Psalm 117 has the distinction of being the middle chapter in the entire Bible and also the shortest. But don't mistake its brevity for lack of punch! Good things come in small packages. These are 2 verses packed with power!
Saturday, April 30, 2016
Friday, April 29, 2016
Wednesday, April 27, 2016
The scope of God's love extends well beyond the natural descendants of Abraham. It also includes foreigners who bind themselves to the covenant as well as eunuchs who will not be passing on a heritage to future generations. When these groups ask if there is room in God's family for them, too, the answer is a resounding yes! Isaiah's message in chapter 56 is that there are no second-class citizens in the kingdom!
Tuesday, April 26, 2016
One of the things that I love so much about God is how invitational He is! We see this in such scripture as Jesus' message in the gospels of "Come to me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest," and the Lord's announcement in Revelation, "Behold, I stand at the door and knock!" We are certainly blessed to have a God who regularly beckons us to follow Him.
Many prophetic passages are filled with the wrath of God against His disobedient people. How refreshing, then, to find the hopeful and hope-filled word of Isaiah 54 that speak of the reconciliation God is forging with His covenant nation!
There's nothing like a near-death experience to bring a person to their knees. The psalmist who composed #116 understood this intimately. He was close to death, but he called out to the Lord and found his life saved. As you can imagine, he is extremely grateful to God for His merciful salvation! While you may never find yourself snatched from the jaws of death by the Lord, ALL CHRISTIANS can testify that God has saved our lives - for eternity! We can sing along with the psalmist, "Gracious is the Lord, and righteous; our God is merciful...For you have delivered my soul from death, my eyes from tears, my feet from stumbling" (vs. 4 and 8). Praise the Lord that our God is in the salvation business!
Sunday, April 24, 2016
Friday, April 22, 2016
Thursday, April 21, 2016
Isaiah 51 is a chapter full of good news. Whereas the prophet foresees that the chosen people will be punished by Babylon for their unfaithfulness, Isaiah also knows that the time will come for the severity to end. He reveals that a day will appear when the oppressed will be set free and the oppressors will face judgment themselves. It is a good word for Israel.
Isaiah 50 delves into some of the circumstances that the servant of the Lord will experience. Rather than acclaim and acceptance, he will face rejection and scorn. Yet he remains undaunted, for he knows that God is helping him.
Tuesday, April 19, 2016
I remember learning in school about the importance of identifying the main character in literature. This is the person who the story is really about. He or she is the central figure of the action, the one that defines everything else. When it comes to our experience, many of us expect to be the star of our own story, or at least to see humanity in that role. In reality, however, the main character of Creation is God. Psalm 115 helps us see this truth.
Saturday, April 16, 2016
What makes idolatry so attractive to its practitioners? Why do they fall for the lure of believing that a hunk of wood or lump of stone is really a god that they should worship? We might think that those who sacrifice to idols are really quite foolish. But what if it isn't really about faith so much as it is about control?
Friday, April 15, 2016
"Thus says the Lord to his anointed, to Cyrus, whose right hand I have grasped to subdue the nations before him and strip kings of their robes, to open doors before him - and the gates shall not be closed" (vs. 1). After reading Isaiah 45, you could be forgiven for asking, "Cyrus who?" That's probably what Isaiah's original audience asked, too!
Thursday, April 14, 2016
Wednesday, April 13, 2016
"See, the former things have come to pass, and new things I now declare; before they spring forth, I tell you of them" (vs. 9). In chapter 42, the prophet Isaiah is blessed to bring forth new prophecies which tell of a coming "servant" of the Lord who will do mighty things.
Sunday, April 10, 2016
Saturday, April 9, 2016
Thursday, April 7, 2016
Perhaps God's original plan to let King Hezekiah die prematurely in Isaiah 38 would have been the best plan after all. As it is, Hezekiah's naive foreign policy after his miraculous recovery may have been a very costly blunder for his nation. Even worse, it appears that he couldn't have cared less!
Wednesday, April 6, 2016
Chapters like Isaiah 38 raise a conundrum. At first, the prophet appears before King Hezekiah with a message from God: "Set your house in order for you shall die. You shall not recover." That sounds pretty definitive, especially coming from a prophet like Isaiah! However, after Hezekiah turns to God with an earnest prayer, the word from the Lord changes. Now fifteen years will be added to the king's life! What gives? Does God change His mind?
Tuesday, April 5, 2016
Duplication happens in the Bible from time to time. You may read an account of the same event in Jesus' ministry in two, three, or even four gospels. A verse like the creation account of man and woman from Genesis 2 pops up in Matthew and well as Ephesians. We also see two Psalms (14 and 53) that are nearly identical. So it is that this section of Isaiah recapitulates material found in II Kings.
Monday, April 4, 2016
"Do not let Hezekiah mislead you by saying, The Lord will save us. Has any of the gods of the nations saved their land out of the hand of the king of Assyria? Where are the gods of Hamath and Arpad? Where are the gods of the Sepharvaim? Have they delivered Samaria out of my hand? Who among all the gods of these countries have saved their countries out of my hand, that the Lord should save Jerusalem out of my hand?" (vs. 18-20)
Sunday, April 3, 2016
Saturday, April 2, 2016
Friday, April 1, 2016
The literary world is full of allusions to the Bible, sometimes quoting it directly. Unfortunately, many of these callbacks are missed when the Bible is no longer studied and given a place of honor in our culture. Even a relatively obscure chapter like Isaiah 32 holds biblical imagery that is picked up in other works.