TODAY’S READING FROM THE OLD TESTAMENT- ISAIAH 43:14- 45:10
The prophet prefaces his declarations with “This is what the Lord says” at least 13 times in the scroll of Isaiah. When we read the Bible, we need to keep this in mind. This is what THE LORD says. This is not a private interpretation of Isaiah. God was speaking through the prophet (Hebrews 1:1).
In this section further evidence is given to the Divine inspiration of Scripture. Isaiah accurately predicts the future. He foretells the chastisement that will involve the conquest of Judah by the Babylonians, the years of the Babylonian exile, and the subsequent restoration of Jerusalem under the legal auspices of the Persian King Cyrus.
Isaiah predicts the name and activities of the Persian King Cyrus almost 150 years before he comes to power. Isaiah prophesied from about 740-681 BC. Cyrus ruled from 559-530 BC. Some historians believe that Cyrus was so moved by reading this prophecy that it factored into his decision to permit the Jews to return from Babylon to restore Jerusalem.
Isaiah also predicted that Jerusalem would fall to the Babylonians more than 100 years before it happened in 586 BC. He predicted that the temple would be rebuilt about 200 years before it happened!
Isaiah predicted that the merchant ships in which the Babylonians took great pride, would be used in their vain attempt to flee from their Persian captors on the Euphrates and Tigris rivers and in the Persian Gulf (Isaiah 43:14). Jeremiah also predicted this
Jeremiah 51:13 13 O you who dwell by many waters, Abundant in treasures, your end has come, The measure of your end.
When the Lord says, “I am doing a new thing”, he is referring to deposing the old order and bringing in a new one. It has political, social, cultural and spiritual applications.
We see how this thought is used when Christ returns and there is a deposing of the rebellious order of the first creation, the world system under Satan, and fallen humanity under the headship of Adam. There is a new government with a new order of things.
Revelation 21:1 1 Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth passed away, and there is no longer any sea.
Revelation 21:4-5 4 and He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away.” 5 And He who sits on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” And He *said, “Write, for these words are faithful and true.”
The Lord declares that He is God and there is no other.
Isaiah 43:18-19 18 “Do not call to mind the former things, or ponder things of the past. 19 “Behold, I will do something new, now it will spring forth; Will you not be aware of it? I will even make a roadway in the wilderness, Rivers in the desert.”
The prophet uses various names for the covenant people of God. ‘Jacob’ emphasizes the residing influence of the old nature, that of ‘the supplanter’ the ‘cheater’. ‘Israel’ is the name given that points to the promise- a nature that is ‘ruled by God’.
Isaiah 43:22 22 “Yet you have not called on Me, O Jacob; But you have become weary of Me, O Israel.”
The reluctance of Jacob/Israel to be ruled by God has not gone unnoticed by Him. In verses 14- 24 the Lord proclaims that the Babylonian captivity is a necessary chastisement for their rejection of their Creator, Redeemer and Savior. It is for their sake (43:14). It will cure them of their pagan idolatries.
Punishment is their due, but for the Lord’s own namesake as a Promise-Keeping God, He will pardon their iniquities and remember them no more.
Isaiah 43:25 25 “I, even I, am the one who wipes out your transgressions for My own sake, And I will not remember your sins.”
The Lord demonstrates the logic of justice and entreats His people to give their defense:
Isaiah 43:26 26 “Put Me in remembrance, let us argue our case together; State your cause, that you may be proved right.”
The Lord reminds them of their past, all the way back to Adam’s sin. All descendants have followed suit, born spiritually dead in their trespasses and sins. God called out the descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob to be the people of His covenant. Yet they rebelled against Him.
Isaiah 43:27 27 “Your first forefather sinned, and your spokesmen have transgressed against Me.”
Therefore they are rightfully under His wrath and due for the punishment that is to come. He will judge them and their idols.
Isaiah 43:28 28 “So I will pollute the princes of the sanctuary, And I will consign Jacob to the ban and Israel to revilement.”
Yet God in His mercy will offer them a plea to repent and return to Him.
Isaiah 44:21-22 21 “Remember these things, O Jacob, And Israel, for you are My servant; I have formed you, you are My servant, O Israel, you will not be forgotten by Me. 22 “I have wiped out your transgressions like a thick cloud And your sins like a heavy mist. Return to Me, for I have redeemed you.”
Chapter 44 contains some prophecies that have been partially fulfilled and some that remain for the future. The Lord has a hope for Israel. He is the Messiah. There is a remaining promise that God will pour out His Holy Spirit upon Israel in the future when they trust Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior.
Isaiah 44:3 3 ‘For I will pour out water on the thirsty land and streams on the dry ground; I will pour out My Spirit on your offspring And My blessing on your descendants’.
This promise was not fulfilled at Pentecost, and has not been fully fulfilled unto this day. Peter was explaining the outpouring of the Holy Spirit as a foreshadowing of the full promise to come. Isaiah was writing of the wider fulfillment of Joel 2:28-29.
Joel 2:28-29 28 “It will come about after this That I will pour out My Spirit on all mankind; And your sons and daughters will prophesy, Your old men will dream dreams, Your young men will see visions. 29 Even on the male and female servants I will pour out My Spirit in those days.”
As we have seen in our study of the Bible, God fulfills His promises accurately, to the letter. His more immediate and local fulfillments give us the assurance that the future and global fulfillments are to come.
The Lord challenges His people to stop and think. Is there any god like Him? He is the first and the last. There is no other God. All people are made by Him and accountable to Him. Who can foretell the future like Him?
He pulls the veil back to expose the foolishness of His people’s idol worship. He will cure them of this in the Babylonian captivity and as a nation they will not return to worshiping the pagan idols of their neighbors when they rebuild the temple (at least to the same degree).
We are living in an age of revived paganism and foolish idolatries. Isaiah speaks God’s verdict on the idols of the self-manufactured religions of our day. God is calling us to stop, think, repent and turn to Him (44:22). He will overthrow the learning of the wise, expose the false prophets and make fools of the diviners (44:25).
In Chapter 45 we read more of King Cyrus of Persia. Although he is not a believer who acknowledges the Holy One of Israel as the one and only God, the first and the last, he is nevertheless God’s anointed instrument. God set Cyrus apart for his use, appointing him and anointing him to bring judgment on the Babylonians and issue a decree for the Jewish remnant to return to Jerusalem and rebuild the temple, thus launching the post-exilic period of Israel’s history.
Isaiah 45:4 4 “For the sake of Jacob My servant, And Israel My chosen one, I have also called you by your name; I have given you a title of honor Though you have not known Me.”
It is even more marvelous when you consider that this prophecy is written 150 years before the event. He calls Cyrus by name, and the fact that God will use him as His instrument of deliverance. Yet Cyrus does not acknowledge Him as the only true God (45:5).
In verse 7, God proclaims His sovereignty over all.
Isaiah 45:7 7 I form light and create darkness, I make well-being and create calamity, I am the LORD, who does all these things (ESV).
Our reading concludes with a warning to those who quarrel with God. The image of the clay arguing with the potter found in verse 9, is used again by the Apostle Paul in his letter to the Romans.
Romans 9:20-21 20 But who are you, O man, to answer back to God? Will what is molded say to its molder, “Why have you made me like this?” 21 Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for dishonorable use?
TODAY’S READING FROM THE NEW TESTAMENT – EPHESIANS 3:1-21
Paul was under house arrest when he wrote the Ephesians. The religious leaders were threatened by the gospel message concerning Jesus Christ that Paul preached. They pressed the Roman authorities at Caesarea to arrest Paul and bring him to trial (Acts 24; 25:11-12). When he is taken to Rome he is under house imprisonment, where he continues to write and receive guests and preach the gospel. Paul reminds us that his firm belief and his preaching the divinity, the Lordship and the gospel truths of Christ for their sake has cost him much personally. He was a prisoned for Jesus Christ on their behalf (Ephesians 3:1-2).
He reminds them that he has been entrusted as a steward of the mystery of Christ, the truths that were concealed in the Old Testament and now revealed by the Spirit to the writers of the New Testament.
One spectacular truth that has been made plain is that Jews and Gentiles share equal status as heirs of all that is promised in Christ Jesus. They are members of one body of which Christ is the head (3:6).
Paul has been given special insight that the other apostles attest as being valid. He has been given understanding of the special role and place of the church and its role in this church age. Paul is humbled by this privilege.
Ephesians 3:8-10 8 To me, the very least of all saints, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unfathomable riches of Christ, 9 and to bring to light what is the administration of the mystery which for ages has been hidden in God who created all things; 10 so that the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known through the church to the rulers and the authorities in the heavenly places.
Do you appreciate the special role that the church has today to make known to both the seen world and to the unseen realm of spiritual realities, the wisdom of the finished work of Christ? The church is the body of Christ making the invisible Christ visible, the love of Christ credible, the care of Christ tangible, the message of Christ intelligible and the presence of Christ accessible.
Verse 14 starts another magnificent prayer. We should study the prayers of Paul and let them inform our own prayer life.
He prays that the church would have their spiritual faculties strengthened in their innermost beings, and that they would be receptive to the truth of God’s Word and the transforming power of the Holy Spirit.
He prays that Christ would be manifestly dwelling in their hearts, that their Christian profession would not be empty or lacking fullness in any way. May it not be a case of ‘lights are on but nobody’s home’ when people are looking for the reality of Christ in the lives of those who profess to know Him.
And above all, he prays that they all would know the ever out-distancing dimensions of God’s love in all ways. That they would be rooted and grounded in it, knowing God’s love towards themselves. He prays they would know the width of it (wide enough to embrace every shape and size of penitent sinner); the height (He brings us to reign with Him as members of His corporate body, His eternal companion, His bride); the length (it is everlasting); and the depth (as Corrie Ten Boom said, “there is no pit so deep where God’s love is not deeper still.”)
Paul gives praise to God who is willing and able to do exceedingly beyond what we can ask or think.
He recognizes that God’s glory now resides in the church and He is willing to invest himself in it, because it is the only institution now on earth that will exist in eternity future!
TODAY’S READING FROM THE BOOK OF PSALMS – PSALM 68:1-18
The Psalmist calls to the Lord His banner, His deliverer, as the only One whom He trusts to vanquish the enemy.
Psalm 68:1 1 Let God arise, let His enemies be scattered, and let those who hate Him flee before Him.
This has sometimes been referred to as the Psalm of Battles. It is sung by those who are being tried by fire. It celebrates God marching on with His people, against their foes and His foes.
It is not a psalm that glorifies war. It glorifies the God who gives us victory.
Notice the compassion of our warrior king:
Psalm 68:5-6 5 A father of the fatherless and a judge for the widows, Is God in His holy habitation. 6 God makes a home for the lonely; He leads out the prisoners into prosperity, Only the rebellious dwell in a parched land.
Verse 11 reminds us of women’s role in fulfilling the Great Commission.
Psalm 68:11 11 The Lord gives the command; The women who proclaim the good tidings are a great host:
We are reminded that the Lord has also given us angelic support in our battles:
Psalm 68:17 17 The chariots of God are myriads, thousands upon thousands; The Lord is among them as at Sinai, in holiness.
The Lord helps us by giving us gifts of men in ministry. Paul refers to this verse when he speaks about God giving the apostles and prophets of the New Testament, the evangelists and the pastor-teachers after the Ascension of Christ (Ephesians 4:11).
Psalm 68:18 18 You have ascended on high, You have led captive Your captives; You have received gifts among men, even among the rebellious also, that the LORD God may dwell there.
TODAY’S READING FROM THE BOOK OF PROVERBS – PROVERBS 24:1-2
Proverbs 24:1-2 1 Do not be envious of evil men, nor desire to be with them; 2 For their minds devise violence, and their lips talk of trouble.
PRAY FOR THE NATIONS – OMAN (from Operation World Prayer Guide and Prayercast.com)
Sultanate of Oman
Area: 309,500 sq km
A mountainous land on the southeast coast of Arabia and the strategic tip of the Musandam Peninsula that dominates the entrance to the Arabian/Persian Gulf.
Population: 2,905,114 Annual Growth: 2.10%
Official language: Arabic Languages: 21 All languages
Largest Religion: Muslim
- Pray for a wide-open door to the Gospel that would spread to neighboring closed nations.
- Pray for the Gospel to infiltrate Omani culture, reaching the many who are still unreached.
- Pray for opportunities and courage for Muslims to become disciples of Jesus Christ.
Connecting the Arabian Sea, the Gulf of Oman, and the Persian Gulf, the nation of Oman sits in a strategic position. Seas in the north and east and deserts in the west and south, though, have often led to isolation. With an economy heavily dependent on declining oil reserves, Oman has begun to focus increasingly on tourism. The diverse landscape of untouched coastlines, deserts, and mountains has become a unique destination for travelers. Spared of much militant Islamist violence, Oman enjoys significantly more personal freedom and political stability than the surrounding area.
In 1970 Qaboos bin Said Al-said overthrew his father, and he has since ruled as the sultan in this benevolent absolute monarchy. His modernization program and moderate foreign policy have opened Oman’s doors to the outside world and led to overall good relations in the Middle East. Over 25% of the population is expatriate, bringing many foreign influences to bear, but Oman still holds its Arab and Ibadi/Sunni Islamic identity, as it has since the days of Muhammad.
Due to the massive expatriate influence in Oman, people are free to practice varying faiths, and the government has even given land for places of worship. But it remains illegal to share the Gospel with Muslims. Islam remains the state religion, claiming roughly 89% of the population. The nearly 3% that claim Christianity are predominantly part of the expatriate community. Very few Omanis are disciples of Jesus, but the number is growing. There remains 77% of the Omani population that have yet to be reached with the Gospel. Numerous media strategies are being pursued through Christian radio, the internet, and mobile phones, and over 2,000 Omanis have the opportunity to hear about Christ each year while studying abroad.
Answer to Prayer
Christians are growing in number. The large majority of converts actually come from expatriate workers and usually from non-Muslim backgrounds, but Omanis are also coming to faith in Christ.
Challenge for Prayer
The unreached. The entire Muslim majority remains a big challenge. Proselytism of Muslims is illegal, and the few Omanis who have come to faith face huge pressure to return to Islam. There are no known churches among the semi-nomadic Mahra or Jibbali of Dhofar, the Baluch of the eastern coasts, the rural population or the Swahili speakers.
Here is a prayer video from Prayercast concerning Oman. Pray with our brothers and sisters.
PRAYER: You are our heavenly Father. We hallow Your Name, for You alone are God. We praise You for Your vast wisdom and the ever-surpassing dimensions of Your love. Arise, O Lord, and fill us with the Holy Spirit that we would be able to manifest Your love. Forgive us for regarding any other person, place, thing or desired goal as more deserving of our devotion. We choose to seek first Your kingdom and Your righteousness. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.