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.
Here, Paul moves from the ideal of “death to self“ (v3) to the practical working out of that principle in reality, in the believer’s daily life. Every day this body of flesh will challenge the right of God to be in control. This is nowhere seen more clearly than in sexual sin, immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed. All of these sins of the flesh say, “SATISFY ME!”
Self is obsessed with itself, the adoration and worship of itself. This is what brings God’s displeasure. These sins will not only be judged in eternity, they will also incur their own judgment here and now. Who has not felt that condemnation? Father, I rely upon your strength to turn from sin to you. I reserve the “right to refuse” service to self.
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’.
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.
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.
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.
Whatever the judgments of God on a people, there will always be a remnant. They often go unseen and unnoticed during times of spiritual squalor. While kings and priests and prophets and judges are lost in their filthy lifestyles, reel and stagger in their vision of self aggrandizement and judgments, the remnant of God stand watch.
While the nation falters, God’s remnant goes to battle in prayer and righteous living. The Lord is their pride and joy. He is their justice and their mighty courage. They are to God a “highway of holiness” a flowing “stream in the desert.” For God’s remnant, sorrow shall forever flee (Isa 35:1–10). Oh Lord, you give this old sentry hope in the worst of times.
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.
The land taken captive by Assyria was God’s land, the land of Israel, the land of promise to God’s people, his “covenant” people. Genesis Chapters 12-15 tells the story of Abraham‘s covenant encounter with God. God chose Abraham through whom to deliver his messianic redemption. God chose Abraham, not because Abraham was so special. God chose him because he needed an instrument through which to reveal his grace.
The covenant spoken of here is a reminder of God‘s unilateral, unconditional love and grace. This covenant bound God alone to his plan of redemption. Men could never nullify God‘s plan of redemption by their lack of commitment. God seeks for men and women to come to him of their own free will and worship him. Lord, I come freely to offer you my love and devotion, imperfect as it is. I give you thanks for the blood you spilled at Calvary for my sin.
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.
Day 39 of 40 days of prayer for family and friends. Lord, may my friends and family dwell on all things honorable and speak truth and healing.
Proverbs Chapter 12 reveals that men will be judged by what they think and what they say. Many there are who stay awake at night planning to do evil. They arise in the morning to carry out their plans. They lie and deceive with their tongue. Stinkin Thinkin!
But the wise and honest among us remain calm and just tell the truth. Their words bring healing. Truth always stands the test of time. Lies and dishonesty will be exposed. Know this, two things will influence what you think and say: 1) the books you read; 2) the friends you keep. So Lord, “fill my mouth with worthwhile stuff and nudge me when I’ve said ‘nuff.” – Susan Jeffers
Day 34 of 40 days of prayer for family and friends. Lord, I pray my family and friends would find their delight and joy in the counsels of your Word.
To be in the counsel of the ungodly, the godless, is to be in apposition with them. That is, to throw in with them, to join in wholeheartedly with their godless philosophies. That necessarily means being in opposition to the counsel and delight of God’s law, God’s word.
I come away from this Psalm asking myself, “To what drumbeat do I march?” Do I march 100% in line with the beat of this world’s drum, and enjoy it? Or do I step out 100% in sync with the Word of God? Lord, may I find my delight in you alone and in your Word. I choose to march to the drumbeat of your Word.
Day 33 of 40 days of prayer for family and friends. Lord, I pray that the seed of the Gospel take deep root in the hearts of my family and friends.
When the gospel seed is sown, spread, broadcast, it will fall where it will. Some will not get it (vv18,19). Some will join, then lose interest (vv20,21). Some will be too busy, too involved, to stay connected (v22). Some however, will truly receive the gospel message with much enthusiasm – they will go on to produce much good fruit (v23).
Those who truly receive the gospel seed, live by its message, will continue to grow and be energized by it. They will, through the years, influence many others for Christ. Lord, may the seed of the gospel continue to take root in my heart and produce good fruit.
Father in Heaven, America is in great need of the Gospel seed to take deep root. She is in deep need of embracing the message of the Gospel. I pray she not reject, ignore or overlook your message of grace and forgiveness. May she let that Gospel seed go deep into rich fertile soil. May she yield in repentance. May that seed then sprout forth in a bountiful harvest of good fruit.
Day 23 of 40 days of prayer for family and friends. Lord, may my family and friends be quick to seek God in repentance.
In Psalm 51 we find king David’s prayer of repentance for his sin with Bathsheba (2 Samuel 11&12). No one, not even the greatest among us, is immune from sin. There are times without number that I have myself failed in so many ways. Yet God, in his grace and mercy, saw and heard in me a contrite, broken heart and he forgave me (v17).
It is no stretch to think that I may ask God to create (do something new) in my heart and renew in me a spirit of joy and faithfulness toward God. Jesus said in John 6:37 that all who come to him will never be rejected. Lord, you have never once denied this sentry the renewal, the refreshing, I have needed to remain loyal to you.
Day 18 of 40 Days of Prayer For Family & Friends – Lord, may my family and friends put self to death on the cross of Christ and live daily for him by your Spirit.
My old self (once a slave to the Sin Master) has been crucified with Christ. God sees my death as a legal transaction. The old self died with Christ. With that, my sins were removed from me as far as the east is from the west (Psm 103:12). Galatians 2:20 is my “Death Certificate.“
But, yet shall I live, because if I died with Christ I also was raised with him. Romans 10:9,10 is my “Birth Certificate.“ One day I will be seated with Christ in glory (Eph 2:6). I have the seal of that promise in the Holy Spirit (2Co 1:21; Eph 1:13). Lord, may I live a freeborn man in Christ Jesus.
FREEBORN! My new nature is free to praise the Lord Jesus Christ who purchased my freedom at the cross of Calvary.
FREEBORN! Eternally separated from the harmful and deadly control of the old sin nature. He is dead, vanquished by the blood of Christ.
FREEBORN! Free to choose as never before. Free to walk in life eternal. Free to act in kindness and love. Free to follow Jesus.
FREEBORN! Chains of sin broken, chains of bondage shattered, by the New Man, Jesus Christ, who lives in me.
FREEBORN! Free to serve and do the works of God. Ashamed of nothing. Prepared for eternity. Telling the world, “You can be FREEBORN!”
Day 17 of 40 Days of Prayer For Family & Friends – Lord, lead my family and friends to reject Satan’s lies that corrupt our hearts.
When I repented of my sin and Jesus became my Lord, I turned my back on the old Sin master. I turned in the opposite direction and swore my allegiance to a new master, King Jesus. But the old nature still lurks around, tries to convince me I’m still a reflection of my old self.
Satan wants me to believe that nothing has changed in me. But that is a lie. I may fail in my obedience to Jesus from time to time, but I am definitely not a reflection of the person I used to be. When I confess my sin to God, I agree with him that he has changed me for the better. He continues to cleanse and to forgive me. Without you Lord, my life would be an intolerable mess.
It is imperative that followers of Christ speak in plain understandable language and terms to a world without Christ, without understanding. Even the use of “tongues“ requires an interpretation to follow, that there may be understanding. The gospel of Christ must be made plain and clear.
When Scripture is spoken clearly people will be convicted of sin. They will fall on their knees and worship God…declare that the presence of God is in that place. I am thankful to attend a church like that. The gospel, Scripture truth, is made clear through many avenues of ministry. Lord, open the mouth of this sentry to speak the truth of your word, that conviction and repentance might follow.
Day 15 of 40 Days of Prayer For Family & Friends – Lord, make my family and friends aware of avenues of escape from temptation.
It is said, when you enter into a hotel it is wise to learn where the fire exits are located. Even in our homes, families ought to know how to escape if necessary. No one is immune to the possibility of a fire. God is saying the same thing about temptation – Be prepared. Temptation happens.
The alert Christian will be ready with an escape plan. Most folks know where they are vulnerable to temptation. The escape plan starts with avoiding certain people and places. Next, is learning from past failures. But God always makes a way out. Lord, keep me on high alert to the schemes of Satan to bring me down.
Paul is rounding off his third and final missionary journey through Asia to preach the Gospel. He is headed to Jerusalem, anxious to arrive by Passover (a time of celebration). His desire is to deliver an offering collected in his travels, for the Jerusalem church; a very poor and needy church due to persecution and famine.
Paul’s stop near Ephesus begs a meeting with church elders from there. He reviews with them the importance of the Gospel – “Turn from sin, turn to God, put faith in the Lord Jesus.“ Paul had suffered much to preach this message to all people. I can do no less. Lord, it is ever the mission this sentry to, “Influence Men For Christ.“ May I never shrink from my mission.
One final lesson learned from Isaiah’s Shebna/Eliakim prophecy. The office of Prophet often used real life situations to mimic future events (note Hosea and Gomer, Jeremiah and the Potter). God will always reveal to us what he expects and what will happen if we obey or not. The point? God honors his word. He keeps his promises.
God has been clear about man’s sin and the Messiah. He would come [has come] to take away all the sin of the world. Those who accept God‘s forgiveness will receive eternal life. Those who do not, choose for themselves eternal death and hell. The prophets have all spoken. Jesus, the Messiah, son of God, has come. He paid the price for sin on the cross. Yes, “the Lord, has spoken.”
Today if you hear God’s voice do not ignore him (Hebrews 3:15). Lord, I believe what you say is truth.
The prophecy of Shebna‘s demise in verses 15–19, continue in the prophecy of his replacement, Eliakim. These two men served King Hezekiah at the time of Assyria’s attack on Jerusalem (2Ki 18). Shebna was proud and arrogant; of no known prominence. Eliakim was a man of prominence with a known family history.
Eliakim was, by all accounts, a godly man, an honorable man…a father figure to look up to (“like a peg driven firmly into the wall”). He was given great authority (given the “key to the house of David”). But in the end, Eliakim would also fail the test of leadership under the weight of power and influence. Lord it is the desire of this sentry to honor you in life with whatever much or little is give me. Lord, make it so.
Scripture does not reveal Isaiah’s purpose for singling out Shebna, the king’s steward (secretary). But he was extremely prideful. So highly did he think of himself that he was preparing his grave high up on Mt. Zion. Shebna considered himself worthy of the burial of kings (2Ch 32:33).
But according to Isaiah, God will coil Shebna up into a little ball. He will hurl him into a far away barren land (presumably Assyria). He will disappear, never to be heard from again. Pride, the abuse of power and influence, will not stand with God (2:11,12). Lord, may humility over rule any pride in my heart and in the hearts of our leaders.
An enemy brings destruction, God’s discipline for his wayward, prodigal people. What sin has beset you, O man or woman of God? But now, having been broken over your own (my own) sin and humbled in repentance before God, he turns on the rod of his discipline.
By God’s mighty power he smashes the rod of his discipline. He breaks it asunder. He consumes it in flames and it is scattered irreverently, as ashes into the wind. To all the nations of the mighty, are you listening? Are you paying attention to the demise of the enemies of God? None will escape the destruction of God for sins committed. O Lord, you have shown me that there is no benefit in standing against you. Though frail, broken, weak and sinful, the sentry stands with you Lord.
God will be merciful at the end of the discipline of his people for their rejection of him (vv2-6). But for now, they will weep and mourn. They must, and will have to, come to the end of themselves. They, as we, must realize that we have no righteousness, no goodness in and of ourselves.
It is of paramount importance that God’s people depend upon and trust in God alone who saves to the uttermost. Again we say with Job, “Though he slay me, yet will I hope in him (Job 13:15). Lord, the end of myself is the beginning of my new life. This old sentry must die daily to the old self that he may be resurrected a new man in Christ. The man I used to be has finally died. Baptism is a picture of this.
*Russ Taff beautifully depicts baptism as symbolic death to self in the song, Water Grave.
If the women of Judah are at ease, smugly resting in the security of their homes – thinking all is well, they should think again. Because of Judah’s rejection of God, complacent attitude and careless lifestyle she will suffer at the hands of Assyria. She should repent before God (vv11,12). But she won’t (vv1-8).
So the bounty of the countryside farms and the good life of the cities and towns will be suddenly decimated. The time was short. Assyria would conquer Judah (v10). Only a full-scale national repentance could reverse that. Sadly no one heeded Isaiah‘s warning.
Is America listening today? Her rejection of God, her sin, is no different than Judah’s. Lord, I pray that America might heed the warnings and turn fully to you in a national repentance. Send awakening Lord.
I am reminded of my Sentinel Orders to Stand Faithfully, Watch Vigilantly, Pray Earnestly, WARN CLEARLY.
But if the watchman sees the enemy coming and doesn’t sound the alarm to warn the people, he is responsible for their captivity. They will die in their sins, but I will hold the watchman responsible for their deaths (Ezk 33:6).