Wednesday, August 3, 2016

"I am God and there is no other!"

Day #217

Scripture Reading:  Isaiah 45 - 50 …

Reading these chapters was like sitting down in front of God and listening to Him speak to a gathering of those who know Him for who He IS!  It is a powerful message, a personal message and a hope-filled message, based on the promises of the One who has the wisdom and the power to carry out His plans.  In a world where leaders and rulers of nations act as though they have the power to perform all they intend to do, while not even keeping their word to do what they said they would do, God says, "My purpose will stand, and I will do all that I please" (46:10).

Over and over again God says, "I am the Lord, and there is no other; apart from me there is no God" (45:5).  "I am the LORD, and there is no other" (45:6).  "I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me" (46:9).  "I will not yield my glory to another" (48:11).  When God made His promises to Abraham, and passed them on to Isaac and then to Jacob (whose name God changed to "Israel" and from whom the nation of Israel came), He joined His purpose with these people.  I sincerely grieve for those in our day who claim to believe in the God who reveals Himself in His Word, but who miss the very truth that He is the God of Israel … meaning, the physical descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, who this very day live in the land God promised to them!

We live 2600-2700 years after Isaiah, yet we are seeing the fulfillment of God's promises in our day!!!  To Israel God says, "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!" (49:15).  Then He says, "Though you were ruined and made desolate and your land laid waste, now you will be too small for your people … The children born during your bereavement (during the time they were scattered among the nations) will yet say in your hearing, 'This place is too small for us; give us more space to live in'" (49:19-20).  So today, one of the major issues in Israel is the building of more settlements for housing for all those who are returning to Israel for the first time.  God is calling them back, as He said He would, and hundreds of thousands are “returning” to the land God promised to Abraham and his descendants.

And why are they returning?  Because God is calling them back in preparation for the unfolding of His final plan before Jesus returns!  God says, "Then all mankind will know that I, the LORD, am your Savior, your Redeemer, the Mighty One of Jacob" (49:26).  This is God's purpose, as it has been since the beginning.  The “salvation” God offers to those who know the Savior, the Jewish Messiah, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, is not an eternal home in heaven as most suppose, but rather, an eternal existence in a new heaven and a new earth where God Himself lives with His people! 

In Chapter 45, Isaiah speaks again of Cyrus (45:1 … see 44:28).  More than 150 years before Cyrus was born, God predicted that he would be God's instrument to bring His people back to their land.  Babylon would defeat Judah and take the people captive, then Cyrus, king of Persia, would defeat Babylon and read the prophecy of Isaiah and be moved to do exactly what God had said he would do, to the smallest detail.  His actions are recorded in Ezra 1:7-11 and 6:3-5.  "I will raise up Cyrus … He will rebuild my city and set my exiles free, but not for a price or reward, says the LORD Almighty" (45:13).  What would move a heathen king to do such a thing without receiving something in return??  Twice (45:4 -5) God says that He will use Cyrus to do this, "though you do not (have not) acknowledged me."

And so it happened!  “This is what Cyrus king of Persia says, ‘The LORD, the God of heaven, has given me all the kingdoms of the earth and He has appointed me to build a temple for Him at Jerusalem in Judah’” (Ezra 1:2).  And later, when the enemies of the Jews tried to stop them from finishing the temple, during the time of Daniel, another king, Darius, read the decree of Cyrus and enforced it, allowing them to complete its building (Ezra 6:12).

How encouraging is it to know that our God uses even those who do not know Him to accomplish His purposes?!  When things seem so out-of-control in our world and among the nations of the world, our God is at work.  And He promises that "Before me every knee will bow; by me every tongue will swear" (45:23).  This points to the "Servant of the LORD" in Chapters 49-50, who will not only "restore the tribes of Jacob," but will also be "a light for the Gentiles" (49:6), to "bring my salvation to the ends of the earth."  So Paul speaks of Jesus in Philippians 2:9-10:  "Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father."
Can there be any doubt that the Bible is one book with one message:  The God of Israel is God and there is no other!  He has made His salvation known to the ends of the earth, and in our day He is restoring the descendants of Jacob to their land in preparation for the return of the Messiah, the King, who will rule over the nations (Isaiah 2:1-5, 4:1-5 - read these again!!).  Do you know Him? Rejoice and give thanks to Him for His mercy and grace, and for the Savior He has given ... His Son, our Redeemer, Jesus Christ.

And if you do not know Him, may the words of the prophet Isaiah convict your heart that He IS God and there is no other.  May His Spirit move you to bow the knee before Him and through faith in Jesus, confessing your sin and receiving His sacrifice on the cross as your only hope, become His child today.  As He has been and is faithful to His promises to Israel, so He will be faithful to His promises to you.  He cannot do otherwise, for He alone IS GOD!!

"Oh LORD, our God, how amazing is Your plan to draw to Yourself those whom You have chosen from every people, tribe, nation and tongue.  Open our eyes to see all that You are doing in our world today, that we may worship You alone, and live to glorify Your great name, through Jesus Christ our Lord!  In Jesus' name we pray, Amen"

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