Today’s Bible Reading: Isaiah 51-53:12; Ephesians 5:1-33; Psalm 69:19-36; Proverbs 24:7
God can be trusted today because of all the wonderful things He has done (Isaiah 51:1-2). God is unchanging. He did great things for people in the past and will continue to do great things today and tomorrow if we only listen to Him and trust Him as Abraham and Sarah did.
God’s history is one of pouring out blessing on faithful followers. Man’s history is one of pouring out vengeance and selfishness on other people. The phrase “history repeats itself” is certainly true, isn’t it? Man will continue to be evil while God will continue to be good.
Nevertheless, there is no reason for us to fear man, as long as we love God (Isaiah 51:7). People who aim to hurt us and insult us will be taken care of. God will see to that (Isaiah 51:8). All of humanity is weak and destined to die. We should have no fear of such weaklings (Isaiah 51:12).
Despite the judgement that God was going to deliver upon Jerusalem for their unbelief, He was not going to let this endure forever (Isaiah 51:11-23). God promised to conquer those who conquered Jerusalem. And this is exactly what happened when the Persians defeated the Babylonians and became the known-world’s super power.
God promised to restore Jerusalem (Isaiah 52:2). While Jerusalem is once again a thriving city, the best is yet to come when Jerusalem becomes the capital city of the world once Jesus returns and sets up His earthly government there. This will happen at the end of the seven-year Tribulation.
Isaiah 52:13-53:12 contains an abundance of specific prophecies about Jesus’ first and second appearances on this earth. Those that pertain to His first appearance all came true: He was beaten (Isaiah 52:14); His message was not believed (Isaiah 53:1); He was despised (Isaiah 53:3); He was pierced with a sword (Isaiah 53:5); He did not defend Himself when on trial (Isaiah 53:7); He was buried in the tomb of Joseph of Arimethea who was a very wealthy man (Isaiah 53:9) to name just a few. Precise predictions like this can only be the work of an all-knowing God.
Notice that it was God’s plan all along for Jesus to go through all this pain and torture. God was pleased by this (Isaiah 53:10). Not in a masochistic sense – God did not enjoy seeing all this happen to His Son. Rather, God was pleased because Jesus’ experience made it possible for many to be counted as righteous (Isaiah 53:11). Without Jesus bearing our sins – which is what He did on the cross – no one could enter heaven. Appropriately, Jesus deserves all the honor we can possibly give Him.
I often hear young athletes identify who their idol is – some famous sports star they want to be like. This is a worldly way of thinking. God doesn’t want us to imitate another human beings. He wants us to imitate Him (Ephesians 5:1). God is our role model. He is the only perfect one. No other person is close to perfect so we shouldn’t want to be like anyone else. Nor should we want anyone to imitate us. In 1993 pro-basketball player Charles Barkley famously stated that he (and other professional athletes) are not role models. His comment caused a very public debate that even included the White House. But he was right.
Non believers will attempt to minimize their sin (Ephesians 5:6). We see this every day in our culture. Lying isn’t so bad. Homosexuality isn’t so bad. Gay marriage is appropriate. But as children of God we should not do the same with our own sin nor should we ignore the sins of others. Sin, no matter who engages in it, affects everyone. So we all have a vested interest in identifying sin and working to see it reduced in our society (Ephesians 5:11). This is the way to make our world better. We don’t need more laws. We don’t need more bombs. We don’t need more diplomacy. We don’t need higher taxes. We need less sin.
In Ephesians 5:21-33 Paul gives instructions to husbands and wives which include in infamously-taken-out-of-context verse in which he admonishes wives to submit to their husbands (Ephesians 5:22). A full discussion of this passage is not possible here – the commentaries I use each dedicate many pages to these 12 sentences. But suffice it to say that God is not telling women they need to be doormats or robots in their marriage. Nor is He giving husbands carte-blanche to act as tyrants.
Rather God is establishing a hierarchy of authority in the family. God has placed the husband at the top of this hierarchy. This does not mean that husbands/men are more valuable than wives/women. As I discussed back in August, being under someone’s authority does not imply inferiority. Women are not inferior to men in any way. But God does give us different roles and responsibilities. And He has given husbands the responsibility for the spiritual health of his family. Remember, with responsibility comes accountability. Every husband/father will have to answer to God for how well he lead his wife and children in their spiritual walk.
It should not go unnoticed that in this same passage God calls on the husbands to sacrifice themselves for their wives (Ephesians 5:25-30). These verses are conveniently ignored by those who claim the Bible is misogynistic. As a former pastor of mine used to say: “By following two simple words people can understand the Bible better. Those two words are ‘keep reading'”.
Psalm 69 concludes with David offering praises to God despite being in a very desperate fight for his life against those who wanted to kill him. Its easy to remember to ask God for things and to ask forgiveness of Him. Its harder to remember to praise Him. But praise should be on the tips of our tongues for God is always ready to help us. He is never deaf or blind to what we are going through.
Comments? Questions? I’d love to hear from you. Please feel free to contact me about this post.