TODAY’S READING FROM THE OLD TESTAMENT- – ISAIAH 54:1- 57:13
The crucial passage portraying the Suffering and the Glory of the Messiah, the fourth ‘Servant Song’ (Isaiah 53), is followed by a series of prophetic songs related to it (Isaiah 54-57).
Isaiah 54 is a song of assurance. Isaiah 55 is a song of invitation. Isaiah 56:1-8 is an exhortation to Jews and Gentiles who heed God’s call to walk worthy of that calling, followed by a strong warning of the disaster that awaits those who continue to commit spiritual adultery and serve the idols of this world (Isaiah 56:9- 57:13). The final phrase extols the Servant’s provision of salvation for those who trust in Him.
Isaiah 57:13b but he who takes refuge in Me will inherit the land and will possess My holy mountain.”
What should be the response of those who believe God’s report about the perfect work of redemption accomplished by the Suffering Servant?
The first word of Isaiah 54 instructs the believer to “Sing!” God has done for us what we could not do for ourselves.
Isaiah 54 is a response to the perfect atonement for sin that the Servant makes on behalf of the elect, the many whom the Father gives to the Son, described in Isaiah 53. Jesus’s victorious shout from the cross, “It is finished! (John 19:30) is foreshadowed with Isaiah’s words:
Isaiah 53:11 11 As a result of the anguish of His soul, He will see it and be satisfied; By His knowledge the Righteous One, My Servant, will justify the many, As He will bear their iniquities.
Isaiah pictures the results of redemption, first for the Jew (Isaiah 54) and then for the Gentile (Isaiah 60). The prophet sees a remnant of Israel turning to the Lord in the last days. They become ‘servants’ (Isaiah 54:17; following ‘The Servant’, the Lord Jesus Christ. They follow the Lamb (Revelation 14:4).
This song is not yet being sung by Israel, due to the hardened hearts of unbelief. Israel is now in the position of “Lo-ammi”, meaning, ‘not my people’ (Hosea 1:9) due to her rejection of the Messiah. But there is a time coming when a believing remnant of Israel will be called the sons of the Living God. The redeemed of the Lord shall return.
Romans 11:25-26 25 For I do not want you, brethren, to be uninformed of this mystery—so that you will not be wise in your own estimation—that a partial hardening has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in; 26 and so all Israel will be saved; just as it is written, “THE DELIVERER WILL COME FROM ZION, HE WILL REMOVE UNGODLINESS FROM JACOB.”
Then the barren one will sing! Then her tent will be enlarged with sides opened to welcome the nations to worship Jesus, “The Light of the World”. God’s grace will be displayed as He receives Israel, once cast off as an unfaithful wife, in a new covenant relationship.
Just as God promised that ‘the waters of Noah’ would no more go over the earth, He promised that the nation of Israel will never be destroyed and that someday a remnant will be saved and become a great nation.
Jesus applies the promise of Isaiah 54:13 to Himself:
John 6:42-46 42 They were saying, “Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How does He now say, ‘I have come down out of heaven’?” 43 Jesus answered and said to them, “Do not grumble among yourselves. 44 “No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up on the last day. 45 “It is written in the prophets (Isaiah 54:13), ‘AND THEY SHALL ALL BE TAUGHT OF GOD.’ Everyone who has heard and learned from the Father, comes to Me.”
Despite enemies attempting to destroy her, God gives this promise to Israel:
Isaiah 54:17 17 “No weapon that is formed against you will prosper; And every tongue that accuses you in judgment you will condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the LORD, and their vindication is from Me,” declares the LORD.
In Isaiah 55 the joyful invitation to enjoy the blessings of the gospel go out to the Gentiles. There could be no gospel call such as found in Isaiah 55 if there were not the gospel foundation found in Isaiah 53, which describes the vicarious atoning death of the Suffering Servant.
The Book of Isaiah has been called “The Fifth Gospel”. We hear the invitation go out to all who recognize their need for the Savior. The gospel requires a humble recognition that no matter what the state of our temporal condition in this world may be, we are lost, hungry, thirsty, and unsatisfied. As Augustine said, “Our hearts are unquieted until they find their rest in Thee”.
In Isaiah 55, the Lord is presented in four different ways. He is presented as a merchantman offering what cannot be bought- the gift of salvation (Isaiah 55:1-3), Secondly, He is presented as a witness to the Gentiles (55:4a). Thirdly as a leader (v.4b) and fourthly as a Commander (v.4c).
Isaiah 55:1-3 1 “Ho! Every one who thirsts, come to the waters; And you who have no money come, buy and eat. Come, buy wine and milk Without money and without cost. 2 “Why do you spend money for what is not bread, and your wages for what does not satisfy? Listen carefully to Me, and eat what is good, and delight yourself in abundance. 3 “Incline your ear and come to Me. Listen, that you may live; And I will make an everlasting covenant with you, according to the faithful mercies shown to David.” (See Davidic Covenant 2 Samuel 7:10-11).
Jesus echoes Isaiah’s prophetic call in Matthew 11:28:
Matthew 11:28-29 28 “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. 29 “Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and YOU WILL FIND REST FOR YOUR SOULS.”
It reminds us of Jesus’ offer to the Samaritan woman at the well.
John 4:14 14 “Whoever drinks of the water that I will give him shall never thirst; but the water that I will give him will become in him a well of water springing up to eternal life.”
How do you buy without money? How do you buy that which is freely offered? By faith. Faith is the act of a believing trust. Faith is spurred on by thirst, hunger, and a realization of our poverty, our lack of spiritual life, or lack of what we need for peace with God and with ourselves, a right relationship with God.
Matthew 5:3-6 3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 4 “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted. 5 “Blessed are the gentle, for they shall inherit the earth. 6 “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.”
The people who are blessed are those who run to Jesus and cleave to Him as their Lord and Savior.
The message to all people is to seek the Lord and call upon the Lord. Repent of your sins and trust Christ.
Isaiah 55:7 7 Let the wicked forsake his way And the unrighteous man his thoughts; And let him return to the LORD, And He will have compassion on him, And to our God, For He will abundantly pardon.
Salvation is of the Lord. The Word of God will do its work even as the rain from above does its work watering the earth and bringing forth life that provides seed to the sower and bread for the eater (Isaiah 54:10-11). So, God initiates a gracious work through sending His Word, like rain from above. Those who receive the Word of truth, embrace its life-giving power in good soil of saving faith, will see the eternal life of God reproduced within, bringing forth fruit. All creation will break out in song when the sons of God come into their own when glorified at the return of Christ (Isaiah 55:12-13; Romans 8:22-23).
Isaiah 56 and 57 go together as one message. Verses 1-8 exhort Israel to walk worthy of its calling according to their covenant promise. God shows His redemptive acceptance of those foreigners who join themselves to the Lord. These are the Jewish proselytes.
When Jesus cleared the moneychangers out of the temple courts, He referred to the temple’s purpose as described in Isaiah 56:7:
Isaiah 56:7 7 “Even those I will bring to My holy mountain and make them joyful in My house of prayer. Their burnt offerings and their sacrifices will be acceptable on My altar; For My house will be called a house of prayer for all the peoples.”
Jesus echoes Isaiah 56:8 when He acts as the Good Shepherd gathering the outcasts of Israel (the healed blind man who was cast out of the temple) and when He spoke of gathering others to Himself, besides those already gathered (John 10).
In verses 9-12, the Lord rebukes the unfaithful leaders of Israel and in Chapter 57 He warns Israel of its future idolatries. They will be enticed by trendy sorcery, sexual perversion and false spirituality (57:1-10; 2 Kings 21:1-16). This will lead to their destruction.
There is a glimmer of hope in the last half of the last verse that we read in Isaiah today:
Isaiah 57:13b “he who takes refuge in Me will inherit the land and will possess My holy mountain.”
TODAY’S READING FROM THE NEW TESTAMENT – EPHESIANS 6:1-24
A walk in the Spirit will be a walk of submission to the Lordship of Christ. We are to submit to one another as unto the Lord.
In Ephesians 6 children are to submit to their parents as unto the Lord and show it by obeying their commands. They can learn the beauty of the Lord from their parents and the blessing of submission to Him as they communicate His loving authority to them in the home.
Parent should not overcorrect, nag or exasperate their children. This is especially applicable to dads.
Ephesians 6:4 4 Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.
Verses 5-9 deal with our work relations. In Paul’s day there were a variety of employer- employee relationships. There were indentured servants. In Roman society prisoners of war were made slaves. There were several million of slaves. When slaves and slave owners were converted to Christ the early church had to deal straightforwardly with the master and slave relationship. The Bible never affirmed slavery as a good thing. Israel was enslaved in Egypt. Societies have enslaved their own. Paul’s statements here neither condemns nor condones slavery. When Paul writes Philemon about his runaway slave, Paul offers to purchase his freedom. In the church slaves and masters realized they were all children of their Father, purchased by the blood of Christ, where there is no difference between bond or free. Paul tells the worker and the master to treat each other with the kind of care demonstrated by our Lord and Savior. Both are slaves to Christ and God has no favorites. In the church they have equal privileges. In has been through the efforts of Christians that efforts were made to abolish slavery.
Having dealt with the believers walk in Chapters 4 through 6:9, he now calls them to stand. The Christian is in a spiritual battle. The world, the flesh and the devil war against his soul. His experience of victory depends on him standing firm on the ground that Jesus won for Him. Faith in Who Christ is, who we are, where we are, and what we have ‘in Him’ is essential in defeating these foes.
As individuals, and as a body of believers, we need to put on our spiritual armor through prayer, meditation upon God’s Word and corporate fellowship. We need to be secure in God’s truth. We are to put on truth as a belt- the truth of Who God is and what He has done in the person of His Son as revealed in the whole of Scripture. We put on the breastplate of the imputed righteousness of Christ. He has won that for us. May it protect your heart from morbid introspection. We are to use our gospel shoes and walk the talk if we are to have peace. In every battle we need to use the shield of faith, affirming God’s truth to extinguish the incoming fiery darts of the enemy. Satan is the accuser of the brethren, the father of lies, the deceiver and the slanderer. Beware of his attempts to invade your heart with his falsehoods. And of course, we need to protect our minds with the helmet of salvation and wield the sword of the Spirit which is the Word of God.
We are well equipped by the Spirit and the Word, but we must cooperate with fervent prayer.
Ephesians 6:18 18 With all prayer and petition pray at all times in the Spirit, and with this in view, be on the alert with all perseverance and petition for all the saints,
Paul is not ashamed to ask for prayer. We should pray for each member of the body, that they will be bold witnesses and that they will be able to clearly communicate the gospel to others.
Paul appreciated and needed the prayer support of his brothers and sisters in Ephesus.
He signs off with prayers that they abound in the blessings of grace, love, faith and peace that are ours in Christ Jesus.
TODAY’S READING FROM THE BOOK OF PSALMS – PSALM 70:1-5
The Psalmist knows the battering that comes with battles and the blessings that come with the fellowship of brothers and sisters who know salvation and can say continually, “The Lord be magnified!”
Here is a prayer we may be familiar with: “Hurry up!” We long for deliverance. We long for fellowship. It is a common human experience.
But God never tarries uselessly or carelessly. He hears our heart cry. He is our help and deliverer. AND HE WILL BE MAGNIFIED! For sure.
TODAY’S READING FROM THE BOOK OF PROVERBS – PROVERBS 24:8
Proverbs 24:8 8 One who plans to do evil, Men will call a schemer.
Your schemes will find you out.
PRAY FOR THE NATIONS – Continue to pray for Pakistan
PRAYER: God of all grace, thank You for calling us to Jesus! We recognize that without the Bread of Life, we die of starvation. Without the Water of Life, we perish with thirst. Without Christ, we labor for that which does not satisfy, and are heavy laden with the guilt of our sin. We run to Him Whom You have made to be for us our Wisdom, our righteousness, our sanctification and redemption. We are hungry to see Your rule established as fully on earth as it is in heaven. We pray for boldness to pursue Your choice purposes and declare Your gospel invitation in the persuasive power of Your Spirit, In Jesus’ Name. Amen.