Isaiah- Week 12- Day 4- Isaiah 58:9-10

God expects authentic worship.

(v9b) If thou take away from the midst of thee the yoke, the putting forth of the finger, and speaking vanity; (10a)  And if thou draw out thy soul to the hungry, and satisfy the afflicted soul;

Explanation:

In today’s text we see more behaviors in keeping with authentic worship.  These behaviors are expressed as conditions that will bring about certain results.  Notice these behaviors that God expects:

Forsaking Injustice

“If thou take away from the midst of thee the yoke, the putting forth of the finger, and speaking vanity…”

The “yoke” here speaks to an expression of oppression. “Putting forth of the finger” is less clear but may allude to the body language that comes when people fight, mock, or scoff.  To speak vanity is to say things that are either untrue, unhelpful, or even sinful.  When put into context regarding our attitude and actions toward those around, we see that God’s desire is for people that worship him to get rid of systems and behaviors that truly oppress and victimize.

Expressing Compassion

“and if thou draw out thy soul to the hungry, and satisfy the afflicted soul…”

The expression here “draw out thy soul” speaks to not just helping people for the sake of appeasing your conscience or helping out of sheer duty.  God’s desire is there to be a genuine love that motivates our helping those who are in need and afflicted.  It is not enough to just hope that needs are met, we must do what we can to see that needs are met. Authentic Worship will lead to good works.  James said it this way:

What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him?  (15)  If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food,  (16)  And one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit?  (17)  Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone.   

James 2:14-17

Application:

What authenticates a person’s claim to faith and authentic worship is a life that exhibits what they say they believe.  Our walk must match our talk.   If we love God, then we will love what He loves.  This means we will love others and want what is best for them.

Response:

Is there someone you can help genuinely and wisely help in a tangible way today?

God is Just- Isaiah- Week 4- Day 2

Pass through thy land as a river, O daughter of Tarshish: there is no more strength. He stretched out his hand over the sea, he shook the kingdoms: the LORD hath given a commandment against the merchant city, to destroy the strong holds thereof. And he said, Thou shalt no more rejoice, O thou oppressed virgin, daughter of Zidon: arise, pass over to Chittim; there also shalt thou have no rest.

Isaiah 23:10-12

Explanation:
In verses 8 and 9 we find out that God is the one who has pronounced judgement on Tyre. The prophet continues in verses 10 through 12. Let us take it phrase by phrase.

“Pass through the land as a river…O daughter of Tarshish”- There were trade partners and even colonies around Tarshish related to the city of Tyre. There are a couple of ways to translate the Hebrew here, but it seems that He is calling those that have been away from Tyre to come and see what has happened.

“there is no more strength”- What they will see when they pass through the land like a river? When they look through the land, they will find that the economic and military strength of Tyre and Sidon are gone. Why?

“He stretched out…he shook….the Lord….to destroy the strongholds thereof”- God has judged the land. They have depended on themselves and become prideful. They had denied God, and become arrogant. They had oppressed and God was bringing justice.

“And he said…”- The “He” here continues to be God.

“Though shalt no more rejoice…virgin…daughter of Zidon”- Tyre is pictured here not as a of a fresh, young, vibrant woman, but an oppressed, older, tattered woman.

“arise, pass over to Chittim”- Chittim is another name for the island of Cyprus. He is telling them to go beyond their own coasts to go to the closest island to them.

“there…no rest”- Even in this place there will be no rest. The Assyrians, who were used by God to bring judgment, would not let the sea keep them from continuing to attack beyond the coasts of Tyre.

Now those who had been oppressed by Tyre would no longer be oppressed by them. God, in his justice, will crush the arrogant and prideful nation and bring justice to those it oppresses.

Application:
Some people may read a passage about God bringing judgment on a culture and be tempted to think of God as unjust. God is just. He is not arbitrary in His judgment. Tyre and Sidon had sinned against God, and oppressed others. God was promising judgment, and it would come. God hates oppression, and ultimately all that is wrong will be made right.

Response:
• Are you concerned with justice as the Bible describes it?

Week 8: Day 3- Deuteronomy 19:8-10

And if the Lord thy God enlarge thy coast, as he hath sworn unto thy fathers, and give thee all the land which he promised to give unto thy fathers; If thou shalt keep all these commandments to do them, which I command thee this day, to love the Lord thy God, and to walk ever in his ways; then shalt thou add three cities more for thee, beside these three: 10 That innocent blood be not shed in thy land, which the Lord thy God giveth thee for an inheritance, and so blood be upon thee.

Deuteronomy 19:8-10

Explanation:

God tells the people of Israel that with continued obedience they will enter the land and defeat it. The border would be extended by their faith in GOd to take it with the borders that he gave them. (See Dueteronomy 11:24-25). When they do obey and go in and conquer, He will make an additional three cities a city of refuge, for a total of nine cities with that status. There needed to be this many so that there would be access to a city of refuge by the whole nation of Israel. He told them that the purpose for this is “that innocent blood be not shed in thy land”. God desires true justice, because He is just. He is also gracious and merciful to us.

Application:

Several contrasts can be made to the cities of refuge and salvation that is found in Jesus Christ, according to Dwayne McCary. A person fled to a city of refuge because he was innocent, while we flee to Jesus Christ because we are guilty. The elders of the city investigated the situation to look for innocence, but we know that we are guilty and deserve punishment. To stay alive the innocent person must stay in the city. Those of us in Christ are are saved and don’t have to fear losing our salvation.

Response:

  • Take a few moments to thank God for the salvation that we have in Christ.
  • Is there anything in my life that I am doing that is unjust?

Devotional Blog- What about when evil people prosper?

Devotion for January 2, 2014

Righteous art thou, O Lord, when I plead with thee: yet let me talk with thee of thy judgments: Wherefore doth the way of the wicked prosper? wherefore are all they happy that deal very treacherously? Thou hast planted them, yea, they have taken root: they grow, yea, they bring forth fruit: thou art near in their mouth, and far from their reins. But thou, O Lord, knowest me: thou hast seen me, and tried mine heart toward thee: pull them out like sheep for the slaughter, and prepare them for the day of slaughter. How long shall the land mourn, and the herbs of every field wither, for the wickedness of them that dwell therein? the beasts arekm consumed, and the birds; because they said, He shall not see our last end. (Jeremiah 12:1–4 KJV)

I have definitely felt this way. I have wondered (mostly in times when I am struggling) why I’m having a hard time while I’m innocent and the guilty are prospering. A few things come to mind in response:
The question assumes that I’m entirely innocent. Which of course I am not.
The question assumes that God is not doing anything, or has done everything he is going to do about the situation. God knows our hearts and their heart as well. It may look like He is doing nothing to us, but it just looks that way.
The question doesn’t take into account God’s mercy and grace. Have you ever noticed that you want mercy and grace for you and justice for those who hurt you and do wrong to you? I’m thankful for God’s mercy and His timing.
The question doesn’t take into account that what may be difficult may be God’s biggest blessing to us. Think about Romans 8 that talks about all kinds of difficulty. Paul sums up the issue by saying:

“All things work together for good to them that love God, to them that are called according to His purpose. For whom he did foreknow, He did predestinate to be conformed to the image of His Son.”

It also reminds me of the lyrics in this song:

What if your blessings come through raindrops?
What if your healing comes through tears?
What if a thousand sleepless nights are what it takes to know your near?
What if trials of this life are your mercies in disguise?

Application

My responsibility is mine own heart. God will take care of executing grace, mercy and judgment. I would be terrible at doing that. He is perfect at doing that.

Heavenly Father, Please help me to take responsibility for my own life, to be thankful for everything that happens to me good and bad, and to help me pray for those of us who struggle with evil. I love you Lord. Amen.