Women Embracing Faith

Thinking Through the Bible

Inerrant, not Literal August 17, 2009

Filed under: Church History,Isaiah — womenembracingfaith @ 5:23 pm
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The doctrinal building block of looking at the Bible as inerrant is a big deal. Christian history shows us that. The Protestant Reformation in the 1500’s and the Puritan Revival in the 1600’s and then evangelical revivals since have turned on this view of scripture.

Inerrancy says that all scripture is “breathed” by God, thru the pens and voices of real men who wrote or spoke in their own languages of the time.

Literalists usually believe thaat too, but are very concerned about when to take it each word as it is written. In poetry, like a Psalm, or prophecy, like Isaiah or Jeremiah, taking something literally can really affect the meaning and application of the passage.

Moses wrote while camping in the Sinai desert. Finally, John the apostle, who knew Jesus intimately enough to lean on his chest as they talked quietly, wrote letters and about his visions while on a Greek island, exiled because of his claim that Jesus was the one Moses’ had said was coming.

Who cares whether we use the word “inerrant” or “literal?”

Look at Isaiah, for instance. In chapters 43 and 44, the preacher is calling on the nation of Judah to turn back to God and His plan for saving them. He predicts the greatest world empire of the day, Babylon, will be destroyed (v. 14). He then draws a refreshing picture of streams in the desert and wilderness beasts praising Him because He refreshes and redeems this community of people who have nothing to fear. They are God’s loved ones.

But, to quibble over whether there are literally streams in the deserts and ostriches praising God is to miss the whole point. The gospel is here. Jesus is here. There is no other rock or foundation upon which we can stand for survival into eternity. The Holy Spirit brings about praise and refreshes us as much as water in a desert.

Taking it all as without error would include remembering that in 516 or so BC, Persia invaded Babylon and sacked the greatest city and empire the world had ever seen. Isaiah got it right. He, of course, got it right in his first book about Judah being the only nation saved from the Assyrians too. And he had predicted the Babylonian takeover of the Assyrians. His prophecies were never wrong.

Inerrancy was a banner of the Reformation. It led to an exaltation and study of God’s word. That led to repeated revivals. The literal approach came in later, in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s as people struggled against those who had rejected inerrancy. But, it has led to the rejection ofa lot of the Reformation doctrines.

Read your Bible like this–for yourself, in your own language. As God’s word, without error if the translation is right. But, always with a view of how it affects your heart. For instance, why do you care about the Babylonian Empire? If Isaiah got it right about that, then you can trust his predictions that God would provide a Savior, provide righteousness for you, and sustain and strengthen you in whatever you are facing today.

“Fear not, for I am with you; Be not dismayed, for I am your God.

I will strengthen you. Yes, I will help you,

I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.” (Isaish 41:10)

That is why inerrant, not literal, matters. Inerrancy with applicationleads to personal experience inworship.



Filed under: introductions,Isaiah — womenembracingfaith @ 5:31 pm
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I hope you are still trying to read Isaiah. Don’t get bogged down and give up. Even reading one verse is better than just giving up. Think as you read. Look for biblical principles. Look for Jesus..

Isaiah 40 starts a whole new book. This was written by 701 BC. No one knows exactly when. But, the date is important because of all that was predicted and all that came true. My friend, Roger Ellsworth, calls chapters 40-67, “God’s Book of Comfort.” It certainly comforted the believing Judean exiles to Babylon after 586 BC and all the generations of believers since.

ISAIAH 40-43

Do you find yourself needing a little comfort now and then? How can we experience true spiritual comfort?

After promising to uphold and strengthen His people, making them strong like an eagle, God asks His people to think together with Him about who He is, who they are, and the circumstances they find themselves in. (Those circumstances were dire. Israel had been destroyed as a nation because of their becoming just like the nations around them–idolatrous and immoral. They were hauled off to North Eastern Turkey, and probably dispersed all over E. Europe and Russia, Judah had been ravaged and tormented for over a hundred years by repeated raids and taxes from Assyrian and Babylonian invaders. All this was joined with warnings to turn back to God from their idolatry and sinful lifestyle. Now they were in Iraq, exiled to live without being a nation or having their own religion, their temple destroyed, etc. This sounds very harsh to our 21st century ears, but it is nothing to the judgment of God described in chapter 34! This was corrective discipline, not judgment in the way unbelievers will be judged for their sins. After 70 years, Babylon was destroyed, invaded by Persia. The Persian king, Cyrus, not only allowed, but funded, a group of the exiles to return to Jerusalem to rebuild their nation and reestablish their religion. This took place around 500 BC).

These chapters are all about giving comfort to God’s people while they are in exile. Promises would be made specifically about Cyrus and Christ.
Judah and Israel are tangible examples of God’s people. God does not change. His relationship with His people today is the same. The context is important. Servant can mean God’s corporate people or Christ, depending on the context. These chapters are focusing on God’s people as His servant.
Idols would be challenged to put up or shut up! God asks them to think and remember some very important things:

God is all powerful, The most powerful being in existence (40)
He would strengthen them and undergird them and never leave them. (40:28-31)

He was the one who brought in invaders,(41:1-4) but they were responsible for becoming idolaters (41:5-7)

He has chosen, elected them, set His love upon them to be His friend and servant (41:8-10)

Their enemies would be destroyed (41:11-13); They would be made strong and nourished and watered (41-14-20)

Part of this reasoning process would be to remember and sing about the long-promised Redeemer, His justice and gentleness and righteousness. They are to give glory to God and tell the nations about Him (42:1-12.) And hear and see. God will act like a mighty man of war to straighten things out. He will be satisfied by Christ’s righteousness and will make his law very visible and honored (42:13-21). But, will His people hear? Will they realize their troubles result from their idolatry?(42:22-25) Will they tell of God’s character, power, and friendship? Will they praise Him and give Him all the glory? (43:10-12; 21)
By remembering the promise of our Redeemer and God’s being satisfied by His righteousness as a cover for our sins. (Look to the Lord Jesus Christ and be saved!)

By remembering that God helped His people then, and will now.

By remembering the power God has to do that–can turn king’s minds, lay waste the most powerful and advanced nations.

By remembering the power of the Holy Spirit to bring revival and stir hearts to honor God and His law.

By remembering the love God has shown by choosing you to know and praise Him. This kind of thinking comforts and warms our hearts. Help each other to think like this! (44:21-23)

I hope this helps you keep on reading and thinking about Isaiah’s message to us, and to actually know what it is to experience comfort from our LORD. As Martyn Lloyd Jones reminds us in his “Daily Readings,” it all starts with right thinking. Thinking BEFORE experiencing. And R. C. Sproule of Ligonier Ministries would remind us of that same thing.

Grace and comfort to us all!


ISAIAH 1-24 REVIEW December 30, 2008

Filed under: Isaiah — womenembracingfaith @ 9:11 pm
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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


WARNING SIGNS November 30, 2008

Filed under: Isaiah — womenembracingfaith @ 3:44 am
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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.



Filed under: Isaiah — womenembracingfaith @ 3:31 am
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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

Filed under: Isaiah — womenembracingfaith @ 1:10 am
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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).

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?

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!


Children’s Lesson From Isaiah October 9, 2008

Filed under: Isaiah,Teaching Tips — womenembracingfaith @ 12:55 am
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Perhaps you can use this with your own children or when you have nursery duty (ages 2-4).