Thursday, March 6, 2014

"All the world will see the salvation of our God!"

Day #69:  Daily Bible Reading Plan - March 7th

Scripture Reading:  Isaiah 51 - 55 …

As you look at the circumstances of your life and at the turmoil in the world around us you might be moved to ask, "God, what are You doing??!"  Why is it that even those who don't believe in God or know what God has revealed in the Bible want to blame God for all the "bad" stuff going on in the world, yet at the same time want to take credit for all the good stuff?  The truth is, of course, the other way around.  All the good things you see are God's doing, even through those who don't know or believe in Him; while all the evil in the world is the fruit of mankind's sin and rebellion against their Creator.  It is easy to become disillusioned and to ask why God doesn't do something to correct things.  Even those who claim to know God sometimes doubt and question God … as if He has to answer to us!  So it is important to know that God IS doing something and that He WILL do all He has promised.

Reading God's Word reveals more than enough about what God HAS done, IS doing and WILL do to give hope and peace to those who believe in Him and who receive the Bible as His revelation of Himself and of His plan for all mankind, indeed, for the entire universe, which He created by the power of His Word.  The one true God is totally and completely in control of even the evil deeds of those who live in rebellion against Him.  Satan and his demons rebelled against God and were cast out of His presence, and they can do only what God allows them to do.  In one way or another virtually every question people ask can be answered by studying God's Word.

Here in Isaiah, chapter 51 reminds us that God created the world and that this world, as we know it, is only here temporarily, for God's purposes.  That knowledge alone should cause each of us to examine our lives and to seek to understand God's purposes, rather than living every day focused on the minute and seemingly insignificant details of our own lives.  The amazing thing, when you come to know God, is that even though He holds all things in His hands, He knows your name and knows the number of the hairs on your head.  Your life is important only in the context of His plan.

Through Isaiah, God makes it clear that His purpose is tied to Zion, Jerusalem, and the descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.  God will destroy those who attack Jerusalem.  "The LORD will lay bare His holy arm in the sight of all the nations, and all the ends of the earth will see the salvation of our God" (52:10).  It is our privilege as believers today to declare this good news! (52:7).  Good news to some … bad news to others!

How will God accomplish His purpose to "redeem" His people?  Through His "suffering servant" (Isaiah 53).  A clearer description of the sacrifice of Jesus and what He accomplished through His suffering on the cross can only be found in the letters of the Apostle Paul to believers following the death, resurrection and ascension of Jesus.  Our sins were laid on Jesus and "by His wounds we are healed" (53:5).  This was God's plan before the world began, for we were chosen in Christ "before the creation of the world" (Ephesians 1:4).  This world exists today, at this moment, only because God's plan to save His people has not yet reached its completion.  What you see and hear on the news is almost entirely the death throes of a world in rebellion against its Creator … a world awaiting His judgment when Jesus returns.

God promises that He will establish Jerusalem above all the nations and the world will know that the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob is the only true God, and that Jesus Christ is Lord!  So God sends out His invitation to come to Him:  "Seek the LORD while He may be found; call on Him while He is near.  Let the wicked forsake his way and the evil man his thoughts.  Let him turn to the LORD, and He will have mercy on him, and to our God, for He will freely pardon" (55:6-7).  God's Word will not return without accomplishing the purpose for which He sent it.  Contrary to what some believe, His Word accomplishes His purpose simply by being proclaimed, whether people believe or not!  Paul says in II Corinthians 2:15-16 that God's Word brings salvation and pronounces judgment at the same time.  To those who receive it as truth and believe in the Savior, Jesus Christ, He gives salvation.  To those who reject His Word and His Savior, the Word pronounces judgment and eternal death.

Which group are YOU in?  Are these words good news to you in the midst of life in this world?  Have you placed your hope in the One who gave His life, who suffered in your place?  God will do what He says He will do and all the world will see the salvation of our God!

"O LORD, our God, to You I come with the joy of salvation, believing Your Word and trusting Your promises.  You have declared Your purposes throughout the ages, that we might know Your plan and have hope as we live in this world today.  Help me to seek You always and to serve You without fear as I wait for that day when I will see You face-to-face and not be afraid!  In Jesus' name, Amen"

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