Only God Knows the Future

Hi GAMErs!

Today’s passage is Isaiah 41:21-42:9.  Let’s go!

Isaiah 41:21-29 (NIV)
21  “Present your case,” says the LORD. “Set forth your arguments,” says Jacob’s King.
22  “Bring in [your idols] to tell us what is going to happen. Tell us what the former things were, so that we may consider them and know their final outcome. Or declare to us the things to come,
23  tell us what the future holds, so we may know that you are gods. Do something, whether good or bad, so that we will be dismayed and filled with fear.

On verses 21-29:  Here Isaiah shares another way that the idols of the nations cannot compare to the LORD: the idols of the nations are useless in helping their worshipers discern the future (v21-23).  Thus these idols are “detestable” (v24), false (v29), and reduce those who worship them to “less than nothing” (v24), leaving their worshippers with “no one among them to give counsel” (v28).

The One Who Holds Your Hand

Hi GAMErs!

Today’s passage is Isaiah 41:1-20.  Let’s go!

Isaiah 41:1-4 (NIV)
1  “Be silent before me, you islands! Let the nations renew their strength! Let them come forward and speak; let us meet together at the place of judgment.
2  “Who has stirred up one from the east, calling him in righteousness to his service? He hands nations over to him and subdues kings before him. He turns them to dust with his sword, to windblown chaff with his bow.
3  He pursues them and moves on unscathed, by a path his feet have not traveled before.
4  Who has done this and carried it through, calling forth the generations from the beginning? I, the LORD–with the first of them and with the last–I am he.”

On verses 1-4:  Many scholars believe that this “one from the east” is a reference to Cyrus, King of Persia, whose kingdom would be located east of Judah and east of Babylon.  Cyrus would rise up to become the most formidable force in the ancient Near East conquering many other nations.  In 539 B.C. would conquer Babylon and allow the Jewish exiles in Babylon to return to their homeland of Judah.

The Incomparable God Who Renews Our Strength

Hi GAMErs!

Today’s passage is Isaiah 40:15-31.  Let’s go!

Isaiah 40:15-17 (NIV)
15  Surely the nations are like a drop in a bucket; they are regarded as dust on the scales; he weighs the islands as though they were fine dust.
16  Lebanon is not sufficient for altar fires, nor its animals enough for burnt offerings.
17  Before him all the nations are as nothing; they are regarded by him as worthless and less than nothing.
On verses 15-17:  The biggest theme coming out of verses 15-28 is that God is the incomparable one.  Nothing can compare to Him.  The nations can’t compare to Him (v15-17).  Even Lebanon, which is a fertile, wooded area of Judah, lacks the wood or animals needed to bring the size of offering that God deserves (v16).

Let the King of Glory Come In

Hi GAMErs!

Today’s passage is Isaiah 40:1-14.  Let’s go!

Here in chapter 40 we come to one of the most beloved chapters in all of Isaiah.  Some early church fathers (like Eusebius of Caesarea, Ephrem of Syria and Cyril of Alexandria) seem to have interpreted Isaiah 40 as an immediate response to Isaiah 39 where Hezekiah unwittingly reveals his nation’s top secrets to the Babylonians.  This would have happened before 701 B.C. However, in the more recent centuries, Christian commentators have interpreted Isaiah 40-55 to be Isaiah talking about a much later event in the future, namely, the time from about 580 to 540 B.C. when the Jewish people were exiles in Babylon and how one day God was going to bring them back to their homeland of Judah.  I will approach Isaiah 40 with this Babylonian exile in mind as the historical background for these verses.  With this approach, I think you’ll find that, like a flower blooming, Isaiah 40 opens up in some beautiful and powerful ways.

The Hero of Your Story

Hi GAMErs!

Today’s passage is Isaiah 39.  Let’s go!

Isaiah 39:1 (NIV)
1  At that time Merodach-Baladan son of Baladan king of Babylon sent Hezekiah letters and a gift, because he had heard of his illness and recovery.
On verse 1:  “At that time” refers to the time when Hezekiah miraculously recovered from his life-threatening sickness.  According to the New American Commentary, Merodach-Baladon II was ruler of Babylon until 703 B.C. when Assyria’s King Sennacherib ousted him from power.  This, together with Isaiah 38:6, tells us that the events described in Isaiah 38 and here in Isaiah 39 happened before God delivered Jerusalem from Assyria in 701 B.C.  But why would Isaiah order these events this way?  Why talk about God delivering Jerusalem from Assyria first in Isaiah 36-37 and then flashback to the earlier events of Hezekiah’s recovery from illness and the Babylonians’ visit to Hezekiah in Isaiah 38 and 39?  Scholars have posited many different theories, but the most important reason I believe is that Isaiah is trying to show that this Messiah that Isaiah 1-35 have been talking about is not Hezekiah but someone else.  So rather than end on a note of tremendous victory for Hezekiah, Isaiah ends his account of Hezekiah’s life by talking about his weakness in Isaiah 38 as well as a major mistake that Hezekiah makes here in Isaiah 39.  Let’s see what that mistake was.

Are You Facing A Wall?

Hi GAMErs!

There are so many powerful lessons we can learn from today’s passage in Isaiah 38.  Let’s go!

Isaiah 38:1-2 (NIV)
1  In those days Hezekiah became ill and was at the point of death. The prophet Isaiah son of Amoz went to him and said, “This is what the LORD says: Put your house in order, because you are going to die; you will not recover.”
2  Hezekiah turned his face to the wall and prayed to the LORD,
On verses 1-2:  After receiving some grim news that he will soon die, Hezekiah turns his face to the wall and prays to the LORD.  You may be facing a wall right now as well, but you can pray to the LORD who is greater than that wall you are facing.

God Did It All

Hi GAMErs!

There are so many lessons we can learn from today’s passage, Isaiah 37:8-38.  Let’s go!

Isaiah 37:8-13 (NIV)
8  When the field commander heard that the king of Assyria had left Lachish, he withdrew and found the king fighting against Libnah.
9  Now Sennacherib received a report that Tirhakah, the Cushite king [of Egypt], was marching out to fight against him. When he heard it, he sent messengers to Hezekiah with this word:

On verses 8-13:  More trash talking from Assyria, this time from King Sennacherib personally.  Sennacherib’s message is similar to tone to that of his field commander in chapter 36, except that instead of bringing up four points to shake Hezekiah’s confidence, Sennacherib focuses on one point: he tells Hezekiah, “do not let the god you depend on deceive you”.  In other words, Sennacherib goes one step further than the field commander by directly attacking the God that Hezekiah worships.  Sennacherib accuses the LORD of deceiving Hezekiah into thinking that Hezekiah can get out of this alive.  As we will see, God will take issue with Sennacherib’s pride-fueled blasphemy.

Who Will You Listen To?

Hi GAMErs!

Today’s passage is Isaiah 36:1-37:7.  Let’s go!  Isaiah 36-39 is a small but dramatic section of history sandwiched between large sections of prophecy from Isaiah 1-35 and Isaiah 40-66.  Isaiah would have had first hand knowledge of the events that he writes about in Isaiah 36-39, since he figures as an important character in all these events.  Isaiah’s writings of these events would also make it into the royal annals of Israel, as shown in 2 Kings 18-20.  In addition to describing some important history, Isaiah 36-39 teach us many valuable lessons for us today. 

Isaiah 36:1-3 (NIV)
1  In the fourteenth year of King Hezekiah’s reign, Sennacherib king of Assyria attacked all the fortified cities of Judah and captured them.
2  Then the king of Assyria sent his field commander with a large army from Lachish to King Hezekiah at Jerusalem. When the commander stopped at the aqueduct of the Upper Pool, on the road to the Washerman’s Field,
3  Eliakim son of Hilkiah the palace administrator, Shebna the secretary, and Joah son of Asaph the recorder went out to him.  

Turning Your Desert into Springs

Hi GAMErs!

Today’s passage is Isaiah 35:1-10.  Let’s go!

Isaiah 35:1-10 (NIV)
1  The desert and the parched land will be glad; the wilderness will rejoice and blossom. Like the crocus, it will burst into bloom;
2  it will rejoice greatly and shout for joy. The glory of Lebanon will be given to it, the splendor of Carmel and Sharon; they will see the glory of the LORD, the splendor of our God.
3  Strengthen the feeble hands, steady the knees that give way;
4  say to those with fearful hearts, “Be strong, do not fear; your God will come, he will come with vengeance; with divine retribution he will come to save you.”

On verses 1-10:  Isaiah paints the picture of a desert becoming a place of joy, glory, refreshing and healing, where “[t]he burning sand will become a pool, the thirsty ground bubbling springs” (v7)), where the lame leap and the mute shout for joy (v6), and where streams flow in the desert (v6).  For those of us who struggle with fear, verse 4 can be especially comforting.

The Wrath of God Expressed

Today’s passage is Isaiah 34:1-17. Let’s go!

Isaiah 34:1-17 (NIV)
1 Come near, you nations, and listen; pay attention, you peoples! Let the earth hear, and all that is in it, the world, and all that comes out of it!
2 The LORD is angry with all nations; his wrath is upon all their armies. He will totally destroy them, he will give them over to slaughter.
3 Their slain will be thrown out, their dead bodies will send up a stench; the mountains will be soaked with their blood.
4 All the stars of the heavens will be dissolved and the sky rolled up like a scroll; all the starry host will fall like withered leaves from the vine, like shriveled figs from the fig tree.
5 My sword has drunk its fill in the heavens; see, it descends in judgment on Edom, the people I have totally destroyed.

On verses 1-17:  Isaiah 34 is the wrath of God speaking.  Because God is a just and holy God who cannot tolerate sin and wickedness, and because people in all the nations around the world are guilty of sin and wickedness, Isaiah 34 describes the wrath of God toward all nations around the world because of their sin.   That is why Romans 3:23 says that “For all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God” while Romans 6:23 says that “the wages of sin is death”.  In Isaiah 34 we see God’s justice and wrath being expressed.