Friday, March 17, 2017

Daily reading assignment: Isaiah 56-61

We noted in our last study of Isaiah 55 the invitation of the LORD to the Gentiles to look to the suffering and death (53:3-10) of the “servant” of God in Isaiah 53 as their sacrifice for sin.  The prophet preached, “Seek the LORD…Let the wicked forsake his way…return unto the LORD” (55:6-7).

Having given an invitation to salvation through the perfect, sinless sacrifice God the Father would provide in His Son (John 1:29; 1 John 4:14), the prophet calls to everyone, both Jew and Gentile, to turn from their sinful ways to the LORD and be sanctified, set apart.  The subject of the Sabbath and its adherence by the “children of Israel” (Exodus 31:12-18) is the sign of sanctification to which the prophet exhorts both Jews and Gentiles (“sons of the stranger” – Isaiah 56:3, 6) to observe.

[Note – It is not my objective to get into a discussion of the observance or mode of observing the Sabbath.  The “children of Israel” are commanded to observe the Sabbath as a sign (Exodus 31:13, 17) of their covenant relationship with the LORD.   At the same time, Christians need to be mindful our observance of Sunday as the Lord’s Day and a day of worship commemorating the resurrection of Christ is not a “Sabbath” observance, as it was for the Jews under the Law.  Sadly, the church has been so infected by a secular culture that many believers never observe a day of rest or worship.  I fear Saturdays and Sundays are just another day for shopping and working and little thought is given to the Lord.]

Remembering Isaiah’s prophecies are the precursor of God’s judgment against Judah that will be marked by the destruction of the Temple and Jerusalem, the prophet reflects that the righteous who die before that dreadful, tragic day will “enter into peace” (57:2), escaping the sorrow of watching the heathen destroy the city and lead away people into captivity. Sadly, as the righteous die, many of them as martyrs, the people pay little notice (57:1).

On a personal note, I have lived long enough to understand a certain foreboding of what the future of the church and our nation will be in a generation.  The World War II generation, described by former NBC news anchor and author Tom Brokaw as “The Greatest Generation”, are rapidly passing from our midst and their grandchildren and great-grandchildren, identified as “Millennials”, evidence little to no appreciation for the character or sacrifices of those who precede them.

God’s warning of judgment and the sins and wickedness of God’s people is the subject of Isaiah 57-59. In spite of the people’s idolatry (57:3-12), the LORD offers forgiveness to those who will turn from their sins and come to Him with a “contrite and humble spirit” (57:15). The hypocrisy of the people is the subject of Isaiah 58. Isaiah 59 is a terrible indictment against the sins of God’s people. Murder, lies, all manner of mischief, and violence had taken hold on the hearts of the people (59:3-15).

In spite of their sins, God promised “the Redeemer shall come to Zion, and unto them that turn from transgression in Jacob” (59:16-20).

Isaiah 60 is a prophetic portrait of the Second Coming of Christ and His Millennial Kingdom upon the earth. In the hour of darkness (60:2a) the LORD will come and all the earth, Jew and Gentile, shall see Him coming in the brightness of His heavenly glory (60:2b-3). The Jews, the sons and daughters of Israel, will return to their land (60:4-5a) and the Gentiles will gather to worship the LORD (60:5b-6). There will reign a season of peace like the world has not known since before the fall. It is during the Millennial Kingdom that we read, “The wolf and the lamb shall feed together, and the lion shall eat straw like the bullock” (65:25).

Today’s devotional commentary ends with Isaiah 61 and a prophecy that includes both the first and second coming of Christ. The first coming of Christ is described in verse 1 where we read, “The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me; because the LORD hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound” (Isaiah 61:1; note – Luke 4:16-21). The second coming of Christ begins with Isaiah 61:3 and its description of rebuilding, prosperity and the righteous reign of the LORD have yet to be fulfilled (61:3-11).

On a personal note: I do not mean to overwhelm my readers with extended commentary; however, I long to help you “make sense” out of extended passages that might prove overwhelming to some who have never read through the Bible. I pray my feeble attempt might be a blessing and not an additional burden.

Copyright 2017 – Travis D. Smith