Return quickly to the open arms of the loving Father of Heaven (Isa 64:8,9). #OpenArms #UnconditionalLove
MORNING WATCH NOTES:
Like the Prodigal of Luke 15, after years of captivity in Babylon (prophetically speaking) the child, the wayward nation of Israel, turns to the true source of comfort and security – Jehovah God. Like the repentant Prodigal, Israel will come acknowledging God‘s sovereign hand in their affairs. They will seek the Father‘s forgiveness.
Israel will ask God to not turn away any longer. They will ask that God see them again with the eyes of a loving father, which, of course, he is, always has been and will be (See also 63:15,16). Father, I remember well that night in 1968, on my lonely dusty road back to you. You welcomed me home with unconditional love. I owe all to you.
Understand God’s Word as Good News not bad news (Isa 64:5-7). #GreatestLoveStoryEverTold #GodLovesYou
MORNING WATCH NOTES:
Isaiah 64:1-5a extols God‘s goodness and awesome deeds. Then in verses 5b–7 we hear that God is angry with us – what horrible sinners we all are. Yet, surprisingly, “No one calls upon God for help or mercy. So God simply allows our sin to run its course in our lives.“
Why is it that we only hear the bad news, “God is angry,“ and fail to hear the Good News, “God is full of mercy?“ The country song troubadour sings, “I just want to read Bible verses and not the Bible versus me.“
The mournful troubadour only hears the Law and knows he can’t measure up. But he keeps trying. He does not hear and know how God loves him and died for his sin. It is not the Bible vs. Me. It is Sin vs. Me (Titus 3:11). “God did not come to condemn the world but to save it (Jhn 3:16,17).
Yes, “All have sinned and come short of the glory of God” (Rom 3:23). “But,” Romans 5:8 says, “God demonstrated his love toward us in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 8:1 says, “There is therefore now NO CONDEMNATION for those who are in Christ Jesus.”
Father, I want the world to see your love, mercy and grace through me. There is hope for the country troubadour.
Let your anguished heart cry out to God for his love and mercy (Isa 63:10–14). #CallToRemrmbrance #RepentanceTowardGod
MORNING WATCH NOTES:
When we have so grieved the Holy Spirit of God, he will at once abandon us to the consequences of that sin and rebellion. But God is never far away from us (though we may drift a long ways away from him – note Psalm 139:7–12). God will always remember his promises to his people (Isa 63:11 above).
But we too will be brought to our senses as we remember his goodness to us (note the prodigal of Luke 15). This remembrance reveals the heart that is moving to repentance. The wanderer humbly cries out to God in anguish of soul for the Redeemer-Shepherd to once again lead by and fill with his Holy Spirit. Lord, this is the new man in me crying out to you for your love and mercy. God WILL respond.
Remain dedicated always to God (Isa 63:7–10). #HandInTheCookieJar #SinWillFindYouOut #CantFoolGod
MORNING WATCH NOTES:
God’s people – so prone to wander, rebel and commit grievous acts against his Holy Spirit. Israel did this, in spite of God‘s great love and mercy. The church in America and elsewhere, has done the same. I myself have wandered, rebelled and committed grievous things against the Spirit of God. In my best moments I am capable of sin against God.
God has no choice but to become an adversary to Israel, the church, to me. God’s people often act like foolish children. They think they can snatch a cookie and God won’t notice (NOT!). Hence, God‘s hand of discipline will come against the erring child. His purpose? In love, to correct and instruct. Lord, thank you that you never give up on this old sentry. You won’t give up on America either.
Be for sure certain your name’s written in the Lamb’s book of forever life (Isa 62:2-4; Rev 2:17; 21:2). #EternalLife #NewNameWrittenDownInGlory #TheLambsBookOfLife
MORNING WATCH NOTES:
In Isaiah‘s prayer, it is revealed to Israel (and to every other nation) that once she has entered into the light of God‘s righteousness, she will get a “new name.” No longer will she be known as “Forsaken“ and “Desolate.” Her new name will be “God’s Delight, God’s Bride (intimate companion“ (see also Isa 56:5).
As it was and is for Israel, so shall it be for the Church Age. The Apostle John tells us that all who come into the righteousness of Christ will receive a “New Name” (Rev 2:17). That name is written in the Lamb’s book of forever life (Rev 21:27). Lord, how awesome it is for the faithful sentry to know that his/her name, “New Name,” is written down into the records of glory.
Isaiah 61:7 summarizes verses 3–6. It expresses a marvelous exchange of joy for shame and dishonor, a double portion of joy at that. In context the nation of Israel will be delivered from Babylonian captivity and find herself immeasurably blessed among the nations.
But the prophetic future here describes a spiritual Israel, life in the kingdom of God. The Messiah, Jesus Christ (described in vv 1,2; see Luk 4:18-22) will deliver beauty for ashes, blessing for mourning and praise for despair. Lives will be rebuilt, remade, in the righteousness of Christ (note 2Co 5:21).
Lord, thank you for the precious treasure of Christ’s righteousness given the duty sentries, in exchange for our sin and shame.
Somewhere around 650 BC Isaiah penned this prophecy. 700 years later a Jewish carpenter from Nazareth, named Jesus, stood and read these words in temple worship…
“The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, Because He has anointed Me To preach the gospel to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, To proclaim liberty to the captives And recovery of sight to the blind, To set at liberty those who are oppressed; To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord.” Then He closed the book, and gave it back to the attendant and sat down. And the eyes of all who were in the synagogue were fixed on Him“ (Luk 4:18f).
In the middle of verse two he stopped and said, “Today this Scripture is fulfilled in your hearing“ (Luk 4:21). Everything about that day in worship was normal until Jesus stopped here and laid claim to these verses for himself as the Anointed One, the Messiah of Israel.
Nothing would ever be the same again. Not the for Jesus, not for the nation of Israel nor the rest of mankind. History was at a pivot point. Three years later Jesus would die on a Roman cross to forgive the sins of mankind and open the door to eternal life. Lord, my faith and belief in you is affirmed. I will follow you to the end as the faithful fulfillment of this prophecy.
Have open eyes and hearts to the Savior, Jesus (Isaiah 59:17–21). #Salvation #Redeemer #Repentance
MORNING WATCH NOTES:
God’s answer to the sin of men and there inability to save themselves is to send a righteous, sinless redeemer. He will be dressed in righteousness and robbed in Divine passion. He will judge God’s enemies, all of sin and deliver Salvation.
This redeemer Prince from Jerusalem (Yeshuah [Jesus] Rom 11:26), will keep covenant with Israel, save her from her sin. Indeed all of mankind will benefit, from east to west, from the Lord’s salvation. All those who turn from sin will know the salvation of the Lord. Lord, what a wonderful, merciful and thoughtful Savior you are.
Isaiah reminds Judah that God had not left them. They had left God. Their sin (subsequently, my sin) has piled up on them (vv2–8) and testifies against them. Their destruction is eminent (Babylonian captivity). So, before there can be confession, cleansing, forgiveness and redemption there must be a recognition of sin and acceptance of responsibility for it.
Like Judah, I must own my sin before God, accept my lostness (recognize my perilous predicament) before I can reach out to the one (Jesus) who has come to rescue me, to pull me to safety. This is repentance: recognizing that I am a sinner bound for eternal destruction and accept salvation from God.
Lord, your word exposes my sinful and rebellious heart. I have seen my sin for what it is before you. I repent and receive your cleansing, forgiveness and redemption (Jhn 3:16; 1Jn 1:9).
Although God speaks through Isaiah forcefully about the consequences of unholy worship and sin (Ch 56–58), he is not without abundant compassion for those who turn to him. To them he will give an everlasting name (56:4,5); bring them into his presence and fill them with joy (vv 6,7).
God will restore the crushed spirit of the humble, give courage to the weak and give peace and comfort to the distressed; praise will be on their lips (57:15,18). Extravagant grace and salvation shall overwhelm them. Their light will affect everyone around them and he will satisfy their deepest needs (58:10-12).* Father, I am overwhelmed at your abundant and unconditional love for me.
* (Optional read from Isa 58:8-14)
Get a sense of God’s overwhelming love, mercy and grace here (paraphrased):
If you will worship me [God] in a spirit of honor, respect toward others, genuine humility and true repentance, Salvation will come to you like the breaking dawn (it will burst in upon you in magnificent glory; you will be in awe).
Your true godliness will cause you to advance and God’s glory will protect you. When you call on me I will hear you and answer quickly. Your light shall shine in the darkness around you. Your own darkness will be bright as noonday. The Lord will guide you continually.
You will have water when you are thirsty and strength when you are weak. There will be a beauty about you like a well watered flower garden. Your life will be an ever flowing spring of water. Some of you will even have the reputation as builders of deserted and ruined cities, builders of bulwarks to protect; restorers of homes/families.
The Lord will delight in your worship; he will give you honor and satisfy you with the inheritance of promises made to your spiritual ancestors.
Judah is getting her day in court. God lays out his case for unfaithfulness and consequently her 70 years of captivity in Babylon. The church today would do well to pay attention to charges brought against Judah.
The church is not exempt from phony piety, prideful and self-indulgent leaders (56:9-12), unholy alliances with strange gods, and unfaithfulness to God (57:3-8), oppression of the weak, narcissism (58:3), infighting/bickering (58:4), et al.
Yet, in all this rebellion and unfaithfulness, God stands ready to forgive at the first sign of genuine repentance toward him (57:18–21). Lord, search my wayward heart; show me any unfaithfulness to you; lead me according to your ways.
Isaiah leaves some further thoughts from nature. Consider the “mountains, hills, trees and fields.” They will sing and clap their hands joyously for the captives who have been set free. This prophecy reveals that Israel will come out of 70 years of captivity in Babylon. She will be delivered and returned to her homeland. She will enjoy peace. O, how the creation of God will sing joyously for her.
This prophecy further says that “thorns and pesky nettles will be turned into beautiful flowered plants.” In the same way, the Gospel of peace has the power to change the hardest of sinners. There will be great rejoicing in heaven over every sinner who repents and turns to Jesus (Luke 15:7). God’s word has the power to change lives. My best response is to worship God giving thanks for the captives set free.
Who could grasp the inexplicable ways in which God thinks and acts. We may never understand the “why” or the “ways” in which God acts, on this side of eternity. But we are able to see “how” he acts and “what” he does. He has fully explained himself (all we need to know) in Christ Jesus.
Men find it hard, if not impossible, to forgive…to pardon the offenses of others. The multiplied number of offenses and the degree of offenses converge to make forgiveness impossible for all, all the time. But in God, men can find unlimited pardon. There is still time to humble ourselves and repent. Lord, give this crusty old sentry a humble repentance towards you, your will and your purposes.
For any who would take a solemn pause in their life of sin and rebellion; for those who would resolve to leave a life of sin and return to God, there is full pardon. True repentance will invoke the forgiveness of God.
Imagine a call to inmates in prison – “If you would like a pardon, please see the warden in his office now.“ What inmate would ignore such an invitation? None! The invitation from God has been made. Come now for forgiveness of sin. Lord, thank you for your pardon of my sins and transgressions. I am set free.
And so now we encounter some of the most familiar words in the Bible: “Seek Lord while he may be found, call upon him while he is near.“ This does not imply that somehow God is not present or is hidden. But there are special times when his presence is more keenly felt.
There was a day when I had drifted far from God. But he had never left me. I drifted from him. He orchestrated circumstances, slowly working towards a flashpoint in my life. In that moment I was more keenly aware of God’s presence than ever. I had been brought close to him (not him to me); that I might see him, find him; that I might know him. Lord, you found me where I was and called me back to you. Thankfully I did not squander that moment in 1968.
It is true that Jehovah God briefly turned his back on Israel because of her unfaithfulness (vv7,8). But this brief moment is in contrast to his promise of everlasting love and mercy (vv9,10).
This is the solemn promise of God: he would never again turn his back on his people. They would see the grander of great mountains dissolve before their eyes (see pigs fly) before God would ever again turn on his people.
As it has been for Israel, so it is for his church. Persecution, calamity and troubles may come. But God’s fierce love and devotion for his people will never be, shall never be, derailed nor gone missing. Lord, you have never forsaken this elder sentry; been forever faithful to me.
Coming down out of the clouds of the “Suffering Servant” prophecy, Isaiah jubilantly exhorts Israel to break into triumphant songs of joy. She had been cut off for her unfaithfulness. Like a woman unable to have children she had been shamed. But now God would show her favor as a woman blessed with many children.
Israel’s mourning over captivity and shame would be changed to joyful singing. She would be set free. Her shame and unfaithfulness, she would remember no more. And so it has been for this old sentry. Lord, you have blessed me since my days of repentance – the sins of my youth have been forgotten and I exult in my Redeemer.
In these verses God explains clearly that his Servant, our Redeemer, will lay down his life as the final sacrifice for man’s sin (v10). As a result, many rebels will be made righteous because of his sacrifice (v11; Rom 10:9,10; 2Co 5:21; Eph 4:22–24).
Most remarkable of all, he gave up his glory to become a man like me (Phi 2:7). He was subject to every sin and temptation, yet he himself was without sin (Heb 4:15,16). “He was counted among [identified with] the rebels (v12).“ He was like me but not me. He bore my sin and now as my Redeemer he is at the right hand of the Father advocating and interceding for me (Rom 8:34). He is my compassionate Prayer Sentry.
Isaiah 53:10–12 stands in sharp contrast and great relief to verses 1–9. Here it is revealed, as difficult as it is to absorb, that the plan of God all along had been to crush the Redeemer-Prince and cause him great anguish. However, it is important to note that the point of that anguish was not for the sake of anguish. It was for the sake of absolving man’s sin.
Does a parent take joy in punishing a child? No. It is for the sake of a future outcome. Just so, the Redeemer will see God‘s plan prosper and the redemption accomplished by his suffering. He will be satisfied at the future outcome. Many will come to wholeness out of sin. The Redeemer himself will be honored as a victorious soldier.
(Note Hebrews 12:2 “[Keep your] eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated [victorious] in the place of honor beside God’s throne.” (NLT) )
The only adequate response of the duty sentry is to fall on the floor of the watchtower, weep tears of repentance, tears of joy and worship the victorious Redeemer.
The prophecy of Isaiah 53 continues here to describe the oppressive and unrighteous nature of the Redeemer’s shameful treatment and trial. Yet, this Redeemer, under great duress, said not a word of complaint. He surrendered as a lamb led to the slaughter, as a sheep before his shearers. He saw it through to the end.
The debt of sin, death, was called in. The Redeemer patiently, meekly and quietly suffered oppressive treatment and the unrighteous proceedings of incited leaders and an angry mob. He was charged for acts he never committed. He was cut down, sharply canceled out, before ever he might have a single heir in this earth (v10 informs us that he would ultimately have many spiritual heirs). For the sins of the people this righteous man, we now know as Jesus, The Christ, was struck down violently and suffered in our place.
The Redeemer, falsely accused, died a criminal’s death. The Jews would have buried him dishonorably along with the two thieves or the malevolent but sparred Barabbas. However, the Romans handed his body over to Joseph, the Aramathaean – a “rich man.” Why? Because according to the Scriptures, “His actions were [truly] prompted by pure love and his speech consisted of unclouded sincerity and truth.“* This honorable burial would inaugurate his glorification to come, noted in v10,12.
Barnes assesses this passage beautifully: “How strikingly and literally was this [prophecy] fulfilled in the life of [Christ]. It would seem almost as if it had been written after he had lived, and was history rather than prophecy. No other person ever so entirely accorded with the description of [Christ] by the prophet.“**
O how great is the enormity of this old sentry’s sin. How sufficient is the wonderful matchless grace of my Redeemer-Prince (Jesus the Messiah). He forgave all my sin and gave me life eternal. All he asks in return is that men would “believe the message” and trust in him (v1). The way I thank him and honor him is by believing and following him.
“By his stripes we are healed.“ Grasp the context here. Our Redeemer didn’t just represent man in redemption from sin. He literally took our sin AND all their consequences into his own being. All our weaknesses (the result of sin), all our sorrows, our troubles, our rebellion, our sickness and disease (all the results of sin, increasing his pain exponentially), he absorbed in his own body.
O, the anguish of our Redeemer’s soul. It was unspeakable, bearing ALL our sin and their consequences. His “stripes“ were literal. They painfully represent his horrible, unspeakable death. ALL that sin is and represents – the disease of certain and eternal death (were there NO redemption) – our Redeemer died for and provided for us complete wholeness and healing. We are healed, saved, from the curse of sin and ALL its consequences.
I am staggered and left without words, how to respond. The Lord tells me in verse one my only necessary response. Simply “BELIEVE the message,” receive and follow Jesus.
When I think of my fallen self and how desperately wicked can be my heart, I think of my risen Savior who has borne my sin and shame and redeemed me to himself.
The sin, which does so easily beset me, has its end in the cross of Calvary. It drives afresh the nails into my Savior’s hands and feet. My besetting sins do not go unaccounted for. These…
…my sins of commission – to lie, to lust, to speak ill/criticize, to waste time;
…my sins of omission – to disobey by not going when moved, not speaking when prompted, not helping when urged;
…my sins of disposition – envy, pride, anger, evil desire;
All these my sins, and more, go painfully under the shed blood of Jesus on the cross.
My unmerited righteousness in Christ does not come without a price. I cannot flee the failure of sins committed, but I can, in Christ, flee from the sin not yet committed before it besets me. AND EVERY SIN FROM WHICH I FLEE IS THAT MUCH PAIN RELIEVED IN MY SAVIOR’S BODY. FOR EVERY SIN RESISTED IS A SIN FOR WHICH HE DID NOT HAVE TO DIE.
Where sin has abounded in my heart without confession, my precious Savior is left to suffer. For lack of confession is unbelief in his atoning sacrifice, his faithfulness to forgive my sin and cleanse me from all unrighteousness (1Jn 1:9). My confession acknowledges and accepts his sacrifice.
If he did not want to forgive us he would not have died so horrible a death. So believe. Do not carry your burden of sin. He has borne it.
Confess it and do not mourn any longer. You are forgiven and accepted in the beloved (Eph 1:6).
(Note: the following is from Valley Of Vision, a book of Puritan prayers)
“…if I sin not I should thank thee for it;
“…if I do sin I should be humbled daily under it;
“…I should mourn for sin more than other men do, for when I see I shall die because of sin, that makes me mourn; when I see how sin strikes at thee, that makes me mourn; when I see that sin caused Christ’s death, that makes me mourn;”
“…Thou has taught me that faith is nothing else than receiving thy kindness; that it is an adherence to Christ, a resting on him, a love clinging to him as a branch to the tree, to seek life and vigor from him.” [To mourn no longer]
“…I thank thee for showing me the vast difference between knowing things by reason, and knowing them by the spirit of faith. [Job 42:5,6]
“…By reason I see a thing is so; by faith I know it is.
“…I have seen thee by reason [head knowledge] and have not been amazed.
“…I have seen thee as thou are in the Son [by faith] and HAVE BEEN RAVISHED TO BEHOLD THEE…
“…I bless thee that I am thine in my Savior, Jesus.” [Mourn no longer]
The painful reality is that our Redeemer-prince, who is here spoken of, suffered excruciatingly for our sin. He was treated as lower than the lowest in society. He took upon himself the grief and agonies of men. He was our substitute. Men interpreted his calamities as punishment for his own sin. But, NO! It was for our sin, my sin, that he took such punishment.
Jesus was my substitute. He was crushed for my sins, whipped so I could be healed (made whole). It was I for whom my Savior bled and died. He was my substitute. The Lord – God laid upon him all the sins of every man, past and present. He was my substitute; the sinless servant suffered punishment for my sin. No other could have stood in for me and borne the penalty for my sin? No one! Lord, may the love and devotion of this old sentry for you, deepen with every passing day.