Today’s Bible Reading: Isaiah 19-21:17; Galatians 2:1-16; Psalm 59:1-17; Proverbs 23:13-14
God continues to declare judgements against nations in today’s passages in Isaiah, starting with Egypt.
One thing that will happen in Egypt is civil war (Isaiah 19:2). Perhaps this prophecy is happening right now, considering the events in this country over the past year or so. When this does happen Egyptians will turn to people and false gods who cannot help them (Isaiah 19:3). They can’t help because they don’t know God. Sadly, the true God is usually the last resort of sinful man.
As we’ve read before a few times, one thing God does to punish rebellious countries is to give them stupid counsel (Isaiah 19:11). So-called “experts” will really not have any clue what they are talking about yet leaders will believe them. I don’t think there is any doubt that we’ve seen this happen in the United States in recent years. The decision to invade Iraq was based on information that turned out to be wrong, yet our leaders (in both parties) believed it. This is one way God works. Knowing the Bible helps us identify events that are from God.
But notice that one day Egypt will turn to the Lord (Isaiah 19:18-22). History records that there were many Christians living in Egypt as early as the 4th century. Of course, during the Millenium (when Jesus rules the entire planet for 1,000 years) Egypt, like every other country, will almost unanimously follow Jesus.
God repeats His warning to Babylon in Isaiah 21 where He predicts that the Persians (aka Elamites and Medes), which is modern-day Iran, would attack when Babylon least expected it (Isaiah 19:5). This prophecy was fulfilled in 540 BC.
The Gospel that Paul had taught in Galatia had come to him directly from Jesus as he stated yesterday. Today he tells the Galatians that what he taught was also verified by the original apostles and leaders of the church in Jerusalem (Galatians 2:1-3). Paul is telling the Galatians not to simply take his word for what is true but to also consider that very respected Christians – people who had actually spent time with Jesus – understood the same truth.
The exact issue in Galatia was that the churches there had come under the influence of false teachers who were claiming new believing Gentiles had to adopt Jewish customs as part of their conversion. Paul tells them this is not so, and proves this by pointing to Titus who, although he was a believing Gentile, was not forced to become circumcised by the Christian leaders in Jerusalem (Galatians 2:3).
Notice that these false teachers did not come in announce that what they taught was false (Galatians 2:4). Perhaps they were well-meaning but misinformed. Perhaps they had ulterior motives. Whatever the case, false teachers look just like everyone else. Therefore, the only way we can identify them is to compare their message to God’s word – the Bible. That is why it is imperative that we know exactly what the Bible says. Then we can compare what someone tells us to see if it is true or not. It does not matter whether someone is influential or powerful – if what they are saying doesn’t match God’s word then it is false (Galatians 2:6).
The real problem in Galatia was that the message of salvation through Christ’s death on the cross and nothing else was being distorted. Gentiles were being led to believe that they had to become Jewish in the lifestyle in order to truly be saved (Galatians 2:14). This was essentially putting people back under the Old Testament law which is the equivalent of living under slavery as opposed to the freedom that God offered (Galatians 2:4).
No one is saved by following God’s rules and regulations. The only way someone is made right with God is through faith in what Jesus did on the cross – taking on the punishment for our sins (Galatians 2:16). The purpose of the law was to show us that we are terribly flawed (Romans 7:7).
When we are troubled we can run to God for safety (Psalm 59:16). He will not abandon us. He will give us triumph (Psalm 59:10). These are promises. They are ours if we want them. When we find ourselves in trouble that is no doing of our own (Psalm 59:4) we can count on God to give us victory.
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