Wednesday, July 27, 2016

"If you do not stand firm in your faith, you will not stand at all!"

Day #210

Scripture Reading:  Isaiah 7 - 11 …

“If you do not stand firm in your faith, you will not stand at all!” (7:9).  Israel and Judah were in trouble.  The harsh and relentless army of Assyria was marching against them and it appeared that nothing could stop them.  If you had been living at that time you would have hoped that this prophet of God would bring good news ... and he did ... but it was not the kind of good news the people wanted to hear.  God was going to use the Assyrian army to bring judgment on His own people.  While He would spare Judah for a time, yet their judgment would eventually come as well.  God cannot and does not overlook sin.  He deals with individuals and with nations, and He knows those who are truly His, the “remnant.”  It is these and only these who receive His Word, believe His promises and are saved from His judgment, then and now!

Are you part of the "remnant" … those chosen by God to be HIS people? What was true in the days of Isaiah is true today:  not all those who claim to be God's people ARE His people.  God's Word is filled with promises of hope and deliverance, but only those who know Him, who trust Him and who stand firm in their faith will escape His judgment and experience His deliverance.  Sometimes that deliverance comes in this life, and at other times that deliverance comes only after this life.  Ultimately, it will come for all believers when Christ returns to reign.  Until then the words of Isaiah were written for believers of all times, “If you do not stand firm in your faith, you will not stand at all!”

In these chapters Isaiah is speaking about two kinds of deliverance:  physical deliverance and spiritual deliverance.  Both come from the Lord, the one and only true God, the God of Israel, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.  Jerusalem and Judah were facing what appeared to be imminent destruction, but God said, "This is what the Sovereign LORD says, 'It will not take place, it will not happen!'" (7:7).  God said to King Ahaz, “Be careful, keep calm and don’t be afraid.  Do not lose heart” (7:4).  This is GOD speaking!  Then God promised a sign:  "The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel" (7:14).

Throughout the prophets God often spoke of an immediate deliverance and of a future deliverance.  He is doing so here.  Even though God was sending Assyria against Israel and against Judah and the descendants of David, He promised to destroy Assyria and its king because of his pride and arrogance:  “When the Lord has finished all His work against Mount Zion and Jerusalem, He will say, ‘I will punish the king of Assyria for the willful pride of his heart and the haughty look in his eyes” (10:12).  As God brings judgment, He is always at work to bring deliverance and salvation to the "remnant."  In the first seven verses of Chapter 9, God points to the One who would be born as a child, but who would reign on David's throne forever, the One who would be born of a virgin and who would be called, “Immanuel.”  And He says, "The zeal of the LORD Almighty will accomplish this" (9:7).

This coming Savior would establish the reign of God’s kingdom and would be called “Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace” (9:6).  More than 700 years before Jesus was born God spoke through the prophet Isaiah to reveal His plan to establish His kingdom on the earth, to bring salvation through His covenant with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and their descendants, through the Son of David.  No wonder that Matthew and Luke point out this connection in their Gospels.  JESUS is the fulfillment of these promises!  He is the Messiah, the Christ, the Anointed One, the KING!!  What sure and certain hope is ours as those who believe in Jesus Christ today because God has revealed the truth to us!  The New Testament is the fulfillment of all that God promised and through faith in Jesus Christ we who believe are part of the “remnant” whom God has called to be His people!!

God's anger and judgment is right.  After this glorious promise God speaks of His anger and four times, from Chapter 9, verse 8 through Chapter 10, verse 4, Isaiah writes, "Yet for all this, His anger is not turned away, His hand is still upraised."  How horrible is the wrath and judgment of God, and there is only one thing that can turn it away:  the suffering and death of God's own Son, Jesus Christ.

Isaiah speaks of a remnant of Israel that will be saved (10:20-22), and he points to the "stump of Jesse" (11:1) upon whom the Spirit of the LORD will rest.  By God's set plan and purpose there will come a time when He stands on the earth to judge with righteousness.  "They will neither harm nor destroy on all my holy mountain, for the earth will be full of the knowledge of the LORD as the waters cover the sea.  In that day the Root of Jesse will stand as a banner for the peoples; the nations will rally to Him, and His place of rest will be glorious!" (11:9-11).  Then God will gather a remnant from Israel a second time (11:11) and make a highway for them to return to Jerusalem (11:16), where Jesus will reign over the whole earth for a thousand years.

Such a clear picture of God's deliverance for those who are taught by the Spirit of the One who came to be our Savior and Lord!  As you face the physical and spiritual battles of life in this world, do you have One who is fighting for you, who is able to destroy the plans of the wicked and to uphold those who put their trust in Him?  He is the same LORD in whom Isaiah and the remnant trusted long ago and in whom the remnant will trust in the future.

"If you do not stand firm in your faith, you will not stand at all" (7:9).  I pray that your faith is in the Sovereign LORD who rules over the nations and who delivers those who trust in Him today, just as He did in the days of Isaiah.  If He is with YOU, then the words He commanded Isaiah to speak to Ahaz, the king of Judah, are directed to you today:  "Be careful, keep calm and don't be afraid.  Do not lose heart …"  (7:4).  The great "I AM" is with you!  He WILL deliver you!!

"O Sovereign LORD, the Creator and Sustainer of the earth and everything in it.  No enemy that rises against Your people is more powerful than You!  May those who are part of your "remnant" today by grace through faith rest assured of your deliverance and stand firm in our faith, through Your Son, our Savior and Lord, Jesus Christ.  Amen"


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