Today’s Bible Reading: Isaiah 22-24:23; Galatians 2:17-3:9; Psalm 60:1-12; Proverbs 23:15-16
Isaiah records a prophecy about Jerusalem in Isaiah 22. This prophecy came true when Babylon conquered the city and all of Judah. Notice the specific way the people of Jerusalem died – not in battle but by famine and disease (Isaiah 22:2). Babylon conquered Judah by surrounding it and preventing anyone or anything (like food) from entering. This tactic is known as a siege. The people of Judah starved to death. Just another example of the very specific prophecies that are recorded in the Bible – ones that are easily measured and verified.
Judah saw the attack coming and tried to make preparations including storing up water, but this was of no use (Isaiah 22:9, 11). The one thing they should have done they did not do and that was ask for help from God (Isaiah 22:11-12). Instead they were overly confident in their ability to survive (Isaiah 22:13). There is no way to defeat God. If God decides to destroy a nation or discipline a person the only way out is to repent. All our preparations and self-confidence will not help.
God includes an interesting judgement against Shebna in Isaiah 22:15-19). Shebna was an official to King Hezekiah (2 Kings 18) who abused his position by building a fancy tomb for himself (Isaiah 22:16) . Shebna did not believe Isaiah’s prophecy that Jerusalem would be conquered and its people exiled. He build a tomb in Jerusalem in haughty defiance of the prophecy. He failed to recognize that the prophecy came from God so there was 100% chance it would come true.
In this prophecy God indicates that He will replace the unfaithful and corrupt Shebna with a man named Eliakim (Isaiah 22:20). Eliakim was mentioned in just a few verses back in 2 Kings 18. He isn’t the most well-known Bible person but God sure noticed him! God notices everyone. You may not be famous on earth… you may not be noticed in your job… but God knows who you are. And if you are faithful like Eliakim He will reward you.
Isaiah 24 gives an overview of the Great Tribulation period that will take place (very soon, in my opinion) right before Jesus returns to earth. During this time the earth will be subjected to many judgements because of the sins of the people living on it (Isaiah 24:5). Our sin not only affects ourselves and other people, but it also affects the entire earth. Sin is a communicable disease that pollutes everyone and everything around us.
The major sin of humankind has been to violate God’s laws and to twist His instructions – which were for our own good – into something more acceptable to sinful man (Isaiah 24:5). God gave us a great thing – instructions for how to live an abundant life – and we tossed it aside as if God didn’t know what He was talking about. We’ll read more specifics about the Great Tribulation in December when we get to the book of Revelation.
The problem with the false teachers in Galatia was that they added right behavior to Jesus’ atoning death on the cross. But going back to living by the rules is also sin (Galatians 2:18). Sadly, many denominations including Catholicism follow this faulty logic. They admit that Jesus died for their sins, but they also believe that they must now “work” for their salvation by doing more good than bad.
This makes no sense. They are essentially saying that Jesus death was not enough. And that is an insult to all the pain and suffering Jesus (who was God) went through. We are saved by faith in Jesus’ death and nothing else. Anything added to the grace God demonstrated on the cross is meaningless – if we still need to keep the rules then Jesus died for nothing (Galatians 2:21).
Abraham not only believed in God, he believed God – he believed what God said. And because of this God credited righteousness to Abraham (Galatians 3:6). Notice that Abraham was not righteous. But God “credited” Abraham with righteousness.
The Greek word translated “credited” is an accounting term. It means to place into someone’s account. God places righteousness into our spiritual bank account when we believe what He says about our sin and about Jesus’ death on the cross. He clears our account of all past, present, and future sin. At that born-again moment we aren’t perfect, but when we die God will not look at our sins because they have been wiped from the ledger. And because of that we can enter heaven. What a great deal!
Looking for help from other human beings is useless (Psalm 60:11). They are no more able to help us than we are. None of us can solve our own problems, how can we solve anyone else’s? Victory in life can only come from God (Psalm 60:12)
Comments? Questions? I’d love to hear from you. Please feel free to contact me about this post