Thursday, July 28, 2016

"Will you be found praising God when His judgment comes?"

Day #211

Scripture Reading:  Isaiah 12-17 ...

Reading Isaiah, especially Chapters 1-39, can be a little bit like reading a doomsday novel.  God pronounces His judgment on the nations and on Israel and Judah, too.  Like other prophecies, some of the things Isaiah wrote about would happen in the near future, while others still lie ahead of us.  The difference between other scenarios we read in books or see on television or in movies is that this is God's Word and everything that God prophesies for the future WILL happen.  As we have seen, while God announces His coming judgment, He offers hope to those whose eyes and ears are opened by His Spirit and whose hearts are moved to believe in Him by pointing to the One who will come who will someday reign on the earth ... the coming King, the One who will be Savior and Lord!

We saw in Chapter 11 that One would come who would be “a shoot ... from the stump of Jesse” (11:1).  At that time God says, “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 will reach out His hand a second time to reclaim the remnant” (11:9-11).  We who believe in Jesus Christ today are part of God’s chosen people and even now there is a remnant of believers among the Jews, the descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.  God has not forgotten His promises!

Chapter 12 is a bright spot!  "In that day" refers to the deliverance of God's people described in Chapter 11.  Those who experience God's deliverance will praise Him as they "draw water from the wells of salvation" (12:3).  Remember Jesus’ words to the Samaritan woman in John 4:  “Whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst.  Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life” (John 4:13-14).  Isaiah declares that those who are God’s people will give thanks to God and make His name known among the nations.  All of this should be a clear reminder that God's purpose throughout all of history is to make Himself known.  Jesus said, "This is eternal life:  that they know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom You have sent. ... I have revealed You to those whom You have given me" (John 17:3,6).  That task belongs to those who believe in Jesus today!!

Chapters 13 - 17 speak of God's overwhelming judgment on the nations around Israel and Judah.  Notice the absolute control God has over the nations of the earth.  Imagine yourself living in the days of Isaiah.  To say it was chaotic would be an understatement.  It was a violent time, much worse even than today.  You would have been hard-pressed to find peace and tranquility anywhere.  Rulers came and went and struggled for power and wealth, and in the midst of it all were Israel and Judah.  Israel would be defeated by the Assyrians, but God had plans for Judah ... for from them would come the Savior of the world!  Those who opposed God, even those among the people of Israel and Judah, would eventually endure His judgment.  The same is true today.

In the days of Isaiah the nations were being aligned as God intended for the coming of the Savior and the proclamation of the Gospel throughout the world.  Today the nations are being aligned for the rise of the antichrist and then the return of Jesus.  As certainly as the prophecies of the destruction of the nations who came against Israel were God's pronouncements of judgment, their final destruction lies in the near future ... and our own nation is not immune to God's just judgment.  In Chapter 13 Isaiah speaks again of the “day of the LORD” (13:6) and describes the scene in verses 9-10.  When you compare this to Matthew 24:29 and Revelation 6:12-14 you see that God intends to fulfill this and other prophecies exactly as He has said.

Most people today, if they believe anything from the Bible, believe these prophecies are symbolic rather than literal.  Such an interpretation, however, ignores the many Scriptures that speak of these things and that point to the consequences of God’s coming judgment on this planet.  Even Satan's destruction is foretold in Chapter 14, verses 12-17, and along with him the kings of the nations. No power will stand against the wrath of the Almighty.  "This is the plan determined for the whole world; this is the hand stretched out over all nations.  For the LORD Almighty has purposed, and who can thwart Him?  His hand is stretched out, and who can turn it back?" (14:26-27).  

Yet, there is hope:  "In love a throne will be established; in faithfulness a man will sit on it - one from the house of David" (16:5).  As you read through Isaiah do not miss God’s promises to those who know Him, who love Him and who live to serve Him.  God never leaves those who trust in Him without hope - NEVER!  God will not leave Himself without a witness and if that witness is not you it will be someone else.   "In that day men will look to their Maker and turn their eyes to the Holy One of Israel" (Isaiah 17:7).   
You can do that today!  God knows those who are His because “He chose us in Him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in His sight.  In love, He predestined us to be adopted as His sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with His pleasure and will – to the praise of His glorious grace!” (Ephesians 1:4-6).  You can know you are HIS!

The hope of those who believed in Isaiah’s day was the grace and mercy of God and His promise to send a Savior.  Our hope is in the same God, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, and the Savior He sent, His own Son, Jesus Christ!  As you watch the nations of the earth jockey for power and position, as economies hang on the precipice of collapse, as politicians and religious leaders seek to use their own power and wisdom to "save the world," there is ONE Savior, and His name is Jesus!  Place your hope in Him today and do not fear, for there will come a day when every knee will bow and every tongue confess that JESUS CHRIST IS LORD!!

"Father, I thank you for the hope that You give, even in the midst of the pronouncement of Your judgment and wrath.  You alone are God and there is no other.  Your power and wisdom and might are displayed all around us.  I place my hope and my trust in YOU, O God, and live to serve You, now and forever.  I rejoice in You, my God and my Savior.  In the name of Your Son, Jesus, Amen"

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