Monday, August 1, 2016

"This is OUR God!"

Day #215

Scripture Reading:  Isaiah 34 - 39 ...

What do you see as you look at the world around you?  I’m not just talking about what you see with your eyes, but what you “see” with your mind and your heart.  If you were to describe in one paragraph what is really going on in the world, where would you begin?  For those who know the one true God the answer is found in God’s plan to destroy evil, including Satan and the angels who followed his rebellion in the spiritual realm, as well as the nations and all who rebel against God in the physical realm in which we live … and God’s plan to establish His kingdom on the earth through the promised Messiah, the Savior, Jesus Christ, the “Seed” of Abraham, the “Lion” of the tribe of Judah, the Son of David, the King of kings and Lord of lords.  That IS what is going on in the world today … and YOU are on one side or the other!!

People who are living in this world today without the knowledge of the one true God have no idea what happened in the past - and why ... no understanding of what is happening in the world today - or why ... and no understanding of what is about to happen in the world - and why!  As it was in the days of Isaiah, so it will be at the return of Jesus.  Judgment will come suddenly on the enemies of the LORD, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, and of His people, Israel.  Those who believe that the God of the Old Testament is somehow different than the God of the New Testament do not understand His just wrath against sin.  These foolishly suppose that there is no such God who takes our rebellion against Him seriously.  They deny that there will be a judgment in the future such as Isaiah describes and they continue in their sin, leading others to follow without any thought of the eternal consequences of their choices and actions.  And YOU are on one side or the other!

Chapter 34 declares that "the LORD is angry with all nations; His wrath is upon all their armies" (34:2).  Isaiah describes in 34:4 the same scene described in Revelation 6, the opening of the sixth seal, and in other places in the prophets.  The stars of the heavens will be dissolved and the sky rolled up like a scroll.  This points ahead to the end of this planet before the creation of the new heavens and the new earth.  Then Chapter 35 describes God's salvation for the redeemed; the narrow "Way," where only the redeemed may walk.  “And a highway will be there; it will be called the Way of Holiness.  The unclean will not journey on it; it will be for those who walk in that Way; wicked fools will not go about on it … But only the redeemed will walk there, and the ransomed of the LORD will return.  They will enter Zion with singing!”  (35:8-10).

Because the Bible is God’s Word from beginning to end the message is the same throughout the centuries as God unfolds His plan.  The “Way” Isaiah spoke of is the “narrow road” Jesus spoke of in Matthew 7:13-14.  Ultimately, Jesus declares that HE is “the Way and the Truth and the Life” and that no one comes to the Father except through Him (John 14:6).  Redemption is the theme that runs through the entire Bible, from Genesis 3:15 to the end of Revelation.  God will redeem His people.  Jesus said that He came “not to be served, but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many” (Matthew 20:28).  This is precisely what Isaiah is speaking about!

Isaiah's prophecies turn to his present in Chapters 36-39, revealing as clearly as anywhere in history the wisdom and power of God.  Assyria had already defeated the northern kingdom of Israel, as well as many other nations around them.  Judah was next ... this small, almost insignificant people in the midst of the nations of the world ... except to God.  From Judah the Anointed One, the Messiah, the Ruler appointed by God would come.  Nothing would or will stop God from fulfilling His promises and bringing His plan to gather His redeemed to pass, just as He said.  “Once more a remnant of the house of Judah will take root below (on the earth) and bear fruit above (in the spiritual realm).  For out of Jerusalem will come a remnant, and out of Mount Zion a band of survivors.  The zeal of the LORD Almighty will accomplish this” (37:31-32).

And so it happened.  Sennacherib, the king of Assyria, came against Hezekiah, king of Judah, and announced that the LORD, the God of Judah, would not, could not deliver them from his hand.  "How then can the LORD deliver Jerusalem from my hand?" he asked (36:20).  But God told Hezekiah's officials not to be afraid or listen to the king of Assyria because God would deal with him (37:5-7).  Hezekiah came to the temple and prayed to God, declaring, "You alone are God over all the kingdoms of the earth.  You have made heaven and earth!" (37:16).  "Now, O LORD, our God, deliver us from his hand, so that all kingdoms on earth may know that YOU alone, O LORD, are God" (37:20).

God answered Hezekiah by telling him that He would save a remnant and that Sennacherib would not enter Jerusalem for the sake of David, God's servant (37:31-35).  How would God do it?  How would He stop this powerful army that had virtually conquered the whole world?  "Then the angel of the LORD went out and put to death 185,000 men in the Assyrian camp" (37:36), and upon his return to Nineveh, Sennacherib was worshiping in the temple of HIS god when his own sons came in and killed him!  Such is the fate of all who scorn the living God, the only true God, the God of redemption!  YOU are on one side or the other!

Jumping ahead to Isaiah 52:7:  "How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news, who proclaim peace, who bring good tidings, who proclaim salvation, who say to Zion, "YOUR GOD REIGNS!!"  This is OUR God!!  Do you know Him?  He alone is God, and through faith in His Son Jesus Christ you can KNOW that He will deliver YOU and you will be part of the remnant that marches to Jerusalem, singing His praises FOREVER!!  These things will all be fulfilled in the near future, perhaps even in your lifetime and mine.  This was not only Isaiah’s God or Israel’s God; this is OUR God!!

"Oh LORD our God, how can we give You the thanks and praise that You deserve?!  As we await Your coming judgment on those who do not know You, we give You thanks for Your gift of salvation to us, who by Your grace, are Your people today.  Our hearts, our lives are Yours, O LORD, in Jesus' name, Amen"

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