Today’s Bible Reading: Isaiah 8-9:21; 2 Corinthians 12:1-10; Psalm 55:1-23; Proverbs 23:4-5
Today God expands on his prophecy that Judah would be overwhelmed by Assyria. God told Judah that they would suffer much, but would survive (Isaiah 7:8). Just a few decades after this prophecy Assyria invaded and completely conquered Israel and also invaded Judah but did not quite destroy them, fulfilling this prophecy just as Isaiah had recorded.
Fulfilled prophecy a major factor that lead me to believe the Bible is true. When I was an atheist I had no idea that such predictions were in the BIble (actually, I had no idea what was in the Bible at all – I had never read it). But when I discovered the hundreds of very specific, and therefore easily measured and verified, prophecies I had to admit the Bible had to be from God. Who else could predict the future with 100% accuracy?
God’s method of operation is always the same. He tells people what is going to happen and also tells them how to avoid it. Such is the case here. Even though Assyria was going to invade Judah the people could escape by fearing God instead of men and trusting in Him (Isaiah 8:12-18).
God also warns the people against turning to the occult. Rather they should get their instructions from Him (Isaiah 8:19-20). There is only one dead person who is actually alive and that is Jesus. He, being God, is the only one who can guide us. All other dead people are of no use.
Sadly the Catholic church is heavily entrenched in the occult, with all their saints of this and saints of that. Praying to “Saint Christopher” won’t help you when you are lost. Polycarp can’t cure your earache (yes, Catholic’s have a patron saint of earaches). Ironically Catholics even have a patron saint of the occult (Cyprian of Antioch). This is all nonsense. As God says in Isaiah 8:20 anything but God’s teachings (the Bible) is darkness.
There is more great prophecy in Isaiah 9:1-7 about the future Messiah (who turned out to be Jesus). Notice that the Messiah was going to be born (verse 6). When God created Adam He created a fully-grown man. God could have done something similar with Jesus. But instead Jesus, who already existed as the second member of the Trinity, started off His human existence as we all did – as a zygote. Jesus was fully able to identify with humankind because He went through all the very same things we went through – starting in the womb.
Notice too that the son was given (Isaiah 9:6). Jesus wasn’t just some random kid born in ancient Israel. He was intentionally given to us because we needed someone to pay the penalty for our sins. And that could only be God Himself. Jesus was conceived and born with a purpose.
Chris Tomlin took the words of Isaiah 9:6 and put them into an incredible song.
Someday Jesus will reign on this earth (Isaiah 9:7). This prophecy has not yet been fulfilled. When Jesus came to earth the first time He did not come to rule, but to die. When He returns the second time He will govern the planet for 1,000 years with perfect justice. We’ll read more about this very specific future prophecy later this year.
Its sad but not surprising that even after God brought judgement upon Israel they still did not repent (Isaiah 9:13). Yesterday we read about some judgements that God has brought against the United States. Yet people are not repenting.
Paul had received very special treatment from God 14 years before writing 2 Corinthians – he had been taken up to heaven (2 Corinthians 12:1-4). Such an experience could have made someone very proud. So to prevent that God gave Paul a “thorn” in his flesh (2 Corinthians 12:7). We don’t know exactly what this was but God’s intention was not to harm Paul but to help him.
God knows what we are. He made us, after all. He knows our weaknesses. Anyone can become proud, even Paul. But pride keeps people from knowing God. So God would rather give us a “thorn” than see us become proud. Thorns like this – be they physical or mental impairments – are a sign of God’s love.
Notice that this thorn was from Satan (Isaiah 12:7), who used it with permission from God. Satan is a created being and can do nothing without God okaying it. God uses Satan’s evil to bring out of good (Romans 8:28).
What ever the issue was God did not remove it despite Paul repeatedly asking God to do so. God did not remove it because He wanted Paul to rest in His power, not his own power (2 Corinthians 12:8). Having a “thorn” made Paul weak. It made Him rely on God. Then, and only then, could God provide Paul with the strength he needed. By being made weak, Paul was made strong (2 Corinthians 12:9-10).
Sometimes life is so overwhelming that we just want to fly away to escape it all. God understands. That is why Psalm 53 is in the Bible. But we can’t just run away. The solution is to give our problems to God (Psalm 53:22). If you are believer, God is willing to take your burdens from you. He is bigger. He is stronger. He wants to take care of us.
It takes a lot of work to get rich. But it is really a pointless pursuit. I used to trade stocks hoping to “hit” the right one so I could be financially secure. But in the process I lost money and lost track of God. Last June God told me to “stop”. I sold all my investments and haven’t looked at the stock market since. In that time I have been able to spend so much more time with God. This blog has gotten better (IMHO), my prayer life has gotten better, and my relationship with Jesus has gotten better. And that is worth all the money in the world.
Comments? Questions? I’d love to hear from you. Please feel free to contact me about this post