Day 204 (July 23): Isaiah’s prophecies — Clear the way for the Lord is coming, no one compares to God, Israel’s enemies will shudder, the enemies’ idols will remain motionless, the Lord’s chosen servant, lessons not learned, God is always with Israel no matter the situation, revenge on Babylon, Jacob’s descendants will be blessed

Welcome to BibleBum where we are exploring the entire Bible in one year to better learn how to follow God’s instructions and discover the purpose for our lives.  The BibleBum blog uses The One Year Chronological Bible, the New Living Translation version.  At the end of each day’s reading, Rob, a cultural history aficionado and seminary graduate, answers questions from Leigh An, the blogger host, about the daily scripture.  To start from the beginning, click on “Index” and select Day 1.

Isaiah 40-44:5

Questions & Observations

O. (Isaiah 40:1-31): The message I get from this whole chapter is how amazing God is.  We cannot imagine his abilities and reasons, there is no other like Him, He is immeasurable.

Q. (40:3-4): Are these verses just saying to get ready, roll out the red carpet for God?

A. Yes.  Watch the way John the Baptist will apply them to Jesus in the NT.

Q. (40:12-15): God seems so inconceivable and if you think about it, He seems impossible.  He’s so beyond our imaginations.  It makes me question if there is a God and I know I’m not alone.  But, then I think about how I felt on my walk a couple weeks ago.  I felt like I was gushing with glory.  Like my whole body was filled with happy tears.  It was nothing I had ever felt before to that degree.  When I question, I think about how the whole world is tied together, I think about how the Bible refers back and forth to one another of a span of hundreds of years.  But, there are so many questions left unanswered.   Like a Bible study leader I had once said, “at least we have the Bible to guide us.”  I would add, we have the Spirit too!

A. One of the fundamental things that I learned in reading about apologetics (the defense of Christianity) was the central concept to what the Bible claims to be: it is a collection of writings that record encounters with the Eternal.  As you rightly point out, since God is so beyond who we are as people, then while it may be in our nature to conjecture about what this being called God is like, it will only be endless speculation unless God Himself chooses to reveal His nature to us.  That nature is most clearly seen in the God/man, the person of Jesus Christ, what Colossians 2:9 calls the fullness of the Divine in human form.  Like many Christians, I believe that the entire Bible can be best seen through the lens of this understanding of Christ: when we see “through” it properly, everything else about the Scriptures falls into line.

O. (40:31): Just noting a great verse!

O. (41:11-12): God’s word that He will fight your battles for you.  I was talking to my best friend the other day.  The last time we had talked she was struggling to confront someone she really loved with a heavy question.  I asked her what became of that.  She said, “God is taking care of that for me.”  Wow.  I hadn’t realized how powerful God’s care can be.  And, what a burden to be free from!

Q. (41:13): The verse says that God will “hold you by your right hand.”  We talked about the right hand being their sword hands for fighting.  So, this says that God is their weapon?

A. Not in this case, though I confess I’m pleased that you recalled that remark.  In this case, God is describing holding the “right hand” of the nation to keep them from falling and provide support.  It is the same thing I do when I hold the hand (right or left) of my 2-year-old-daughter: if I hold her hand, I can keep her from falling over easily, while she is still learning to walk/run.  That’s what God is describing.

Q. (41:17): This is another repeating, perplexing, hard-for-me-to-shake question about God: If God is God, then why do people have to go thirsty?  Why doesn’t everyone always have food and water that they don’t have to scrounge for?   My guess is that it keeps us looking up.  It keeps us and back then, the Israelites, dependent upon God.  Why do we need to be dependent upon God?  Because He is the truth?  If we follow Him, we will live a good life because the rules that He has made make life work.

A. There’s an old anecdote that comes to mind in discussions like this one.  Two people are having a conversation, and one of them asks, “I’d like to ask God why He allows hunger, thirst, and bloodshed when He can do something about it.”  The other person replies, “I’m afraid God might ask me the same question.”

I don’t mean for that to be snarky.  I’m not saying, “well, if people are thirsty, what are you doing about it?”  What I want to do is point to a broader truth and get us thinking about our role in providing for the needs of those who can’t take care of themselves, for whatever reason.  Part of what God desires for us to do with the central truth of His message is that we are to love those around us sacrificially — if you heard Jim Keller’s sermon today at Summit (Orlando, FL), he was talking about this exactly.  It is our requirement, but also our right and privilege to be the hands and feet of Jesus in a world that is hurting.  That means that we participate in food pantries and well-water programs, we care for the elderly and the malnourished — don’t forget there are many like that right here in America — we work to rehabilitate drug addicts, prison inmates, and others that society is ready to write off.  If we are willing to listen to the guidance of the Holy Spirit, we can often find ways that God desires for us to serve the needs of our neighbors — be it neighbors around the corner or across the globe.  Following Him, as you put it, is more then just about benefitting us, but also benefitting those who God desires to minister to.

O. (41:21-29): Essentially, this scripture just states that idols are empty!

Q. (42:6): I’m not sure who “you” is here.  It thought it was Israel, but then it says “I will give you to my people, Israel.”

A. This section of chapter 42 is describing a servant of the Lord, as the heading indicates.  Many — Christian and Jew alike — believe that it is describing the Messiah.  Watch for the ways that this Servant is spoken of in future chapters, as it will appear again.

Q. (42:9): The purpose of God’s prophecies are to show that God knows what will happen in the future (how could anyone know that?) thus proving that He is Lord.  Is it also truly a warning to the people too, giving them a chance to correct themselves before the impending doom?

A. Yes, I would say that it is.  But radical changes like that are rare for us: very often the path we have chosen to walk in life is very difficult to “bail out” of, even when it becomes clear that we are in danger.

O. (43:2): So no matter how hard life gets or how desperate we become, those things will not consume us.

Q. (43:14-44:5): OK, here’s another perplexing question I have.  God is a loving God, but He can have a very mean tone of voice.  But, I would think that if I had told someone something repeatedly — like I do with my children J — and they choose not to listen, my voice would — and does — get very impatient and elevated.  In a way, it’s like being a child and someone’s scolding you.  You feel terrible, but you know you did it, so who is to blame?

A. God is seeking to gain the attention of a people that have ignored Him for generations, despite all that He has done for them.  I’d say that calls for a little change in tone, don’t you?  If your child is in danger — and believe me, Judah is in danger, we’ve read about what happened to Israel — you raise your voice if your child isn’t listening.  Sometimes we understand that it is the only way.

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