Daily Devotion: Isaiah 9

…”But in the future he will bring honor to the way of the sea, to the land east of the Jordan, and to Galilee of the nations. The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; a light has dawned on those living in the land of darkness. You have enlarged the nation and increased its joy. The people have rejoiced before you as they rejoice at harvest time and as they rejoice when dividing spoils. For you have shattered their oppressive yoke and the rod on their shoulders, the staff of their oppressor, just as you did on the day of Midian. For every trampling boot of battle and the bloodied garments of war will be burned as fuel for the fire. For a child will be born for us, a son will be given to us, and the government will be on his shoulders. He will be named Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace. The dominion will be vast, and its prosperity will never end. He will reign on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish and sustain it with justice and righteousness from now on and forever. The zeal of the Lord of Armies will accomplish this.” (Isaiah 9:1–7, CSB)

“The people walking in darkness” calls the readers attention back to the previous chapter where the people are roaming the land dejected and hungry. They look to the sky and curse God. They look at the problems all around them and curse their leaders. They see the earth and they give up.

But these people consumed by darkness have now “seen a great light” out of Galilee. The people rejoice over the miraculous provision supplied by God. The only thing Isaiah can compare it to is the supernatural way that God saved his people through Gideon in Judges 7:25.

There is no longer any need for war uniforms. The memories of these bloody times are burned in the fire.

All because a child has been born. He is wonderful, mighty, eternal, and peaceful. He is a counselor, father, royalty, and God.

His rule is established immediately and forever.

This is done for the glory and satisfaction of God.


I can’t help but focus on these royal titles given to the Messiah. Each one is something that we need. Especially if our life resonates with the people in this story who are suffering and depressed. We need a counsellor with unique wisdom to speak into our life. But we don’t just need a listening ear and kind advice, we need someone with abundant power to change my situation – change my heart. His work in my life is timeless.

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Daily Devotion: Isaiah 8

Human nature demands that we address what’s right in front of us. We live for the here and now. Even if we are future minded in our planning, it is only for a sense of control over present circumstances. We are temporal beings, existing in time. And we are sensing beings, only able to understand what we can see and touch in the moment. This is why it is so difficult to trust God’s timing in our life. Working by his clock is difficult. But God exists apart from time. His planning is perfect, and he is not swayed by current events.

In Isaiah 8 the nation is worried about the strength of their enemies, so they start making worldly alliances. The Lord would have them trust in the slow and steady pace of his care…

…these people have rejected the slowly flowing waters of Shiloah… (8:6)

They are worried about the future, and they feel like the Lord is not listening, so they consult mediums and spirits of the dead. But Isaiah points to the testimony of his life and children as signs of God speaking to the people (8:18). Then in 8:20 he has this great call to where the answers to their questions can be found…

To the law and to the testimony! If they do not speak according to this word, there will be no dawn (hope/enlightenment) for them. (8:20)

We need to be slow to approach other people to strengthen us when we are doubting. Let’s first go to God as our refuge.

We need to seek the Word of God before we look for clever advice from others.

Daily Devotion: Isaiah 7

There is no such thing as Christian cowardice. Christ secured courage for all believers. We do not fear men who can only harm the body. We do not fear spirits who have been given an expiration date. We do not fear want of food or shelter because God promises to meet our needs. We do not fear death because Jesus gives us life.  

In Isaiah 7, Ahaz is afraid. Aram and Israel have decided to attack Jerusalem. As they advance into Ephraim, the “house of David” is afraid, all the “hearts of his people trembled like trees shaking in the wind.” So the Lord sends an encourager, Isaiah, with this message: “Calm down and be quiet. Don’t be afraid or cowardly.” There are 4 things that we and Ahaz must stand firm in…

Stand firm in your identity. Repeatedly, Ahaz is reminded that he is part of the House of David. Those great promises that were delivered to David still apply to him. The king can rest assured that God still knows who he’s dealing with and he will not forget David, the man after God’s own heart. Christians, we are now called sons and daughters of God. Worthy of his name and his inheritance. He will not forget Jesus in whom our identity is now grounded. We have been grafted into the family vine. Stand courageously in your new identity. (7:2, 13)

This is what the Lord God says: It will not happen; it will not occur. (Is 7:7)

Stand firm in the Word of God. Isaiah serves as the voice of truth in order to destroy doubt. We need to listen to people who speak the truth in love to us. No matter how many times we read the truths of scripture, we still need our community to speak the truth to us and affirm us. Sometimes I don’t feel like God has anything to say to me that I haven’t already heard. Then a brother pastor who I respect will bring me a word of truth or encouragement that jump starts my heart. We need people like Isaiah who can look at our situation and say, “You know that thing your worrying about? It’s completely wrongheaded to worry about that. Here’s why…” We are meant to be agents of affirming God’s Word to one another. 

If you do not stand firm in your faith, then you will not stand at all. (Is 7:9)

Stand firm in your faith. God is not telling him to stand firm in positive thinking. Faith is so much more than that. Because God has proven himself faithful to us, we can follow his commands for our life in faith. He gives us no reason to doubt that his way is the right way and his time is the right time. That is unbelief. We must remain steadfast in our obedience to a God-centered life. 

See, the virgin will conceive, have a son, and name him Emmanuel. (Is 7:14)

Stand firm in God’s Promises. God has given sufficient signs of his providence before, but he offers one more. The promise he gives here was most likely to a young girl in the assembly. And it was a promise of extended peace. Ahaz could see in his mind the years of peace promised from that day until the promised child’s adolescence. And this would be a sign that a God was with his people. The peace was not permanent, however. The rest of the chapter shows that great suffering is coming to the land. But seeing God keep his promise would serve to grow their faith so that when things grew worse in the future they could trust God to be faithful once more. 

Later, Matthew identifies this promised child in Isaiah 7:14 as applying to Messiah. Jesus was also a promised child. His life should also give us courage to face the hard times even as we wait for him. We long for eternal peace and freedom from fear. We long to not only have “God with us” but see him face to face. 

How do you need to be reminded of the courage that you have in Christ?

Like Isaiah, who are you being called to encourage today?

Daily Devotion: Isaiah 6

I no longer see Isaiah 6 as a call to gospel missions. I’ve heard it preached this way for years. It’s tempting. The call from God is clear and powerful. “Who should I send? Who will go for us?” To which Isaiah replies, “Here I am. Send me.” I’m not saying that God is not calling Isaiah to a mission here. He is. But it is not a gospel mission. Just look at what Isaiah is to go and say to the people…

Keep listening, but do not understand;

keep looking, but do not perceive.

Make the minds of these people dull;

deafen their ears and blind their eyes;

otherwise they might see with their eyes

and hear with their ears,

understand with their minds,

turn back, and be healed. (Is 6:9-10 CSB)

This is not good news for the people of God. This is a condemnation of their hearts and minds. God has given them time to respond and follow his lead for their lives. But they have consistently rejected his design. As God declared in Hosea, “You are not my people.” Isaiah’s mission is a preparation for dead hearts to beat again. He preaches deafness and blindness. It paints a hopeless situation for the people. But there is hope in Isaiah 6. 

There is hope for those willing to follow God. He will cleanse them from their sin and give them an opportunity to follow him in obedience. Isaiah’s people were a lost cause, but the prophet was ready to follow God. The same occurs for many individuals during this time. Then, as now, the way to destruction is wide and the way to life is narrow. If we confess our sins he is quick to forgive our sins. If we seek to follow him, he will give us purpose. That doesn’t mean the job will be easy. Look at Isaiah’s message. It was not happily received by the masses. 

There is hope through the Holy Seed. While Israel remains unfaithful there will be one who is faithful. While the land is destroyed because of the unrighteousness people there, there will be one who makes all things new in the world by his righteousness. Isaiah was not commissioned for a preaching the gospel because the good news had not been revealed yet. A time of trial and judgment was coming and destruction was assured for many, but out of that remnant would be one who would endure to fulfill the promises of God. 

Daily Devotion: Isaiah 5:16

The Lord of Armies is exalted by his justice, and the holy God shows he is holy through his righteousness.

I was blown away by this verse today. What exalts or causes worship of YHWH is his justice. God is just because he is objective. He is outside of the failures of man and can look at our actions and speak to them. Though so many speak against God because of the presence of evil in the world, God promises that he will bring justice, and he will receive worship from it.

God will show his holiness and purity through his righteousness. This righteousness may be the correct and intentional actions he wills through history, or this may be the righteous judgment that he brings on the wicked.

This is a humbling and comforting word for me. It is humbling because the otherness of God makes me feel so small which in turn makes me feel even more undeserving of the grace he shows me. But I am also comforted because I don’t have to win everyone over to the worship of God. He will do this on his own. while I must continue to fight for justice, I do not have to fix all the problems of the world. The Lord will be worshipped because of his ultimate, final justice.

Daily Devotion: Isaiah 4

4:1 | This is the concluding verse for 3:16-26 showing the emptiness of beauty in finery in the Day of the Lord. Women are desperate for relationship and children so much that they seize men together (Gn 30:23; Is 54:4; Lk 1:25).

4:2-6 | Here’s some much needed hope in the first 4 chapters of Isaiah.

On that day the Branch of the Lord will be beautiful and glorious. The Branch, the Root, the Messiah. He is no longer a mystery. His glory is known by the people in Jerusalem, and he is beautiful.

Written in the book of life. This is our great hope. This is the reason for running the Christian race with endurance, so that we may arrive before the Lord and hear our name called (Ex 32:32; Ps 69:28; 139:16; Lk 10:20; Ac 13:48). The righteous long for the day when the books are opened (Dn 7:10; Rv 20:12).

When the Lord has washed away the filth…and cleansed the bloodguilt. In 1:15, all God can see is their blood covered hands. No matter what they tried to bring to the Lord it was never adequate. It is only through the work of the Lord himself that our guilt and offensiveness.

After the people are cleansed the spirit of the Lord will come and live among men giving comfort and guidance.


Father, thank you for faithfully preserving your branch through the years. What a testimony to your sovereignty! Jesus, you are beautiful and glorious. You are the culmination of the line of promise. Spirit, thank you for your sheltering and illuminating presence in us.

Daily Devotion: Isaiah 3

The Lord God is about to remove … every kind of security.

3:1-12 | What do I take security in? Here are a few: money in the bank, health and happiness in my family, knowing that my parents and grandparents support me, having older men that I can go to for counsel, books full of answers to hard questions. Without these I would feel much less confident day to day. In Isaiah 3, God begins to remove anything and everything that the people and the leaders take comfort in. They have looked to these things before God. In the process, they have “spoken and acted against the Lord, defying his glorious presence” (3:8).

Tell the righteous that it will go well for them. Those who remain faithful to God have nothing to fear. Not because their lives will be easier, but because their hope is in something greater than food and water and leaders. “They will eat the fruit of their [righteous] labor” maybe not in this life but the next.

3:13-15 | Above all the chaos the Lord has been sitting and watching the scurrying of his people until he stands to quiet the madness. He stands to judge the people, but the charges are brought against the elders and the people. These men were supposed to be wise husbandry men tending to the vineyard of the Lord. Vineyards are so beautiful and orderly. The have row after row of vines growing on well spaced trellises. You can walk up and down the rows following individual vines and watching the progress of each vine producing flowers and fruit. The vinedresser must take time to remove damaged or diseased plants so that more useful fruit is produced. But the leaders have not tended the vineyard of the Lord. They have devastated it. They have taken what they needed and left everything in ruin. They continue to extort anything they can from an already poor people. They have taken the fruit, cut off the leaves, and chopped down the vine.


Father, help me to be cautious in leadership knowing that you hold leaders to a higher standard. Thank you Jesus for being the restored vine of the people of God. Thank you for grafting me into the true vine. Spirit, help me to remain righteous in a world full of false securities. Help me to abide in Christ. Show me what needs to be pruned away to produce more productive fruit for the Lord’s vineyard.

 

Daily Devotion: Isaiah 2

2:1-4 | For the people of God, Jerusalem is in decline. Will it ever reclaim its former glory? The answer here is not until “the last days.” But at that time the house of YHWH will achieve ultimate interest from all people not the people or the city. The nations will stream to the place that God dwells among men. The crowds of pilgrims converge from all directions into one river of humanity coming to sit and learn in the house of God. This reminds me of the boy Jesus running off to the temple to discuss the Scriptures (Lk 2:42-50). Where else should we be?

Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob. He will teach us about his ways so that we may walk in his paths. (Is 2:3 CSB)

The God of Jacob. Isn’t it interesting that God allows this type of possessive title to be used of himself. It’s like saying Jacob’s God just as we would say John’s hat or Daniel’s friend. The title can almost sound irreverent and too casual. But there are two truths about God that come from this title. 1) He is a personal God who calls us by name. He wants to take long walks with us and enjoy community with us. Just as he spoke to faithful men and woman in the past, he wants that for us again. 2) He is a promise keeping God. Christians today still hold tightly to the promises given to Adam, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, David, and so many others. God has proven himself in faithfulness to Jacob, why would he not do the same for us. Especially in the last days, the nation will see that the God of Jacob is a promise keeping God.

He will teach us about his ways. What an amazing gift! So much heartache and pain because we don’t understand the ways of God. We doubt what we can’t see plainly, but God will graciously explain the perfect brilliance of the paths he has led us down in the past.

So that we may walk in his paths. This whole verse shows a change in the heart of man. We are no longer rebellious. We long to know the ways of God. So much that we will travel from and corner of the world to listen. We want to listen to him and live according to his design. For this is the only correct response to the word of the Lord. Acceptance and obedience. This is not how the prophets’ messages were received. This is not how Jesus, the living word of God, was received. Verse 4 shows the effect of being confronted with God’s truth – there is no defense or argument. Only peace and agreement. Weapons to farm equipment. Gunsmiths become gardeners.

2:5-11 | Before the Day of the Lord comes, the Lord’s light will be abandoned for darkness. Humility before the Lord’s “majestic splendor” will be abandoned for dull handmade idols. The truth of the word of God will be abandoned for the mysteries of foreign belief. Humanity tries to put itself on the mountain of God, but they will be brought so low. In terror with their pride melting away, they flee to the rocks and dust.

The pride of mankind will be humbled, and human loftiness will be brought low; the LORD alone will be exalted on that day. (2:11)

2:12-22 | The Day of the Lord comes. The LORD of Armies comes against the proud. Everyone and everything that thinks it can stand tall on its own power is brought low – trees, mountains, hills, towers, walls, ships of the sea, and the pride of mankind.

The God of Armies. Studying Daniel recently, I’m reminded of the last king in Daniel 11 who worships the God of Fortresses (Dn 11:38). Many commentators view this “king who will do as he wills” as the final king who stands opposed to God in the last days.

They will go into the caves of the rocks. There is no doubt who is here. Humanity has stood against God, and when he reveals his strength and power it sends everyone running, hiding, clawing their way deep into the earth to escape. Those who venture into caves for fun and exploration are remarkable. It takes special gear and training to make sure you are able to remain safe and not get lost. I like caves, but the darkness, the tight spaces, and thinking about the weight of the earth above you is terrifying! Many people would never go into a cave of their own volition. But their fear of caves is no match for the fear they have at the sight of God and his majesty.

Put no more trust in a mere human, who has only the breath in his nostrils. What is he really worth? (2:22)

We who crave significance will never find it in ourselves. We are only dust. We only have what we have been given – the breath of life. We need to remind ourselves of this when we elevate people in our eyes. Before the majesty of God no man can compare or even stand.


Father, give me a longing for your presence. Help me go out of my way to sit before your glory and wisdom. Remind me to call others into your presence. Teach me your ways and direct my paths. I want to throw my self made objects of worship away and worship you. Jesus, thank you for making a way for me to no longer fear standing before holy God but instead to wait eagerly for that day. Spirit, you are the only thing substantial within me, and you are all I need for significance. Remind me of your strength and my weakness. More than anything today, make me humble. I want you to raise up not the work of my hand.

Daily Devotion: Isaiah 1

One of the problems we face reading prophecy is that we have an outsider’s perspective. We have watched things fall apart for the people of God over several hundred years. We are quick to list every one of their sins, because we have the record of their failures. The long, slow fall surely felt different for the people involved. Many were still bringing offering and sacrifices to the temple, observing the Sabbath and festivals, and keeping other tenets of the law. But God’s perspective as presented by Isaiah exposes their emptiness.

The people of God are now like terminally ill, estranged children. God loves them dearly but they have continually run from a care-giving relationship with Him. And now their sins have reached the point of no return. Their rebellion has metastasized (1:5-6). They are rotten to the core.

Their worship is empty. The actions of their hands are not connected to the desires of their hearts. I see their empty worship in 1:11-15 as either 1) ignoring the fact that they are sick and sinful or 2) they are trying to fix their problems by any means other than the one that will work.

The Lord calls these “vain offerings” 1:13. Vanity is care and worry about the superficial. This is the same sin that religious leaders are accused of by Jesus. They wash the outside of the bowl while the useful inside part remains dirty. They are painted tombs, beautiful on the outside but full of death inside.

Wash yourselves. Cleanse yourselves. Remove your evil deeds from my sight. Stop doing evil. Learn to do what is good. Pursue justice. Correct the oppressor. Defend the rights of the fatherless. Plead the widow’s cause.  “Come, let us settle this,” says the Lord. “Though your sins are scarlet, they will be as white as snow; though they are crimson red, they will be like wool. If you are willing and obedient, you will eat the good things of the land. (Isaiah 1:16-19 CSB)

The bad must be set aside and the good must be picked up. But while doing evil comes naturally, doing good is something that must be learned. It’s progressive. This will only happen with willing obedience. Willingness is intention and desire. It shows that our affections are properly placed. We want God’s will to be done in our life.  Obedience is the follow through when our will lines up with God’s will. Obedience in spite of our own doubts and possible negative consequences shows genuine faith. For the people of God, Soul cleansing comes progressively through God-centered affection and consistent actions.

The importance of justice is tied to personal righteousness here. It is a theme throughout OT prophecy, but it is still striking. It’s listed as something good and acceptable to God in 1:17. Lack of social justice is weighed against the people in 1:23. And justice is the avenue of redemption for Zion in 1:27 – “for those who repent, by righteousness.”

What Isaiah doesn’t make clear is that this righteousness that leads to repentance and redemption will come from someone other than themselves. But he does make clear that those who continue to rebel and forsake YHWH will be consumed by a destruction of their own making (1:31).


Father, thank you that it is not my just deeds that redeem me. You have brought your full justice on my unfaithfulness. But my sentence was served by another. Jesus, I repent of my attempts at righteousness and accept your righteousness. Thank you for paying my debt to God in full. Holy Spirit, teach me how to do good. Help me to seek justice, correct oppression, come to the aid of single moms, children in the foster system, orphans everywhere, and women in need of support and encouragement.