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Category Archives: Isaiah

Isaiah 1:10-17

Listen to the Lord, you leaders of “Sodom.” Listen to the law of our God, people of “Gomorrah.” “What makes you think I want all your sacrifices?” says the Lord. “I am sick of your burnt offerings of rams and the fat of fattened cattle. I get no pleasure from the blood of bulls and lambs and goats. When you come to worship me, who asked you to parade through my courts with all your ceremony? Stop bringing me your meaningless gifts; the incense of your offerings disgusts me! As for your celebrations of the new moon and the Sabbath and your special days for fasting— they are all sinful and false. I want no more of your pious meetings. I hate your new moon celebrations and your annual festivals. They are a burden to me. I cannot stand them! When you lift up your hands in prayer, I will not look. Though you offer many prayers, I will not listen, for your hands are covered with the blood of innocent victims. Wash yourselves and be clean! Get your sins out of my sight. Give up your evil ways. Learn to do good. Seek justice. Help the oppressed. Defend the cause of orphans. Fight for the rights of widows.
Isaiah 1:10-17

Dear God, it’s interesting to see your frustration and message to the Israelites through Isaiah: Stop doing evil things and love others! Don’t try to impress me because I’m not to be mocked or fooled. I can see beneath your veneer. I see who you really are.

So who do you see when you look at me? I know what I hope you see. Is that reality?

Father, I know I’m flawed. I’m sorry for that. I really am. To quote a hymn, “Take my life and let it be consecrated, Lord, to thee.”

In Jesus’s name I pray,

Amen

 
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Posted by on November 9, 2021 in Isaiah

 

Isaiah 53:1-11

Who has believed our message? To whom has the Lord revealed his powerful arm? My servant grew up in the Lord’s presence like a tender green shoot, like a root in dry ground. There was nothing beautiful or majestic about his appearance, nothing to attract us to him. He was despised and rejected— a man of sorrows, acquainted with deepest grief. We turned our backs on him and looked the other way. He was despised, and we did not care. Yet it was our weaknesses he carried; it was our sorrows that weighed him down. And we thought his troubles were a punishment from God, a punishment for his own sins! But he was pierced for our rebellion, crushed for our sins. He was beaten so we could be whole. He was whipped so we could be healed. All of us, like sheep, have strayed away. We have left God’s paths to follow our own. Yet the Lord laid on him the sins of us all. He was oppressed and treated harshly, yet he never said a word. He was led like a lamb to the slaughter. And as a sheep is silent before the shearers, he did not open his mouth. Unjustly condemned, he was led away. No one cared that he died without descendants, that his life was cut short in midstream. But he was struck down for the rebellion of my people. He had done no wrong and had never deceived anyone. But he was buried like a criminal; he was put in a rich man’s grave. But it was the Lord’s good plan to crush him and cause him grief. Yet when his life is made an offering for sin, he will have many descendants. He will enjoy a long life, and the Lord ’s good plan will prosper in his hands. When he sees all that is accomplished by his anguish, he will be satisfied. And because of his experience, my righteous servant will make it possible for many to be counted righteous, for he will bear all their sins.
Isaiah 53:1-11

Dear God, I’ve read some of these prophecies about Jesus many times, but I found myself wondering this morning about him as a boy and then how he developed into a man. At what point did his identity start to form in his mind? When he first heard these words or other prophecies like this did your Holy Spirit whisper to him, “This is you”? Maybe Mary and/or Joseph told him. Maybe they told him the story of his conception and birth. Maybe they told him about the wise men and then fleeing to Egypt. I’m sure they waited until he was older until they told him about the children who died.

Then, at some point, he had to figure out something they didn’t understand at first. That Zechariah and Elizabeth didn’t understand about John and Jesus. He had to understand this passage. He had to reject the idea that he would be loved and conquer. He had to embrace the words here that he would be despised. When he was in the temple at 12, maybe that’s what he was asking about. That’s a total guess, but he had a lot to learn. And then, when he got to his own baptism and 40 days of fasting followed by the temptations, he had to resist going against this prophecy. This prophecy and the plan you laid out for Jesus through it is the reason I can be here today. In fact, now that I think about it, maybe it was written more for Jesus than anyone else.

Father, I am grateful. I’m grateful for your plan. I’m grateful for Jesus. I’m grateful for Isaiah. I’m grateful for scripture. I’m so grateful. Thank you for all of this!

In Jesus’s name I pray,

Amen

 
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Posted by on October 17, 2021 in Isaiah

 

Isaiah 52:13-15,53:5-12

See, my servant will prosper; he will be highly exalted. But many were amazed when they saw him. His face was so disfigured he seemed hardly human, and from his appearance, one would scarcely know he was a man. And he will startle many nations. Kings will stand speechless in his presence. For they will see what they had not been told; they will understand what they had not heard about…

But he was pierced for our rebellion, crushed for our sins. He was beaten so we could be whole. He was whipped so we could be healed. All of us, like sheep, have strayed away. We have left God’s paths to follow our own. Yet the Lord laid on him the sins of us all. He was oppressed and treated harshly, yet he never said a word. He was led like a lamb to the slaughter. And as a sheep is silent before the shearers, he did not open his mouth. Unjustly condemned, he was led away. No one cared that he died without descendants, that his life was cut short in midstream. But he was struck down for the rebellion of my people. He had done no wrong and had never deceived anyone. But he was buried like a criminal; he was put in a rich man’s grave. But it was the Lord’s good plan to crush him and cause him grief. Yet when his life is made an offering for sin, he will have many descendants. He will enjoy a long life, and the Lord ’s good plan will prosper in his hands. When he sees all that is accomplished by his anguish, he will be satisfied. And because of his experience, my righteous servant will make it possible for many to be counted righteous, for he will bear all their sins. I will give him the honors of a victorious soldier, because he exposed himself to death. He was counted among the rebels. He bore the sins of many and interceded for rebels.

Isaiah 52:13-15,53:5-12

Dear God, they had no idea what this would actually look like. They couldn’t recognize Jesus in this when they saw it. And even if someone had pointed it out to them, they would probably have rejected that this was the “messenger” Isaiah mentioned. Why? Because we simply cannot see the reality happening around us in real time. We cannot see what you are doing.

I have a tricky thing to confront right now with another person, and I don’t know how to do it because I don’t know what is really going on. To quote myself from the last paragraph, I cannot see the reality that is happening around me in real time. I don’t know what’s going on in the other person’s heart. I can’t parse my concerns for them from my own ego and the things it desires. My vision is distorted by my own sinful nature. I cannot see this situation with your eyes, but I really want to.

Father, give me your eyes for just one second. Give me your eyes so I can see. And then give me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.

In Jesus’s name I pray,

Amen

 
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Posted by on March 31, 2021 in Isaiah

 

Isaiah 55

“Is anyone thirsty? Come and drink— even if you have no money! Come, take your choice of wine or milk— it’s all free! Why spend your money on food that does not give you strength? Why pay for food that does you no good? Listen to me, and you will eat what is good. You will enjoy the finest food. “Come to me with your ears wide open. Listen, and you will find life. I will make an everlasting covenant with you. I will give you all the unfailing love I promised to David. See how I used him to display my power among the peoples. I made him a leader among the nations. You also will command nations you do not know, and peoples unknown to you will come running to obey, because I, the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, have made you glorious.” Seek the Lord while you can find him. Call on him now while he is near. Let the wicked change their ways and banish the very thought of doing wrong. Let them turn to the Lord that he may have mercy on them. Yes, turn to our God, for he will forgive generously. “My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,” says the Lord. “And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine. For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so my ways are higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts. “The rain and snow come down from the heavens and stay on the ground to water the earth. They cause the grain to grow, producing seed for the farmer and bread for the hungry. It is the same with my word. I send it out, and it always produces fruit. It will accomplish all I want it to, and it will prosper everywhere I send it. You will live in joy and peace. The mountains and hills will burst into song, and the trees of the field will clap their hands! Where once there were thorns, cypress trees will grow. Where nettles grew, myrtles will sprout up. These events will bring great honor to the Lord’s name; they will be an everlasting sign of his power and love.”

Isaiah 55

Dear God, this is such a loving message from you through Isaiah. I know it was meant for another audience. You didn’t necessarily say it with a Gentile in the year 2021 in mind. Sure, it might apply to me, but what it definitely says is that you are so good. You are so loving. You want the best for us as your children.

Not that our lives will be easy. Not that we won’t face challenges, sorrow, or tragedies. But you will be there with us through thick and thin. You will reach out and love us. You will comfort us. Ultimately, we will be with you. We will be free from this. But even if we weren’t, the idea that you’re out there loving me is enough for me…I think.

Father, I confess that I am weak. My emotions ebb and flow. My faith is like the wind, blowing this way and that. I know that if I were to really suffer–and I don’t really know what real suffering is–then it would be harder for me to say words like this and believe them. But in this moment, right now, I am so delighted to call you my God. I love you and I want to do my part to be in this relationship.

In Jesus’s name I pray,

Amen

 
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Posted by on March 3, 2021 in Isaiah

 

Isaiah 58

“Shout with the voice of a trumpet blast. Shout aloud! Don’t be timid. Tell my people Israel of their sins! Yet they act so pious! They come to the Temple every day and seem delighted to learn all about me. They act like a righteous nation that would never abandon the laws of its God. They ask me to take action on their behalf, pretending they want to be near me. ‘We have fasted before you!’ they say. ‘Why aren’t you impressed? We have been very hard on ourselves, and you don’t even notice it!’ “I will tell you why!” I respond. “It’s because you are fasting to please yourselves. Even while you fast, you keep oppressing your workers. What good is fasting when you keep on fighting and quarreling? This kind of fasting will never get you anywhere with me. You humble yourselves by going through the motions of penance, bowing your heads like reeds bending in the wind. You dress in burlap and cover yourselves with ashes. Is this what you call fasting? Do you really think this will please the Lord? “No, this is the kind of fasting I want: Free those who are wrongly imprisoned; lighten the burden of those who work for you. Let the oppressed go free, and remove the chains that bind people. Share your food with the hungry, and give shelter to the homeless. Give clothes to those who need them, and do not hide from relatives who need your help. “Then your salvation will come like the dawn, and your wounds will quickly heal. Your godliness will lead you forward, and the glory of the Lord will protect you from behind. Then when you call, the Lord will answer. ‘Yes, I am here,’ he will quickly reply. “Remove the heavy yoke of oppression. Stop pointing your finger and spreading vicious rumors! Feed the hungry, and help those in trouble. Then your light will shine out from the darkness, and the darkness around you will be as bright as noon. The Lord will guide you continually, giving you water when you are dry and restoring your strength. You will be like a well-watered garden, like an ever-flowing spring. Some of you will rebuild the deserted ruins of your cities. Then you will be known as a rebuilder of walls and a restorer of homes. “Keep the Sabbath day holy. Don’t pursue your own interests on that day, but enjoy the Sabbath and speak of it with delight as the Lord’s holy day. Honor the Sabbath in everything you do on that day, and don’t follow your own desires or talk idly. Then the Lord will be your delight. I will give you great honor and satisfy you with the inheritance I promised to your ancestor Jacob. I, the Lord, have spoken!”

Isaiah 58

Dear God, oh, how I don’t want to be one of those people. I don’t want to be someone who, well, just has to be right, has to elevate myself over someone else, or has to hold a grudge over perceived wrongs done to me or others. I don’t want to be someone who is pious for piety’s sake. I want to be someone who worships you and loves you.

I think it’s the false piety that offends me the most in others and scares me the most about the potential I have for it myself. It’s the being religious and not truly worshipping you. It’s being self-righteous instead of repenting and basking in your forgiveness. The tendency I see in myself and others is the wont to make my faith in you and relationship with you more of a philosophical way of living my life instead of a life born out of communion and relationship with you.

Father, make this real. Make my life lived with you authentic. I am truly sorry for how I failed and how I continue to fail. Thank you for your grace. Thank you for allowing this Gentile to approach the king. Help my life to simply be a fleshing out of my relationship with you and not an empty shell with a Christian veneer.

In Jesus’s name I pray,

Amen

 
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Posted by on February 20, 2021 in Isaiah

 

Isaiah 1:10-17

Listen to the Lord, you leaders of “Sodom.” Listen to the law of our God, people of “Gomorrah.” “What makes you think I want all your sacrifices?” says the Lord. “I am sick of your burnt offerings of rams and the fat of fattened cattle. I get no pleasure from the blood of bulls and lambs and goats. When you come to worship me, who asked you to parade through my courts with all your ceremony? Stop bringing me your meaningless gifts; the incense of your offerings disgusts me! As for your celebrations of the new moon and the Sabbath and your special days for fasting— they are all sinful and false. I want no more of your pious meetings. I hate your new moon celebrations and your annual festivals. They are a burden to me. I cannot stand them! When you lift up your hands in prayer, I will not look. Though you offer many prayers, I will not listen, for your hands are covered with the blood of innocent victims. Wash yourselves and be clean! Get your sins out of my sight. Give up your evil ways. Learn to do good. Seek justice. Help the oppressed. Defend the cause of orphans. Fight for the rights of widows.

Isaiah 1:10-17

Dear God, I don’t even want to know what Isaiah would have to say on your behalf to the Christian church in our country today, let alone to me as an individual. I think I would rather live in a self-righteous, ignorant bliss that I’m right, everyone else is wrong, and they should all be doing things my way.

I’m particularly disturbed by how much the church has become in politics. I think we have bought the lie that political power equals influence in our culture. The ability to legislate a morality will enable us to influence that morality from the top down–through our authority–as opposed to through our submission to you.

So, assuming that the Christian church in America today is a fair representation of Israel in Isaiah’s time, what would you have to say to us through these verses? Having just come out of the Christmas season, I find this part of Isaiah’s words troubling:

As for your celebrations of the new moon and the Sabbath and your special days for fasting— they are all sinful and false. I want no more of your pious meetings. I hate your new moon celebrations and your annual festivals. They are a burden to me. I cannot stand them!

What do you think of our treatment of Christmas? How do you feel about us waging a war to be able to say “Merry Christmas” as opposed to “Happy Holidays?” Did that please you or did that disgust you? Do we burden you? Can you even stand to look at us at Christmas time?

Father, I feel like I am on this continual journey of repentance and submission. I’m sorry for the ways in which I grieve you. I know that I do, but I really do not want to. So speak to me (gently if you can) and reveal to my eyes the parts of my life that disgust you. And help me to be the voice in my family, community, and world that you need me to be for your glory’s sake.

In Jesus’s name I pray,

Amen

 
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Posted by on January 5, 2021 in Isaiah

 

Isaiah 43:16-25

“I am the Lord, who opened a way through the waters, making a dry path through the sea. I called forth the mighty army of Egypt with all its chariots and horses. I drew them beneath the waves, and they drowned, their lives snuffed out like a smoldering candlewick.

“But forget all that— it is nothing compared to what I am going to do. For I am about to do something new. See, I have already begun! Do you not see it? I will make a pathway through the wilderness. I will create rivers in the dry wasteland. The wild animals in the fields will thank me, the jackals and owls, too, for giving them water in the desert. Yes, I will make rivers in the dry wasteland so my chosen people can be refreshed. I have made Israel for myself, and they will someday honor me before the whole world.

“But, dear family of Jacob, you refuse to ask for my help. You have grown tired of me, O Israel! You have not brought me sheep or goats for burnt offerings. You have not honored me with sacrifices, though I have not burdened and wearied you with requests for grain offerings and frankincense. You have not brought me fragrant calamus or pleased me with the fat from sacrifices. Instead, you have burdened me with your sins and wearied me with your faults.

“I—yes, I alone—will blot out your sins for my own sake and will never think of them again.

Isaiah 43:16-25

Dear God, thank you for blotting out my sins. Thank you for making a pathway through the wilderness. I am sorry for growing tired of you. I am sorry for the times when I refuse to ask for your help. I am sorry for taking back the life I gave you and trying to live on my own. I am sorry for burdening you with my sins and wearying you with my faults. Thank you that you have overcome all of my humanness through what you did by sending Jesus to live, die, and rise again. Thank you.

Father, there isn’t much more to this. Your words through Isaiah are just a great reminder that I am foolish, sinful, selfish, and shortsighted. But you are gracious beyond my foolishness. You are forgiving beyond my sinfulness. You are loving beyond my selfishness. And you are compassionate beyond my shortsightedness. Thank you, Father. Thank you.

In Jesus’s name I pray,

Amen

 
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Posted by on December 31, 2020 in Isaiah

 

Isaiah 7:10-25

Later, the Lord sent this message to King Ahaz: “Ask the Lord your God for a sign of confirmation, Ahaz. Make it as difficult as you want—as high as heaven or as deep as the place of the dead. ” But the king refused. “No,” he said, “I will not test the Lord like that.” Then Isaiah said, “Listen well, you royal family of David! Isn’t it enough to exhaust human patience? Must you exhaust the patience of my God as well? All right then, the Lord himself will give you the sign. Look! The virgin will conceive a child! She will give birth to a son and will call him Immanuel (which means ‘God is with us’). By the time this child is old enough to choose what is right and reject what is wrong, he will be eating yogurt and honey. For before the child is that old, the lands of the two kings you fear so much will both be deserted. “Then the Lord will bring things on you, your nation, and your family unlike anything since Israel broke away from Judah. He will bring the king of Assyria upon you!” In that day the Lord will whistle for the army of southern Egypt and for the army of Assyria. They will swarm around you like flies and bees. They will come in vast hordes and settle in the fertile areas and also in the desolate valleys, caves, and thorny places. In that day the Lord will hire a “razor” from beyond the Euphrates River —the king of Assyria—and use it to shave off everything: your land, your crops, and your people. In that day a farmer will be fortunate to have a cow and two sheep or goats left. Nevertheless, there will be enough milk for everyone because so few people will be left in the land. They will eat their fill of yogurt and honey. In that day the lush vineyards, now worth 1,000 pieces of silver, will become patches of briers and thorns. The entire land will become a vast expanse of briers and thorns, a hunting ground overrun by wildlife. No one will go to the fertile hillsides where the gardens once grew, for briers and thorns will cover them. Cattle, sheep, and goats will graze there.

Isaiah 7:10-25

Dear God, this is yet another verse taken out of context. The original “verse of the day” from Bible Gateway was:

All right then, the Lord himself will give you the sign. Look! The virgin will conceive a child! She will give birth to a son and will call him Immanuel (which means ‘God is with us’).

Modern Christians read that and think, “Jesus! Yay, Jesus!” Or they think, “See, there was prophecy about Jesus. Yay!” But this is one little verse of hope–actually, it was just a sign–in the midst of calamity. The setting was not good into which this child of a virgin would be born, and the prophecy doesn’t claim that the life circumstances of everyone around at that time will get better. And you said this to a seemingly good king who loved you.

I talked a couple of days ago about prosperity gospel and how much I am against it. Now, I find myself wondering over the last few months if we aren’t seeing the beginning of our own nation’s decline. Are we seeing a rotting from within? I even see it within the church. Divisiveness. Hatred. Satan’s Plan A is working to perfection, and things like social media are fueling it. The idea that our nation is called “The United States” is almost laughable because we are not united among the states, within the states, or even within communities. Everyone is fighting so hard for their own rights they are losing sight of each other, and social media seems to be the fuel.

Father, it’s funny that children want to have sex before they are ready and their parents want them to wait as long as possible. It’s because the parents know what’s on the other side of it. The irony is that they parents still practice as much sexual immorality as they try to prevent among their children. The same is true for social media. I was on a call this week where we talked about the dangers of social media among children and the mental health consequences, but when I brought up our own addictions to it as adults the conversation got uncomfortable and quiet. But right now it feels like the water is rushing through the dam and I have no idea how to stop it. I don’t know that it can be stopped, so I am just going to love you as best as I can today. I’m sorry for where I fail in these areas. I’m sorry for my own hypocrisy. I’m sorry I’m not a better ambassador for you. Please forgive me, and, Holy Spirit, please help me.

In Jesus’s name I pray,

Amen

 
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Posted by on December 11, 2020 in Isaiah

 

Isaiah 1:10-18

Listen to the Lord, you leaders of “Sodom.” Listen to the law of our God, people of “Gomorrah.” “What makes you think I want all your sacrifices?” says the Lord. “I am sick of your burnt offerings of rams and the fat of fattened cattle. I get no pleasure from the blood of bulls and lambs and goats. When you come to worship me, who asked you to parade through my courts with all your ceremony? Stop bringing me your meaningless gifts; the incense of your offerings disgusts me! As for your celebrations of the new moon and the Sabbath and your special days for fasting— they are all sinful and false. I want no more of your pious meetings. I hate your new moon celebrations and your annual festivals. They are a burden to me. I cannot stand them! When you lift up your hands in prayer, I will not look. Though you offer many prayers, I will not listen, for your hands are covered with the blood of innocent victims. Wash yourselves and be clean! Get your sins out of my sight. Give up your evil ways. Learn to do good. Seek justice. Help the oppressed. Defend the cause of orphans. Fight for the rights of widows. “Come now, let’s settle this,” says the Lord. “Though your sins are like scarlet, I will make them as white as snow. Though they are red like crimson, I will make them as white as wool.

Isaiah 1:10-18

Dear God, this is all so devastating to hear, and yet, I know this is as much for us (me) today as it was for the Israelites thousands of years ago.

I can’t help but think of some of the churches I know of who, from my perspective (and I could very well be wrong) have made a idol out of worshipping on Sunday morning. During the pandemic they continue their meetings as normal (some of which still don’t take basis safety precautions such as no masks). I know I can take a passage and interpret it any way that I want, but this whole part about worshipping vainly in your name makes me think about that:

When you come to worship me, who asked you to parade through my courts with all your ceremony? Stop bringing me your meaningless gifts; the incense of your offerings disgusts me! As for your celebrations of the new moon and the Sabbath and your special days for fasting— they are all sinful and false. I want no more of your pious meetings.

We are such stubborn people, and I am included in this. So how am I being stubborn? How am I depending on your grace to save me instead of just turning loose of my sin and having a legitimate relationship with you?

Father, I am sorry I waste as much time as I waste. I use too much of my time each evening doing unproductive things like watching YouTube videos instead of being productive on other projects you might have for me. Help me to continue to move towards the man you need me to be. Love others through me. Use my life for your kingdom. Move me out of lethargy and into the actions you have for me.

In Jesus’s name I pray,

Amen

 
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Posted by on November 9, 2020 in Isaiah

 

Isaiah 46:1-5

Bel and Nebo, the gods of Babylon, bow as they are lowered to the ground. They are being hauled away on ox carts. The poor beasts stagger under the weight. Both the idols and their owners are bowed down. The gods cannot protect the people, and the people cannot protect the gods. They go off into captivity together. “Listen to me, descendants of Jacob, all you who remain in Israel. I have cared for you since you were born. Yes, I carried you before you were born. I will be your God throughout your lifetime— until your hair is white with age. I made you, and I will care for you. I will carry you along and save you. “To whom will you compare me? Who is my equal?

Isaiah 46:1-5

Dear God, is it a problem if I can’t even tell what my idols are anymore? I think it probably is. Sometimes, I think I’ve created so many idols for myself that as soon as I get rid of one there is another ready to take its place.

Money. Sure money is an idol that I wrestle with from time to time, but it’s not a huge issue for me. The best way to deal with the money being an idol issue is to give some away. In fact, my wife and I have found through the years that the best thing for us to do in times of feeling insecure about money is to find a place or person to give some of it to.

Maybe that’s the pattern. My work. My children. My home. My safety. My car. My theology. My church. My intellect. My entertainment. My time. My health. These are all things that compete for my worship. How do I give those away?

I’m reminded of the hymn, “Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus.” The chorus still sits in my head:

Turn your eyes upon Jesus
Look full in His wonderful face
And the things of earth
Will grow strangely dim
In the light of his glory and grace

Father, help me to turn my eyes upon Jesus today. Help me to look fully in His wonderful face. I need Him. I need the Holy Spirit. I need you. Fill me and help me to charge into this day under your blessing and power.

In Jesus’s name I pray,

Amen

 
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Posted by on September 10, 2020 in Isaiah

 

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