TODAY’S READING FROM THE OLD TESTAMENT- ISAIAH 33:12- 36:22

In this final woe, God pronounces judgment on those who seek to destroy Israel. In this case, Sennacherib and the Assyrians are the destroyers. God used the rebellious hearts of the Assyrians to bring disciplinary judgment upon His people (Psalm 76:10). And after that judgment was accomplished, He promised to bring judgment upon them.

But as we have seen, the Lord will prove Himself to be the deliverer of those who put their trust in Him (Isaiah 33:5-6, 10).

Those among God’s people (nominal believers), who are unbelieving and unrepentant at heart, “the sinners in Zion” will be terrified when they realize that our God is a consuming fire (Hebrews 12:29). He is a holy God. Those who approach Him must do so on the terms of holiness.

Isaiah 33:14 14 The sinners in Zion are afraid; trembling seizes the ungodly: “Who among us can dwell with a consuming fire? Who among us can dwell with ever-burning flames?”

In that holy fire, only that which is essentially pure and strong can live.

Our only hope of a right standing with God is when we are standing in the righteousness of God’s Son (1 Corinthians 1:30; Romans 5:1-2; Isaiah 33:15-16).

The one who has been declared righteous by faith in Christ is called to walk righteously through a reliance upon the indwelling Spirit of holiness.

The glorious prospect of the just living by faith in the kingdom of God on earth is expressed in 33:17-22). 

Isaiah 33:17-18 17 Your eyes will see the King in His beauty; you will see a vast land.

18 Your mind will meditate on the ⌊past⌋ terror: “Where is the accountant? Where is the tribute collector? Where is the one who spied out our defenses?”

This brings to mind Romans 8:31-34:

Romans 8:31-34 31 What then are we to say about these things? If God is for us, who is against us? 32 He did not even spare His own Son but offered Him up for us all; how will He not also with Him grant us everything? 33 Who can bring an accusation against God’s elect? God is the One who justifies. 34 Who is the one who condemns? Christ Jesus is the One who died, but even more, has been raised; He also is at the right hand of God and intercedes for us.

And who is this One who sits on the Throne? He is the Judge, the Law Giver, and the King. The United States Constitution gives us the division of powers based on the three different offices of our Lord. As a result, we have the three branches of government, the Judicial (He is the Judge), the Legislature (He is the Law Giver), and the Executive (He is the King).

Isaiah 33:22 22 For the LORD is our Judge, the LORD is our lawgiver, the LORD is our King. He will save us.

Jerusalem, the city of peace, is the place God has chosen to be His earthly place of habitation. His heavenly command center will be the new Jerusalem.

Isaiah 33:21 21 For the majestic One, our LORD, will be there, a place of rivers and broad streams where ships that are rowed will not go, and majestic vessels will not pass.

This is a very interesting word regarding Jerusalem. Unlike the great cities of the world that are built with their great rivers, lakes, or oceans for harbor, Jerusalem has no port. God established a city that would be dependent upon Him. They had no reservoir, and the water table was dependent upon God-given rainfall. Here the Lord is declared to be Jerusalem’s harbor!

Some commentators believe verse 21 also corresponds to the geological change that takes place when Christ returns, and the split of Mt. Zion will open up a deep valley to the Mediterranean Sea and make Jerusalem a port city.

Zechariah 14:4-8 4 On that day His feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, which faces Jerusalem on the east. The Mount of Olives will be split in half from east to west, forming a huge valley, so that half the mountain will move to the north and half to the south. 5 You will flee by My mountain valley, for the valley of the mountains will extend to Azal. You will flee as you fled from the earthquake in the days of Uzziah king of Judah. Then the LORD my God will come and all the holy ones with Him. 6 On that day there will be no light; the sunlight and moonlight will diminish. 7 It will be a day known ⌊only⌋ to Yahweh, without day or night, but there will be light at evening. 8 On that day living water will flow out from Jerusalem, half of it toward the eastern sea and the other half toward the western sea, in summer and winter alike.

Isaiah’s prophetic vision points us to what is written in the Book of Revelation:

Revelation 21:3-4 3 Then I heard a loud voice from the throne: Look! God’s dwelling is with humanity, and He will live with them. They will be His people, and God Himself will be with them and be their God. 4 He will wipe away every tear from their eyes. Death will no longer exist; grief, crying, and pain will exist no longer, because the previous things have passed away.

Revelation 22:2b-3 2   The tree of life was on both sides of the river, bearing 12 kinds of fruit, producing its fruit every month. The leaves of the tree are for healing the nations, 3 and there will no longer be any curse. The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the city, and His slaves will serve Him.

Isaiah 33:24 24 and none there will say, “I am sick.” The people who dwell there will be forgiven ⌊their⌋ iniquity.

Chapter 34 describes the future judgment of all the nations in the Great Tribulation. It flies in the face of the myth of human autonomy that humans are answerable to only themselves. It debunks the utopian vision of human perfectibility. Humanism is a delusion. Worldly philosophy believes that man, and not God, determines the measure of all things. Rather than trusting the propositional truth of Scripture, mankind trusts the constructs of his limited reason and blinded heart. A rude awakening awaits.

Isaiah 34:2 2 The LORD is angry with all the nations— furious with all their armies. He will set them apart for destruction, giving them over to slaughter.

Looking further into the future, we see this image which is also captured by the apostle John in the Book of Revelation (Revelation 6:12-13; 21:1).

Isaiah 34:4 4 All the heavenly bodies will dissolve. The skies will roll up like a scroll, and their stars will all wither as leaves wither on the vine, and foliage on the fig tree.

Catastrophic events in the sky are associated with the Messiah’s return (Joel 2:10, 30-31; 3:15; Zechariah 14:6-7; Matthew 24:29).

Isaiah 34:5 5 When My sword has drunk its fill in the heavens, it will then come down on Edom and on the people I have set apart for destruction.

(Here, Edom refers to the unbelieving remnant of Israel.)

The tribulation is that part of the Day of the Lord that is known as “the day of the Lord’s vengeance” (Isaiah 34:8). You cannot stop it. It will be irrevocable and irresistible. 

Chapter 35 describes the restoration aspect of the Day of the Lord, the establishment of the Millennial Kingdom. But it also gives us the signs that will accompany the Messiah’s first coming, which will attest to Jesus of Nazareth’s claim during his ministry.

When John the Baptist asks whether Jesus truly is the Messiah, His reply grounds His Messianic claim with this Scripture. 

Isaiah 35:5-6 5 Then the eyes of the blind will be opened, and the ears of the deaf unstopped. 6 Then the lame will leap like a deer, and the tongue of the mute will sing for joy, for water will gush in the wilderness, and streams in the desert.

Matthew 11:4-5 4  Jesus replied to them, “Go and report to John what you hear and see: 5  the blind see, the lame walk, those with skin diseases are healed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the poor are told the good news. 

Jesus fulfills the geological aspects of the Kingdom in a figurative way, as our spiritual life source providing ‘streams in the desert’, but these changes in the land will be provided in a real physical way when Christ returns.

Isaiah 35:2 2 It will blossom profusely and rejoice with rejoicing and shout of joy. The glory of Lebanon will be given to it, The majesty of Carmel and Sharon. They will see the glory of the LORD, The majesty of our God.

Not every man or beast will have entrance there. This is a highway built by the righteous work of God. This is not the work of the first creation. It is the work of ransom, redemption, and regeneration.

Isaiah 35:8-10 8 A highway will be there, a roadway, and it will be called the Highway of Holiness. The unclean will not travel on it, but it will be for him who walks that way, and fools will not wander on it. 9 No lion will be there, nor will any vicious beast go up on it; These will not be found there. But the redeemed will walk there, 10 And the ransomed of the LORD will return and come with joyful shouting to Zion, With everlasting joy upon their heads. They will find gladness and joy, and sorrow and sighing will flee away.

Chapter 36 begins the historical section of the Isaiah scroll (36-39). In 715 BC. Hezekiah comes fully to the throne of Judah after a lengthy coregency with his father, Ahaz. This is 6 years after the northern kingdom of Israel has fallen to King Sargon II of Assyria.

In the beginning of his reign, Hezekiah remained a loyal subject of Sargon and refused to join the revolt of the Philistine states in 711 BC. However, when Sargon died in battle in 705 BC, many of the vassal states, including Judah, began to assert their independence. When Sennacherib ascended to the throne of the Assyrian Empire, he faced rebellion on all sides. Sennacherib sent forces to capture some of the western cities of Judah and to besiege Jerusalem, demoralizing the people of Judah.

When the Assyrian field commander leading the besieging troops ask to negotiate with Hezekiah’s appointed agents, Eliakim, Shebna, and Joah asked them not to speak in Hebrew. They did not want the common people of Jerusalem to hear the Assyrian slander the God of Israel. They also did not want panic to spread throughout the city.  Aramaic was a diplomatic language similar to Hebrew. In this case, its use would discourage eavesdropping.

The Assyrian disregards their request and shouts out to the men on the wall, encouraging them to reject Hezekiah and come out to negotiate peace with Assyria.

The people of Jerusalem did not answer the Assyrian because Hezekiah commanded them to be silent.

Eliakim, Shebna, and Joah then tear their clothes in grief and go to Hezekiah to report what the Assyrian had said.   

TODAY’S READING FROM THE NEW TESTAMENT – GALATIANS 5:13-26

This is a good reminder: We are free to do what we ought to do.

Galatians 5:13 13 For you were called to freedom, brethren; only do not turn your freedom into an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.

Love is what fulfills all the law. Loving our neighbor as ourselves will be the result of walking in the Spirit. The power of God’s Spirit shedding abroad in our hearts the love of God (Romans 5:5) will deliver us from the gravitational pull of our old sin-nature, which is bent on selfishness.

Paul contrasts the ‘works’ or ‘acts’ of the flesh with the ‘fruit’ of the Spirit. The difference between the words used to contrast the flesh and the Spirit are telling. Fruit is the product of life. A machine can work. An imitator can act. But only genuine life can reproduce after its kind and produce fruit that will bless others. Love reproduces after its kind. Notice that the singular verb is used to describe the fruit of love (‘is’ rather than ‘are’). What the Holy Spirit produces is singular- Christ-likeness. We must have Christ’s life to be Christ-like. The Christlike attributes all reflect love. The fruit of the Spirit, therefore, is the joy of love, the peace of love, the patience of love, the kindness of love, the goodness of love, the faithfulness of love, the gentleness of love, and the self-control of love.

No law can come against perfect love. It is the dynamic of God’s life that fulfills every one of God’s demands. No one should get arrested for being too loving.

We are to accept our co-crucifixion with Christ and reckon that all the works of the flesh are dead with it (including the old sinful desires).  The positive side of the equation for living the Christian life gives us the ability to say no to the demands of the flesh, with Spirit-empowered self-denial.

Galatians 5:16 16 But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh.

Galatians 5:24-25 24 Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit.

TODAY’S READING FROM THE BOOK OF PSALMS – PSALM 64:1-10

Hear me (64:1) and hide me (64:2) is the prayer of David. How wonderfully these requests are answered in Christ. He gives us access and an audience with the Father. We are hid with Christ in God (Colossians 3:3). When the enemy accuses us, Jesus, our Rock, refuge, and advocate, is there to answer with His shed blood.

The enemy’s various attacks are listed in Psalm 64:2-6. Satan is behind the conspiracies of the wicked.  But the Lord is our Victor and will fight for us. In the overarching Biblical narrative, we can see how He turns the table on the enemy. Our deliverance will be evident to all, inspiring others to both proclaim and ponder the salvation of the Lord (64:7-9).

Therefore, let us praise Him (64:10).

TODAY’S READING FROM THE BOOK OF PROVERBS – PROVERBS 23:23

Proverbs 23:23 23 Buy truth, and do not sell it, get wisdom and instruction and understanding.

 PRAY FOR THE NATIONS –

Nigeria

Federal Republic of Nigeria

Africa

Geography

Area: 923,768 sq km

Mangrove and tropical rain forests in the south, savannah and grasslands in the north. The country is drained by the Niger-Benue river systems.

Population: 158,258,917    Annual Growth: 2.35%

Capital: Abuja

Urbanites: 49.8%

HDI Rank: 158 of 182 (UN Human Development Reports 2009)

Peoples

Peoples: 523 (13% unreached) All peoples
Unreached Peoples Prayer Card

Official language: English. Hausa is widely used in the north and middle belt, Yoruba in the southwest, Igbo in the southeast, and Pidgin English all over the south    Languages: 521 All languages

Religion

Largest Religion: Christian

Religion

               

Pop %

Ann Gr

Christians

81,123,521

51.26

2.7

Evangelicals

48,806,250

30.8

3.4

Answer to Prayer

Missions vision was birthed in the 1970s through revival among university students. This vision has blossomed into a movement accounting for over 5,000 Nigerian missionaries at home and abroad, helping lead the way for Africa-wide mission mobilization.

 PRAYER: O Lord our God, You are the rightful King of all nations, and one day all will bow down to You. We ask that Your Holy Spirit bring conviction of sin, the need for a right standing with You, and the reality of judgment to all people. May each person awaken to the reality of their personal responsibility and accountability to You. We long for Your return and pray that Your kingdom come and that Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Even now, may the result of Your Indwelling Spirit within each of our lives bring forth a testimony of the manifold aspects of Your redeeming love to those around us. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.