Saturday, November 30, 2013

Isaiah 66

In his final chapter, Prophet Isaiah outlines what LORD is expecting in His people. Essentially, He is portraying what is pleasing in the eyes of LORD.

While, LORD rejects and condemns empty religious rituals, listen to what He is looking for:
Isaiah 66:2 .....“These are the ones I look on with favor:
    those who are humble and contrite in spirit,
    and who tremble at My word."
LORD's Prophecy regarding the recovery of Israel is next. Israel will experience the joy of birth after her labor pain.
Isaiah 66:12 For this is what the LORD says:
“I will extend peace to her like a river,
    and the wealth of nations like a flooding stream;
you will nurse and be carried on her arm
    and dandled on her knees.
13 As a mother comforts her child,
    so will I comfort you;
    and you will be comforted over Jerusalem.”
In a graphic narrative, LORD portrays the end of those who purify themselves versus those who choose to stay in their current path. He reveals His plan about that final resting place.
Isaiah 66:22 “As the new heavens and the new earth that I make will endure before me,” declares the LORD, “so will your name and descendants endure. 23 From one New Moon to another and from one Sabbath to another, all mankind will come and bow down before Me,” says the LORD. 24 “And they will go out and look on the dead bodies of those who rebelled against Me; the worms that eat them will not die, the fire that burns them will not be quenched, and they will be loathsome to all mankind.”

Isaiah 65

In this chapter, Isaiah speaks about Judgement and salvation. LORD feels disgraced as He was revealing Himself to those who did not seek Him. He voices His legitimate concerns here, in a rather long speech. Who other than a loving LORD will go after His children pleading, even when they have rejected Him because of their rebellion, apostasy, and idolatry:
Isaiah 65:1 “I revealed Myself to those who did not ask for Me;
    I was found by those who did not seek Me.
To a nation that did not call on My name,
    I said, ‘Here am I, here am I.’
2 All day long I have held out My hands
    to an obstinate people,
who walk in ways not good,
    pursuing their own imaginations—
3 a people who continually provoke Me
    to My very face,
offering sacrifices in gardens
    and burning incense on altars of brick;... 
Can anyone imagine the hurt with which LORD is speaking here - when He went after His children, revealing His glorious personality saying, "Here I am, Here am I." They gave no attention to the LORD.

As LORD continues, they became sinful by taking part in idol worship, partying all night, eating impure meat, and doing wicked deeds that wicked people perform. LORD was getting ready to pay for their sins and that of their ancestors. He has already decided their destiny.
Isaiah 65:12 I will destine you for the sword,
    and all of you will fall in the slaughter;
for I called but you did not answer,
    I spoke but you did not listen.
You did evil in My sight
    and chose what displeases Me.
LORD then makes a comparison between those who chose Him, and those who chose to ignore Him. He outlines the pros and cons of each group.

Next there is wonderful prophecy about the new heavens, the new earth, and He mentions about the peaceful life in that time.
Isaiah 65:25 The wolf and the lamb will feed together,
    and the lion will eat straw like the ox,
    and dust will be the serpent’s food.
They will neither harm nor destroy
    on all my holy mountain,”
says the LORD. 

My Thoughts
Prophet Isaiah speaks about the life after this world and gives us a glimpse of the other world - another wonderful topic, which we can talk about for days and days. 

Isaiah 64

This chapter is a continuation of prayer from previous chapter. This prayer is for the LORD to intervene and hear their repentance. Great rewards await those who love the LORD.
Isaiah 64:4 Since ancient times no one has heard,
    no ear has perceived,
no eye has seen any God besides You,
    who acts on behalf of those who wait for Him.
In a series of verses, they acknowledge their own sins. Just like modern times, they have even stopped calling His name.
Isaiah 64:7 No one calls on Your name
    or strives to lay hold of You;
for You have hidden Your face from us
    and have given us over to our sins.
They make an earnest plea to forgive their iniquity.
Isaiah 64:8 Yet you, LORD, are our Father.
    We are the clay, You are the potter;
    we are all the work of Your hand.
9 Do not be angry beyond measure, LORD;
    do not remember our sins forever.
Oh, look on us, we pray,
    for we are all Your people.
They seek His forgiveness as Jerusalem has become a wasteland and everything they treasured is now in ruins, after being burnt down with fire. They ask for His mercy.

Isaiah 63

LORD's day of vengeance and redemption is portrayed here. The glorious second coming of Jesus Christ is prophesied here, and on that day LORD will trample His enemies under His feet. His robes will be of red color due to the blood that spattered on His garments. 
Isaiah 63:6 I trampled the nations in my anger;
    in my wrath I made them drunk
    and poured their blood on the ground.
Next Isaiah narrates LORD's historic relationship with earlier leaders of Israel such as Moses. He also outlined how those rebellious people grieved the Holy Spirit. 
Isaiah 63:10 Yet they rebelled
    and grieved his Holy Spirit.
So He turned and became their enemy
    and He Himself fought against them.
The chapter closes with Isaiah pleading with LORD to restore Israel to it's earlier state of 
righteousness and to provide them with the lands of their inheritance. 

Isaiah 62

This prophecy is regarding that future glorious life of Israel. This is a continuation of Isaiah's song of salvation from previous chapter. He does not intent to stay silent until Zion's righteousness glows in brightness.

LORD's love for Israel is similar to how a bridegroom loves his bride. He has posted watchmen around those city walls to protect her against enemies. The leaders will diligently teach their people.

Those who labor will be rewarded with the land's fruits.
8 The LORD has sworn by His right hand
    and by His mighty arm:
“Never again will I give your grain
    as food for your enemies,
and never again will foreigners drink the new wine
    for which you have toiled;
9 but those who harvest it will eat it
    and praise the LORD,
and those who gather the grapes will drink it
    in the courts of My sanctuary.”
Zion will soon become a city that is sought after. 

Isaiah 61

Prophet Isaiah speaks about the recovery and rebuilding of Zion. He also said that the Spirit of LORD is upon him, who has anointed him.
Isaiah 61:4 They will rebuild the ancient ruins
    and restore the places long devastated;
they will renew the ruined cities
    that have been devastated for generations.
Shame that has fallen upon Israel will turn into an honor, and LORD's covenant will endure for several generations.

A song of salvation, voiced by Isaiah concludes the chapter.

Isaiah 60

Prophet Isaiah speaks the first few verses, and then LORD follows His explanation about the glory of Zion. Some theologians who compare the doctrines and covenants believe this restored Zion is the United States of America.

We are foretold about the rise of a mighty nation being restored, which will dwell in celestial splendor. Gentile nations will join Israel and Zion to serve them, bringing in their wealth.
Isaiah 60:16 You will drink the milk of nations
    and be nursed at royal breasts.
Then you will know that I, the LORD, am your Savior,
    your Redeemer, the Mighty One of Jacob.
Nursing at royal breasts is a metaphor for receiving abundantly rich blessings.

LORD promises to serve as an everlasting light to replace sun and moon.
Isaiah 60:20 Your sun will never set again,
    and your moon will wane no more;
the LORD will be your everlasting light,
    and your days of sorrow will end.
There shall be no more mourning.

Isaiah 59

Prophet Isaiah documenting Prophecy - Antonio Balestra (1666 - 1740)

Another reason, for LORD not answering our prayers, according to Prophet Isaiah is because of our wicked or sinful lifestyle. Such individuals should repent and ask LORD for forgiveness. 
Isaiah 59:2 But your iniquities have separated
    you from your God;
your sins have hidden His face from you,
    so that He will not hear.
Our sins and wicked lifestyle have drowned us and created a rift between LORD. We are engulfed in darkness. 
Isaiah 59:9 So justice is far from us,
    and righteousness does not reach us.
We look for light, but all is darkness;
    for brightness, but we walk in deep shadows.
Truth was nowhere to be found and LORD was displeased. In the absence of such righteousness, the LORD Himself became a righteous warrior, and lifted up His standard before the enemy. 

Finally, there is Prophecy of LORD's protection over Israel, for those who repent and thus deliverance. 

Isaiah 58

In this chapter, Prophet Isaiah narrates LORD's expectation on true fasting. He answers why LORD does not answer normal fasting, performed by those citizens. In our churches, we are taught ritualistic observances that are shallow.

For the sake of ease, I am quoting what LORD expects us during fasting:
Isaiah 58:6 “Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen:
to loose the chains of injustice
    and untie the cords of the yoke,
to set the oppressed free
    and break every yoke?
7 Is it not to share your food with the hungry
    and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter
when you see the naked, to clothe them,
    and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?
8 Then your light will break forth like the dawn,
    and your healing will quickly appear;
then your righteousness will go before you,
    and the glory of the LORD will be your rear guard.
9 Then you will call, and the LORD will answer;
    you will cry for help, and He will say: Here am I.
LORD expects us to bring out these desires from the bottom of our heart. Unless we apply His law of fasting, LORD will not give ears to our prayers. He will strengthen those individuals who try to satisfy and remove the yoke of the oppressed. The light of such individuals will shine in darkness and they will be like a well watered spring.

Isaiah ends the chapter with an appeal to observe the Sabbath day in the LORD's way. Those who keep the Sabbath will ride on the high hills of the earth.
Isaiah 58:13 “If you keep your feet from breaking the Sabbath
    and from doing as you please on My holy day,
if you call the Sabbath a delight
    and the LORD’s holy day honorable,
and if you honor it by not going your own way
    and not doing as you please or speaking idle words,
14 then you will find your joy in the LORD,
    and I will cause you to ride in triumph on the heights of the land
    and to feast on the inheritance of your father Jacob.”
For the mouth of the LORD has spoken.

My Thoughts
The sermon that Prophet Isaiah gave on fasting in chapter 58 is timely, as advent lent starts tomorrow.

It sounds as if LORD expects me to perform those tasks everyday - whenever I encounter them. I often tend to see people around me, siding up with those who oppress the poor, and take advantage of the needy - some even find pleasure in it. I think just by being in their company means that I are giving them my silent affirmation.

The easiest way, maybe to cut a check to one of those charity and say, "I do not know of any hungry or homeless people. Those charity organizations will do it, on my behalf." Well, LORD has sufficient bank balance to cut them His own check - He does not need me for that.

LORD is serious about me keeping the Sabbath Holy. It is meant to be observed as LORD's Holy Day. Just by going to church in the morning (to meet friends and get caught up on newest gossip) and later going our my way will not help. Nor does it mean to come home after a heavy church meal and sleep (I cannot be doing any sin just by having an afternoon nap).

LORD expects me to work on His behalf - in finding those hungry and oppressed, spending few minutes with them and comforting them. By the way, providing help to our own pastor/priest does not count as charity in LORD's eyes - He sees that as an effort towards 'influencing him'.

Isaiah 57

In this chapter, Isaiah gives a reasoning for that blessed state of righteous who perish. They are taken away from the further evil to come - entering a state of peace.
Isaiah 57:2 Those who walk uprightly
    enter into peace;
    they find rest as they lie in death.
Immediately, in a matter of seconds, Prophet Isaiah's tone changes towards those wicked people and LORD rebukes them of their wickedness. He commands a shout with that trembling voice, "You - come here." The language that follows in those next several verses are not pretty.
Isaiah 57:3 “But you—come here, you children of a sorceress,
    you offspring of adulterers and prostitutes!
LORD rebukes those who have committed spiritual adultery. The chapter goes on and on, pointing out those idol worship practices. He asks numerous questions, that depicts the state of wickedness and none can be answered.
Isaiah 57:11 “Whom have you so dreaded and feared
    that you have not been true to Me,
and have neither remembered Me
    nor taken this to heart?
Is it not because I have long been silent
    that you do not fear Me?
Those wicked are in a continuous troubled and perturbed state, with no peace whatsoever.

My Thoughts
The line of questioning outlined in this chapter gives a slim idea of how that day of judgement will be. When LORD reads out my iniquities, all I can do is to hang my head in shame and stay quiet, without uttering a single word. Many of my foolishness I may have long forgotten, but they are recorded in His books, which will come alive on that day of judgement.

The very thought of standing in front of His Judgement sends shivers down my spine.

Am holding back on elucidating my own thoughts due to my fear - all I want, is to get through the book of Prophet Isaiah.

Isaiah 56

The formula to learn LORD's righteousness is given in those beginning verses.
Isaiah 56:1 This is what the LORD says:
“Maintain justice
    and do what is right,
for my salvation is close at hand
    and my righteousness will soon be revealed.
LORD makes an earnest call to be righteous and not to defile Sabbath. The LORD will not separate the foreigner and the eunuch. Those foreigners and eunuchs who please the LORD will be gathered by the LORD and given joy . They will receive an everlasting name in LORD's house, which will be called, 'a house of prayer for all nations'.

LORD defines the characteristics of some bad pastors, teachers, and priests. It gives a vivid description of those who have forsaken the LORD - a contrast to righteous people. Here is a sneak preview to such leaders, with a drinking song as their theme song:
Isaiah 56:11 They are dogs with mighty appetites;
    they never have enough.
They are shepherds who lack understanding;
    they all turn to their own way,
    they seek their own gain.
12 “Come,” each one cries, “let me get wine!
    Let us drink our fill of beer!
And tomorrow will be like today,
    or even far better.”

My Thoughts
LORD formula for righteousness is far worthy and valuable than any 'secret recipe' humans invented.

LORD does not care whether anyone is a foreigner or an eunuch. As long as such individuals walks in the ways of the LORD, their sacrifices will be acceptable by the LORD.

Many 'wolves' come into the midst of the people, pretending to be shepherding the christian flock. This illness was prevalent even during the times of prophet Isaiah, during 7th century BC. For majority of them today, it is merely a means for livelihood - a costume without a sincere relationship with the LORD, and no righteousness whatsoever. They do their best to sound like they are leading their followers towards the LORD, and in the process seek their own gain.

Few of those people who fall prey to the tricks of such 'shepherds' are:
(a) those blind and ignorant of the Holy Scripture,
(b) individuals who have hardened their own hearts,
(c) those wanting a spiritual leader who will dance according to the tunes of 'their own scripture',
(d) ones who think themselves to be smart and 'think' they can bail out as they desire,
(e) ones wanting to derive materialistic pleasures under such leaders,
(f) individuals who love to be in the company of 'christian drunkards'.

I sincerely pray, "May LORD help navigate such christian leaders and their followers."

Isaiah 55

This is the last part of Isaiah. This chapter is titled, "Invitation to the Thirsty" and the LORD calls out to all those who want a free drink, and be richly satisfied. The drink here refers to LORD's words - it is the only drink that can quench and satisfy anyone's thirst.
Isaiah 55:1 “Come, all you who are thirsty,
    come to the waters;
and you who have no money,
    come, buy and eat!
Come, buy wine and milk
    without money and without cost.
He invites His beloved creation to search out for Him, while it is still possible.
Isaiah 55:6 Seek the LORD while He may be found;
    call on Him while He is near.
LORD encourages the unrighteous to become righteous so that they could seek Him too.

Majority of us have figured out that LORD does not respond the way we usually expect Him to. Nor does He respond with the speed with which we calculate - instantly. LORD gives an explanation for that.
Isaiah 55:8 “For My thoughts are not your thoughts,
    neither are your ways My ways,”
declares the LORD.
9 “As the heavens are higher than the earth,
    so are My ways higher than your ways
    and My thoughts than your thoughts.
LORD's thoughts are certainly higher than man’s. He promises to shower us with revelation and guidance if we ask Him in faith. This revelation is reserved for those very few who are trustworthy. Anyone who hears those words from His mouth will be rejoiced. His words have a special effect upon those individuals and the nature.
Isaiah 55:12 You will go out in joy
    and be led forth in peace;
the mountains and hills
    will burst into song before you,
and all the trees of the field
    will clap their hands.
They can see the nature dance in front of them.

My Thoughts
The one and only satisfying drink is His Scripture. Those who taste the sweetness of it will never want another drink. This was the same message Jesus provided to the Samaritan woman, whom He met besides Jacob's well.

The Good News is that it is possible to search out for the LORD, and truly find Him. Anyone who searches Him out, with an eager and honest desire will meet Him - He will reveal Himself to those who come towards Him. In fact, everyday He is looking out from "His Home" to see who is coming towards Him. Few individuals who take that road towards "His Home" will witness angels opening the gates for them. It is not an easy road to take - but attainable with persistence, dedication and a sincere heart.

The way in which we think is not how the LORD thinks - they are light years apart. Remember - LORD is Holy and all His thoughts are Holy. As sinful humans, we have the tendency for those selfish thoughts concerning just "me" or "my family" to creep in. The good news is that (with LORD's help) it is possible to get an idea of how LORD thinks.

Jesus, during His ministry, spelled out all those wonderful qualities of LORD. If we perform 'reverse engineering' upon His teachings, we arrive at those thoughts with which they were said. Again, it is with the aid of the Holy Spirit and wisdom that we can figure those thoughts.

As everything is possible by the LORD, all His thoughts are positive and possible. In a nutshell, He thinks about the goodwill and welfare of every creation under Heaven. He wants all His creations to coexist in harmony and peace. Even the smallest cell structure is accounted for, and taken care of. He wants good things to happen to every creation of His. He does not desire jealousy or animosity towards anyone or anything - such emotions should be eradicated from a mind that seeks the LORD. The one and only language LORD thinks and speaks is, that of Love. By practicing love in our thoughts and deeds, we can slowly get an idea of how He thinks. He thinks in abundance. Whatever He builds, He has a BIG plan, and the word "shortage" does not exist in His Kingdom. LORD thinks about favors or what we call help or blessings - He bestows them in secrecy, without revealing that it was Him Who did so. Recovering the lost is another thought which lines up with being the brightness or light. He illuminates everything around Him with His charisma. For those who messes up things, He has a huge heart that overflows with forgiveness. To be forgiven, all we have to do is - ask sincerely. Next, the fear of LORD gives us an understanding of what His expectations are. Essentially, that is wisdom, which can reveal LORD's plans - which contains His thoughts. If we ask Him, He will reveal it to us, slowly. He expects us to be good custodians of the entire universe - in other words, as His children, He expects us to be good stewards and work towards the betterment of all His creation and shine His light.

Above is a small sample of that long list of wonderful qualities of our LORD. Nobody can teach Him anything nor provide consulting services. As Jesus says, "Ask, and it will be given."

Isaiah 54

In the final chapter of Section II, Isaiah provides a prophecy regarding the time of LORD's everlasting kindness, mercy, and protection over the Israelites after a period of temporary wrath.

Isaiah uses the metaphor of a barren woman, smitten and scattered. She will be restored and bears numerous children. He tells the woman not be be afraid, and she will forget the shame of her youth.
Isaiah 54:5 For your Maker is your husband -
    the LORD Almighty is His name -
the Holy One of Israel is your Redeemer;
    He is called the God of all the earth.
The first thing a woman wants to know after a long period of absence is, "Where were you?" The next words are, "I missed you." Out of sincere love, and kindness, here is the explanation our loving LORD gives:
Isaiah 54:7 “For a brief moment I abandoned you,
    but with deep compassion I will bring you back.
8 In a surge of anger
    I hid my face from you for a moment,
but with everlasting kindness
    I will have compassion on you
    says the LORD your Redeemer.
Preceding the the days of 'Great Flood', LORD promised not to fill the earth with water again and destroy it. Likewise, He will not be angry at His people and won't rebuke them anymore.

Out of His deep love, which followed a period of anger, LORD promises to rebuild her - to cheer her up.
Isaiah 54:11 “Afflicted city, lashed by storms and not comforted,
    I will rebuild you with stones of turquoise,
    your foundations with lapis lazuli.
12 I will make your battlements of rubies,
    your gates of sparkling jewels,
    and all your walls of precious stones.
13 All your children will be taught by the LORD,
    and great will be their peace.
14 In righteousness you will be established:
Tyranny will be far from you;
    you will have nothing to fear.
Terror will be far removed;
    it will not come near you.
15 If anyone does attack you, it will not be My doing;
    whoever attacks you will surrender to you.
LORD, then lavishes her with precious stones, He promises to tutor her children, provides her peace, establishes her with righteousness, tells her not to be afraid, and provides safety.

This represents the closing of that exile period and the opening of another glorious phase of gathering and restoration.

My Thoughts
What wonderful characteristics should a girl have, in order for her to visualize LORD being her husband? Is it possible to attain those qualities?

To me, those few wonderfully beautiful women the Bible portray are Lady Wisdom, the Virtuous Woman from Proverbs 31, and Mary, mother of Jesus. They are the ones who set the golden standard for womanhood.

Notice how compassionate LORD is, and how He tries to make His people happy.

One of the biggest concern of a mother is regarding her children's education. Quite often she worries about the quality of their teacher. LORD, the Supreme Teacher, makes a wonderful promise that He will teach the children.

Isaiah 53

Prophet Isaiah foretells the innocence and sufferings of Jesus Christ in this short chapter, comprising of 12 verses. This chapter remains the most quoted chapter by those New Testament writers.

It speaks about Jesus Christ, as the One who
- appears to be a normal person in His appearance,
- will be despised and rejected by men,
- will remain a Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief.
- will bear our griefs and carry our sorrows,
- was pierced for our transgressions,

We are compared to the lost sheep.
Isaiah 53:6 We all, like sheep, have gone astray,
    each of us has turned to our own way;
and the LORD has laid on Him
    the iniquity of us all.
Speaking of His sufferings,
Isaiah 53:7 He was oppressed and afflicted,
    yet He did not open His mouth;
He was led like a lamb to the slaughter,
    and as a sheep before its shearers is silent,
    so He did not open His mouth.
The LORD made His soul an offering for sin. His grave was with the wicked. The righteous servant shall justify many. He bore the iniquities of many. The LORD will reward Him:
Isaiah 53:12 Therefore I will give Him a portion among the great,
    and He will divide the spoils with the strong,
because he poured out His life unto death,
    and was numbered with the transgressors.
For He bore the sin of many,
    and made intercession for the transgressors.

My Thoughts
Prophet Isaiah was revealed all these hundreds of years before the arrival of Jesus Christ. The LORD had it all planned out.

The LORD still reveals wonderful things to His beloved people - those who truly love Him.

Isaiah 52

Restoration and gathering are the theme we read in this chapter. Prophet Isaiah asks Jerusalem to put on her garments of splendor, shake off her dust and sit enthroned.

The wonderful message of deliverance will soon be heard.
Isaiah 52:7 How beautiful on the mountains
    are the feet of those who bring good news,
who proclaim peace,
    who bring good tidings,
    who proclaim salvation,
who say to Zion,
    “Your God reigns!”
Then there is a piece of advice to stay pure.
Isaiah 52:11 Depart, depart, go out from there!
    Touch no unclean thing!
Come out from it and be pure,
    you who carry the articles of the LORD's house.
LORD will stay rear guard during the journey.

Regarding those related to LORD's servant, Isaiah is speaking of Jesus Christ. As a Prophet of restoration, He will be both exalted and humiliated. Nations will be astounded at His message.

My Thoughts
Visualize a little girl getting ready to go out. Her father asks her to put on her best clothes, not to play anymore in dirt and stay pure. He will stay guard while she travels. Then there is mention about Jesus Christ, the prince. This is what Isaiah summarized in this chapter, as LORD asking Jerusalem to do.

A journey with LORD, holding his mighty hands - can you ask anything better than that?

Isaiah 51

In a long explanation, LORD reminded the Israelites and those righteous people about:
- His strength,
- about depending on Him and
- about not fearing any human;
He also announced that their punishments were complete.

He speaks about His righteousness:
Isaiah 51:6 Lift up your eyes to the heavens,
    look at the earth beneath;
the heavens will vanish like smoke,
    the earth will wear out like a garment
    and its inhabitants die like flies.
But my salvation will last forever,
    my righteousness will never fail.
LORD has seen several people who stood up for what is right, being crushed by opponents. He has a word of comfort for them. This is a wonderful piece of consolation for those who become victims of truth. Note that something that lives through generations is righteousness.
Isaiah 51:7 “Hear me, you who know what is right,
    you people who have taken my instruction to heart:
Do not fear the reproach of mere mortals
    or be terrified by their insults.

8 For the moth will eat them up like a garment;
    the worm will devour them like wool.
But my righteousness will last forever,
    my salvation through all generations.”
LORD announces that His fury will be taken from Israel and be given to it's enemies.

My Thoughts
Have you kept track of how many times righteousness was mentioned in the Scripture? We saw the theme 'righteous' recurring in wisdom books.

It is very difficult to find a righteous person. First, one should know where to find such individuals - we never find such individuals at the most obvious spots.  Even though we are fortunate to find those rare individuals, it is extremely hard it is to preserve their friendship. They don't live by the worldly standards - their standards are measured against those golden standards set by Jesus Christ.

Yes, such individuals do exist during all times, though rare they maybe. They not only know what is right, but also act upon what is right. Seek the LORD's intervention in finding them - only He knows where His beloved followers live.

LORD is talking to His people through the Holy Scripture. But people are busy with their lives - they don't have "time" to listen to what LORD said. They are busy listening to their colleagues, friends and superiors at work. As a security blanket, they keep a copy - "just in case."

Isaiah 50

Isaiah explains two things in this chapter. He sends a message to the Israelites that LORD is bringing them misfortunes due to their own evil choices, sins and wickedness. He explains his obedience to LORD, which is compared to sufferings of Jesus.

The first few verses explain the reason for their punishment - again, in a strong language.

Isaiah acknowledges that LORD has provided him with wisdom such as
- the ability to speak words of encouragement, and
- the spiritual gift of hearing the voice of the LORD.
Isaiah 50:4 The Sovereign LORD has given me a well-instructed tongue,
    to know the word that sustains the weary.
He wakens me morning by morning,
    wakens my ear to listen like one being instructed.
5 The Sovereign LORD has opened my ears;
    I have not been rebellious,
    I have not turned away.
He then portrays that LORD will support him during times of hardships. These were those similar conditions Jesus Christ encountered.
Isaiah 50:6 I offered my back to those who beat me,
    my cheeks to those who pulled out my beard;
I did not hide my face
    from mocking and spitting.
He has extreme faith in the LORD who will justify him. He also has the wisdom to understand that his adversaries will grow old and be consumed by moth like a garment.

Isaiah then provides words of encouragement for those with wisdom - fear of the LORD.
Isaiah 50:10 Who among you fears the LORD
    and obeys the word of his servant?
Let the one who walks in the dark,
    who has no light,
trust in the name of the LORD
    and rely on their God.

My Thoughts
A well instructed tongue that knows the words of those weary is a blessings. That is what we call a 'golden tongue'.

Something that I did not know few months ago was about the 'ear to listen to the LORD'. To listen, first, I have to shut up. During those hours of prayers, I should practice listening to the LORD with my ears, rather than rattling off a long list of plea.

The circumstances which Isaiah explained were the same ones Jesus Christ encountered. They are precisely the same a follower of LORD can expect to encounter in today's world too.

Stand up for the truth, and anticipate people to beat you down.

Isaiah 49

In this chapter, Isaiah, outlines some details about himself - on how LORD chose him to serve as His Prophet. Even though the people of Israel do not repent, LORD promises glory to him.

- he was called while he was in his mother's womb,
- he will be made light for the gentiles, so that he can bring salvation to the ends of earth,
- kings will see him and rise up,
- princes will see and bow down,

Then there is the Prophecy regarding Israel’s restoration. LORD says that He will not forget His people.
Isaiah 49:15 “Can a mother forget the baby at her breast
    and have no compassion on the child she has borne?
Though she may forget,
    I will not forget you!.."
The LORD will protect Israel from her enemies, who will be humbled and defeated. Israel will be gathered in the latter days.

My Thoughts
It is no surprise that Prophet Isaiah's words are so sharp - in Isaiah 49:2, he admits that LORD made his mouth sharpened like a sword. 

LORD created women to be filled with love and care. The moment a baby is born, that baby becomes the entire world for the mother - everything else becomes secondary. That is how the DNA of a mother works. In our circles, we can hardly find a mother having no compassion towards the child she bore. LORD makes a powerful statement that He will not forget us, though the mother forgets her child. Now, does it not display the ownership and show the amount of care He has for us? 

Too bad that only few people see His love and care. 

Isaiah 48

Prophet Isaiah rebukes people for their perfunctory religious observance and fake holiness. He then makes and indictment for their wickedness. LORD made sure He was revealed, rather than concealed. He asks those questions of wisdom which nobody can answer.

LORD's love is so great that despite their sinful nature, He would refine them in the 'furnace of affliction'. LORD is doing all these for His own sake, so that He won't be defamed.
Isaiah 48:17 This is what the LORD says -
    your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel:
“I am the LORD your God,
    who teaches you what is best for you,
    who directs you in the way you should go.
18 If only you had paid attention to My commands,
    your peace would have been like a river,
    your well-being like the waves of the sea.
He wishes to bless us abundantly - only if we approach Him. The good news is that if we approach Him, He will redeem us. The chapter closes with a verse on peace.
Isaiah 48:22 “There is no peace,” says the LORD, “for the wicked.”

My Thoughts
Speaking about holiness, I started spending time in Sunday rituals without even knowing what they performed, and thought that was Christianity. I was told (by many) that was the holiness one should aim to attain. I made a sincere effort to learn it and paid close attention to what was being performed. After almost a decade of study and observation, when I got a grasp of those Sunday rituals, I was baffled - I still am.

It was a terrible shock when I realized what I was taught and performed all these years in church was not even close to what Jesus expected out of me. It was the exact opposite of what Jesus preached on the Sermon on the Mount and in His ministry. His teachings are documented and spelled out so clearly in the Holy Scripture. Like a fool, I was so blind not to pay attention to it.

Remember Isaiah 35 speaking about the 'Highway of Holiness'? I have found more ordinary people travelling on that highway, than the so called 'church leaders'.

In this chapter, LORD says He is the One who teaches us what is good for us. He is the One and only One who cares about the well being of our soul - because He owns it. As our owner, He wants us to function properly and return to Him.

Who else, but our LORD, will plead in such a fashion to return to Him? Not even our parents, teachers, siblings, spouse or best friends - they give up after some time. LORD, out of His deepest love, is doing all these because He cannot be defamed and He cannot yield His glory to another.

It is a melancholy truth that hardly a handful of us want to return to the LORD. Even heart-rendering is the fact that, those few who arrive at a church in hopes of reaching the LORD, are misled in a wrong direction by those 'masked shepherds'.

Isaiah 47

The Fall of Babylon

Babylon, a beautiful city, is no longer personified as a queen; she is instead portrayed as a degraded woman, naked and shame uncovered.

Isaiah foretells the total destruction of Babylon because of her iniquities. He uses some harsh vocabulary in rebuking the pride and arrogance of Babylon.

LORD is about to bring judgement and vengeance upon Babylon and their sorcerers with their useless magic won’t be able to help them.

Isaiah 46

Isaiah now speaks about the gods of Babylon. The depiction is about those false idols being carried into captivity. This predicts the fall of Babylon.

LORD is speaking to those who run after everything, but Him. The point LORD is making is that He is the only One who can listen to our grievance and offer help. He is the One who knew us from the beginning and will know us till the end.
Isaiah 46:4 Even to your old age and gray hairs
    I am he, I am he who will sustain you.
I have made you and I will carry you;
    I will sustain you and I will rescue you.
Moving further, LORD tries explaining the useless time and effort people spend with their idols. Eventually, salvation will be placed in Zion, and glory in Israel.

My Thoughts
Idolatry was the prime reason why people slipped away from LORD. Isaiah is preaching to this audience in a last attempt to discourage them from taking that path. Yet, many chose to take that very same path. Our modern society is not any different - they do exhibit precisely those same traits as their ancestors did.

Ancient idolatry ranged from ceremonial illicit sex to human sacrifice, including children being put to death by fire, and even eating that meat. Many today try consoling themselves that they are not subject to idolatry by such ancient standards. Only LORD can help open their eyes and see reality.

Being a sinner, I belong to a group that practices idolatry, and constantly seek help from LORD.

Friday, November 29, 2013

Isaiah 45

Isaiah's prophecy to King Cyrus about conquering many nations is outlined in the first part. LORD will go before him and make way. Isaiah, with the help of LORD is proclaiming this 130 years prior - with the name of Cyrus in his writings.
Isaiah 45:7 I form the light and create darkness,
    I bring prosperity and create disaster;
    I, the LORD, do all these things.
LORD does not like anyone questioning Him, and speaks with authority.
Isaiah 45:11 “This is what the LORD says—
    the Holy One of Israel, and its Maker:
Concerning things to come,
    do you question Me about My children,
    or give Me orders about the work of My hands?..."
Once again, we observe the rebuke towards idolatry. This was such a big deal at that time and practically everyone found pleasure in idol worship and hence the emphasis.
Isaiah 45:16 All the makers of idols will be put to shame and disgraced;
    they will go off into disgrace together.
Out of His great love for His children, He is pleading "those with ears" to turn to LORD and be saved.
Isaiah 45:22 “Turn to me and be saved,
    all you ends of the earth;
    for I am God, and there is no other..."

My Thoughts
Can anyone even measure the depth of LORD's love?  Is there anyone that you know of, who tries to repay a small amount of what He gives out? 

Isaiah 44

Israel was chosen by the LORD due to her righteousness. He redeemed them and they later Him. LORD would denounce this practice and restore them. He commissioned them as a witness.

Special emphasis is placed upon the practice of idolatry. He sends a message so that idols and idol makers are rebuked here.
Isaiah 44:18 They know nothing, they understand nothing;
    their eyes are plastered over so they cannot see,
    and their minds closed so they cannot understand.
He makes us think, "How can those idol makers cut down a tree and burn part of it to cook food and warm themselves, and then out of another part of the same tree make a god which they think can save them?"

Then there is a prophecy that Jerusalem will be rebuilt and inhabited following it's destruction by the Babylonians. This rebuilding effort will take place under the direction of King Cyrus of Persia.

My Thoughts
Pay attention to the accuracy with which Prophet Isaiah is gifted in making his prophecy - he even knew the name of Cyrus and foretold how he would act.

Can you witness those mighty hands of our LORD, behind Prophet Isaiah's prophecy?

Isaiah 43

In this chapter, LORD pours out His love and care. He asks us point-blank questions whether we have witnessed His divinity or not.

There are few prophecies about LORD gathering those repented people. He talks about those who have not offered their sacrifices, and are full of iniquity - He is still willing to forgive them.

Those who have still hardened their hearts and decided not to repent are bringing great amount of curse upon them.

My Thoughts
I am unable to summarize the amount of love LORD has - I simply don't have the strength to do so, after reading this chapter.

Ever experienced that feeling when someone loves you so purely, deeply and sincerely, and we are unable to repay even 1% of that true, genuine love? Should I say, it is a horrible and nasty feeling - the feeling of falling short? That is precisely how I feel. 

Isaiah 42

Prophet Isaiah speaks about the coming of the Messiah. Remember that LORD is putting these words in Prophet Isaiah's mind and he is writing them down. This script was written hundreds of years prior to the birth of Jesus Christ. Now, when we look back, we can appreciate the beauty of LORD's handiwork.

In those first few verses, Isaiah speaks about Jesus Christ.
Isaiah 42:1 “Here is my servant, whom I uphold,
    my chosen one in whom I delight;
I will put my Spirit on him,
    and he will bring justice to the nations..."
There are couple more verses that follow this - they were quoted precisely by Jesus Christ during His public ministry. Following those verses, we can hear LORD speak out:
Isaiah 42:6 “I, the LORD, have called you in righteousness;  
I will take hold of your hand.

I will keep you and will make you
    to be a covenant for the people
    and a light for the Gentiles,
7 to open eyes that are blind,
    to free captives from prison
    and to release from the dungeon those who sit in darkness.
Next, there is encouragement to praise and glorify the LORD. He rebukes those who seek the pleasures and trust of idol worship.
Isaiah 42:17 But those who trust in idols,
    who say to images, ‘You are our gods,’
    will be turned back in utter shame.
The LORD then speaks more about His son Jesus Christ. He also asks us a question:
Isaiah 42:23 Which of you will listen to this
    or pay close attention in time to come?
These people have been robbed, plundered and punished - all because they have not walked in the ways of the LORD.

My Thoughts
Again - the LORD is calling us in righteousness, and He will hold our hands.

Holding hands with the one we love the most is symbolic - it is a fabulous feeling... it is an expression of displaying our love... it soothes our hearts... and brings us that sense of security, intimacy, closeness, and by doing so, those who are sincere at heart fuse together to become one, in that instant!

Here, LORD is telling us that He will hold our hands - in righteousness. Those who love Him can feel the safety in the grip of His strong hands, and can sense as though they are melting within Him.

Not just that - He will open our eyes, so that we can see much more than what we are able to visualize now. Then we can see how things **truly** are - it will take the breath away. In that instant, you will look at LORD and say, "Wow, You did all these, and You chose to show this to me? How can I thank you LORD?"

How many of them around us even give ears to that question LORD has for us in verse 23 - "Who will pay attention?"

LORD warns people when they are not on the right track. After prolonged warnings, He sends problems in the form of or punishments into people’s lives - because of their own sins or bad choices. That is His way of getting their attention. The same people who have sinned gravely, when they talk to LORD, repent, humble, ask for forgiveness, and improve their life style - He becomes happy, and that is what He wants. He loves us so dearly.

Isaiah 41

Chapters 41 and 42 go hand in hand. There is a great deal of parallelism between the two chapters and it is better understood when read together. Chapter 41 speaks about the Helper of Israel.

Major prophecies mentioned in this chapter include the following:

Persia will overpower Babylon and as a result, LORD will liberate His people from captivity.

A righteous man will be raised from the east to liberate Israel. This is about Cyrus.
Isaiah 41:2 “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.
LORD denounces idol worship and states it is vain and foolish.

Those enemies of Israel will flee before her and LORD will her her crush them. There is a promise of resources that comes from LORD:
Isaiah 41:10 So do not fear, for I am with you;
    do not be dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you;
    I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.

My Thoughts
It is not just LORD's right hand - it is His righteous right hand, which speaks for itself. With that right hand, He will uphold those who practice righteousness - those who stand up for what is right.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Isaiah 40

This is a special chapter which reveals that Jerusalem's punishment is complete. Then it has a Prophecy about John the Baptist and the arrival of Jesus Christ. Then the prophet goes on to explain about that 'Good Shepherd'. Next, we are given a glimpse of LORD's might, total control and His awesomeness. Finally, there is confirmation which attests that those who depend in the LORD will be strengthened. Let us look at those verses:

About the completion of punishment.
Isaiah 40:2 Speak tenderly to Jerusalem,
    and proclaim to her
that her hard service has been completed,
    that her sin has been paid for,
that she has received from the LORD’s hand
    double for all her sins.
Prophecy about John the Baptist.
Isaiah 40:3 A voice of one calling:
“In the wilderness prepare
    the way for the LORD;
make straight in the desert
    a highway for our God..."
About the arrival of Jesus Christ and He being the Good Shepherd.
Isaiah 40:10 See, the Sovereign LORD comes with power,
    and He rules with a mighty arm.
See, His reward is with him,
    and His recompense accompanies Him.
11 He tends His flock like a shepherd:
    He gathers the lambs in His arms
and carries them close to His heart;
    He gently leads those that have young.
Few words of wisdom explaining the might of LORD follow.
Isaiah 40:13 Who can fathom the Spirit of the LORD,
    or instruct the LORD as his counselor?
14 Whom did the LORD consult to enlighten Him,
    and who taught Him the right way?
Who was it that taught Him knowledge,
    or showed Him the path of understanding? 
These verses continue on, and we are told about those worthless idols - behind which many run.
Isaiah 40:19 As for an idol, a metalworker casts it,
    and a goldsmith overlays it with gold
    and fashions silver chains for it.
The LORD asks us to open our eyes and look around.
Isaiah 40:27 Why do you complain, Jacob?
    Why do you say, Israel,
“My way is hidden from the LORD;
    my cause is disregarded by my God”?
28 Do you not know?
    Have you not heard?
The LORD is the everlasting God,
    the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He will not grow tired or weary,
    and his understanding no one can fathom.
Then there is hope in Him.
Isaiah 40:31 but those who hope in the LORD
    will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
    they will run and not grow weary,
    they will walk and not be faint. 

Isaiah - Three Parts

Isaiah by Michelangelo

The Book of Isaiah is divided into three parts

Chapters 1 - 39
Here we see the threat mainly from Assyria.

In 587 BC, they were shattered. Their false confidence that "LORD will support them no matter what" was broken. They were taken into exile.

Chapters 40 - 55
These chapters talk about those exiles.

Even though LORD punished them, after so many warning, He still loves them, and they can trust Him. These chapters are filled with hope and comfort. We can witness LORD's firm purpose of delivering humans from the bondage of sin. With open arms, LORD receives those who are willing to start a new life.

Chapters 56 - 66
We read about restored Jerusalem.

We hear how their failures and sin mingle with hope of future glory.

Isaiah 39

King Hezekiah flaunting his wealth - Vicente Lopez y Portana (

The king of Babylon sent letters of congratulations and gifts through his messengers under the pretext of comforting Hezekiah.
Isaiah 39:2 Hezekiah received the envoys gladly and showed them what was in his storehouses—the silver, the gold, the spices, the fine olive oil—his entire armory and everything found among his treasures. There was nothing in his palace or in all his kingdom that Hezekiah did not show them.
When Prophet came to know about this, he came and asked Hezekiah about the new visitors, and then he prophesied to Hezekiah about Jerusalem’s and Hezekiahs’ sons future.
Isaiah 39:5 Then Isaiah said to Hezekiah, “Hear the word of the Lord Almighty: 6 The time will surely come when everything in your palace, and all that your predecessors have stored up until this day, will be carried off to Babylon. Nothing will be left, says the LORD. 7 And some of your descendants, your own flesh and blood who will be born to you, will be taken away, and they will become eunuchs in the palace of the king of Babylon.”
Hezekiah’s response was casual and selfish, because he was certain this prophecy will not come true during his lifetime, and he won't be there to witness it.

Isaiah 38

We read about King Hezekiah's sickness in 2 Kings 20. This is a repeat of the same incident, in those words of Prophet Isaiah.

When Isaiah told him that he will die soon, Hezekiah cried and prayed really hard to the LORD. LORD heard Hezekiah’s request and let him live another 15 years.

As a sign, the sundial went backwards ten degrees, to confirm LORD's promise.
Isaiah 38:7 “‘This is the LORD’s sign to you that the LORD will do what he has promised: 8 I will make the shadow cast by the sun go back the ten steps it has gone down on the stairway of Ahaz.’” So the sunlight went back the ten steps it had gone down.
Hezekiah thanked LORD Lord for his deliverance.

Isaiah 37

Once King Hezekiah heard Rabshakeh’s insulting message, he had no other choice other than to humble himself. He then sent messengers to Isaiah so that he would pray for them.
Isaiah 37:6 Isaiah said to them, “Tell your master, ‘This is what the LORD says: Do not be afraid of what you have heard—those words with which the underlings of the king of Assyria have blasphemed me. 7 Listen! When he hears a certain report, I will make him want to return to his own country, and there I will have him cut down with the sword.’”
Soon, the King of Cush marched out to fight against the Assyrians. Sennacherib King of Assyria, send a second prideful message to Hezekiah saying that LORD will not deliver Jerusalem.

Hezekiah went to the temple of the LORD and requested Him to be delivered from the hands of Assyrians.

LORD answered Hezekiah’s prayer, that He will defend and save the city of Jerusalem for the sake of King David.  LORD's angel destroyed 185,000 of Assyrian soldiers and then Sennacherib king of Assyria was later killed by two of his own children.

Isaiah 36

Sennacherib Threatens Jerusalem
This is a recap of what we read in 2 Kings 18 about the army from Assyria coming close to Jerusalem. Hezekiah, king of Judah sent his officials to meet them to find out what’s going on or possibly discus a peace agreement.

Instead, Rabshakeh, general of Assyrian army spoke directly to the people of Jerusalem in Hebrew, seeking to demoralize them. He pointed out and spoke against Judah’s trust in an alliance with Egypt, and said the LORD will not save them.
Isaiah 36:11 Then Eliakim, Shebna and Joah said to the field commander, “Please speak to your servants in Aramaic, since we understand it. Don’t speak to us in Hebrew in the hearing of the people on the wall.”
We are then reminded about the communication between Assyrians and the Jews where those Assyrians insulted the Jews and their LORD.
Isaiah 36:18 “Do not let Hezekiah mislead you when he says, ‘The LORD will deliver us.’ Have the gods of any nations ever delivered their lands from the hand of the king of Assyria? 19 Where are the gods of Hamath and Arpad? Where are the gods of Sepharvaim? Have they rescued Samaria from my hand? 20 Who of all the gods of these countries have been able to save their lands from me? How then can the LORD deliver Jerusalem from my hand?
Hezekiah’s officials took this Assyrian message back to him. 

Isaiah 35

In contrast to that horror filled previous chapter, we now hear a poetry that sings about joy of those redeemed. After the destruction, it gives way to recreation. The weak will be strengthened, the sick and diseased will be healed.
Isaiah 35:5 Then will the eyes of the blind be opened
    and the ears of the deaf unstopped.
Many believe this is a prophecy regarding the time of Jesus Christ. At the sight of Him, everything is changed. The dry and lifeless desert is blossoming with joy. He is as a way of holiness, and the restoration of Zion.
Isaiah 35:8 And a highway will be there;
    it will be called the Way of Holiness;
    it will be for those who walk on that Way.
The unclean will not journey on it;
    wicked fools will not go about on it.
They will be filled with joy. Sorry and sighing will flee from them.

My Thoughts
Did you catch that - "The Highway of Holiness." Unlike any interstate, or any highway we have traveled so far, this is that road which we have been longing for. On this highway, we can meet others who are heading towards the same destination. It is exclusively for those who walk on that way. We are promised that the unclean and wicked fools will not journey on it. Be sure to meet only those wise and righteous, with an earnest thirst to seek and meet Jesus Christ. Those journeying on this highway will be crowned with everlasting joy.

Pay attention to semantics here. When man speaks about everlasting, or permanent, or forever, he means and counts few years. The word 'everlasting' in LORD's vocabulary means 'until the end of time'.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Isaiah 34

We notice several mood swings in this chapter. The tone of the author changes from that of an indignation or destroyer of enemies to that of a prayer, followed by a hymn. Next we read about a lament that could stretch several years beyond Isaiah's times.

The destroyer:
Isaiah 34:2 The LORD is angry with all nations;
    His wrath is on all their armies.
He will totally destroy them,
    He will give them over to slaughter.
The sword of the LORD will make a great slaughter in Edom.
Isaiah 34:4 All the stars in the sky will be dissolved
    and the heavens rolled up like a scroll;
all the starry host will fall
    like withered leaves from the vine,
    like shriveled figs from the fig tree.
Isaiah 34:5 My sword has drunk its fill in the heavens;
    see, it descends in judgment on Edom,
    the people I have totally destroyed.
Isaiah 34:8 For the LORD has a day of vengeance,
    a year of retribution, to uphold Zion’s cause.
9 Edom’s streams will be turned into pitch,
    her dust into burning sulfur;
    her land will become blazing pitch!

My Thoughts
One thing is for certain - LORD never deserts His people. Those who live by His commandments and have faith in Him will remain unshaken in any circumstance. Any sane person will try and be on LORD's side because in the long run, He has the one and only winning team. 

Isaiah 33

Prophet Isaiah issues a warning for those who steal and deceit others.

He then issues a prophecy for Israel regarding LORD's mercy, protection, and deliverance. Zion will be filled with wisdom and righteousness.
Isaiah 33:6 He will be the sure foundation for your times,
    a rich store of salvation and wisdom and knowledge;
    the fear of the LORD is the key to this treasure.
True wisdom and knowledge leads to strength of salvation, which renders us steadfast in the ways of LORD. Isaiah talks about a key which unlocks this treasure.

We are then revealed about the kind of people who will live a normal and safe life. Sinners shall be afraid, but the righteous will see the king in his beauty.
Isaiah 33:15 Those who walk righteously
    and speak what is right,
who reject gain from extortion
    and keep their hands from accepting bribes,
who stop their ears against plots of murder
    and shut their eyes against contemplating evil—
16 they are the ones who will dwell on the heights,
    whose refuge will be the mountain fortress.
Their bread will be supplied,
    and water will not fail them.

Isaiah 32

This prophecy talks about the coming of the 'Righteous King'. For a change, princes will rule with justice. Isaiah then echos the thoughts of wisdom writers that fools will be exposed of their folly. Further,
Isaiah 32:7 Scoundrels use wicked methods,
    they make up evil schemes
to destroy the poor with lies,
    even when the plea of the needy is just.
8 But the noble make noble plans,
    and by noble deeds they stand.
He then issues a warning prophecy for those careless women of Jerusalem. Currently, they live an easy carefree life. He warns them of their days which are numbered.
Isaiah 32:9 You women who are so complacent,
    rise up and listen to me;
you daughters who feel secure,
    hear what I have to say!
10 In little more than a year
    you who feel secure will tremble;
the grape harvest will fail,
    and the harvest of fruit will not come.
Finally, the prophet talks about good times that are in store. The Holy Spirit will be poured upon those humble people, who will enjoy peace and security.
Isaiah 32:17 The fruit of that righteousness will be peace;
    its effect will be quietness and confidence forever.
18 My people will live in peaceful dwelling places,
    in secure homes,
    in undisturbed places of rest.
Even nature will feel that comfort.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Isaiah 31

As a continuation from previous chapter, the prophet says woe to those who depend upon Egypt rather than the LORD. Clearly, the LORD is mightier than those Egyptians.
Isaiah 31:3 But the Egyptians are mere mortals and not God;
    their horses are flesh and not spirit.
When the LORD stretches out His hand,
    those who help will stumble,
    those who are helped will fall;
    all will perish together.
The LORD will defend Jerusalem, and the children of Israel are invited to repent. The LORD will be like a lion standing over it's prey, and like a bird protecting it's nest. He will defend His people and show His love and mercy. He is pleading with them to turn against Him.
Isaiah 31:6 Return, you Israelites, to the One you have so greatly revolted against. 
Next, LORD speaks about the Assyrian destruction, which is not going to fall at the hands of swords, but by His terror. 

Isaiah 30

This chapter is continued till the next one, which covers the prophecy towards those rebels who rely upon Egypt. Judah, despite Isaiah's warnings, was in league with Egypt and considered themselves to be safe against Assyria. They did not trust in the LORD. On the day of invasion from Assyria, Egypt will sit tight.
Isaiah 30:3 "But Pharaoh’s protection will be to your shame,
    Egypt’s shade will bring you disgrace.
4 Though they have officials in Zoan
    and their envoys have arrived in Hanes,
5 everyone will be put to shame
    because of a people useless to them,
who bring neither help nor advantage,
    but only shame and disgrace.”
The same LORD in whom they did not trust will be the One to show mercy upon Israel. Blessed are those who wait for the LORD. He will respond to His people, who cry to Him from Jerusalem.

He will lead them and they will be able to hear His voice. They will throw away those idols made of gold and silver.
Isaiah 30:21 Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.” 22 Then you will desecrate your idols overlaid with silver and your images covered with gold; you will throw them away like a menstrual cloth and say to them, “Away with you!”
Rain will be in plentiful and nature will bring forth abundance. Tophet, the rubbish dump outside Jerusalem will be made ready for the Assyrian king. The breath of the LORD shall kindle it.

Isaiah 29

Here, we listen to the prophecy against Ariel. The word Ariel means 'altar of God' and refers to Mount Zion/Jerusalem. The city will be besieged and it's pride will be humbled.

The biggest issue with Israel’s behavior and lifestyle is that they are spiritually blind. Their pride has made them blind and drunk. They lack self awareness and do not realize their own situation.

We then read the prophecy regarding redemption or restoration of Israel’s behavior and lifestyle. Eventually, the pride of Jerusalem shall be humbled, and that humbled Jerusalem will be protected from its enemies. Jerusalem currently suffers from spiritual blindness due to pride, drunkenness, sleep, illiteracy and hypocrisy.
Isaiah 29:13 The LORD says:
“These people come near to Me with their mouth
    and honor Me with their lips,
    but their hearts are far from Me.
Their worship of Me
    is based on merely human rules they have been taught."
Those who are spiritually blind think and believe LORD cannot know what they think. They think LORD does not see what they do. They essentially deny LORD as creator.

However, in due course, at the right time, the spiritually blind will see, and justice for the wicked be administered. The spiritual blindness shall be cured through humility. It can only be healed with LORD’s restoration.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Isaiah 28

This chapter begins with a prophecy against Ephraim and their drunkenness. Isaiah says those drunkards will be trampled underfoot. The beauty of the LORD will be replaced by faded beauty. Those intoxicated with power and wine will find LORD sending them reeling towards defeat and dishonor.
Isaiah 28:7 And these also stagger from wine
    and reel from beer:
Priests and prophets stagger from beer
    and are befuddled with wine;
they reel from beer,
    they stagger when seeing visions,
    they stumble when rendering decisions.
8 All the tables are covered with vomit
    and there is not a spot without filth. 
The priests and prophets cannot even form an intelligible sentence. LORD cannot use them as ministers anymore .

Apparently, Judah also suffers from the corruption of drunkenness. The reply of those drunkards is not surprising. This message is fit only for those babies who just weaned from milk. Scornful men have made a covenant with death.

A warning is issues for those people in Jerusalem and some prophecies about Jesus Christ.
Isaiah 28:16 So this is what the Sovereign LORD says:
“See, I lay a stone in Zion, a tested stone,
    a precious cornerstone for a sure foundation;
the one who relies on it
    will never be stricken with panic.
LORD's ways are beyond understanding. He is ever wise and constantly at work, doing exactly what is required for His people. Here we listen to those examples of LORD's wonderful works in teaching a farmer to do his job right. The timing of a farmer is compared to the timing of the LORD.
Isaiah 28:29 All this also comes from the LORD Almighty,
    whose plan is wonderful,
    whose wisdom is magnificent.

Isaiah 27

This prophecy is concerning Israel's future deliverance and redemption. It is due to LORD’s love, mercy and care.

On the day of deliverance, LORD will slay Levithan, the sea monster.

He will watch over the fruitful vineyard, and the strength of the city will be celebrated. LORD being the source of the city’s strength will bring down those who dwell on high.

Those who are upright will desire the LORD. The wicked will remain unaware while the fires of enemy devours them. The dead shall rise and the day of the LORD’s judgment will come. People will gather in Jerusalem to worship LORD.
Isaiah 27:13 And in that day a great trumpet will sound. Those who were perishing in Assyria and those who were exiled in Egypt will come and worship the LORD on the holy mountain in Jerusalem.

Isaiah 26

We now hear that song which Isaiah prophesied to be a praising song for the LORD, which will be sung in the land of Judah. This is an encouraging song for those who find safety near LORD.

Verses 3 and 4 are extremely encouraging and powerful. Verse 3 essentially translates as: LORD, You give True Peace to those who depend upon You, to those who trust in You.

Next is a soothing verse for those who are willing to give control to the LORD.

Isaiah 26:4 Trust in the LORD forever, for the LORD, the LORD Himself, is the Rock eternal.

Those who await to be in His presence, the following verse is so true:
Isaiah 26:9 My soul yearns for you in the night;
    in the morning my spirit longs for you.
When your judgments come upon the earth,
    the people of the world learn righteousness.
There is great hope for those who ultimately belong to the LORD. They will not remain dead forever. There is promise of victory over death. 
19 But your dead will live, LORD;
    their bodies will rise—
let those who dwell in the dust
    wake up and shout for joy—
Your dew is like the dew of the morning;
    the earth will give birth to her dead.