God clearly explains why he summoned, called and equipped the Persian, Gentile, pagan king, Cyrus. Because he knew his people would need 1) a deliverer from the coming Babylonian captivity, 2) a hope in the midst of tragedy and darkness (God is the God of both dark times and good times – v7) and 3) he would use this prophecy to later reveal himself as the One who fulfills his redemption promises. The entire world would know that he is God.
Lord, it is clear to me that you are always working behind the scenes on my behalf. Nothing happens by accident. You give me hope when all hope seems gone. I am never without hope.
Someone has said, “When you pray, pay attention to what happens next.” In other words, God will answer. Be alert to circumstances around you. Don’t be oblivious. The same is true of prophecy, the prophetic word of God. When God’s prophets speaks, pay attention to what happens next.
God says, “Pay attention, O Jacob.” Your sins are swept away. God has paid the price to redeem you. “Return to me,“ the Holy One says. Shout for joy…break into song, for it is done. The Lord predicted it. He says, “I will rebuild my Holy city. I will restore the ruins.” The prophets of God do not lie. Father, knowing your history of redemption, knowing the price you paid at Calvary for my sins, I have every reason to be secure in your future redemption.
Idols: they are, at once, both ironic and absurd. Men forging idols out of wood or metal to worship, are incongruent, contradictory and nonsensical. The Lord scoffs at those who create idols with their own hands. They manufacture images to be worshiped out of wood and metal that the Holy one created.
Crafters cut down trees, use them for fire wood to cook or warm themselves. Then, with what’s left over, they carve out images to prize and worship. Really? Is that not foolish, absurd? None of these handcrafted idols can reveal, redeem or restore anything. But the Holy One, he can and he will. Lord, I come with assurance to the Holy One of Israel. I trust no other.
Sad to say, though God makes his case for his love and mercy, still Israel rejects his call to return to him. Do the words RECALCITRANT, DELETERIOUS, mean anything? Instead of offering sacrifices of praise to honor God, they offered the best of their sinful trash. They flaunted the worst of their disobedience before God. Shameful. Am I any better Lord?
Yet, still, God offers his absolute mercy and forgiveness for sins committed against him. Why? For his own sake. For the sake of his name, his love. God says repentance (getting rid of the trash) will lead still to the pouring out his Spirit on Israel’s descendants and his blessing on their children. The people of God will once again be proud to claim God’s name over them. Lord, put within this aged sentry a surrendered and willing heart.
“O Israel (O America), do not fear.” When judgment comes upon her, God will not destroy her completely. God will ransom his own, call them by name to himself. Through deep waters, difficulties and oppression, God promises to be with her (1-4).
“Do not fear.“ God will deliver his wayward people through the fire of judgment. Those who have trusted, as well as those without understanding – all will see that I, the Lord, I am able to deliver from captivity (5-13).
God says, “I am about to do a new thing” (v19). My chosen ones will be refreshed (see also Acts 3:19). They will once again honor God. Lord, through tears (of repentance) may I seek times of refreshing from you, I have everything to gain.
America – can we not see with our own eyes and hear with her own ears what is right? How long shall we refuse righteousness and ignore what is right before our own eyes and ears?
If God did not withhold judgment on his own people, Israel, how will he not withhold judgment on the nations that reject and ignore him? America has turned her back on God. She, like Israel of old, is the target of God’s fury…yet she refuses to understand. She refuses to learn her lessons.
Consider just the past 18 months: COVID pandemic, “George Floyd “– riots, grotesque racial division among us, out of control forest fires, inflation that threatens our economy, earthquakes claiming thousands of lives, inept national leadership foisted upon us and the demise of our national/international honor, pride and global influence.
Father, open the eyes of this great nation to your love, mercy and forgiveness. May she repent while there is still time and turn back to you. Begin by breaking the heart of this old sentry, Lord!
Such a beautiful picture of the Lord’s Messiah (vv1–9). He will bring justice. He will not crush the frail reed or snuff out the last flickering light of a candle. He himself will be a light to guide the nations. He will open blind eyes, deaf ears and set free captives held in bondage to the enemy, the evil one.
God’s chosen Messiah, Jesus, is worthy of praise (vv10-17. He will lead blind Israel on a new path, smooth their road. He will not forsake them, though they have failed him time and time again. Lord, you deal justly with my sin, but you do not crush me. Though I so often fail you (vv18-25), you never fail me. Grace is greater than all my sin.
Could there be any more consoling words than those spoken here by God to Isaiah. The prophet is told to speak tenderly to his people who will face punishment for their sin. Isaiah is to speak words of comfort and pardon for sin.
Oh sinner, rebellious child of God, the sovereign God‘s heart breaks for you. No God like the God of heaven bears his heart to sinners and rebels like our God. Lord, this sentry is in debt for your pardon of my sin and your heart towards me and all who have sinned against you.
Paul turns his attention to two women in the church at Philippi, Euodia and Syntyche. Their harsh disagreement comes as a bitter pill for Paul to swallow. First, because of his love for this church and second, because of their previous effective hard work sharing the good news with Paul and others.
Perhaps Paul recalls his own falling out with John Mark and Barnabas (Acts 13:13; 15:37-39). When it comes to the Christian life before a watching world, it is time to mend fences and resolve to be at peace with all men (Rom 12:18; Heb 12:14,15). Lord, lead me to correct any unresolved conflicts in my life.
Am I broken to tears that many, by their misconduct, show themselves as enemies of the cross of Christ?
Am I broken to tears that many are headed for an eternal destruction because of faulty beliefs?
Am I broken to tears that for many whose god is their own human efforts (circumcision), that they boast in shameful behaviors (believing grace to allow for immoral behavior in the physical) and think only about their own glory in life here and now?
Paul was broken to “tears“ for such people.
When was the last time you wept, dear sentry, over the misguided souls of men? Am I bothered and broken to tears? Father, give me a compassionate and broken heart for those around me in need of revival and awakening.
Our union with Christ (v10) is exemplified in the signs of circumcision and baptism. Circumcision signifies that the old sinful nature is dead (v11). In baptism, having died to sin, this union is pictured as a spiritual burial and resurrection unto new life.
Baptism pictures one being buried (down into the water) with Christ into a “water grave.” Then, by God’s transforming power, that believer is raised (up out of the water) with Christ in his resurrection onto new life. Neither circumcision nor baptism saves us.* They merely picture our spiritual transformation from death to new life. Lord, I shall trust fully in the transforming power of Christ and my union with him.
* Some believe that one must be water baptized in order to be saved. It follows then that they ought also to be circumcised in order to fulfill Paul’s complete analogy. Don’t see anyone standing in line for that. Just sayin’.
Our Union with Christ (v10) is seen in two significant signs – circumcision and baptism. In circumcision our union with Christ is likened to the cutting off of the flesh. Christ, in his death on the cross, effected a “spiritual circumcision,“ the cutting away of the sinful nature (flesh).
We were once dead in our sins, controlled by the sinful nature. Death is separation from all that is living. We were once separated from God by our sin. In “spiritual circumcision” God made us alive in Christ. Believing on Christ we are freed from the control of the sinful nature. God forgave us and canceled the penalty for our sin when Christ was nailed to the cross. Thank you Father for my union with Christ and freedom from control of the sinful nature.
I may take stock here, that the land of Edom WILL fall, be decimated by the Lord of Heaven‘s Armies. The Edomites were the descendants of Esau (Jacob’s twin brother – a son of Abraham). The Edomites were bitter enemies of Israel (Jacob).
Edom is a symbol of all who oppose God; stand against God. Their judgment will be severe and without end (v10). If you stand against God there will be no place to run, no place to hide. In the day of your judgment you will know only disaster and decimation. Lord, may I remain centered on you, live always for you.
God is not a compliant enabling father. He knows just when and how to discipline. He knows the limits of our ability to withstand testing and trials (1Co 10:13). Discipline is always an option (Heb 12:10,11). It is clear that God is always prepared to discipline his people to purge them from sin (though not every trial is for sin-Jas 1:12; 2Co 12:17; Rom 5:3–6).
In the end, like a loving father, God will come to his own and comfort them. You can count on that. The end result of God‘s discipline is to return to him, to love and worship him. Lord I have known your loving discipline and your comforting embrace. I look to you for the correction and reproof that I need.
Is there such a thing as an unforgivable sin? Yes, there is. This is it, pure and simple. When God calls a people to weep and mourn, to be ashamed and sorry for, remorseful of, sin (to repent) and instead that people just “PARTY ON!” ignoring, even scorning, God’s plea; that is the sin for which there is no forgiveness. How can there be?
The ultimate and unforgivable sin is the sin of rejecting God‘s love and mercy. Oh that I may never run aground of sin and unrepentance.
Oh the beautiful valley in which the city of Jerusalem sits; it is now filled with enemy chariots of war (vv6,7). Why? Because the people of God rejected him. Judah trusted in her own self-made plans. She built her war chests against the Assyrian enemy. She ran to her armories. She sought to shore up her breached walls. She stored up her reservoirs for war. She did everything but ask God for his help.
Today, I hear much rhetoric from politicians, educators, corporate, media and activist leaders, yea, even the citizenry. There is much talk of war against their perceived enemies. Like Jerusalem against her Assyrian enemy, America runs for her political arsenals, she seeks to shore up her walls of political advantage. She works furiously to fill her political reservoirs. But defeat on all sides will be as swift and sure as was Jerusalem‘s. Why? History teaches us. Because, like Jerusalem, in all of America’s self made plans, her leaders have abandoned the people (v3). She arrogantly pursues her own interests. She never stops to ask for God’s help. He is the one who sets her back on her heels; and though rejected by her, loves her and would save her. If she would only ask.
All of this presses this old sentry to his knees in prayer and mourning for my beloved country. Oh that she might seek for God’s help.
Jerusalem (people of God), is located between two mountain ranges. These mountains symbolize the presence and protection of God. It is in this valley that God speaks to the prophet and reveals his vision of things to come.
The vision given Isaiah is not a pleasant one. Jerusalem has rejected the God who has enabled her strength. While they revel, their foundation crumbles. Jesus himself will later lament the rejection of Jerusalem for her Redeemer (Mat 25:36, 37).
Isaiah is left to mourn over the vision of the fall of his people. It is heartbreaking to see a people reject the one who has so blessed there existence. It causes me to weep for America, as she thumbs her nose at God, rejects his love. Oh Lord, stir the heart of this nation (my heart), that she (I myself) would listen and turn again to you.
Even in punishment and judgment the God of Heaven’s Armies will not pulverize the weakest among us. No, Isaiah introduces the metaphor of a husbandman who ploughs his field, loosens the soil and meticulously plants various seed. Then he thoughtfully and wisely goes about the harvest, carefully threshing according to the heftiness of the fruit; heavy threshing for some, light threshing for others.
This is a picture of the gracious wisdom of God in his judgments. Ploughing is followed by benevolent planting. Then after the threshing, the harvest, there is rest. His punishments do not last interminably. He punishes that he might bless by grace. Lord, there may be weeping as the consequence of my sin, but there will be joy in the comfort of your mercy and grace.
Be alarmed and turn your wayward heart back to God (Isa 28:18-22). #TurnToGod #RepentTowardGod #ForeWarnedIsForeArmed
MORNING WATCH NOTES:
It ought to cause the people of God to shudder, to hear and to know that God is willing to trample his own when they continue headlong into sin and the rejection of his word. Instead they think they have outsmarted the coming judgment. But God will strike out, cancel, the deal his people have made with pagan forces to avoid judgment. The bed his people have made to lay in securely is wholly inadequate. The bed blankets are too narrow to cover them.
Just as God defeated the Philistines (Jos 10) and the Amorites (2Sa 5), so he will deliver a defeating, crushing blow to his own people. God’s people ought to be jolted into a repentance and surrender to Jehovah God. But they are not and time has run out. Oh Lord, awaken your people (awaken me) to the disaster ahead if we continue to trust in our own schemes and ingenuity. Bring this old sentry’s heart into alignment with your will and purpose.
Father, would you bring the heart of America into alignment with your will. Would you send revival into the church of America. May your people be alarmed and jolted at the high stakes at risk when there is no humble repentance toward God. I pray your Spirit to awaken the sleepy heart of America from her long slumber. May we we see a sweeping renewal of hearts toward God.
At times the people of God do not want to hear from the “intolerable moralist“ among them. They have become overconfident in their religiousity. They mock the man or woman of God and so, the message of God is also made a mockery. Such was the reaction of Israel and Judah towards the prophet Isaiah
How does that feel? I once told a brother that his lack of spiritual concern about some circumstances would lead to a bad outcome. I was told that my comments were simply an overreaction. They were not welcomed. Sadly, it turned out I was right. It took several years for that brother to recover.
To the religious know-it-all, God’s correction is all just baby talk to them – they do not wish to hear such repetitious and condescending gibberish. So God will oblige them. He will speak to them in another language. The language of an oppressor; the language of judgment. Perhaps then they will listen. Lord, may I always have an open and willing heart toward you.
Isaiah laments the fall of the northern kingdom of Israel. The pride of her capital Samaria has shaken off the reins of a loving but holy God. Now she faces only sorrow and heartache. Her end will come at the hands of a mighty army. It will come suddenly as a “mighty hail storm and torrential rain.“ It will “burst upon [them] like a surging flood and smash it to the ground.“ It will be “trampled under the enemies’ feet.”
Let the southern kingdom of Judah be warned. Because of Israel’s pride, her once great beauty will fade into oblivion. She has arrogantly shaken her fist in the face of God. She unwittingly brings God’s wrath upon her. Lord, how sin does pervert the human heart. How the sin of pride dismantles good sense. Lord, may my oft wayward heart find its way quickly back to you.
When a nation flaunts its sin, judgement is not far behind. May the wayward heart of America, my beloved country, humble itself, repent and turn quickly back to God.
When pagan, godless Assyrian settlers took over the land of God (Israel) they dishonored him by worshipping other gods. God sent a judgment of wild animals on them. It was recognized as such. When the Assyrian king heard about it, he sent one of the captive priests of God back to Israel to teach the new settlers how to worship the God of the land, Israel.
This would not qualify as full on repentance to God. But it does qualify as a step toward God. It shows that the temporal, remedial judgments of God can get the attention of even a pagan King. But, unlike the nation of Israel, he sought to find peace with God. Reconciliation with God is at the heart of the Gospel of Jesus (Rom 5:1,2). Father, give me a heart to know that any temporal, remedial judgment in my life is your loving call, you talking to me, to repent.
The consequence of ignoring the dangers of aberrant weather has now caught up with the crew of Paul’s ship headed to Rome. A dangerous storm of hurricane force engulfs the ship. The sun, moon and stars are no longer visible for navigation. They are driven some 300 miles off course. They will surely shipwreck. The crew works feverishly. They bind the hull with ropes for strength. They cast off all the cargo and ship’s gear to lighten the ship. All, to no avail. There is terror on board. All hope had gone out them.
When we find ourselves on the horns of a dangerous dilemma we will exhaust ourselves trying to fight our way through. Having ignored God from the start, we may continue to do all but listen to God…until finally, all hope is gone. Then, just maybe, we will stop, look up and seek God’s help. Oh Lord, may I be delivered from insisting on my own way and trust you sooner than later.
Paul’s last words to the high court hearing his case for bogus charges: “I pray to God everyone here in this audience might become the same as I am [free], except for these chains.” Paul came to this court a prisoner in chains, but totally free in Christ.
All those in the hearing came into the court free of any physical chains, but wrapped up in the chains of a spiritual kind, in bondage to sin and Satan. King Agrippa and all those in attendance could have been set free (as Paul was), if only they would make their appeal to Jesus. Enable me Lord, to make the gospel clear through my life and witness.