Old Testament In a Year: September 30 – Isaiah 47, 48, 49

Isaiah 47, 48, 49
Focus Verse: You felt secure in your wickedness; you said, “No one sees me”; your wisdom and your knowledge led you astray, and you said in your heart, “I am, and there is no one besides me.” – Isaiah 47:10

When we don’t know much, when we don’t have much, when we’re low on money, when we have little to no connections, when we just don’t know how things are going to work out, it can be easy to trust in God because that is the only thing we can do. It can be easy to be obedient to Him because, after all, we have been told that obedience will bring us blessings.

But what about when we have everything? When we have really good connections and so much money we can buy whatever we want?

Do we think that financial abundance gives us the freedom to sin? That dollar bills will hide our wrong actions from God? Do we think that power means peace and might is right? Do we feel secure in ourselves and in what we have attained?

God forbid!

Regardless of the education we receive or of the riches we attain, may nothing ever lead us astray from God, who is the Giver of all good things. May we always say, “God is, and there is no one besides Him.”

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Old Testament In a Year: September 29 – Isaiah 45, 46

Isaiah 45, 46
Focus Verse: Declaring the end from the beginning and from ancient times things not yet done, saying, ‘My counsel shall stand, and I will accomplish all my purpose.’ – Isaiah 46:10

This verse reminds us that when we cannot see beyond today, when we do not know what tomorrow holds, when we cannot understand how the events of the past will lead to a better and brighter future…we do not have to see or know or understand.

God does.

When I wrote the beginning of your story, God says, I also wrote the end.

I know what your future holds. I know what is ahead for you. And you do not have to be anxious about it because I am already in the ahead, the same as I am beside you now. I am already in the future, the same as I am in the present and I am in the past.

The purpose I have for your life – all of it – I will accomplish. The plan I have for you will stand.

Old Testament In a Year: September 28 – Isaiah 43, 44

Isaiah 43, 44
Focus Verse: Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert. – Isaiah 43:19

Behold!

I am doing a new thing in your life, God says.

Already it is springing up.

Events are taking place. People are coming together. The answer to your prayer is on its way. The deliverance you’ve been waiting on has almost arrived.

Can you not sense it?

Your situation is a wilderness right now – full of thorns and thistles and rocks, wild and hungry animals, uninhabited and abandoned – but I will make a way for you in it.

Your life is a desert – dry and barren, hostile towards your existence – but I will form a river in it; and from brokenness, nothingness, I will give water.

Don’t think about the past problems, present struggles. Don’t remember what was, what should have been. Don’t think on old things.

Behold!

I am doing something new.

Old Testament In a Year: September 27 – Isaiah 41, 42

Isaiah 41, 42
Focus Verse: “I am the Lord; I have called you in righteousness; I will take you by the hand and keep you; I will give you as a covenant for the people, a light for the nations.” – Isaiah 42:6

God originally intended for His chosen people, the Jews, to proclaim Him to the world. They were to be a light for the Gentiles – for us.

But after Christ came, that changed. There is no longer Jew or Gentile, slave or free, male or female. There is only those who believe in Jesus the Christ and those who don’t. All those who do believe are a part of God’s family and by Him we have been called in righteousness, to live clean and innocent lives as His children in the midst of a warped and crooked world.

We are a part of the covenant. Grafted into the Heavenly family tree.

As such, it is now our responsibility to be a light in the darkness and to proclaim Christ to the nations.

Old Testament In a Year: September 26 – Isaiah 39, 40

Isaiah 39, 40
Focus Verse: He will tend His flock like a shepherd; He will gather the lambs in His arms; He will carry them in His bosom, and gently lead those that are with young. – Isaiah 40:11

This focus verse is included in a passage of Scripture that in the ESV is captioned as “The Greatness of God.”

Amid verses that describe the might, reward, and recompense of God, here is a verse that highlights His gentleness. We are God’s flock – His people, the sheep of His pasture.

How does He tend to us? Like a shepherd.

How does He gather us? In His arms.

Where does He carry us? In His bosom.

How does He lead us? Gently.

When we think of greatness, gentleness is not a quality we often equate it with. But God is great because He is good and He is great because He is gentle. He seeks those who are lost. Welcomes those back who run away. Binds up those who are broken. Strengthens the weak. Heals the sick. Watches over us, each day and night.

A great God and a gentle One. There is no one like Him.

Old Testament In a Year: September 25 – Isaiah 37, 38

Isaiah 37, 38
Focus Verse: As soon as King Hezekiah heard it, he tore his clothes and covered himself with sackcloth and went into the house of the Lord. – Isaiah 37:1

Hezekiah’s faith was not just something he talked about in front of others. It was something that was personal to him; something that he lived out on a day-to-day basis. His trust in God was not an outward show of piety. It was an inward conviction. He truly believed that whatever distress he was in, God was able to deliver him; whatever problem he faced, God could provide the perfect solution; whatever battle was pitted against him, God would give him victory.

In both passages (37 and 38), Hezekiah is hit with a couple of impossible situations; and each time, without hesitation, Hezekiah takes those impossible situations and lays them before the Lord.

In the first verse (37:1), it says that as soon as Hezekiah heard the words of the Rabshakeh, he immediately went into the house of the Lord. He immediately requested for the prophet Isaiah to lift up a prayer for them.

Then (37:14), when Hezekiah received the Rabshakeh’s letter, which included more demeaning and threatening words, he again immediately went up to the house of the Lord and spread the letter before Him. Then, Hezekiah prayed to the Lord for deliverance.

Then (38:2), Hezekiah became sick and was near the point of death. Even after he received a message from God through Isaiah telling him that he would not recover from his sickness, but would surely die; what did Hezekiah do? He prayed to the Lord – the same Lord who had told him he would not recover – for healing.

In each impossible situation, God heard Hezekiah’s prayers, He honored his faith, and He delivered him.

What trust! What faith!

And what I most admire about Hezekiah’s faith was that there was zero hesitancy, there was no display of doubt. His faith was firmly rooted in the Lord and it could not be shaken. When hit with the Rabshakeh’s words, he didn’t write a letter of response or consult with his military generals or call his army together and ride into battle against Assyria. He did nothing but go to the Lord.

When hit with sickness and the surety of death, he did not consult his doctors or turn to any healing medicines or despair at how his body was being ravaged. He did nothing but go to the Lord.

When hit with an impossible situation, how many times do we go to our family or our friends or a co-worker or teacher or pastor or boss, before we go to the Lord? Do we try to fix problems ourselves before turning to the Lord? Is God our last resort, after everything else we’ve tried has failed, or is He our “as soon as.”

The psalmist David asked: From where does my help come?

Hezekiah knew where his help came from. Do we know where our help comes from?

Our help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth.

Old Testament In a Year: September 24 – Isaiah 34, 35, 36

Isaiah 34, 35, 36
Focus Verse: Do not let Hezekiah make you trust in the Lord by saying, “The Lord will surely deliver us. This city will not be given into the hand of the king of Assyria.” – Isaiah 36:15

In his derision of Hezekiah’s faith, the Assyrian Rabshakeh depicts God as being against those who place their trust in Him; as someone who is unable to deliver in times of distress.

Instead of placing their trust in God, the Rabshakeh urges the people of Judah to trust in him, to make their peace with him, and to follow him. The Rabshakeh tells the people that living in captivity in his land will be better than living in freedom in God’s land.

Such is the sort of language that Satan would have us believe today.

He derides our faith. In moments of distress, trouble, and uncertainty, He depicts God as being against us and powerless to deliver us.

Satan taunts: Why trust in God when your friend is dying of cancer? Is He healing her? Why trust in God when you’re struggling financially? Is He helping you? Why trust in God when your parents are divorcing? Is He keeping them together?

Instead of trusting Him, trust me, Satan urges. Make peace with me, not God. Follow me, not Christ.

He will make it seem that living in bondage in his kingdom of darkness is better than living in freedom in God’s kingdom of marvelous light.

But that is not the case. When Satan speaks his lies, what, then, shall we say in response?

If God is for us, who can be against us?

Old Testament In a Year: September 23 – Isaiah 32, 33

Isaiah 32, 33
Focus Verse: O Lord, be gracious to us; we wait for You. Be our arm every morning, our salvation in the time of trouble. – Isaiah 33:2

As Isaiah obediently spoke the unpleasant words that God gave him to speak to the people of Israel and Judah, he could not help mixing his prophecies with prayers. After all, the words he spoke were words of destruction and condemnation, rebuke and wrath.

Although God would allow the destruction that was coming, Isaiah knew that God was also the only one who could save from the destruction. So, he turned to prayer. He poured out his heart to God. He pleaded with Him to be gracious. Before the time of trouble even came, Isaiah asked God to save.

While we should not pray only when we are in trouble or in need of deliverance, prayer to God in such times is the best thing that we can do. Lack of prayer to God shows a lack of trust in God to change our situation. And after we have prayed to God, we must wait for Him – wait for Him to speak, to move, to work.

Old Testament In a Year: September 22 – Isaiah 30, 31

Isaiah 30, 31
Focus Verse: Therefore the Lord waits to be gracious to you, and therefore He exalts Himself to show mercy to you. For the Lord is a God of justice; blessed are all those who wait for Him. – Isaiah 30:18

The book of Isaiah is not the easiest book to read. Much of its message is one of rebuke, prophecy, and condemnation to the kingdoms of Israel and Judah which had shut their eyes to God’s goodness, closed their ears to His truth, and were in a cycle of idolatry, evil, and unrighteousness.

But amid the message of rebuke, there is also one of redemption. There are prophecies not only of destruction, but also of deliverance; not only of judgment, but also of justice; not only of sin, but also of salvation. The book of Isaiah not only speaks of a period of condemnation, but also one of cleansing.

In this chapter (30), after pronouncing woes upon the “stubborn children,” “rebellious people,” “lying children,” “children unwilling to hear the instruction of the Lord,” Isaiah then says…therefore.

Therefore…the Lord waits to be gracious to you.

Therefore…He exalts Himself to show mercy to you.

Even though Israel and Judah had turned away from Him, refused to carry out His plan, didn’t want to hear anymore about Him, and despised His Word, God still waited to show them grace and mercy. In this passage, the word “wait” means that God longed to be gracious to His people. With eager expectation, He stood by to show mercy to His children.

Because He is a God of justice and righteousness, He had to punish their sin; however, He did not mean for that punishment to last forever.

When we sin and experience God’s punishment, it’s easy to think that His punishment will last a lifetime, but that is not the case. Nothing we do can exhaust God’s long-suffering or stop His grace over our lives.

His silence in times of punishment is often just His way of standing by, of waiting for us to cry to Him, to turn back to Him, and ask forgiveness. He is not planning to make an end of us. He is resolved to wait. Determined to be gracious. Intent on showing mercy.