Today’s Bible Reading: Isaiah 62:6-65:25; Philippians 2:19-3:3; Psalm 73:1-28; Proverbs 24:13-14
God’s love for Israel is so strong that He “will not rest” until her righteousness shines for all to see (Isaiah 62:6). Like so many Old Testament promises this one was given specifically to Israel but also applies to all people. God is never going to quit on you. He created you and loves you. He knows what is best for you. He will spend your entire life relentlessly pursuing you so that He can bless you. Just like Israel, you’ve sinned pretty badly and maybe think that God therefore can’t love you. You’d be wrong. God is not only willing to forgive but He wants to forgive.
A common misconception about the Bible is that God appears mean-spirited in the Old Testament yet loving in the New Testament. This is not true and verses like those in Isaiah 63 prove it. All throughout the Old Testament God demonstrated His love for His people by conquering their enemies. This has always been God’s goal – to free us from the oppression of sin (Isaiah 63:3-4).
God does not punish those who are His children – our sins have been punished already on the cross. But God does punish those who treat His children poorly. This includes people who reject Him as well as evil spirits (Satan, et al.) who trick us into doing evil. When we suffer God suffers. If you are a child of God then when someone hurts you they are hurting God. And God hates to see His children hurt. That is why He personally rescued us by becoming our Savior (Isaiah 63:8-9).
I love the picture of God in Isaiah 65:1-5. Even though we go our own way and do our own thing, God never stops calling out to us. If anyone will just look for Him they will find Him. The problem isn’t that God is hiding. The problem is that people ignore Him while they live in sin.
When Jesus reigns on earth for 1,000 years life will be completely different than it is now. Life spans will increase so that someone who is 100 years old will be considered a youth (Isaiah 65:20). There will also be no crime (Isaiah 65:21-23). Pretty cool, eh?
Apparently the church at Philippi had sent a man named Epaphroditus to Rome to help Paul while he was in prison (Philippians 2:25). But Epaphroditus became ill while in Rome and almost died (Philippians 2:27). Throughout history Christians have put their lives on the line for Jesus. One great example is missionary Jim Elliot who travelled to Ecuador in the 1950s to bring the gospel to the Auca indigenous people. This tribe was known for being very violent towards outsiders yet Elliot, and 4 others, went anyway because they knew the Aucas needed Jesus as much as anyone else. Jim Elliot died in January 1956 at the hands of the Aucas.
It really pains me to read the news on the Internet and see the conflict between people in this country regarding the direction we should take on various issues. Some people want to follow the president. Others want to follow someone else. But both sides are wrong. We can put no confidence in other human beings (Philippians 3:3).
No human being has the answers to our problems. Our problems were created by people. How, then, can people come up with answers? We can’t. We can only create problems. We cannot solve them without creating more.
The only One we can rely on is Jesus, who is God. He has all the answers we need. And the more the country, and the world, ignores Him the more trouble we will create for ourselves.
Its so easy for Christians to look around us and see atheists and other non-believers prospering as Asaph did and wonder what is going on (Psalm 73:2-10). People who ignore or mock God seem to be getting away with it. But everything they have is really nothing. There is only one thing in life worth having and that is a relationship with God our Creator. He is worth more than anything earth has to offer (Psalm 73:25-28).
Comments? Questions? I’d love to hear from you. Please feel free to contact me about this post.