Israel 2016

Israel 2016
Roman architectural influence in Bet Sean, Israel

Monday, August 7, 2017

Canonical Reading Plan for Aug 9, Isa 54-58

Today's readings are Isa 54-58.

After the dramatic shift from a focus on the nation as the suffering servant to a focus on the person who will become the suffering servant and the Redeemer, Isaiah continues to develop the identity of the suffering servant, the man who would become the Messiah. Isa 54 tells us the Maker is the Husband of His people, and the Holy One of Israel is their redeemer.

His great compassion for His people is detailed in Isa 55. He is gracious and will deliver His people, but they have to do their part in pursuing His righteousness (Isa 55:6-9). 

We find a huge surprise in Is 56:1-8. Foreigners can partake of God's blessings. The Jews will struggle for centuries over what these verses mean, eventually misinterpreting them as deeming it necessary for anyone wanting a relationship with God to become Jewish. This notion is actually the antithesis of grace which comes freely and is unmerited to Jew and Gentile alike. God does not require those who come to Him to change before coming to Him. There are no “hoops” to jump through in order to gain God’s favor. He takes all who come to Him as they are. But God never leaves them there. He transforms them, molds them into His image, sanctifies them and draws them ever nearer to Himself. Their transformation becomes the evidence of His presence in their lives. They become living, breathing testimonies to the power of God. This change is participatory, not under compulsion, but motivated by a growing desire to be closer to God and please Him in all we do.

The blessing to the nations and the redemption of His people will occur regardless of the failing of Israel's leaders (Isa 56:9-12) and their ungodly worship of idols (Isa 57:1-13). It becomes apparent that only those who repent with a contrite heart will be delivered (Is 57:14-16).

Isa 58 carries this idea a step further, indicating those who perform empty religious rituals that are not God-centered. It is not the method of worship, the nationality of birth, the position occupied or the social rank that will save. It is a heart that worships and longs to please God. One that surrenders completely to the suffering Servant, sent by God to redeem His people.

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