Women Embracing Faith

Thinking Through the Bible

Reading Isaiah 30-39 February 4, 2009

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A FLAG WAVING ON TOP OF A HILL
Remember the battle of Iwo Jima (2/19/45) flag raising photo and statue? It became a symbol of the sacrifice, courage, and victory of the United States’ combatants in the Pacific.

Isaiah wanted us to remember Jerusalem’s protection from the Assyrians like that. A striped pole placed on Mt. Zion with a flag waving in triumph:

“….Til you are left as a pole on top of a mountain And as a banner on a hill. Therefore the Lord will wait, that He may be gracious to you; And therefore He will be exalted, that He may have mercy on you. For the LORD is a God of justice; Blessed are all those who wait for Him.” (Isaiah 30:17-18)

They didn’t deserve to be saved from this huge world power. Everyone else was overpowered by the Assyrians. Judah had not listened; they had not leaned on their LORD’s saving of them but on horses and alliances. God allowed them to suffer the consequences as a disciplinary action, (they were like a pole stripped bare of all bark) but, in the end, He showered them with unmerited favor. That grace and justice is what the waving banner is to remind us of today. It also put fear in the heart of the Assyrian leaders who scurried home to their own waiting destruction (Isaiah 31:8-9). Later, Babylon rose up out of nowhere and destroyed their power and world domination.

“By the way that he came, By the same shall he return; And he shall not come into this city,’ Says the LORD; For I will defend this city, to save it For My own sake and for My servant David’s sake'” (Isaiah 37:34-5).

When you see a flag waving somewhere, let it be a reminder to you and to your children. You could say something like, “In 701 BC, God saved His people by His action alone. It was all of His sovereignty and grace. He protects His people now and works all things out for their good. At the same time, He has a collar of restraint on the nations and will One Day hold all evildoers to an exacting account.”

“If we trust in Jesus, our salvation will also be like a banner waving in the breeze to remind us of His unmerited favor.”

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Reading Isaiah 25-29 February 2, 2009

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LISTEN
Try to read these chapters at the same time if you can–or read a little each day for a week so you are immersed in its concepts. The theme is simple: Since God is wise and excellent in how He guides us, listen to Him!

In chapter 25, we are reminded that God will defend His people. Their enemies will be destroyed! Even that great veil of death covering everyone will be swallowed up forever (25:8). The reproaches, shames, rebukes from unbelievers will be taken away.

SIGNPOSTS
Think back to those historical signposts. In the late 600’s BC, the Assyrian Empire took over every nation around Judah. Only Jerusalem escaped their oppression. Raids and tribute demands were everyday occurrences. Things did not look good for Judah as Isaiah preached these messages! It would be like having our schools or malls threatened by terrorists year after year. The dramatic rescue came in 701 BC when 180,000 Assyrian men died overnight for no apparent reason. (This historical record is found in Isaiah 36-38 and II Kings 19-20.) It should remind us that God is sovereign and will defend His people. And so His people will praise Him and be happy for His defense and their salvation.

DEATH
Of course, death is our last enemy. It separates us from those we love. It causes tears and sorrow. In I Thessalonians 4:13-5:11, Paul brings us hope and comfort with the idea we will all be with the Lord Jesus forever. So we should think right and protect our hearts and minds with faith, love and hope. The battle is for what we love and how we think. Who are your enemies? Busyness…fractured relationships…self-discipline…bad news….one problem after another?

“For God did not appoint us to wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, that whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with Him” (I Thessalonians 5:9-10).

 

ISAIAH 1-24 REVIEW December 30, 2008

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Reading through the Bible systematically could be one of the most rewarding new year’s resolutions you make.  It has certainly been helpful to me.  For one thing, it confirmed for me the reformed Doctrines of Grace.  They really became “true for me” as well as “true” as I saw them every where I read.  My advice:  find a system and try to adapt it to what you’re living through right now.  Don’t make it a RULE, but try to be disciplined.  For more than ten years, I used M’Cheyne’s Calendar  from

 

Immanuel: Isaiah 7 December 10, 2008

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Mary was told by Gabriel she was blessed and highly favored. She wondered about that greeting.

“Then the angel said to her, ‘Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name JESUS. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Highest, and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David. And He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end.”

He was telling her that her son would be the promised Savior and would be King forever. Notice she did not comment upon all that, but instead, asked how she could become pregnant:

“Then Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I do not know a man?”

Mary was a virgin. She had never had a sexual relationship with anyone. Not even with Joseph with whom she had made known a serious intent to marry. So how could she have a son, any son, much less the “promised one?”

“The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you; therefore, also, that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God.” (Luke 1: 30-35)

As myterious as this sounded, Mary evidently believed it. We’re not told if she knew when it happened, but by the time, she arrived to visit her relative, Elizabeth, she was pregnant. Her sexual purity was a big thing–the virgin birth of Jesus was a mark, a sign, of his being the promised Savior.

Isaiah’s prediction, in Isaiah 7:14, that a virgin would have a baby and would call him “God With Us”–Immanuel–had been a matter of debate and interpretation for 700 years. Now, in Matthew 1:23, the apostle applies that prophecy to Mary and Jesus specifically. This was the sign that set Jesus apart from all the rest: He was the child of a virgin, born like the rest of us. He was God With Us just as Isaiah had predicted.

It is so important to keep this all in your mind as you read about the judgments in Isaiah, and the Judgment Day to come so that you get the right picture of God. His judgment is real, but His compassion shines through in providing a Savior.

Mary pondered all these things–she kept them in her heart.

 

WARNING SIGNS November 30, 2008

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http://www.biblemap.org/events/”>

This site shows the satellite view of the nations mentioned in Isaiah 13-25. Scrolling this will help you remember the rise and fall of the nations predicted by Isaiah in the 700’s BC.

The alliance between Israel and Syria really frightened the people of Judah. The leaders of Judah were sure this conspiracy would do them in!  Instead, the Assyrian Empire arose out of the northern Tigris River Valley (think Nineveh and Jonah) to threaten Judah and to take Israel captive.  Most of the nations mentioned in these chapter 15-20 were destroyed by the Assyrians. Except Judah, whom God protected, and who possessed these written pleas from Isaiah  to turn back to God and His ways.

Next, the Babylonian Empire arose out of Southern Iraq. They were the one God used to discipline Judah and Jerusalem. Babylon became a great capital (in N. Iraq), only to be destroyed forever by repeated take-overs by the Medes (N. Iran), the Persians, and the Greeks. The Arabians never bothered to rebuild it. ( The government of Iraq today is trying to protect the ruins.) Isaiah preached all this  in the 700’s BC, predicting events occurring in 722 BC, 586 BC, 530’s BC, 04 AD, and some yet to be.

The rise and fall of these world empires serve as signposts which remind us of God’s justice. They are historical facts that validate the truthfulness of scripture. They are warning signs telling all of us that judgment and destruction are coming if one does not turn back to God and trust in His salvation.

“The earth is also defiled under its inhabitants,

Because they have transgressed the laws,

Changed the ordinance,

Broken the everlasting covenant,

Therefore the curse has devoured the earth,

And those who dwell in it are held guilty.”  (Isaiah 24:5-6)

We learn from these chapters that God is sovereign, in control. He uses whom He wishes to accomplish His purposes. God is also just. That’s what this is all about. Because being just is part of His very nature, He cannot be flippant about sin and rejection. Therefore, we need a Savior, a Rock to hide under, a righteous covering of our sins. Jesus is that Savior, the Messiah, the Christ, our rock and covering when God has to be true to himself–to His justice.

Remember, we are thinking through these pages of Isaiah, thinking about biblical principles, applying them to warm our hearts toward our compassionate God, friend, brother. Even though the earth’s judgment appears harsh to our ears today, what stands out is the mercy and compassion of God in providing a Savior and ordering world events to bring that about.

 

GOD IS WITH US; HE IS IN CONTROL November 9, 2008

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Isaiah had two sons.  They were named to teach two principles.  “Speed the spoil; Hasten the booty” was the oldest son.  The principle was that Judah should not worry about whether they were invaded or not.  Instead, they were to remember that God was with them.  He limited the evil and used world powers to accomplish what He wanted to happen.  Isaiah predicted that their enemies, Syria and Israel, and Assyria would never conquer them, but a new kingdom would arise to take them over.  Their attitude should be to let it come!  God was always with His people and He never lost control of world events.  Look for this principle in Isaiah 7-12.

What are your enemies?  Joblessness?  A bad marriage?  Credit cards and credit ratings? Medical bills? Health? Aging issues? Worry over national events?  Isaiah tells you to treasure Immanuel, God with us. “Send it on; I’ll be okay because God is with me!”  Sing praises to Him because He is with you and is in control of your enemies.  In John 5:24, we are reminded that he who believes has passed from judgment to life. There is no condemnation to those who turn back to God and trust that Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection is sufficient to atone for their sins. They are “in Christ Jesus” and in His kingdom or and under His care, come what may (Romans 8:1).

Remember this snapshot of Isaiah with his two sons to remind you of the principle behind “Speed the Spoil; Hasten the booty.”

I hope this is your own spiritual experience already or from now on…

 

Do You See Yourself In This Picture? October 20, 2008

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We are seeking to apply Isaiah’s message to our lives today. He lived more than 2700 years ago, predicted several changes in world powers, specific events and people, and the coming of the Savior. Some of his predictions aren’t completely clear to us yet, and so these passages continue to stymie and divide Christians today. Read Isaiah 1-6 to get a fuller picture of the context. Then look for yourself in these snapshots.

Now it shall come to pass in the latter days
That the mountain of the Lord’s house
Shall be established on the top of the mountains,
And shall be exalted above the hills;
And all nations shall flow to it.
Many people shall come and say,
“Come, and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD,
To the house of the God of Jacob;
He will teach us His ways,
And we shall walk in His paths.”
For out of Zion shall go forth the law,
And the word of the LORD from Jerusalem.
He shall judge between the nations, And reb uke many people;
They shall beat their swords into plowshares,
And their spears into pruning hooks;
Nation shall not lift up sword against nation,
Neither shall they learn war anymore.
O house of Jacob, come and let us walk
In the light of the LORD (Isaiah 2:1-5).

AVOID ASSUMPTIONS, BUT REMEMBER BIBLICAL THEMES
Often one’s end-times views are imposed on this passage’s interpretation. Assumptions are made about its meaning based on whether one is pre-mil or not. Notice it does not mention a 1000 year period at all, but it is speaking of things to come. Instead, this is a plea to Judah and Jerusalem (2:1;5) to think about the future. They could be a part of God’s peaceful and glorious kingdom–eternal and world encompassing. But, they must be willing to live in the light of the LORD–to trust in His redemption and obey His commandments. Do you see yourself in this snapshot–going up with many kinds of people to God’s house to hear His teachings and enjoy His peace.

They shall go into the holes of the rocks,
And into the caves of the earth,
From the terror of the LORD
And the glory of His majesty,
When He arises to shake the earth mightily (Isaiah 2:19)

Here is another glimpse of the future. Condemnation is horrible. God is majestic and just. Without the salvation found in Christ Jesus alone, we will be terrified IN THAT DAY. A specific time of judgment. You aren’t in this snapshot, are you?

APPLICATION TO JUDAH IN 730-586
For Jerusalem stumbled,
And Judah is fallen,
Because their tongue and their doings
Are against the Lord,
To provoke the eyes of His glory.
The look on their countenance witnesses against them,
And they declare their sin as Sodom; They do not hide it (Isaiah 3:8-9

Isaiah applies this specifically to Judah by predicting the siege of Jerusalem in the 500’s BC. Instead of walking in the light of their promise-keeping God, they provoke Him by the arrogant look on their faces. I hope you do not see yourself or your church in that picture.

See how to use the Bible’s themes to help you figure out what a passage means? And how to avoid letting your pre-conceived assumptions take you too far in your interpretation? We want to be women who handle the scripture carefully as we tell Bible stories to our children and grandchildren. Don’t leave your thinking caps off at the church or the children’s church door!