Thanks for being patient during my little hiatus, taking care of my wife, Linda. She’s recovering nicely. Yesterday I only covered Isaiah 53, and then only barely scratched the surface of what I think can and should be said about it. Today, I’m trying to catch up a bit and covering 5 chapters, all of which have, of course, really great passages that we really should marinate in for a while — yet, that is not the pace of a daily reading schedule. Chapters 54, 55, and most of 56 are part of a lengthy section about the Remnant — double-prophetic sections telling us about both the returning exiles of Israel (a prophecy to be fulfilled in about 200 years) and the church (fulfilled in about 700 years).
“So will My word be which goes forth from My mouth; It will not return to Me empty, Without accomplishing what I desire, And without succeeding in the matter for which I sent it.” Isaiah 55:11 — From the moment of creation, when God said things like, “Let there be light”, there was going to be light. When God determines blessings or curses upon men and so speaks, men are blessed or cursed. When God tells us in prophecy what will happen in the future, it is done. And when the Father “spoke” the Word (“And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth.” John 1:14, NAS95.) to save guilty mankind, guilty mankind was rescued (“But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved),” Ephesians 2:4, 5, NAS95). And this is an important point to acknowledge — when God speaks what the conditions of salvation are, that’s what they are; when God tells us what is sin and what is righteousness, that’s what they are; when God tells us the consequences for sin or righteousness are, that’s what they are. There are no “ifs”, “ands”, or “buts” about it.
“Thus says the LORD, “Preserve justice and do righteousness, For My salvation is about to come And My righteousness to be revealed.” Isaiah 56:1 — This is sort of a John the Baptist appeal to Israel to reform its ways before the coming of the Day of the Lord (both the return from exile and the Messiah’s coming). It’s the part that says, “…for My salvation is about to come and My righteousness to be revealed,” that really caught my attention. Paul spoke about a salvation and righteousness of God to be revealed in Romans 1:16,17: “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, ‘BUT THE RIGHTEOUS man SHALL LIVE BY FAITH.’” Later, in Romans 3:21-25 and Romans 6:1-11, we find that this righteousness of God is a righteousness and new sort of life given us because we have been united with Christ in baptism.
“For thus says the high and exalted One Who lives forever, whose name is Holy, ‘I dwell on a high and holy place, And also with the contrite and lowly of spirit In order to revive the spirit of the lowly And to revive the heart of the contrite.’” Isaiah 57:15 — God is near to the humble and repentant. What a wonderful promise this is. It’s so good to know, when my heart is broken over my sin and I’m feeling like surely God is far, far away — He is near to the heart of the contrite, He bends low like a father to hear the confession of a wayward son and lift him up. No wonder Jesus urges us: “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.” Matthew 5:3, 4, NAS95.
“Is this not the fast which I choose, To loosen the bonds of wickedness, To undo the bands of the yoke, And to let the oppressed go free And break every yoke?” Isaiah 58:6 — Fasting has been known among men for millennia. It is common to demonstrate deep sorrow for sin or to humble oneself in conjunction with prayer for an answer from God. In modern times it is often considered a spiritual discipline for training the will to resist bodily cravings. They may have their place and benefits (although Colossians 2:20-23 may actually be Paul’s warning about fasting disciplines associated with Judaizing teachings), but God’s preferred fast for men is not simply abstaining food and drink, but from sinful practices.
See you tomorrow, Lord willing.