ISAIAH 48:12-50:11 | EPHESIANS 4:17-32 | PSALM 69:1-18 | PROVERBS 24:5-6
Click on the arrow below to listen to a recording of this post:
Isaiah is foretelling the future of Israel, and in these magnificent verses we learn of Israel’s redemption and freedom. The Lord says through Isaiah: “I will also make you a light for the Gentiles, that my salvation may reach to the ends of the earth.”
Israel is not only being restored, it is through Israel and because of Israel that the hope for the rest of mankind will come to pass. And if this is a shocking prophecy to you, it was to Israel as well. Because Isaiah goes on to offer a prophetic response on behalf of Israel in these words:14 But Zion said, “The LORD has forsaken me, the Lord has forgotten me.”
And the Lord’s response to this is plain and simple:
15 “Can a mother forget the baby at her breast
and have no compassion on the child she has borne?
Though she may forget,
I will not forget you!
16 See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands;
your walls are ever before me.
17 Your children hasten back,
and those who laid you waste depart from you.
18 Lift up your eyes and look around;
all your children gather and come to you.
As surely as I live,” declares the LORD,
“you will wear them all as ornaments;
you will put them on, like a bride.
This is not a God who minces his words, but one that spells them out. Whether or not you are Jew or Gentile, it is words like these that you would want to read not once or twice, but many times over to allow for its meaning to come through. The Lord says to Israel:
26 I will make your oppressors eat their own flesh;
they will be drunk on their own blood, as with wine.
Then all mankind will know
that I, the LORD, am your Savior,
your Redeemer, the Mighty One of Jacob.”
Turning next to our reading of Paul’s letter to the Ephesians, we find Paul giving his readers a list of instructions for Christian living. If there was danger of lapsing back into the very orthodox Jewish beliefs and customs that were now meaningless—such as circumcision—that Paul had to caution the Corinthians and the Galatians about, likewise Paul now had to caution the non-Jews and Jews alike to beware of certain Gentile practices.
Paul’s advice is solid common sense, yet one that needed to be stated—clearly and concisely. Paul tells them: 22 You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; 23 to be made new in the attitude of your minds; 24 and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.
Then, he goes on to tell them this: 25 Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to your neighbor, for we are all members of one body. 26 “In your anger do not sin”: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, 27 and do not give the devil a foothold. 28 Anyone who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with their own hands, that they may have something to share with those in need.
The importance of exercising self-control over one’s words is an important theme in Paul’s communications, and even here, he does not spare the opportunity to tell them this: 29 Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. 30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. 31 Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. 32 Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.
Finally, turning to our psalm for the day, we find one which must have surely been written at a time of deep despair in the life of David, king of Israel. Who among us has not experienced despair in the same degree? And while we might readily agree to having shared in such despair, could we also say that we have turned to the Lord for help in the same way that David does?
This is David’s plea for help, and the sheer faith in God’s power to save him is inspiring in each and every line! May it be that we might learn from this prayer on how to place our complete trust in God’s ability to rescue us in our darkest hour. David says:
13 But I pray to you, LORD,
in the time of your favor;
in your great love, O God,
answer me with your sure salvation.
14 Rescue me from the mire,
do not let me sink;
deliver me from those who hate me,
from the deep waters.
15 Do not let the floodwaters engulf me
or the depths swallow me up
or the pit close its mouth over me.
16 Answer me, LORD, out of the goodness of your love;
in your great mercy turn to me.
17 Do not hide your face from your servant;
answer me quickly, for I am in trouble.
18 Come near and rescue me;
deliver me because of my foes.
Finally, two verses from the book of Proverbs that comprise one of the “sayings” authored by Solomon, king of Israel:
5 The wise prevail through great power,
and those who have knowledge muster their strength.
6 Surely you need guidance to wage war,
and victory is won through many advisers.
May God bless the reading and reflection of His Word.