Text: Nahum 1-3
OBSERVE: The long shadow of the Assyrian empire casted a cloud over God’s people. The northern Kingdom of Israel had already been conquered by the Assyrians and now Judah faced the same fate as their sister kingdom to the north. Within this time of uncertainty and fear, God sent his prophet, Nahum, whose name means “comfort.” And comfort was exactly what Nahum’s prophecy brought to Judah – the message that Assyria would face utter destruction. Nahum’s prophecies of certain and irrevocable judgment on Assyria comforted the people of Judah, assuring them that even though it may have seemed slow in coming, God was enacting his righteous judgment on their enemies.
INTERPRET: Nahum’s prophecy proved true when Nineveh was destroyed in 612 BC, marking the end of that great empire. The great Assyrian city of Nineveh was never rebuilt and the Assyrians disappeared from history. This fulfillment of God’s promises gives us confidence that the day is coming when all of God’s enemies will be destroyed, never again to persecute the people of God. But it is in one particular statement that we can find the most comfort. In the middle of Nahum’s menacing pronouncement of woes is the Good News of the gospel: “Look! A Messenger is coming over the mountains with good news! He is bringing a message of peace” (1: 15).
APPLICATION: Who is the messenger and what is his message? In the book of Acts, Peter was very specific about this messenger and his good news:
This is the message of Good News for the people of Israel – that there is peace with God through Jesus Christ, who is Lord of all…….. Jesus is the one appointed by God to be the judge of all - the living and the dead. He is the one all the prophets testified about, saying that everyone who believes in him will have their sins forgiven through his name (Acts 10: 36, 42-43).
Nahum’s “good news” was that the God who brings judgment also provides and escape from judgment. The One who executes judgment on the enemies of God is also an emissary for peace with God. For us, we can be content that God is in control and he is the ultimate judge. Trusting in him to bring ultimate justice allows us to find great peace in the Good News of the gospel and we can then focus on sharing this Good News with others.
REFLECTION: Does the Good News of the gospel bring you comfort and peace during uncertain times?
PRAYER: Jesus, you are the Good News. I don’t have to fear the judgment I deserve because you, God’s Messenger, have taken the judgment upon yourself. This Good News both comforts me and brings me peace. Help me to be a messenger of this Good News to those around me. AMEN.
SONG: Rescuer (Good News) by Rend Collective
The book of Micah was written during the time of Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, all kings of Judah, and his words are for both Jerusalem and Judah; that is, both the Northern and Southern kingdom. It begins with warnings of relentless destruction coming on behalf of the evil of the inhabitants of the land, that Jerusalem and Samaria will be reduced to a heap of ashes and the people carted off to exile. The second and third chapter denounce wicked oppressors, corrupt rulers, and false prophets, all of whom make and take bribes, steal from the poor, crush the weak, and walk in darkness.
3:6-7 says “Therefore it shall be night to you, without vision, and darkness to you, without divination. The sun shall go down on the prophets, and the day shall be black over them; the seers shall be disgraced, and the diviners put to shame; they shall all cover their lips, for there is no answer from God.” The following verse has a stunning and beautiful proclamation which perfectly encapsulates the work of God’s prophets: “But as for me, I am filled with power, with the Spirit of the Lord, and with justice and might, to declare to Jacob his transgression and to Israel his sin.”
Even in the midst of what looks only to be doom and gloom, Micah proclaims a message of hope that, in the latter days, the mountain of the house of the Lord shall be established above all and that all nations will flock to it, where there shall be justice and equity and that war shall cease. He paints a picture of peace, between man and man, between man and God, where all live in the joy and security of the presence of God. The fifth chapter tells of the coming exile at the hands of Babylon, but also contains a messianic prophecy, that the ruler of Israel is to be born in Bethlehem and that a faithful remnant of Jacob shall be saved by the hand of the Lord.
Micah wraps up with an indictment from the Lord and encouragement to wait for the God of Salvation. In these last chapters we find the famous reminder – “He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?”
At the outset of the beginning of these Bible in one Year blogs, Pastor Dave stressed the importance of focusing on big picture points as we were writing. There is always the risk of getting caught up in small topics here and there, but we are always careful to write our blogs as a part that makes up a far larger picture.
Micah is exactly in that style – the flow and themes present capture a snapshot of the overall Biblical story. Beginning with the condemnation of wickedness, oppression, corruption, cruelty, and falsehood, Micah reminds us of our own sin and evil. Yet God, being who He is, doesn’t resign us to our sinful nature but steps in to rescue! This points us towards the coming of Jesus Christ, whose coming forth is from of old, from ancient days (5:2b), and the Gospel as a whole. We have sinned, we have fallen short, yet it is the Lord Himself who makes up the difference.
From there flows the encouragement to wait for the God of Salvation: “But as for me, I will look to the Lord; I will wait for the God of my salvation; my God will hear me,” (7:7). The Holy and Compassionate nature of God is upheld throughout this whole book, from the pronouncement of judgement upon the wicked to the final verses in which it is proclaimed “He does not retain his anger forever, because he delights in steadfast love. He will again have compassion on us; he will tread our iniquities underfoot. You will cast all our sins into the depths of the sea,” (7:18b-19). We see in Micah a condensed version of the entire Biblical narrative. Let the wickedness and corruption of which we read in the book of Kings give us greater confidence that the Lord and the Lord only is to be praised for His goodness, justice, love, and mercy!
As we’ve seen by now, the Bible is full of a variety of different types of writings and styles of literature, many different authors and all sort of genres present. Yet each book, each story points us in the same direction – each page of Scripture is meant to reveal a part of the eternal God! The Bible is God’s written revelation of Himself to mankind, the written Word of God that points toward the Living Word of God. It is shows us not only His nature but our nature before Him and how desperately we need a Saviour. Not only that, but it is the Gospel, the Good News for everyone that the gift of salvation is found in Jesus Christ! Micah is a book that encapsulates these themes, and our lives can and should tell the same story.
Like the books of the Bible, each of our lives is drastically different from one person to another, yet we too can point to Jesus in our diverse ways. Consider today if your life reflects the precious gift of salvation bought on the Cross of Calvary. Have we realized our own wickedness and the judgement that was rightly on us? Have we stiffened our necks, or have we humbled ourselves and thrown ourselves at the feet of Christ and asked for mercy? Have we admitted our own wrong and sinfulness and given our lives over to Jesus in a way that brings about real change? I ask that we all might prayerfully and honestly consider whether our lives bear witness to the one we follow!
Application Question –
How would others describe your faith? Is it noticeable in the things you do and say?
Lord God, thank you for working to save sinners, not just back in ancient history but here and now. I don’t deserve it, yet you have called me your child, your friend, and invite me to live with you forever. Let my heart never grow cold to this good news, let my ears never tire of hearing of your salvation. Give joy to your servant this day as the world is full of turmoil, and keep safe those who cannot keep themselves from the harm around them. I pray that my life will always reflect your saving grace and truth, and that I might be a light to those around me, especially those who don’t know or even hate your name. Amen!
Song - Holy, Holy, Holy (we bow before thee) - Shane and Shane
“When God saw what they did and how they turned from their evil ways, he relented and did not bring on them the destruction he had threatened.”
Jonah 3: 10
Jonah (Psalm 128)
In lots of ways this book is about responses to God. The sailors cried out to ‘their own gods;’ yet in the end they acknowledged, and cried out to the one and only true God; for grace (1: 14). The Ninevites believed God (3:5) and the people declared a fast. Their King, on hearing this, issued a decree stating that all should call on the Lord and affirmed the fast. The call was for repentance, giving ‘up their evil ways and violence,’ (3: 8b). These were not God’s people.
Jonah, God’s prophet, responded in very different ways. He heard God but ran in the opposite direction. He acknowledged he was to blame for the storm, he acknowledged God and offered his life to save the sailors. When, however, we consider his responses in the rest of the book, we have to ask whether this was a sacrificial act or one of selfishness? Even in prayer from within the fish, where he truly acknowledges God, does he actually say sorry? He does eventually obey God, but his reaction to God’s grace is one of petulance, again asking for God to take His life. We know that Jonah prophesied to Jeroboam (2 Kings 14: 25) and that, through Amos, this prophecy was altered (Amos 6: 14). Perhaps Jonah, and his relationship with God, had been hugely affected by this? God explains His compassion to Jonah and asks him a question (4:11b); we do not know Jonah’s response!
With the book of Jonah we sometimes fixate on the fish; was it possible for Jonah to stay alive? This, I believe to be a red herring (the actual fish will have been somewhat bigger!). If God can create the universe, if He can raise Jesus from the dead, then this miraculous act is nothing for Him. Jesus believed it, and that is good enough for me (Matt 12: 40). In this Gospel passage, Jesus links Jonah’s experience to a prediction of His own death and resurrection; perhaps this is what happened to Jonah?
Instead I believe we need to recognise God’s sovereignty, compassion and provision in this book. We see Him as the King of all nations, acting with compassion and calling for obedience and right relationships. We need to acknowledge that oftentimes non-believers, respond more honestly and openly to God and we need to accept that there is something of the begrudging nature of Jonah in all of us. Wrapped up in that attitude can be an inherent pride believing we know better than God and others. Despite our failings though, God can, and still does use us for His glory and the blessings of others; whether we receive God's blessings is sometimes dependent on us.
God’s call for Nineveh is a call for our world; a call for repentance that leads to reconciliation. His Holy Spirit works to convict the world of its sins and God’s impending judgement, whilst offering the righteousness of Christ, as the means of His grace (John 16: 8-11). We are vessels of His Holy Spirit, and the Church His agent in this mission with a great commission (Matt. 28 16-20). How will we respond to God’s call; as Jonah or as one who imitates Jesus?
The Question of Application
God’s call to the Ninevites caused them to respond. Their response caused their Government (King), to respond. What is God’s call to our country and city today, how might we respond to that call?
Almighty God, in our distress we call to you, the One who can bring our lives from the pit. Hear our prayers, as they rise to your Holy dwelling place, and help us to abandon false idols, turning instead to your grace and compassion. In praise and thanksgiving let us acknowledge that salvation belongs to you, repent and receive life. Amen
(Paraphrased from Jonah 2)
Out of the Depths by Sovereign Grace
Lord Jesus, Think on me sung by St. Michael and All Angels, Bassett
Text: Obadiah, Psalm 128
Observe: Obadiah is the shortest book in the Hebrew Bible – only 21 verses long. But “short” doesn’t mean “inconsequential”; it is dense with forthtelling and forewarning. Obadiah’s vision concerned a nation that made itself an enemy of Jacob/Israel: Edom, a nearly inaccessible mountainous area south of the Dead Sea, its geography offering its inhabitants apparent safety from enemy attack.
If you recall from Genesis 25:22, Esau and his twin, Jacob, had been at war with each other literally from the womb. Esau eventually went to live in Edom, while rivalry between Israel and Edom remained over generations. Pride of place and aggression increased over the years.
Yahweh through Obadiah spoke against Edom’s pride and arrogance (1-4), warning of their destruction (5-9) finally charging them for their violence against your brother Jacob. (10-14). Prior to and during Obadiah’s time, Edom had been harassing Jacob, stealing from them, mocking, generally making itself The Enemy, believing with puffed-up hubris “us” as superior to “them”—a familiar bigotry, we might note.
So, for their evil visited on God’s people? As you have done, it shall be done to you; / your deeds shall return on your own head. (15b). Retributive justice, indeed, as the prophecy of Edom’s demise came to pass when it disappeared into the mists of history, proving Proverbs 16:18: Pride goes before destruction/and a haughty spirit before stumbling.
Through Obadiah the Lord God promised redemption, not to Edom, but to the people of Jacob. The ‘Kingdom of the Lord’ is theirs when the land and God’s people are restored (19-21).
Interpret: ‘The Lord God’ was Obadiah’s name for Yahweh as the true ruler of all; “Obadiah” actually means “worshipper of Yahweh”. He was one of a few prophets to speak out against nations other than Judah. The Lord God sent a prayerful, humble man to this violent nation to announce God’s judgment on Edom’s pride. Obadiah’s trust in his Lord God strengthened him for this daunting task.
This short book focuses on a difficult truth about humanity’s relationship with God: those who place themselves in opposition to God and His people can expect judgment, not restoration, at the end of life.
Apply: Obadiah compels us to recognize the destructive power of pride in putting our own feelings and desires first without considering others, or God. Such goes right back to the tragedy of the Fall. Obadiah’s stark prophetic reminder to place ourselves under God's authority, to subject our desires to His purposes, and to find our hope in being His people, are all worth our greatest efforts in applying. God’s redemptive work is for all who take seriously Jesus’ earliest command to Follow Me… – into a completely new life. (Mt. 4:19; Mk. 1:17)
Ask: Do I struggle to set aside my own wants and desires for those of God and others? Do I harbour pride in being ‘better than’, in hidden biases against others? From today’s Psalm we might also ask, How should I then live to bless Your church family and beyond, so we all flourish under Your indescribable love and care?
Pray: Lord God, I ask for Your Spirit’s gift of humility, setting me free to live as You would have me live, go where You would have me go, speak as You would direct (even to courageously warn Obadiah is the shortest book in the Hebrew Bible or rebuke), and bless those who may be Your, and my, enemies.
Song: Ps. 128 Sons of Korah
The Bible Project video on Amos is a great summary of this prophet’s message. For the most part, Amos speaks judgement on the nation of Israel. The judgement prophecies are based on:
Chapters 1&2 – A judgement on all Israel’s neighbour nations because of their harsh treatment and violence against Israel; followed by a judgement on Judah and Israel because their harsh treatment of their own people.
Chapters 3-5 –Judgement against Israel because they worshipped false gods, and subsequently oppressed the poor among them, treating them with unkindness and injustice.
Chapters 6-9a – Continued judgements on Israel for their unkind treatment of the poor and needy in order to add to their own wealth.
Chapter 9b – The final restoration of Israel.
Amos uses many similes and metaphors to describe the judgements against the wealthy and those who followed after other gods. For example: Disobeying God’s laws of righteous living and justice is as wrong as “horses running on craggy ground”, or as “fruit being infiltrated by worms” or “using oxen to plow the sea”.
It seems that no matter what behaviours are brought to try to justify themselves before God, God is saying, “It’s no good, you’re acting from the wrong premise. First you have to believe and trust in the one true God, and to follow God’s commands. Your heart attitude and direction is what really matters to me. As you love and follow me (see John 13:31), you are to love and act with true love and justice towards your neighbours.”
Again, we are reminded and even driven to our knees to repent of our rebellion against God. And our lack of love for our neighbours.
Please do take this admonition to heart and let the HOLY SPIRIT search your heart. When we confess and receive forgiveness, God Will flood our hearts with praise and with joy. See song “Let your living water flow”.
How do you worship God? With your heart? With your mind? With your body? With your spirit?
“Our Father in heaven… may Your will be done on earth as in heaven” – in my heart as in my actions.
SONG – Let your living water flow
Note: Although the book of Joel will not be in the weekly readings for some of the app readers, we wanted to include it today for those who do have it as their daily app reading. The discrepancy is due to whether or not the prophet Joel was pre-exilic or post-exilic and the difference in the app readings reflect this difference of opinion among Bible scholars.
Text: Joel 1-3
OBSERVE: The prophet Joel prophesied to the people of Judah and Jerusalem about a century before they were taken into captivity in Babylon. The nation was facing a catastrophe that threatened their very existence. It was a massive locust plague that struck the land. The insects consumed every green plant, which resulted in famine. The starving people began to ask, “Has God sent the locust plague to punish us for our failure to live in right relationship to him? Do we have a future?”
God responded to these questions through his prophet Joel, promising to take pity on the people and restore their material lives following the locust plague. But then the prophet spoke of a more distant future when God would restore their spiritual lives. God promised to pour out his Spirit before the “great and terrible day of the Lord” arrives, which will be a day of judgment. “But,” Joel reassured, “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved” (Joel 2: 31-32).
INTERPRET: In Acts 2: 17-21, on the Day of Pentecost, Peter declared that Joel’s prophecy was bring fulfilled, signaling that “the last days” had arrived. God poured out his Holy Spirit on the people and they began to speak in other languages. “Let everyone in Israel know for certain that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, to be both Lord and Messiah!” (Acts 2: 26), Peter declared, making it clear that to call on the name of the Lord as Joel prophesied is to call on Jesus.
APPLICATION: Later in Acts 4:12, Peter went even further: “There is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” We know our own failures all too well to assume that we deserve anything better than to experience the consequences of our rebellion towards God. But on that great and terrible Day of the Lord, we know where to find safety and salvation! We call on the One who has the power and the will to save us. We call on Jesus, the One who saves.
REFLECTION: Is your trust fully in the One who can save?
PRAYER: Jesus – I call out to you to save me! I have no intention of waiting until the last moment to call upon you in desperation. I call on you now and for the rest of my days to save me from myself and from the sin that entangles and entices me. Save me from the judgement that I deserve and that only you can save me from. AMEN.
SONG: Mighty to Save (Hillsong)
The prophet Hosea is the first of the Minor Prophets seen in the Hebrew Bible and lived around 200 years after Israel and Judah split apart into two separate kingdoms. We are introduced to Hosea when the Lord orders him to marry a prostitute and have children with her, to name the children Not My People, No Mercy, and Jezreel, all symbolizing different aspects of the judgement facing Israel. He knew too that his wife would be unfaithful, going after other men.
The second chapter contains prophesies of both punishment and mercy for Israel, followed by Hosea having to redeem his prostitute wife from the other men to whom she has given herself. The third chapter also contains another prophecy of Israel returning to seek the Lord and living in His goodness.
Chapters four and five contain accusations of Israel’s unfaithfulness and evil with the promise of judgement, culminating appropriately in 5:11 “Ephraim [Israel, the northern kingdom] is oppressed, crushed in judgement, because he was determined to go after filth.”
Israel had become delusional; She had become convinced that it was the Baals and the Ashtaroth that had been the source of her bounty and success. This sprang from a growing ignorance of the living God, and the fact that graven images, which demand next to nothing of their patrons, make more congenial masters than the one true God. Such gods are transactional, predictable, and promote even the most base and despicable human behaviour. There was a cross-over period when the effects of the blessings of God were still seen during this time of idol worship which cemented Israel in the belief that their newer gods were truly the ones to thank and worship.
The heart of the Lord is always for His people, and if this means dealing harshly with their sin, the end is to keep them from wicked ways and restoring relationship, which we see lived out metaphorically in the life of Hosea. “Therefore, behold, I will hedge up thy way with thorns,” says the Lord, as He gradually works to undo this terrible delusion, indicating He will disrupt and destroy idol worship and worthless pursuit of other gods. He would then remove the blessings previously enjoyed, such as corn, oil, and wine, and no amount of idolatry would be able to restore it. The truth revealed here is that the human heart is desperately wicked, stubborn, and prideful, desperate to deny the fact that it has erred or been fooled. The Lord will teach Israel dependence on Him, dispel her illusions, and lead her to realize that He alone is the giver of good things.
The response of Israel in this case is to cry out harder to her gods, slow to realize she had been duped. However, as affliction increases and these carved images are seen for what they truly are, Israel realizes her wickedness and folly. Cured of her delusion, she returns to the Lord who joyfully and readily receives her. This was the end to which the entire discipline pointed – the Lord is ready to receive any sinner that turns to Him! The way of the transgressor is hard (Prov. 13:15), and sin bears bitter fruit, yet even that can be used by the Lord Almighty to lead His people to repentance and back into His loving arms.
Each of us that follow the Lord have felt His discipline at one point or another, whether we’ve known it at the time or not. Does this surprise you? Does it make anyone uncomfortable? After all, the discipline of the Lord is rarely talked about with those who may consider following Christ! Yet it is one of the most valuable parts of our walk with Him and a reason for our trust in His saving power. If the Lord did not chasten or discipline, if He simply left us as we were, then the most callous, stubborn parts of our hearts would not be softened, and the bearing of bitter fruit would continue.
My friends, let us not be slow to recognize our own foolishness, depravity, or error. Let us humbly confess all things to the Lord and let Him work His sanctifying power within us. Our own sinful behaviours and habits have deep roots within us, and it is painful to have them removed; yet when the Holy Hand of God Almighty is working, we can be sure that what will follow is a harvest of righteousness and joy! Luke 9:23 says “And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.”
My own personal testimony can be summed up in just a few words – Thank God that He did not leave me where I was but loved me enough to slay my dearest sins to make me alive in Christ. In closing, consider these words in Hebrews 12:5-6: “My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you, because the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and he chastens everyone he accepts as his son.”
When can you think of a time or times when you have been disciplined by the Lord? What fruit did you see come out of that? What was it that needed to change in your heart and mind?
Thank you, Father, that you did not leave me where I was when I came to you, but carefully and lovingly brought me up in the way I should go, so that I may be more like your Son, Jesus Christ. Help me to be more attentive to your discipline and to not make these things more difficult than they need to be. Humble me under your loving hand and teach me to be joyful in all things, for you are the one who works all things for the good of those who love you! Amen.
Song: He Will Hold Me Fast - Shane and Shane
Text: Isaiah 65, 66
In Isaiah 65, God says that though he has revealed himself and initiated relationship with Israel, they have blatantly rejected him. These people were not ignorant of God, they knowingly chose evil. God says he will not let this evil go unaddressed but he will punish sin and rebellion. But God will not completely destroy Israel, he will leave a remnant of people, through which to work restoration to the nation.
God makes a distinction between his servants and those who reject him by blessing the servants and removing his provision and protection from those who reject him, resulting in their death. This causes God’s name to be properly known and respected in the land.
In vs 17 to the end of the chapter, we see a picture of God’s plan for a future time when the heavens and earth are created anew. There is radical wholeness, peace, and prosperity. God is shown as the sovereign creator over all. He esteems those humble enough to acknowledge and respect him but there are grave consequences for those who willingly reject him.
We see a picture of God’s promise of a sudden re-birth of the nation of Israel as a prosperous nation and the Lord’s judgment, resulting in death, for those who rebelled.
The book of Isaiah concludes with a picture of God’s fame and glory spreading month by month, week by week as more and more people gather to worship him in Jerusalem. Meanwhile there is increasing death and judgment for those who opposed him.
Generally speaking, these chapters paint a very clear picture of distinction between those who follow God and those who reject him. There is new birth, new beginnings and renewed hope and joy for the remnant few on the earth who acknowledge God as Lord and commit to him. There is a clear warning of judgment and death and yes, eternal suffering for those who do not belong to God and do not have his favour.
Many people believe the prophecy in Isaiah 66:8 was fulfilled in May 1948, when Israel was officially declared an independent state. Many believe this event in history is a sign-post to mark the nearness of the end of the church age.
At the conclusion of Isaiah, we see a beautiful picture of a great end-time revival: a growing number of people bowing down before God, acknowledging him as Lord and King.
I’d like to encourage us all about the time we are in…worldwide pandemic…but I personally believe it’s just a set up for what God is about to do. Well known and respected prophet, Bob Jones (who passed away in 2014), spoke about the year 2020 as the beginning of a massive revival; he called it the “billion-soul harvest”. Furthermore, he prophesied, “When the Kansas City Chiefs go to the Super Bowl and win, this will be a sign-post of that billion-soul harvest and a sign that God will raise up his Apostolic Chiefs in all the spheres of influence” (quoted as recalled by Shawn Bolz). Last year, on 02/02/2020, the Chiefs did in fact win the Super Bowl.
If this piques your curiosity, you can hear and read more about these prophecies here:
1. Billion Soul Harvest: https://youtu.be/jGD_OimVazg
2. Kansas City Chiefs to win Super Bowl: https://www.charismamag.com/blogs/a-voice-calling-out/44262-james-goll-my-prophetic-perspective-on-bob-jones-chiefs-prophecy
In this time where things in the world seem to be shifting in a major way, globally, the question should be asked, “where are we on God’s timeline?” In a world that desperately needs Jesus, will we shine bright as his witnesses so that many can come to faith in him and avoid an eternity without his protection? What might revival look like in your life and circumstances?
Lord, though I don’t know how you are moving and working in all the world right now, I pray and ask you for revival in my life, in my city, in my nation and in the world! Come set hearts on fire with the love of Jesus! Let us, as your people, shine with boldness so that many people can come to know you. Give us wisdom, great love, and a holy audacity to be the labourers in your vineyard. Amen.
Song: Days of Elijah (Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir)
“I have posted watchmen on your walls, Jerusalem; they will never be silent day or night. You who call on the Lord, give yourselves no rest, and give Him no rest till He establishes Jerusalem and makes her the praise of the earth.”
Isaiah 62: 6-7
Isaiah 61-64 (Psalm 120)
The passages we now begin to read recall the four Servant Songs, but with added testimony. We have read of God the King (1-37) and God the Servant (38-55), now we meet the Anointed One who consummates salvation and vengeance. The year of the Lord’s favour is foretold. Jesus, pronounced the fulfilment of this prophecy in Himself, as He read these words in the synagogue, in His home town of Nazareth (Luke 4: 16-21). As we move on from these words we read of God’s love for the world and His people; His desire to bless and the delight He takes in His creation. We see though, the sin and failing of humankind, alongside the need for repentance, obedience and reconciliation with God. There is direction on how to pray in times of difficulty and indeed what to pray for; revival is desired. We are able to see both Christ’s first and second coming in these passages, with the ultimate salvific work of Christ, consummated in an eternal city yet to come; future hope for the present.
Into our times Jesus speaks a message of Good News; freedom, sight and release, as God’s Spirit indwells through grace by faith. Much needed encouragement in these times of difficulty and challenge. These passages also inspire us to prayer. We are not to rest, nor allow the Lord rest, as we petition Him to fulfil His Word (Is. 62: 6-7). We are to remind God that we are His, to remember what He has done for us, to acknowledge our sin and to remember the true character of God; praise and prayer (63). In this prayer we are to call for revival (64: 1-4). So let us fix our eyes on the Lord, throw of the mantle of despair, hear His Good News in faith, and PRAY; PRAY, PRAY, PRAY!
The Question of Application
How will you pray today, and for what?
Almighty God, whose Son Jesus Christ is the resurrection and the life: raise us, who trust in Him, from the death of sin to the life of righteousness. Enable us to seek those things which are above and so praise you with our life, faith and deeds. Guide us in our prayers to honour and glorify you. Amen
Eternal Spirit of the Living Christ (Chant Version) – David Hurd
Shout to the Lord – Darlene Zschech/Hillsong
TEXT: Isaiah 58-61
If you have not been able to keep up with the readings, please take some time to watch the two Isaiah videos. You might also want to read last week’s Bible Blogs.
There is much to think about in all these chapters –what is true fasting and why do it? What does God promise his people in response to a true fast (58:8-14)?
How does God view our sins and wickedness (59:1-18)?
The return of the exiles is beyond description for the joy (60:17).
Who is the Anointed One? And what does God promise to do through this Messiah?
Have you heard God’s call to you to bring good news to those who are oppressed? To those who are broken-hearted? This is God’s call, not just to the individual but to the church as a whole. Take some time to reflect on God’s call to you, to us—the church.
Ah Lord God, we are a broken and exiled people who call to you for mercy. We ask for help in our need. We pray for full salvation for our body, mind, spirit. Show us the path that leads into Your Presence. And please use us in your kingdom.
Song: Come Thou Long Expected Jesus
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