Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Introducing Ahaz

Isaiah 7 turns to the encounter between Ahaz and Isaiah.  Ahaz reigns after Jotham and so we have jumped from Uzziah to Ahaz and possibly the year 734BC.

We are told that Jotham "did right in the sight of the LORD" (1 Kings 15:34) as his father, Uzziah had done.  But we also know that Uzziah had not been faithful in every way (hence he died under the curse of leprosy for his disobedience and arrogance).

Nevertheless, the narrative is regarding the reign of Ahaz of whom we are told, "did not do what was right in the sight of the Lord his God...he walked in the way of the kings of Israel; indeed he made his son pass through the fire, according tot eh abominations of the nations whom the LORD had cast out from before the children of Israel.  And he sacrificed and burned incense on the high places, on the hills, and under every green tree" (1 Kings 15:3-4).

Here we will see the playing out of Isaiah 6:9-10.  God will promise to give Ahaz a sign in order to trust in Him alone for Judah's protection.  Ahaz will not see, hear, or understand - and he will rebel.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014


Why is the northern kingdom, Israel, called Ephraim in Isaiah 7:2, 5, and 9?  Webb suggests that it is because Jeroboam I, the first king of Israel, was an Ephraimite (1 Kings 11:26).

I just wanted to note this because people always get confused as they read through the Old Testament histories with so many variant names.  For instance, Israel is Israel, all of it, sometimes.  But sometimes it is the northern kingdom while Judah is the southern (but why isn't Benjamin mentioned when Judah is called Judah?).  And so it goes.  

Monday, October 13, 2014

Irony in Judgment

Isaiah 6:9-10 will reveal the irony in God's judgment upon unresponsive Israel.  She will not listen to Yahweh.  Therefore, having chosen their arrogance, God gives them over to that indifference to Him.  They shall be unable to hear Him, see Him, understand Him, or respond to Him with their hearts.

Finally, in verse 12, because they do not want to be close to Him, God will send Israel away from Him, away into exile.

Friday, October 3, 2014

Judgment and Love

 Christ is our Passover Lamb – He is our Passover, sacrificed for us – 1 Corinthians 5:7.  By shedding His blood on the cross, Jesus turned away the angel of death and rescued us from the wrath of God.

And so, by dying on the cross, the wrath of God, the justice of God, the glory of God, was fully and completely revealed, in fearful glory – but the love of God, the compassion of God, the mercy of God, the gracious glory of God was also revealed in all its fullness.

At this Table we celebrate both.  We do not come and partake from a tame God – but a God hot with jealousy for His holiness and overflowing with love for you – for us – for the bride of Christ, His church.  Come and partake of this hot jealousy, this overflowing love – for you.  Amen.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Set Your Mind on Things Above

Paul says in Colossians 3:1-2 , “If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. 2 Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth.”  And this command is frequently misunderstood and misapplied.

There is a clear distinction between the “things above” and the “things on earth”, but Paul’s point is not that physical things on earth are to be hated and only ethereal, heavenly things “up there” are to be pursued.  It is not that the earth is bad and heaven is good.  It is not true that the material is bad and the immaterial is good.  That is a false religion and has gotten many Christians into bad lifestyles over the centuries.

The issue is ethical and not material.  What God created, all of what He created, He called good, and we dare not argue with Him about it.  Not only that, but all of the ceremonial distinctions of  “clean” and “unclean” from the Old administration of the covenant have been set aside, and we are to do what Peter was told – Rise and eat.  In other words, we are to help ourselves to the things of this earth.  Those things have nothing to do with our holiness.

It is what we do with those things that has everything to do with our holiness – and that is Paul’s point.  This earth is a place where we are tempted to take that which is good and pervert it, worship it, envy it and others who have it, and sin with it.  Heaven is a place of purity and holiness, where everything is treated according to God’s will – and so we are taught to pray, Thy kingdom come, thy will be done – here, on earth – just as it is in heaven.

Well, here we are, in a service of worship where heaven and earth are joined covenantally, where we are instructed how to take the things of this earth and use them in heavenly ways with heavenly motives and heavenly goals.  And as we learn, we will then be sent out as ambassadors to the world to show the world how to help ourselves to the things of creation, giving thanks to the Creator, and enjoying it all to His glory.

And that is how we seek the things above while living down here.  And it all begins here, in the worship of Christ who is seated in the heavenly places and has raised us up with Him.  Come and worship your God.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Clean Lips

"It now becomes apparent why the 'lips' and 'mouth' have been so prominent in Isaiah 6:5-7.  The LORD seeks a messenger, and Isaiah, now cleansed, is ready and willing to be his mouthpiece.  (footnote - There may be a secondary allusion, in the unclean lips of verse 5, to Uzziah who, as a leper, would have had to cover his lip and cry, "Unclean" (2 Chron 26:21, Lev 13:45)." - Webb