Sovereign, Comforter, Redeemer

Isaiah 48:16-17.

16 Come ye near unto

me, hear ye this; I have not spoken in secret from the beginning; from the time that it was, there am I: and now the Lord God, and his Spirit, hath sent Me.

17 Thus saith the Lord, thy Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel; I am the Lord thy God which teacheth thee to profit, which leadeth thee by the way that thou shouldest go.

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There are many references all through scripture that mention the three who are part of what we refer to as the Trinity.  While it is true that the actual word trinity is not used in scripture, the concept shows up very early, starting in Genesis 1:1.  “In the beginning, GOD. . . .”  in which the word GOD is Elohim, the plural form of the word. Singular is El or Eloah. However, even though Elohim is plural, it governs a singular verb.  There really is no good way to translate this into English, but for the purposes of illustration, in English we would say He (singular)  is;  They are.  But in Hebrew,  the usage is They (plural, Elohim) is (singular).  They is  would sound very strange to us, but understanding this point of grammar is helpful in understanding the plurality of God.

I say all that to help clarify our passage for today, because a literary term, point of view, changes in verse 16.  It changes to the second Person of the Trinity,  the Messiah.

There is no doubt that the speaker in v. 16 is a Divine Person, Who had openly, and not secretly, spoken of the plan to raise up Cyrus, from the beginning. This appears to have been the Messiah Whom God and His Spirit (the Holy Spirit) had sent. Here is a clear reference to the Divine Trinity of separate and distinct persons in the Elohim of Scripture–the Lord God (one Person), the Holy Spirit (another Person), and the Messiah (still another Person) sent by the two–the Lord God and the Holy Spirit.

In verse 17, Redeemer is a title that is used only of Jesus, Messiah, sent by God and the Holy Spirit.

Do I, in my human finite brain, understand how all this can be?  No, not really.  God has said that His ways are above ours, that His thoughts are above ours.  Faith is believing that what God says is true. Someday, I will understand.  For now, I accept by faith that God exists in a realm and in a manner far above, outside, beyond my intellectual understanding.  He is Sovereign, He is the Comforter, He is the Redeemer.

He Stretched Out the Heavens

Isaiah 42:5-7. “Thus saith God the Lord, He that created the heavens, and stretched them out: He that spread forth the earth, and that which comes out of it: He that giveth breath unto the people upon it, and spirit to them that walk therein: I the Lord have called Thee to righteousness, and will hold Thine hand, and will keep Thee, and give Thee for a covenant of the people, for a light of the Gentiles: To open the blind eyes, to bring out the prisoners from the prison, and them that sit in darkness out of the prison house.

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There is so much power, such majesty, in these verses! To think about what God did at the creation of the universe is more than my mind can take in.

Why did God  start this passage with a declaration of His power?  I believe it was to set the scene for the remarkable things He has to say to His Son, Messiah, Jesus Christ. Only God has the right and the power to make such declarations.

All statements in vv. 6-7, as in vv. 1-4, refer to Jesus Christ, Messiah, the beloved Son of God.  God says that He will guide, lead, and protect the Messiah, as we protect children when we hold them by the hand. God would make the Messiah the mediator of the new covenant, which was to be better than the law of Moses. It would be not only for the Jews, but for all people.

Light is an emblem of knowledge, instruction, and truth. One of the marks of Messiah was that He would bring truth to those who were blinded to it.

To bring out the prisoners from the prison. . .This can be taken literally, because Christ descended first into the lower parts of the earth to liberate the righteous souls from sheol where they had been held captive, waiting for release. Christ led them captive to heaven when He ascended on high (Mt. 12;40; Eph. 4:8-10; Heb. 2:14-15).  These events are worthy of their own study at some future time.  There is so much in God’s Word. So much, and so little time!

 

Only God Knows

Isaiah 41:26-29. “Who hath declared from the beginning, that we may know? and beforetime, that we may say, He is righteous? yea, there is none that sheweth, yea, there is none that declareth, yea, there is none that heareth your words. The first shall say to Zion, Behold, behold them: and I will give to Jerusalem one that bringeth good tidings. For I beheld, and there was no man: even among them, and there was no counsellor, that, when I asked of them, could answer a word. Behold, they are all vanity: their works are nothing: their molten images are wind and confusion.”

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Earlier, God rebuked the gods created by man, and those who worshiped those gods. In this passage, He challenges anyone to compare to Him in His knowledge to tell beforehand what will happen.  He is the only One Who knows!

God claimed the making of a plan from eternity to eternity, and the making of predictions from the beginning, long before they came to pass, revealing to man what was to happen, This is what He challenged idols to do, as in v. 21-24, in order to prove their divinity. Everyone knows that only a supernatural Being could do such things: and there are over six thousand verses of prophecy to confirm this fact.

In v. 27, Zion and Jerusalem, or the Jews, are the ones dealt with in Isaiah. There is no Israel other than these who will be blessed, because Jews are the whole of all the tribes.

In verse 28, Isaiah and, secondarily, other prophets, are those who are the bearers of the good tidings from Jehovah.

The reasons God gave predictions are many, but the main one is that He is the only One Who can foretell future events. No man or his idol can make such things known or even give counsel concerning such tidings. They are empty, vain, nothing, beside God.

God’s Word is Eternal

Isaiah 40:6-8. “The voice said, Cry. And he said, What shall I cry?  All flesh is grass, and all the goodliness thereof is as the flower of the field: The grass withereth, the flower fadeth: because the spirit of the Lord bloweth upon it: surely the people is grass. The grass withereth, the flower fadeth: but the  word of our God shall stand for ever.”

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This voice is not the same as in v. 3, which referred to John the Baptist.  This is the voice of God speaking to Isaiah.  Isaiah’s response is unfaltering. He implicitly agrees by asking, “What shall I cry?”

God’s response to Isaiah is quoted in I Peter 1:24-26. This was the message the voice of the vision told him to cry out–men are like grass which withers soon and is gone, but the Word of the Lord shall stand forever (Ps. 119:89-91; Matt. 5:18; 24:35; Mk. 13:31; Jn. 10:35; 12:34; I Pet. 1:25.

 

God Speaks

Isaiah 37:23-24. “Whom hast thou reproached and blasphemed? and against Whom hast thou exalted thy voice, and lifted up thine eyes on high? even against the Holy One of Israel. By thy servants hast thou reproached the Lord, and hast said, By the multitude of my chariots am I come up to the height of the mountains, to the sides of Lebanon; and I will cut down the tall cedars thereof, and the choice fir trees thereof: and I will enter into the height of his border, and the forest of his Carmel.”

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I am reminded of Lucifer’s claims that he would be higher than God.  That didn’t work out so well, either.  Sennacherib  certainly had reason, in human terms, to think highly of himself and his ancestors. They had built a mighty kingdom through ruthless cruelty.

But he wasn’t greater than God.  He’s soon to find out just out paltry his own strength really is.

Sennacherib was counting on his huge army, his horses and chariots and weapons, to  triumph over Jerusalem.  He bragged that he would cut down the glorious cedars of Lebanon, and the tall fir trees.  No one could stand against him,  He would prevail, and he boasted and announced his prowess loud and long before the first saber was ever rattled.  It almost seems as if he was so sure that his words would intimidate the citizens of Jerusalem so much that there wouldn’t even be any resistance.

 

Antichrist Judged

Isaiah 33: 10-12. ” Now will I rise, saith the Lord: now will I be exalted: now will I life up Myself. Ye shall conceive chaff, ye shall bring forth stubble; your breath, as fire, shall devour you. And the people shall be as the burning of lime: as thorns cut up shall they be burned in the fire.”

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The time will come when God has had enough of the arrogance and rebellion of Antichrist and his followers. When He rises and takes His proper position of authority, Antichrist and his armies will be like chaff that blows away in the wind when grain is threshed. They will be devoured by their own breath, burned like thorns that have been gathered when fields are cleared for plowing.

Antichrist will have no power to withstand the  power of the Lord God of Israel, the Holy One of Israel, the Lord God of Hosts.

We too often forget Who He is. Sovereign, holy, omnipotent God. No one has more authority than He; no one can stand against Him when He unleashes his judgment on them for their rebellion against Him.

Destruction of the Unjust

Isaiah 26:21. “For behold, the Lord cometh out of His place to punish the inhabitants of the earth for their iniquity: the earth also shall disclose her blood, and shall no more cover her slain.”

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The Lord’s place is heaven. When He comes out of His place, He will bring dire consequences to those who have denied Him (Rev. 19: 11-21).

“The blood of the earth” here refers to guilt, as in the case of the blood of Abel which was said to be crying from the ground (Gen. 4:10). The guilt of the earth will be disclosed and it will no longer be able to cover its slain; that is, the earth will not be able to hide crimes so they will not be known.  All sin committed in the Millennium will be fully exposed–never kept secret, due to the fact that the resurrected saints will be rulers and judges throughout the earth, and in their glorified, immortal state of knowing as they were also known, they will be able to read the thoughts of men and thereby know the guilt of any transgressor  (I Cor. 13:12).

A Storm Against the Wall

Isaiah 25:4-5. “For Thou hast been a strength to the poor, a strength to the needy in his distress, and refuge from the storm, a shadow from the heat, when the blast of the terrible ones is as a storm against the wall. Thou shalt bring down the noise of strangers, as the heat in a dry place; even the heat with the shadow of a cloud; the branch of the terrible ones shall be brought low.

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I thought of Texas this morning, as I read these two verses ( the picture above is NOT Texas).  Man often feels quite good about the structures he makes to protect from natural disasters, but God’s power is so much greater. When He sends a “storm against the wall,” it can make our efforts look pretty puny.

In verse 4, we see four ways in which God has blessed His people:

His is a strength to the poor.

He is a strength to the needy in distress.

He is a refuge from the storm.

He is a shadow from the heat.

In verse five, “the terrible ones” describes a mighty army that comes in and quickly destroys a nation that is unprepared.

I am reminded of this old hymn:

 

 

Sunday Morning Coffee: I am Thankful

It’s a little later than  usual for writing my Sunday post. The reason:   I’m not quite ready for the ride to church, for sitting through two services, and the long ride home.  Too much sitting for the time being.

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If you’ve been following my Bible study blog, you know I have a back that is slowly but surely disintegrating.  I now have both my sacroiliac joints fused. The one on the right side is the one that’s keeping me grounded for a few more days.  Surgery was a week ago Tuesday.

I’m doing well, really.  It’s an amazingly helpful procedure. My surgeon is one of the doctors who created and refined the surgery, which of course increases my confidence in him.

So today, I want to share with you some things for which I am thankful, things that have a direct bearing on my recent surgery and back issues. They won’t be in any particular order of importance, except for the first two.

First:  Knowing Jesus Christ as my Savior and Lord.  That knowledge  has given me great peace and confidence over the past couple of pain-filled years. There will be more pain. It’s a degenerative condition that isn’t planning to go away any time soon. But I should be good for a while now, and I’m thankful.

Second:  Terry, my husband, who is a thoughtful and faithful caregiver. He has taken over all “my” chores for several months now. I literally have nothing to do at home except relax and allow him to take care of me.  Not being of a dependent nature, it has been a difficult lesson for me to sit down, shut up, and let him do his thing.

Other things for which I am thankful:  My church family and my pastor. They have faithfully prayed and expressed concern for me, sending  lots of cards and notes to encourage me.

I’m thankful for a comfortable bed, and for my new My Pillows, which have definitely lived up to the advertisements.

I’m thankful for my chiropractor, who has taken care of me for nearly 23 years. I’m pretty sure my condition would have been a lot worse a lot sooner without his expertise.

I’m thankful for my primary care doctor, who is patient with my efforts to keep my A1C at a healthy level.

I’m thankful for the three of my grandchildren who live only 30 minutes away–and their parents, of course 🙂  Last night they came up, brought supper, and two of our closest friends came to share it all with us.

I’m thankful for all the new friends I’ve made in cyberspace.  That’s a surprise I wasn’t expecting when I launched this, my first blog. It’s an added benefit that continues to surprise me.

I’m thankful for all that I’ve learned as I’ve blogged through several books of the Bible. When you study in order to write/teach, I’m convinced you learn a LOT more than your readers do!

I’m thankful for the homeschool co-op our church hosts. We start the fall semester on Sept. 8, and I’ll be teaching  Shakespeare’s Merchant of Venice.  I’ve certainly had plenty of time to study!

I’m just thankful this morning. God is good.  All the time.

Wisdom from God

My mother would have been nearly 92 today. Her birthday was May 16.  She was 87 when she went to heaven.

The temptation to write another eulogy to her today is strong, but I’ve done that before, more than once, so I think I’ll go somewhere else today.

I’ve been thinking about the biblical Eve.  Wondering how she learned to be a mother; wondering if Adam  and Eve came packaged with the instinct to be parents.

I’ve wondered especially how she dealt with the guilt she must have felt after eating that forbidden fruit and being expelled from their earthly paradise; and again, what must have been in her heart and mind when her first son killed her second son in a fit of jealousy and rage.

Surely she grieved the death of Abel, as any mother would grieve, I can only imagine her broken-hearted sobbing as they buried Abel, and waited to see what God would do with Cain.

There were no self-help books back then to guide her step-by-step through her process. There wasn’t a Bible. There weren’t any counselors with detailed training on grief and loss.  She had Adam. Even better, she had God.

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We know she went on to have many more children. Some researchers, using biblical genealogy lists, estimate that Adam could have fathered at least 50 children, possibly more.  We don’t know if all of them were also Eve’s children, but we can be fairly certain that she mothered several more after Abel died.

So how did she do that? How did she go on, probably for at least a couple more hundred years, and provide the nurturing required of her?  As time passed and her children had children of their own,  how did she know what it was to be a grandmother? A great-grandmother?  She had no pattern set by her own mother or grandmother. No example to follow.

We have to remember that Eve, before she sinned, was the perfect woman. Unmatched in intellect, wisdom,  and a personal knowledge of God.

And right there is the answer to all my questions.  God did not remove Himself from relationship with Adam and Eve after they sinned. He did set boundaries that hadn’t existed until after they sinned, and the fellowship they had with Him changed. There were no more walks with God in the Garden in the cool of the evening.

There was, however, prayer. Direct-to-God, no mediator needed, heartfelt, seeking, sometimes desperate prayer. I believe both Adam and Eve were perhaps the best pray-ers who ever lived. After all, they had known God personally. Their experience with Him was unique, their understanding of Him different from all those who came after them. I believe that He taught her what she needed to know,  and/or guided her through the hard places when she didn’t know what to do.

Wisdom, after all, comes from God.  Then, now, and always.

James 1:5.”If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.”