Today’s Bible Reading: Isaiah 60-62:5; Philippians 1:27-2:18; Psalm 72:1-20; Proverbs 24:11-12
Even though God was going to bring destruction upon Israel He promised a future restoration to make them better than ever. A time is coming when all (not some) of the nations of the world will be attracted to the light emanating from Israel (Isaiah 60:3). This will happen when Jesus returns to earth and begins His 1,000 year reign, headquartered in Jerusalem.
Isaiah speaks of a regathering of Jews from all over the earth to the land of Israel (Isaiah:60:4). This prophecy began before Israel even became a country (in 1948) and continues to this day.
Some of the things that God promises Israel are truly amazing considering current events. People from all over the world will bring their wealth to Israel (Isaiah 60:5-11). The reason they will do this is to honor God (Isaiah 60:9). When Jesus rules on earth just about everyone will finally recognize Him for who He is – the one and only true God.This will include descendants of those who currently oppress and create problems for Israel (Isaiah 60:14).
While Israel is despised around the globe someday God will make all other nations serve them (Isaiah 60:16). And there will be no more car bombs or violence of any kind there (Isaiah 60:18).
All of this is so hard to imagine. But notice that these prophecies are really multiple prophecies in one. For God to remove violence there has to be violence to begin with. For God to end the hatred there has to be hatred to begin with. All of these prophecies were made while the nation of Israel was barely hanging on by a thread. It would be totally wiped off the face of the earth in just a couple of decades. God, through Isaiah, is predicting that Israel would be restored, would be hated by the world, and would then become the most beloved nation on earth. If such a prophecy didn’t come from God it would be preposterous.
But it is from God. Many world leaders have tried to bring peace to this region. All have failed. Only God can, and will, make it happen (Isaiah 60:22)
When Jesus read in the synagogue (Luke 4:16-22) He read Isaiah 61:1-2. Jesus came to undo what sin does. Sin creates broken hearts. Jesus brings comfort. Sin creates captives. Jesus offers freedom. Sin causes mourning. Jesus gives blessing. The world continues to look for solutions to the problems that sin creates. But sinful people can only make matters worse. Jesus is the only answer. Sometimes I think the world believes it can dig itself out of a hole. We need a lifeline. Jesus offers that lifeline. Jesus is that lifeline. But the world ignores Him and keeps on digging.
One of my favorite Bible verses is Philippians 1:27 from the NIV: “Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the Gospel of Jesus Christ”. I try to keep this verse in my head every day so when I find myself in a situation where sin is tempting me I can (hopefully) over come it.
The NLT adds that we should live as citizens of heaven. If you were royalty and were temporarily living in an impoverished neighborhood you would always remember that someday you were going home to your palace. This is how Christians should live. This earth is not our home. It is a our temporary dwelling place and it is filled with disgusting sin. Someday we will be leaving here. While we wait we conduct ourselves in a manner that reflect the true place of our citizenship.
Paul’s letter to the Philippians is filled with commands that are practical for everyday living. We should not be selfish nor should we care about impressing others. Instead we should be humble (Philippians 2:3). When I was an enemy of Christianity I thought being humble meant being weak minded – a pushover. But humility is not thinking less of yourself. It is thinking of yourself less. It means not only taking care of yourself but also taking care of others (Philippians 2:4). Notice that it is okay to look after ourselves. But it is not okay to look after only ourselves.
The ultimate expression of humility was Jesus Himself. Even though He was God and was living in heaven He was willing to lower Himself by becoming a human being – one of His own creations – and dying on a cross for us (Philippians 2:6-8). God could have stayed in heaven. He could have decided it was too much trouble to save a bunch of whiny, complaining people who paid no attention to Him. It would have been the easier thing to do. But He was humble enough to look out for our interests because He thought we were worth the trouble.
Only God can rule over people like a refreshing spring rain (Psalm 72:6). Human leaders are not inclined to be like this. That is why we need to pray for them, asking God to give them the ability to rule with justice and righteousness (Psalm 72:1-2).
Comments? Questions? I’d love to hear from you. Please feel free to contact me about this post.