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Saturday, 17 August 2019

Isaiah 30:26-28 - The sun will be seven times brighter

30:26
We now return to unalloyed blessing, with cosmic imagery being used to describe the blessing. The moon will be as bright as the sun, and the sub will be seven times brighter than usual. This will be a day when the Lord binds up the bruises of His people, and heals the wounds he inflicted. Pay attention to this last bit, “the wounds He inflicted”. There are times when we are disciplined by God in our lives, but ultimately He will bring healing. The nation of Israel has suffered much, but she will be healed. There are times when we suffer for no apparent reason, but there are times when we suffer because of our sin. Even in those times we can still look forward to the Lord healing us. When Jesus was on earth He saw healing on the Sabbath as the natural thing to do, the Godly thing to do. This was in stark contrast to the attitude of the religious leaders.

30:27,28
We now get a vivid description of the Lord coming “from afar” and in “burning anger”. Why “from afar”? It has seemed that the Lord has been far off. In our day, it looks as though the Lord has just let the world go on its not so merry way in the West, becoming ever more rebellious. We should not fear, for the Lord has not forgotten about us, and there will come a time when we will see Him act.

We tend to react against the idea of God coming in anger and wrath, but that is only because we do not appreciate the nature of what is going on in the world. When godless men rule it brings evil into the world, and the system is evil. This system needs to be overthrown, and that is God’s job, not ours.

Mark 15:32-34 - My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?

15:32
They challenged Jesus to come down from the cross, so that they could “see and believe”. Of course, Jesus did “come down from the cross” when He rose again. Yet most of the religious leaders  did not “see and believe”, though some did. Believing is work of the Holy Spirit in our hearts, opening our eyes to see the truth. The two rebels mocked Jesus as well. As we know, one of them did turn and believe in Jesus.

15:33,34
Darkness covered the whole land. This was symbolic of God’s wrath being turned on Christ. Jesus cried out “Eloi, Eloi ..” quoting from Psalm 22.  Psalm 22 does indeed start with the derelict cry of the person suffering unjustly, but that is not the end! The final verse of Psalm 22 (v31) sums things up wonderfully:

They will proclaim His righteousness, declaring to a people yet unborn:
He has done it!

Jesus knew what He was enduring, but also knew why He was enduring this, He knew what the final outcome would be.

Friday, 16 August 2019

Isaiah 30:23-25 - He will also send rain

30:23,24
There would be ecological changes as well. The weather would be suitable for producing a good harvest, and there would be abundance. Things work better when we trust in the Lord and obey Him. The prosperity gospel is no gospel at all, but we must not throw out the baby with the bathwater. Our nations in the west are struggling, and it is no coincidence that this has happened as we increasingly reject our Christian heritage. Now, this does not mean that our scientific and technological understanding of how things work counts for nothing, but science does not explain everything, and is not the only factor. In fact, if we turn to God we will find that our scientific knowledge increases and becomes more fruitful. 

30:25

This verse has a rather unusual juxtaposition. We have streams of running water, usually a positive, and then a day of great slaughter. The terms “lofty mountain” and “high hill” may refer to places of idol worship, and the day of God’s blessing goes alongside the tearing down of all idol worship. In order for God’s blessing to be enjoyed idol worship has to go.

Mark 15:27-31 - Save yourself!

15:27-29
He was crucified with two rebels, one on His right and one on His left. This is a reminder of the request of James and John in Mark 10:37 where they wanted to be “one on His right and one on His left” in His glory. Well here was His glory. People passing by hurled insults at Him and mocked Him, little realising that He was achieving the greatest victory in history, defeating sin, death and the devil. Some manuscripts have v28, which is similar to Luke 22:37, but the best manuscripts do not have v28.

15:30,31
Both the crowds and the chief priests mocked Jesus, especially for “not being able to save Himself”.  If only they had known that Jesus had gone to the cross to save them! He had no need to save Himself. It is worth noting we too do not have any need to save ourselves. This is true in at least two senses. First, Jesus has paid the price for our sins, there is nothing left for us to do, and as Galatians and Hebrews make abundantly clear it is absolutely vital that we do not seek to add anything. Secondly, we can sacrifice our lives for the sake of the gospel and for others. Jesus knew that the Father was looking after Him, so He could go through the most horrific of circumstances, the cross. Jesus said that if we seek to save our own lives we will lose them, but if we lose our lives for His sake we will find it (Mark 8:35). Because of the cross we are free in every way to live for Christ.

Thursday, 15 August 2019

Isaiah 30:21,22 - This is the way, walk in it

3:21
They will become teachable. It is a key question to ask ourselves, are we willing to learn from the Lord? None of us follows the Lord’s path perfectly. We will at times tend to stray from the path, sometimes because of a lack of knowledge or wisdom, sometimes because of wilfulness (there is still sinfulness in all of us). What matters most is that we are willing to listen to the Lord, to receive correction from Him.

30:22

Judah and Israel had turned to worshiping idols. This was a horrendous thing to have happened. They should have been worshiping the living God who loved them, instead they were trusting in bits of metal and stone. Yet we too can do the same thing, trusting in anything other than God. These idols were overlaid with silver and gold to make them look better than they were, to dress them up as something beautiful and desirable. But a time would come when they would realise what detestable things they were and would throw them away as one would dispose of a menstrual cloth. We know God is working in our lives when we stop trusting in worthless things and look only to the living God.

Mark 15:21-26 - Simon of Cyrene

15:21
Jesus had been badly beaten. John 19:17 refers to “Jesus carrying His own cross. Here (and in Matthew and Luke) it says that Simon of Cyrene was forced to carry the cross. What happened is probably that Jesus started carrying the cross, but because He had been so badly beaten He was no longer able to do so, and Simon was pulled in to carry it. It seems that this happened by chance, as it just says that Simon was passing by. Then it mentions two of Simon’s sons. So it would seem likely that Simon became a believer, along with his family.

15:22-24
Jesus was brought to Golgotha, the place of the skull. He was offered wine mixed with myrrh. This was offered to provide some relief from the excruciating pain of crucifixion. Jesus refused this, He would take upon Himself the full penalty of our sin. So Jesus was crucified, stripped naked and they cast lots for His clothes (Ps 22:18).

15:25,26

Jesus was crucified at nine in the morning. The whole process would take several hours. Pilate had insisted that the charge against Him should be posted on the cross, and the charge was “The king of the Jews”. Pilate possibly saw this as a reminder to the Jews that they were truly under the thumb of Rome.

Wednesday, 14 August 2019

Isaiah 30:19,20 - As soon as He hears, He will answer you

30:19
There will come a time when people will dwell in Zion. Now look at this from the whole context of Isaiah. At the time of Isaiah the Jews were still living in Jerusalem. Later, during the Babylonian exile, most were not and the return to Jerusalem was a far off dream. There are many, in fact most, scholars who seek to split Isaiah in two parts, chapters 1-39 and 40-66. But the Assyria-Babylonian aspects are intermingled throughout Isaiah, as we have already seen. And both are looking forward to the true and everlasting salvation in Christ. There will be an end to weeping, and a time will come when He will answer quickly. If we are suffering today we can be sure that a time will come when we will weep no more.

30:20

It might seem that there was a contradiction between the Lord disciplining Israel and His promises to be gracious to them. In our own lives there can be times when life seems to be telling us that the Lord does not love us. Notice here that the suffering that Israel was enduring was given to them by the Lord. It was not something that happened to them despite the Lord, but because of the Lord. A time would come when teachers would no longer be hidden from them. “Teachers” here is referring to those who genuinely teach God’s word. They would see them with their own eyes. A key point in our recovery from difficult times is when we start to listen to the Lord and learn from Him.