kind of life promotes further self-righteousness and removes us from reliance upon Christ.

Paul contrasts the life of the believer living under grace and relying on the power of the Spirit with a person living under the law in the energy of the old Adamic nature (the flesh).

Paul declares that Law and Grace don’t mix. They are like oil and water. The Law had a purpose, as we have seen in the previous chapters. It was to bring us to Christ so we can receive a new life. The Law spoke to those ‘in Adam’ to show them their need for Christ.  When we come to Christ, we retire from living under the Law. The Law does not speak to Christ. It has nothing it can say to Christ. It cannot improve Christ’s righteousness, for Christ’s life fulfills the law.

To think that a right standing with God is gained through entering into and subscribing to a system of law-keeping (circumcision) is deception. To return to it is reversionism.  It is opting for your own inadequate brand of righteousness (self-justification through works) instead of God’s brand of righteousness, (justification by grace through faith in the finished work of Christ.) The same Christ who died for us (providing for our legal justification) rose from the dead to live in us (providing for our progressive experiential sanctification).

The result of Christ’s indwelling us by the Holy Spirit is love. It is His life of love that is ours by faith.

Christ’s provision for saving us will not help us if we are trying to save ourselves.

All the believer’s works of the flesh have been judged on the cross. We must take up the revelation of our co-crucifixion, burial, and resurrection and walk in the newness of life.

The apostle Paul calls out the Judaizers as being false teachers who are corrupting the church. They will be judged. He also reminds them that he is putting his life where his mouth is and is paying a price for standing true to the gospel.

Galatians 5:11 11 But I, brethren, if I still preach circumcision, why am I still persecuted? Then the stumbling block of the cross has been abolished.

Paul says there is no other gospel than that of salvation by grace through faith in Christ’s atoning work on the cross.

Our salvation depends upon Christ’s performance and not our own. 

TODAY’S READING FROM THE BOOK OF PSALMS- PSALM 63:1-11

David is experiencing the loneliness of being hunted, harassed, and alienated by former friends. It is also a time when he is separated from the formal dwelling place of God, where the ark of the covenant resided.

He expresses his longing for the Lord and the comfort of His presence (v.1).

We see how David is blessed when he meditates upon the Lord.

He remembers former blessings in corporate worship (v.2).

Because God is bigger, he resolves to worship by faith.

Psalm 63:3-4 3 Because Your lovingkindness is better than life, my lips will praise You. 4 So I will bless You as long as I live; I will lift up my hands in Your name.

He meditates by day and night.

Psalm 63:6 6 When I remember You on my bed, I meditate on You in the night watches.

David expresses the faith-union that the believer has with Christ.

Psalm 63:8 8 My soul clings to You; Your right hand upholds me.

He is confident that even in these difficult times, God will prove Himself to be faithful and will ultimately deal with those who seek to harm him (v.9-10).

May this Psalm inspire you to reflect upon your faith-union with Christ, even while we are strangers in a strange land, pilgrims on our way to His celestial city. 

TODAY’S READING FROM THE BOOK OF PROVERBS- PROVERBS 23:22

Proverbs 23:22 22 Listen to your father who begot you, and do not despise your mother when she is old. 

Parents are God’s chosen instruments to teach us to respect God’s authority. When we grow older and are no longer dependent upon them, they still deserve our attention, respect, and care. 

PRAY FOR THE NATIONS- NIGER

PRAYER POINTS

  • Pray for focused efforts to evangelize those under the age of 15, half of the overall population. 
  • Pray for speed and accuracy for the workers translating the Scriptures for many barely reached people groups. 
  • Pray for a visible Christian presence in society and peace among struggling believers who feel isolated.

SUMMARY

The landlocked North African nation of Niger, a country of sand dunes and desert plains, still has the fresh flavor of freedom on its lips.  Under military rule for thirty-one years, violent coups and bloody political infighting have finally unfolded into a fledgling democracy.  One of the richest sources of uranium in the world, Niger has instead focused on developing agriculture and raising livestock.  Future economic growth is hoped to be found in the mining of gold, coal, and recently discovered oil.

One of the poorest countries in the world, the agricultural economy is frequently destroyed by drought, making it insufficient to support the growing population.  Slavery is still practiced in isolated areas of the country.  Nigerian children are trafficked for labor in gold mines, sexual exploitation, and begging.  Women are abducted and sold into domestic servitude or prostitution, and young boys are kidnapped for work in stone quarries.  A land dispute between Libya remains unresolved and often triggers acts of violence.

Less than one percent of the population claims the Christian faith.  Ninety-seven percent of the nation is Muslim, with 76% of the people listed as unreached ethnic groups.  Christianity is slowly growing through humanitarian efforts such as well-digging, agricultural development, and education.  The number of Evangelicals triples every year, though that is not keeping up with population growth.  The cultural pressure to maintain the Islamic faith continues to hinder outreach efforts, though indigenous pastors, many of whom have converted to Christianity from Islam themselves, are stepping up as leaders in the fledgling church.  Niger still has the taste of political freedom on their tongue.  May spiritual freedom in Christ soon quench their eternal thirst with His bottomless well of compassion. 

PRAYER: Father, Your Word gives us so many assurances that great blessing comes with the obedience of faith. We trust the Christ who died for us to live in us by the Holy Spirit. Teach us to walk in Your ways while relying on Your strength. Forgive us for the times that we have given in to worldly counsel and turned to other saviors. Help us to stand fast in the liberty that we have in Christ and remember all that He is and has done on our behalf. May we never forget that we are upheld in His hand, and Your hand and no one can pluck us out of your eternal grip if we are trusting in You.  Amen.