ISAIAH 33:10-36:22 | GALATIANS 5:13-26 | PSALM 64:1-10 | PROVERBS 23:23
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Isaiah’s prophecies continue, and they take on a serious note of detail concerning the end times for when the Messiah will return the second time around. After a section on the wrath of the Lord against all nations and his judgment upon them, there is a section on the joy of those redeemed. The imagery employed by Isaiah is exquisite. These are Isaiah’s words to the children of Israel:
3 Strengthen the feeble hands,
steady the knees that give way;
4 say to those with fearful hearts,
“Be strong, do not fear;
your God will come,
he will come with vengeance;
with divine retribution
he will come to save you.”
And there’s more where that came from:
5 Then will the eyes of the blind be opened
and the ears of the deaf unstopped.
6 Then will the lame leap like a deer,
and the mute tongue shout for joy.
Water will gush forth in the wilderness
and streams in the desert.
7 The burning sand will become a pool,
the thirsty ground bubbling springs.
In the haunts where jackals once lay,
grass and reeds and papyrus will grow.
Next there is a record of the great threat made by Sennecherib, king of Assyria to Israel’s Hezekiah. Sennecherib’s commander tell’s Hezekiah’s men, 18 “Do not let Hezekiah mislead you when he says, ‘The LORD will deliver us.’ Have the gods of any nations ever delivered their lands from the hand of the king of Assyria? 19 Where are the gods of Hamath and Arpad? Where are the gods of Sepharvaim? Have they rescued Samaria from my hand? 20 Who of all the gods of these countries have been able to save their lands from me? How then can the LORD deliver Jerusalem from my hand?”
It is to be seen if the Lord will indeed deliver Jersusalem!
Turning next to our reading of Paul’s letter to the Galatians, we find Paul exhorting the young church to weigh the merits of the Law in relation to the gift of eternal life received by faith in the grace of the Lord God through the person of Jesus Christ. He has covered in considerable detail the futility of observing the Law whereby one is essentially discounting the great work of righteousness accomplished by Christ on the cross, and yet, it appears as if the Galatians feel compelled to follow the Law.
Paul says to them, 13 You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love. 14 For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”
And if there’s any question about what Paul means by the term “indulge the flesh”, there’s no need to wonder for long, because Paul goes on to provide quite the list. He says, 19 The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; 20 idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions 21 and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.
And having now been soundly informed about what is not recommended one engage in, Paul goes on to make very specific recommendations for what is indeed desirable. We have the power to choose our actions, he seems to say, and this new-found freedom that is found in the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ will allow you to make your decisions even more clearly. This freedom to do what you wish is entirely yours, and is not to be dictated by the Law—which very clearly outlines what you may and may not do, however, with your freedom, choose wisely your actions.
Paul’s exact words are these: 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. 24 Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. 26 Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.
Turning now to our reading of the psalms, we find David ruminating on the greatness of the Lord Almighty that overshadows every human scheme. David says, referring to those who might consider themselves smug in their own abilities:
5 They encourage each other in evil plans,
they talk about hiding their snares;
they say, “Who will see it?”
6 They plot injustice and say,
“We have devised a perfect plan!”
Surely the human mind and heart are cunning.
Finally, one brilliant verse from the book of Proverbs:
23 Buy the truth and do not sell it—
wisdom, instruction and insight as well.
May God bless the reading and reflection of His Word.