Isaiah 29

Isaiah 29 has Isaiah talking about Jerusalem as proud, resting on its spiritual heritage instead of its present reality and living for present pleasures without concern for God and His expectations.  Jerusalem may have had a high opinion of itself, but it is not out of the reach of God’s hand of judgment.  “I will distress Ariel, and there shall be moaning and lamentation, and she shall be to me like an Ariel”.  The repetition of the name Ariel the idea that Jerusalem may have thought of herself as the Lion of God, but God didn’t share that lofty opinion of the city.

God is not happy with Jerusalem.  ”The multitude of your foreign foes shall be like small dust, and the multitude of the ruthless like passing chaff….you will be visited by the Lord of hosts with thunder and with earthquake and great noise, with whirlwind and tempest, and the flame of a devouring fire”.  There’s a bit of a mixed signal here as God describes what will happen.  His action won’t just be against the city of Jerusalem but extend to those who attack the city as well.  God will humble Jerusalem in the dust, and then scatter her enemies like fine dust, like chaff that passes away.

Because this people draw near with their mouth and honor me with their lips, while their hearts are far from me, and their fear of me is a commandment taught by men….I will again do wonderful things with this people, with wonder upon wonder; and the wisdom of their wise men shall perish, and the discernment of their discerning men shall be hidden”.  Jerusalem knew how to talk the spiritual talk, but their hearts were far from God.  God doesn’t move away from His people; they remove their hearts from Him.

In spite of how we may treat God, He always loves us.  He never gives up on us.  He didn’t give up on His people in Jerusalem either.  The people of Jerusalem made the terrible mistake of raising themselves up, and lowering God at the same time.  “Shall the potter be regarded as the clay, that the thing made should say of its maker, He did not make me”.  How we view God doesn’t change the facts that He is creator and our maker.  He is in power, in control and on the throne of this world.  We need to put Him back where He belongs and walk in obedience to His commands.

Isaiah 28

Isaiah 28 begins with the assessment of the people of Ephraim.  “Ah, the proud crown of the drunkards of Ephraim”.  There is a problem and drunkenness was a significant enough problem that the Lord directed Isaiah to directly address the drunkards of Ephraim.  When alcohol overcomes us, we are in sin. You might think there would be a strict prohibition against drinking alcohol in the Bible, but there isn’t.  Isaiah calls the people of Ephraim “those overcome with wine”!  They have a problem and he calls them out.  But it isn’t the wine that is the problem.

In fact, Jesus drank wine along with many other biblical folks.  The Bible allows the moderate use of alcohol but it strictly condemns drunkenness. There is a huge difference between those two. Whenever alcohol impairs our senses, our thinking, our judgment, or our reflexes, we are overcome with wine and it is sin. Whenever we feel compelled to drink, or have difficulty not drinking, we are overcome with wine and it is sin. If we have to hide our drinking, or are secretly ashamed of our drinking, we are overcome with wine and it is sin.

The Lord has one who is mighty and strong”. The drunkard needs to know that God is stronger than the drunkard, stronger than the power of alcohol, stronger than anything. If the drunkard is powerless to stop his drinking, God has the power to help him stop.  It is not hopeless.  God is able.  The drunken priests and teachers in Ephraim are making fun of Isaiah and the teaching he makes.  “For it is precept upon precept, precept upon precept, line upon line, line upon line, here a little, there a little”. With this, the drunk, ungodly prophets and priests mock Isaiah’s teaching believing it is too simple.

God makes it clear through Isaiah that the standard has been set and has not moved.  “Behold, I am the one who has laid as a foundation in Zion, a stone, a tested stone, a precious cornerstone, of a sure foundation….I will make justice the line, and righteousness the plumb line; and hail will sweep away the refuge of lies, and waters will overwhelm the shelter”.  God set the cornerstone who is Jesus Christ – the foundation for our lives, and a secure, stable foundation upon which everything lasting can be built.  And He keeps building into us in order to keep the building straight with justice and righteousness.

Isaiah 27

Isaiah 27 has a picture of the coming showdown with the enemy.  “In that day the Lord with his hard and great and strong sword will punish Leviathan the fleeing serpent, Leviathan the twisting serpent, and he will slay the dragon that is in the sea”.  God will show Himself strong and put away the enemy once and for all.  The victory is behind, but the show will happen when God determines.  Jesus has already won the war, but the final battle where He puts away the enemy for good is about to come.  The ultimate triumph of the Lord happens with victory over Leviathan the fleeing serpent.

God is our keeper.  “A pleasant vineyard, sing of it! I, the Lord, am its keeper; every moment I water it. Lest anyone punish it, I keep it night and day”.  We can only be fruitful when take hold of the strength of the Lord. As long as we hold on to our own strength, what we really have is weakness.  This will be ultimately fulfilled when Christ returns, but if we yield to the care of the Lord right now, He will care for us as His precious vineyard right now, and we will enjoy the blessings of that care.  We can experience some heaven on earth today if we will yield to His direction and care!

Has he struck them as he struck those who struck them? Or have they been slain as their slayers were slain”?   Even though the Lord struck Israel when Israel went astray, He did not strike Israel as severely as He did the other nations that went astray.  He had mercy on Israel and covered their sin.  God shows His mercy to Israel in that He destroys their idolatrous altars and images, forcing them to worship the Lord only.  “Therefore by this the guilt of Jacob will be atoned for, and this will be the full fruit of the removal of his sin: when he makes all the stones of the altars like chalkstones crushed to pieces, no Asherim or incense altars will remain standing”.

The chapter winds up giving us a couple of glimpses of what will happen “in that day” when Christ returns:

  1. the Lord will thresh out the grain, and you will be gleaned one by one, O people of Israel”.
  2. a great trumpet will be blown, and those who were lost in the land of Assyria and those who were driven out to the land of Egypt will come and worship the Lord on the holy mountain at Jerusalem

God will bring back His people and they will all come together and worship Him in Jerusalem.  What a glorious day that will be!

Isaiah 26

Isaiah 26 tells us more about the last days.  In that day, there will be a lot of joyful singing, such as this song that will be sung in the land of Judah.  In that day, all will know the strength and glory of the city of God.  The Kingdom of Jesus Christ on this earth will be made up of cities – redeemed cities, glorious communities organized under the strength and salvation and righteousness and truth of the Lord. God’s plan is not that we are isolated from all community but that the Kingdom of God will be realized in a strong city.

We serve an amazing God.  “Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord God is an everlasting rock”.  There is no other that even comes close to the power and stability of God.   He is alone in His sovereignty and pwer.  “For he has humbled the inhabitants of the height, the lofty city. He lays it low, lays it low to the ground, casts it to the dust. The foot tramples it, the feet of the poor, the steps of the needy”.  The world will see His power and His ruling of His Kingdom.

If we want the least resistance on our journey through life, we need to learn to walk with God in righteousness.  “The path of the righteous is level; you make level the way of the righteous”.  It doesn’t say there will be no ups and downs or struggles or persecution or suffering.  It does say that our path will be level – that we will find some peace and consistency and levelness in life if we walk in righteousness – obedience to God.  Ultimately God’s mission is to make us holy.  Judgment and other struggles are part of His loving and teaching us righteousness.  “For when your judgments are in the earth, the inhabitants of the world learn righteousness”.

Isaiah gives us a glimpse of what lies ahead.  “Your dead shall live; their bodies shall rise. You who dwell in the dust, awake and sing for joy”!  We will rise again someday.  We’ll stand before God and give account for how we have lived.   Those who have been redeemed from their sins through the blood of Christ will be protected.  The rest will experience Christ’s judgment.  “For behold, the Lord is coming out from his place to punish the inhabitants of the earth for their iniquity, and the earth will disclose the blood shed on it, and will no more cover its slain”.  How much better it will be to walk under the cover of Christ’s love and sacrificial blood on the Cross!

Isaiah 25

Isaiah 25 has the prophet praising God.  He’s finished giving a series of judgments that God has determined and now changes focus to God’s goodness.  “O Lord, you are my God; I will exalt you; I will praise your name, for you have done wonderful things, plans formed of old, faithful and sure”. Knowing that the Lord – the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the God revealed in and by Jesus Christ – is our God makes us want to praise Him. And this is a choice.  The words “I will” makes that clear.  Praising God is something we choose to do!

The reality is that all people will eventually praise God.  Scripture tells us ‘every knee will bow and tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord’.  It will be something all will do.  “Therefore strong peoples will glorify you; cities of ruthless nations will fear you”.  Strong or weak, nice or ruthless, God is God of all and everyone will eventually come to that understanding.  What’s the foundation of that praise going to be?  For some, it will be God’s power and strength and the way He shows His sovereignty.

But to some, it will be because of His love.  “For you have been a stronghold to the poor, a stronghold to the needy in his distress, a shelter from the storm and a shade from the heat; for the breath of the ruthless is like a storm against a wall, like heat in a dry place. You subdue the noise of the foreigners; as heat by the shade of a cloud, so the song of the ruthless is put down”.  God is a God of love.  He protects the weak and is a stronghold for the poor.  We need to be sure we don’t take God for granted when His character and goodness flows to us.

Isaiah paints a picture of what God’s ultimate outcome for us will be.  “He will swallow up death forever; and the Lord God will wipe away tears from all faces, and the reproach of his people he will take away from all the earth, for the Lord has spoken”.  As Christ Followers, when we move from this life to eternal life with God, we’re going to have a pretty good gig.  Death will be done, and God will take away our tears and make us pure by removing our sin through the blood of our Savior.  He’s already prepared the way.  Great things are ahead for those of us who walk with Jesus!

Isaiah 24

Isaiah 24 has the prophet declaring His judgment and punishment on us all.  “Behold, the Lord will empty the earth and make it desolate, and he will twist its surface and scatter its inhabitants”.  That’s a pretty broad brush that Isaiah paints with here.  If you’re taking up space, you fit the target.  He makes it clear that no one escapes as he gets into more detail.  “And it shall be, as with the people, so with the priest; as with the slave, so with his master; as with the maid, so with her mistress; as with the buyer, so with the seller; as with the lender, so with the borrower; as with the creditor, so with the debtor”.

People aren’t getting away from God’s punishment.  It will affect all of us.  We’ll all stand before Him and have to give account, and we’re going to come up short in our ability to justify our choices.  “The earth lies defiled under its inhabitants; for they have transgressed the laws, violated the statutes, broken the everlasting covenant”.  We’re going to have a problem trying to convince God that our failure to obey His laws, statutes and covenant isn’t as big a deal as He believes it to be.

In God’s eyes, there is a standard and that standard is perfect obedience to Him.  We are all going to come up short when we stand before Him.  If we have walked as a Christ Follower, our defense will be Jesus, not our own actions.  While Jesus doesn’t make us perfect in any manner, His blood shed on the cross does cover our sin and will allow God to be satisfied with our holiness and righteousness and gain us entry into eternity with Him in heaven.  If we don’t have any way to get our sin covered, we’ll stand before God and be denied entry into heaven.  There is no middle ground, no ‘almost good enough’ place to go.

God reigns, and in that day He’ll do the punishing.  He sits on the throne of this universe in absolute and complete control.  He is the judge and jury when it comes to eternity.  Jesus will be there representing on our behalf if we have put our faith and trust in Him.  But otherwise, we’ll be alone and not able to defend the sinful choices we’ve made one the years.  “On that day the Lord will punish”.  He’s not just judge and jury, He’s also the sentence and the punisher.  He will do what He purposes and we’ll merely be on the receiving end!

Isaiah 23

Isaiah 23 has the focus coming on Tyre and the judgment headed their way.  To the north of Israel, Tyre was the leading city of Phoenecia, the great maritime power of the ancient world. Because it was such an important harbor and center for shipping, Tyre was synonymous with commerce and materialism.  They had a business empire larger than anyone would expect from a city of their size and power.  They were a trading partner of Israel’s in some ways, but also provided one of the worst leaders of all time for Israel in Jezebel.

Isaiah makes it clear the destruction will be complete.  “Tyre is laid waste, without house or harbor”.  This won’t be a slight blow but total destruction.  Tyre was an important place in that day – “you were the merchant of the nations”.  The world would feel this.  “When the report comes to Egypt, they will be in anguish over the report about Tyre”.  Because of its great success, Tyre had become proud and full of self-glory. But the Lord has decided to judge and humble Tyre, and Isaiah announces it.

So why did it have to happen.  Once again, it was pride.  “The Lord of hosts has purposed it, to defile the pompous pride of all glory, to dishonor all the honored of the earth”.  Pride is one of those basic sins that God does not tolerate.  When we put man on the throne of life, it doesn’t end well.  God says it clearly, “You will no more exult”.   God’s plan is to punish them for a long time.  “In that day Tyre will be forgotten for seventy years”.  70 years is the time appointed by God, and the cost of their pride!

Then what you may ask?  Isaiah paints that picture too.  “At the end of seventy years, the Lord will visit Tyre, and she will return to her wages and will prostitute herself with all the kingdoms of the world on the face of the earth. Her merchandise and her wages will be holy to the Lord. It will not be stored or hoarded, but her merchandise will supply abundant food and fine clothing for those who dwell before the Lord”.  A big turnaround as the city not only was restored but became a place where Christianity grew and was very active.  God’s hand changes things, and He demonstrates that in Tyre!

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