Israel 2016

Israel 2016
Roman architectural influence in Bet Sean, Israel

Friday, July 28, 2017

Canonical Reading Plan for Jul 29, Isa 5-8

Today’s readings are Isa 5-8.

Isa 5 begins as a lilting love song but soon becomes dark. A vine dresser (the Lord) clears his land and plants grape vines that are designed to bear good fruit. Instead, they yield bad grapes. Likewise, God formed Israel to reflect Him and His glory. Instead, they produced evil works and injustice, focusing on their own welfare and self-interests rather than God's. The vine dresser has to tear down the vines and start over again. This is a prophecy that God's judgment will fall on His people, Judah, but they will be raised up again to produce the fruit He designed them to produce. 

We see a series of "woes." They are dire and harsh. They reflect the nature of the sins of God's people and are meant to emphasize how serious God is about sin.

Each of the sins reaches deep into the society. The punishment for all of them is for those who committed them to suffer the consequences for their sins which is typically the exact opposite of what they had hoped to achieve in committing them. 

This is a powerful lesson for all of us. The harder we try to satisfy ourselves apart from God and His word, the more miserable we become. The more we turn away from God and toward worldly things, the farther we get from the things we actually crave, peace and joy. 

Isa 6 depicts Isaiah's calling in which we see the King, seated on His heavenly throne. Angels fly around Him, singing "Holy, Holy, Holy." In seeing God in heaven, Isaiah becomes acutely aware of his own sinfulness and that of his people. As with any similar encounter with God we see in Scripture, those who encounter Him become almost painfully aware of their own lack of holiness and are led to fall on their faces in repentance. Isaiah does exactly that. As a result, he is cleansed and commissioned to go to a spiritually numb people, preaching a message they will not heed until they are taken captive by another nation and carried away. However, God will preserve a remnant to continue His work and achieve His purpose. 

Isaiah shows us at this early stage in his story that God does not always call us to worldly success. But, He does always call us to godly obedience. 

 Aram (Syria) and the Northern Kingdom invade Judah in Isa 7.  

Judah's King Ahaz is concerned. God sends Isaiah, whose name means "the Lord saves" and Shear-jashub, whose name means "a remnant will return" to encourage Ahaz that God has a plan and is in control of the situation. All Ahaz has to do is listen and obey. 

Yet, Ahaz has decided to trust the King of Assyria, paying him to attack Syria (2 Kings 16:1-9). Isaiah urges Ahaz to trust the Lord who will give him a sign as evidence of His protection and blessing. Tragically, Ahaz refuses the sign and turns to the king of Assyria who conquers Syria and invades Israel.  The unforeseen consequence of all this is that the King of Assyria now dominates Judah - not as an ally but as a powerful overseer, one who is a constant threat and intimidation. 

Isaiah prophesies devastation. God sends foreign invaders to occupy the land (Isaiah 7:18-19). Read this one carefully. The foreign infestation occurs at God's command. 

These events are recounted in detail in Isaiah 8. Even though God’s people are under attack, God promises to preserve and deliver them. Isaiah is urged, by God, to trust in Him, not popular opinion. God will be a sanctuary to the faithful but a stumbling block to the unfaithful.

This is another thread that runs throughout Scripture. God is peace and preservation for those that are His. Those that do not belong to Him are incessantly wrangling with their unbelief and their resentment toward those who believe. This should be a word of caution to those who want to conform to the world or, worse yet, want the church to conform to the world by becoming more appealing to believers.

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