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Monthly Archives: April 2013

Is. 51:6-11

4/30/13 V. 6, When that day comes we will see the complete destruction of the earth. If we look to the earth and the sky, major things will be happening (Rev 6:12-14) and in the end it will vanish and be destroyed (Rev 20:11, 21:1) and along with it the inhabitants of the earth (Rev 6:15-16, 19:21).

But salvation of our God will last forever and his righteousness will never fail.

V. 7, In the meantime, as we wait for these things to happen, we who know our God and depend upon his salvation and righteousness and obey his law, we are not to fear or be discouraged by the contempt of the wicked world in which we live.

V. 8, When we face their reviling we must remember their coming fate. Rev 2:10 says we must not fear what we will suffer. They will not last. In the end they will fade away all that will remain is the righteousness and salvation of God.

V. 9, As the saints under the altar call out for vengeance in Rev 6:9-10, so this prophecy calls for God to awake, put on strength like a weapon and do what he did for Israel in Egypt long ago.

Rahab is a prophetic name for Egypt. The dragon is easily connected with Satan, especially in Revelation, but the entire picture here in Isaiah is of the exodus. So the dragon here may also be a picture of the Nile, which from an arial view looks like a serpent and at flood stage grows wings as a dragon. For a similar example and more explanation see the journal entry on Is 8:5-8. The background image of Satan as the dragon always remains relevant, however (Rev 12:9).

V. 10, In his deliverance of his people God also dried up the Red Sea and turned it into a path. Similarly, he caused Cyrus to dry up the Euphrates River (sometimes called a sea is prophecy) in order to deliver his people from Babylon. And this is what the King of kings and Lord of lords does also in Rev 16:12 to deliver his people.

V. 11, And when we are delivered it will be a day celebration and rejoicing as we enter the gates of the New Jerusalem and every tear shall be wiped away (Rev 5:9-13, 7:9-10, 17, 14:1-4, 19:1-7, 21:1-4, 22:3).

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Posted by on April 30, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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Is. 51:1-5

4/29/13 V. 1, God speaks to his people, first of all to remind us of our origins. He speaks to those who pursue righteousness, not to those who may call themselves by his name. Pursuing righteousness is an active thing because that is seeking the Lord.

We don’t need to fear that our action is legalism because attempting to earn our salvation, which is impossible for us, is a far different thing than seeking the Lord and pursuing righteousness. It’s entirely possible for us to work on deepening our relationship with God. Indeed it’s impossible for our relationship with him to grow if we don’t spend time working on it because of any relationship to grow requires that both people work on it.

God reminds us that he is the one who created us. It’s as through he carved us out of rock, he says. In other words, he did difficult things to make us his people.

V. 2, He started with one man, Abraham, and one woman, Sara. They were just one couple and God called them to become his people. Then he blessed them and multiplied them. True, it was only by one son that they multiplied, but it was the beginning. And the rest is history. Israel became a great nation and continues today in the form of the Christian church.

V. 3, Things haven’t been easy for God’s people throughout history, but the Lord will comfort us. He will restore the desolate places and make the wilderness into the Garden of Eden once again. Once again joy and gladness, thanksgiving and music will be our lot (Rev 19:1-7).

V. 4, The next verses likely have some historical significance, but they are primarily eschatological. This is important because it demonstrates that God’s law is unchanging. He has send us forth to the people of earth to bear his law and justice before them as a light to guide them. Why?

V. 5, Because the time of his coming is near. Righteousness and salvation are close at hand and judgment of earth is a sure thing. In Is 40 the coastlands or the islands may well represent God’s exiled remnant surrounded by the “sea” of people. Here these islands are waiting expectantly for the great day that God has promised. We look for his arm, which is a Bible way of saying that we await his vengeance on our behalf.

 
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Posted by on April 29, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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Is. 50:4-11

4/28/13 V. 4, In this section God’s Servant is speaking. It’s clear that the Messiah is in view, but as discussed earlier, the experience of the people of God in the form of Israel and the Christian church is patterned in many parallel ways.

The Lord has given his Servant the tongue of “taught ones.” The word limmud is variously translated, but seems to make the most sense the way the LXX translates it: the tongue of instruction. However, it could be as the NASB translates it: the tongue of disciples. That would make more sense with the latter part of the verse, which uses the same word again for receiving instruction instead of giving it. Probably there is a Hebrew use of the word that works in parallel for both instances.

The reason that God gives his Servant the ability to instruct is so that it can be used to sustain the weary by a word of encouragement. But first God himself instructs his Servant. Each morning he awaken’s his Servant in order to teach him. What an incomprehensible blessing to have that time for personal instruction from God each morning!

V. 5, In this time of instruction God’s Servant opens his mind and heart to God in order to be taught with the intent to follow and obey. It’s easily possible to read God’s word to us without the intent of it changing us. But the true Servant of God will be instructed with the expectation of being changed. Even if, as the next verses go on to show, obedience leads to persecution and suffering, as the saints under the altar in Rev 6:9-10 well know.

V. 6, God’s Servant has always faced opposition. And that opposition can be violent and humiliating, and yet it is not to be resisted.

V. 7, Non-resistance isn’t easy, but God helps his Servant. While being treated in a humiliating fashion the Servant isn’t humiliated. Why not? Because he is God’s Servant. He stands strong in the face of opposition without shame, even glad to suffer for God’s sake, as the apostle Paul states.

V. 8, Whatever God’s Servant must face God is near to vindicate him. Therefore, no one can really stand against God’s Servant (Rev 12:10). Indeed the Servant can even challenge anyone to try.

V. 9, He can have such confidence because he knows that God is his help and that in the end those who oppose him will wear out and be destroyed.

V. 10, If we fear the Lord, meaning if we take God seriously by obeying his commands, even though we may have once walked in dark and sinful ways, if we will trust in God we do not need to fear. We can rely on him.

V. 11, This verse isn’t very clear. It seems to make a difference how the last word ma’atzeva is translated. It can mean either grief or pain. Therefore, perhaps in connection with fire, it’s often translated torment. However, grief and pain can be one and the same, with pain being more of an emotional sort than physical.

If we understand the verse as the LXX translates it, it sounds as though God could be speaking to his oppressed people saying that all of their suffering has happened to them for God’s sake and that they shall die in sorrow as Jesus did.

If we understand the verse as others translate it, it sounds more like a warning to the wicked: those who play with fire will eventually burn in fire (Rev 19:20, 20:15).

Neither of these options is necessarily wrong theologically speaking, it’s more a matter of figuring out which was the intent of the author, which will require some sound exegesis.

 
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Posted by on April 28, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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Is. 50:1-3

4/27/13 V. 1, The law of Moses allowed divorce so long as it was done in writing. But God says that he hates divorce and will not do it easily. Over and over his people are unfaithful to him and he tries everything to be reconciled.

In prophecy, when God is speaking to his people, a woman is the symbol of the people of God. Her children are those who are living currently. It’s the same symbolism that we see in Revelation.

So here God is stating that God has not divorced his people. He has not sent them away. He hasn’t sold them into slavery to pay debts. Instead, what had happened and still happens in some manner, shape, or form was that God sold them into slavery for their sins and transgressions.

V. 2, But this was and still is temporary disciplinary action, not a permanent condition. God intends to deliver his people once we have learned our lessons. And when he comes to deliver us he sees that we have not really learned to trust him yet. He asks why there are no men among us. In other words, why is there no courage and strength? Why is there no one to respond to God? Why is there no faith?

Is God so weak that he isn’t able to save us? Has God lost his power to deliver us? Of course not! If he rebukes the sea or the river it dries up, just as it did at the exodus and just as it did for the Euphrates (Rev 16:12) and just as it will when God rescues his end-time people from end-time Babylon.

V. 3, Just as easily he turns the heavens black like sackcloth, which reminds us of Rev 6:12.

 
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Posted by on April 27, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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Is. 49:24-26

4/26/13 V. 24, Under normal circumstances the mighty man gets what he wants and a tyrant has his way with those captive to him. But not this time.

V. 25, This time God will stop the mighty men and tyrants because God himself is the defender of his Servant. Anyone who pits himself against God’s Servant will find himself contending with God himself (Rev 18:20). And in the end God will save our children.

V. 26, The oppressors who at one time fed, so to speak, on the blood (Rev 17:6) and flesh of God’s Servant will be made to eat their own flesh and drink their own blood (Rev 14:20, 15:3-4, 16:6, 19:21. This is clearly a judgment scene when God punishes the wicked. It’s a mistake to take the poetic imagery and imagine it to be a literal description of the events to take place at judgment. God isn’t a bloodthirsty, sadistic fiend. The gruesome descriptions are poetic attempts to get through to the wicked that they don’t want to pit themselves against God because God will ultimately be the victor.

Eventually everyone will know (Rev 2:23) that God is God, the Savior and Redeemer the Mighty One of his people. All will know that he has loved his people (Rev 3:9).

 
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Posted by on April 26, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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Is. 49:19-23

4/25/13 V. 19, Where once the land of God’s Servant was a desolate, empty wilderness, God will make it such a place that will support many people, and our enemies will be far away.

V. 20, The children who have been taken from us in death will be restored and there will be so many that they will need more room. This isn’t to say that the life God has planned will be insufficient. It’s hyperbole to make the point of abundance of the things most precious.

V. 21, And when God’s people are so blessed we will in effect shake our heads in wonder and ask, “Where did all these children come from? This isn’t my life! I’ve lost my children. I’m an exile, a lonely wonderer. How did this come to me?” God has wonderful things in store for his people.

V. 22, God has promised that he will finally end this terrible reign of evil. He will hold up his hand and halt sin. This planet will once again become fully part of his kingdom and his will will be supreme. And when that happens the children we have lost will be carried to us by “the nations.” Who these nations include I suppose we can’t be sure. But we can know that they are not the enemies of God’s people. They will be those loyal to God. So angels, inhabitants of other worlds, and so on are the logical ones to assume.

V. 23, Kings will help with the children, princesses will be nurses. Again, this is hyperbole. These unfallen beings will bow before us in respect for what we have been through.

And we will not have any room for self-pride, because we will recognize that our Lord is the one who has carried us through. If we will depend on him, waiting for his time, we will be glorified with him beyond any glory we can imagine. Incredible promises!

 
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Posted by on April 25, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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Is. 49:14-18

4/25/13 V. 14, While in the valley of the shadow of death, the Servant of God felt that God had forsaken him. Even Jesus cried out, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” And sometimes we feel the same way when life is hard.

V. 15, But God asks rhetorically if it’s possible for a mother to forget and forsake her infant son? In normal conditions that just doesn’t happen. Even if the situtation was so terrible that a mother would abandon her child, says God, still he would not abandon us. His compassion for us is far stronger than a mother for her child.

V. 16, God has inscribed his Servant on his palms. The nail scars of Jesus leap to mind, which may easily play into this picture. But the word used for inscribe carries more connotations of tatooing or even painting, as the LXX translates it. Clearly this is metaphorical rather than literal, but the picture may be more an illustration that God is so connected to us that he permanently tatooed us on his hands where he will be reminded of us constantly.

When he says that our walls are always before him he is referring to the walls of Jerusalem.

V. 17, The way most translations render this verse seems awkward. According to the MT rather than saying “Your builders hurry” it says “Your sons hurry.” That would be one way of solving the lack of clarity because then we would have two separate pictures. The first is of the sons of God’s people returning to them, and the second is of their enemies fleeing. This rendering fits well with the verses that follow.

However, the other manuscripts can also make some sense when the punctuation is rendered differently as YLT does it. It sounds more like the ones who were destroying Jerusalem end up building her up. That’s how the LXX translated it.

V. 18, The children, spiritual children, of God’s Servant will gather around him and will be as jewels adorning a bride (Rev 21:2). All who are brought to salvation by our work will be like that. Perhaps this is where the idea comes from for stars in our heavenly crowns.

 
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Posted by on April 24, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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