Today’s Bible Reading: Isaiah 43:14-45:10; Ephesians 3:1-21; Psalm 68:1-18; Proverbs 24:1-2
One way we can trust people to do what they say they will do is to look at how they behaved in the past – we look at their reputation. It is the same with God. God promised to relieve Israel from captivity by sending another nation against Babylon (Isaiah 43:14). God points to His past faithfulness and miracles as proof that He can be trusted to do what He says (Isaiah 43:15-20). If you ever doubt God, just look at all the wonderful things He has done. He will continue to do more.
By the way, this entire prophecy (freeing Israel from Babylonian captivity) was made even before Babylon became a world power and conquered Israel. This is not unusual for God. He lets us know in advance what He is going to do so we can know that these events are from Him. The next big event on God’s timetable is the Rapture when living believers will be taken off the earth in a split second. Those who remain will attribute it to some thing else – a conspiracy by Christians; a previously unknown evolutionary process to maintain world population – because they won’t be familiar with God’s promises.
Despite the many sins of Israel (Isaiah 43:22-24) God promises to forget them all (Isaiah 43:25). This offer still stands for you and me. God doesn’t want to hold our sins against us because that means that we would be separated from Him forever. He wants to forgive us. But that can only be done through Jesus, which is why most people reject Christianity. They want to make their own way to heaven They try to impress upon God that they are worthy. God is fair – He will allow us to present our case if we want (Isaiah 43:26) but it won’t help matters any. Anyone who tries this will be found guilty.
In our culture we don’t make physical idols to worship like people did in the past and some still do (Isaiah 44:9-15). Instead we worship things such as sex, money, and career – things we live for and which motivate our lives. Or we worship false gods like Allah or Brahma. Mostly we make ourselves out to be gods – we think that truth exists in our own minds. These religions and false gods are pointless (Isaiah 44:18-20). They do nothing but lead people away from the one true God.
Isaiah 45 contains one of the most amazing prophecies in all of the Bible. In it God declares that He will raise up a king named Cyrus who will conquer Babylon in order to set Israel free from captivity (Isaiah 45:1-4). This spectacular prophecy was made over 150 years before Cyrus was even born and before Babylon became a world power and conquered Judah. It is prophecies like this – specific and measurable, not to mention fulfilled (we know from history this happened) – that led me to conclude that the Bible is divinely inspired.
There was some disagreement back in Paul’s day about whether Gentiles were part of God’s salvation plan. Some Jews did not think so. Even today, Jews believe that they are the only ones who are part of God’s family and that a person must become Jewish in order to see heaven. Paul debunks this theory in Ephesians 3:3-12. This was not something that God had fully revealed in the Old Testament, hence Paul calls it a mystery. This does not mean that it is something not to be understood, as we know the term “mystery”. It just means that it was not something that God had fully explained before.
Another mystery that God touches on the Bible but doesn’t fully explain is the fact that angels are watching us all the time and are learning from us (Ephesians 3:10). We also saw this in 1 Corinthians 11:10. Exactly what they are learning I don’t know. Somehow they learn about God by watching our lives. Its also interesting to realize that they see the big picture whereas we don’t. They have access to God and probably understand more about us and our situation than we do. I don’t understand it all but its pretty cool to think about.
Ephesians, like all of Paul’s letters, was written to believers so the promises in it are only for those who are born-again children of God. One of the more amazing promises is that we (believers) can come boldly and confidently into God’s presence anytime we want (Ephesians 3:12). We can’t just walk into our boss’s office anytime we want. Nor can we walk into the Oval Office anytime we want. But those of us who are God’s children can be with God 24/7 and we do not have to be shy about it at all. We can talk to Him about anything or ask Him for anything. He can do more than we can even think of (Ephesians 3:20).
Those who are enemies of God don’t have a very good future, to put it mildly. But those who belong to God have every reason to rejoice and be glad (Psalms 68:1-3) including the fact that He leads us out of undesirable circumstances, taking care of us the entire time (Psalm 68:6-14).
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