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ISAIAH DEVOTIONAL:
REFLECTIONS ON ISAIAH
2009
by Howard Morrison
(Copyright - Th.M., Dallas Theological Seminary, 1985, D. Min., Phoenix Seminary, 1997)
(Comments, Questions: howardmorrison@morrisonranch.com)

TABLE OF CONTENTS

WHY STUDY AN OLD TESTAMENT PROPHET?
ISAIAH 1 DEVOTIONAL
ISAIAH 2 DEVOTIONAL

ISAIAH - SPLENDOR

ISAIAH 3 DEVOTIONAL

ISAIAH - LEADERS

ISAIAH 4 DEVOTIONAL

ISAIAH 5 DEVOTIONAL

ISAIAH 6 DEVOTIONAL

ISAIAH - MORE ON HOLINESS

ISAIAH 7 DEVOTIONAL

ISAIAH - THE PRESENCE OF GOD

ISAIAH 8 DEVOTIONAL

ISAIAH - GOD'S SOVEREIGNTY

ISAIAH 9 DEVOTIONAL

ISAIAH - JOY AND REJOICING

ISAIAH 10 DEVOTIONAL

ISAIAH 11 DEVOTIONAL

ISAIAH - SPIRIT OF GOD
ISAIAH - A GOD OF JUSTICE OR A GOD AGAINST INJUSTICE

ISAIAH 12 DEVOTIONAL

ISAIAH - TRUSTING IN GOD
ISAIAH 13 DEVOTIONAL

ISAIAH - THE COMPASSION OF GOD
ISAIAH 14 DEVOTIONAL

 

ISAIAH DEVOTIONAL - PART 2

ISAIAH - CREATOR
ISAIAH - CALLING
ISAIAH 15-16 DEVOTIONAL
ISAIAH 17 DEVOTIONAL

INTRODUCTION: You are encouraged to read these devotionals on Isaiah, but please do not let them be a substitute for reading the actual words of the prophet Isaiah. Why not read through Isaiah slowly, taking time to write down your observations (especially answers to the who, what, where, when, why, how type of questions-see notes), summarizing the theme of the chapter (give each chapter a unique title that relates to and identifies the theme) and then read the respective devotional for additional insights. You may (will) not understand every aspect of Isaiah's profound prophecy, but you can rest assured that if you undertake this endeavor, you will come to know your God better and will find yourself growing in the "grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ" (2Peter 3:18-note). Enjoy!

Below is a brief overview chart  to help guide you as you read through Isaiah.

THE PROPHECY OF ISAIAH

JUDGMENT OF GOD
God's Government
God's Holiness, Righteousness and Justice
COMFORT OF GOD
God's Grace
God's Grace, Compassion and Glory

Judah
Prophecies
Isa 1-12

Foreign
Prophecies
Isa 13-27

Warnings & Promises
Isa 28-35

Historical
Section
Isa 36-39

Redemption
Promised
Isa 40-48

Redemption
Provided
Isa 49-57

Redemption
Realized
Isa 58-66

Adapted from Irving Jensen's highly recommended book "Jensen's Survey of the Old Testament"

WHY STUDY AN
OLD TESTAMENT PROPHET?

 

I have been intimidated by the Book of Isaiah. I’ve read it before several times and I was still intimidated. So I decided to tackle it. Why? Well, actually the New Testament tells us why.

Luke 24:27 “…And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, He explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning Himself.”

Man, to be present to hear THAT sermon. Best one on the Old Testament every delivered! But of course the Holy Spirit is alive and powerful and is in the business of revealing the truth of Scriptures to us, so the process is well worth it!

Romans 15:4, “For whatever was written in earlier times was written for our instruction, that through perseverance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.”

All of us can use a little more hope. This verse tells us it is available through the Old Testament. So, the process is well worth it!

1Corinthians 10:6, 11, “Now these things happened as examples for us, that we should not crave evil things…and they were written for our instruction…”

My cravings are not always in line with purity and I still need instruction. We’ll watch some examples not merely from a distance but up close and personal. So, again, the process will be worth it!

Heb 13:8, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.”

Isaiah has a major emphasis on the Servant of the LORD to come. We can learn much about our Savior by absorbing the message of Isaiah.

1 Peter 1:10,12, “…the prophets, who spoke of the grace that was to come to you…It was revealed to them that they were not serving themselves but you, when they spoke of the things that have now been told you by those who have preached the gospel to you…”

These writers actually had US in mind. With Isaiah having so much prophecy and many promises it will certainly be a valuable exercise to dwell in the Word with the Holy One of Israel present guiding us along the way.

Let’s get started!

 

Howard Morrison, 2009

ISAIAH 1 DEVOTIONAL

 

Isaiah 1 - A CHAPTER OF FIRSTS


The word “will” is the most often used word in Isaiah, as in “will”, “will be”, “will not”, or “will never”. Will is used over 1,200 times in Isaiah in the New International Version. It’s first uses are in Isaiah 1:15,

 

“When you spread out your hands in prayer, I will hide My eyes from you; even if you offer many prayers, I will not listen. Your hands are full of blood; wash and make yourselves clean…”

 

Obviously there are the more mundane uses of the word, but even if you remove those uses, you cannot read Isaiah without coming face to face with a promise making God, with a God who is not afraid to put His character on the line by making bold prophecies (hundreds of them), and with a covenant making God. (I have not done an exhaustive study on the prophecies/promises of God in the book of Isaiah. I’m sure someone else has done that and I can’t wait to see their results.)

Other examples of repetition include the use of LORD or Lord, 492 times in the book (an average of over 7 times per chapter).

 

Isaiah 1:2,

 

“…For the LORD has spoken: ‘I reared children and brought them up, but they have rebelled against Me.’”

 

Much is made within this book of “the day”, "that day”, “days”, or “last days” which add up to 161 times. It’s first use in Isaiah 1:26,

 

“I will restore your judges as in the days of old….”

 

This use is a bit more pedantic with many more of them involved with future events, as in Isa 2:2,

 

“In the last days, the mountain of the LORD’s temple will be established…”

 

Come” is introduced in Isa 1:10 and again in Isa 1:18 (our key verse mentioned in my previous Reflection). It is used over 100 times in Isaiah.

Jerusalem and Zion are used 95 times with its first use in 1:1,

 

“The vision concerning Judah and Jerusalem that Isaiah son of Amoz saw…”

 

Obviously some references are extremely significant even though their repetition is fewer than others. For example, “the Holy One of Israel” is mentioned 26 times in Isaiah but only six other times in the rest of Scripture (Isa 1:4; 5:19, 24; 10:17, 20; 12:6; 17:7; 29:19, 23; 30:11, 12, 15; 31:1; 37:23; 41:14, 16, 20; 43:3, 14, 15; 45:11; 47:4; 48:17; 49:7; 54:5; 55:5; 60:9, 14).

 

This all begins in Isaiah 1:4...

 

“They have forsaken the LORD; they have spurned the Holy One of Israel and turned their backs on Him.”

 

The list goes on and on: nation or nations (87) in Isa 2:2, land (81) in Isa 1:19, call/calls/called (65) in Isa 1:26, king (61) in Isa 6:1, salvation (59) in Isa 12:2, I am (55), etc.

My desire is to discover God’s truth and the importance He places on certain things in this book. These repetitions most certainly are clues. Can this kind of study bog down into biblical trivia? Of course it can. Can it be infused with Spirit given power? I absolutely believe so. I pursue the latter!

 

Luke 24:27 “…And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, He explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning Himself.”

ISAIAH 2 DEVOTIONAL

Isaiah 2:1-4 “…In the last days the mountain of the Lord's temple will be established as chief among the mountains; it will be raised above the hills, and peoples will stream to it. 2 Many nations will come and say, "Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob. He will teach us His ways, so that we may walk in His paths." The law will go out from Zion, the word of the Lord from Jerusalem. 3 He will judge between many peoples and will settle disputes for strong nations far and wide. They will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not take up sword against nation, nor will they train for war anymore.“

I’m told a portion of this verse is on the wall at the United Nations. Unfortunately, it stands as a monument to man’s effort to save man. The assumption is “Certainly we have evolved to the point where we can all get along. See, even the Bible says there will be a day when we can set aside our differences, live in harmony with each other, and settle things amicably.” It is the mantra of man’s opinion of the greatness of man.

Unfortunately, it also stands as a monument to terrible exegesis.

First, we will see in our study of the book that the term “last days” is applied to God’s future reign here on earth referred to as the millennium. It has nothing to do with the reign of man over mankind.

Second, the temple will be rebuilt, Israel will be the focus, and all the nations will be gathered in Israel. (I don’t think that is a part of the UN’s plan for the world. Too Semitic!) Isaiah 2:2 of course says that this gathering will come with worship and a bending of the knee to the LORD, to be taught by Him. That is far from what the UN had in mind when it placed part of verse 3 on its walls. They aren’t hoping for mass conversion to Yahweh worship.

Third, Isaiah 2:3 says this is God Himself who will settle disputes between nations. There won’t be any multi-nation tribunal to settle matters. God Himself will reign.

Finally, the laying down of weapons will be accomplished because this will be a day that the LORD has established (not by the use of a UN peace keeping force). There will be a genuine uniting of nations, but not because of the efforts of man. God is indeed the only One big enough to accomplish it.

This will be a work of God, not man. God will receive the glory, not man.

ISAIAH - SPLENDOR

God is described in many fascinating ways in the book of Isaiah. On of my favorites shows up early in the book.

Isaiah 2:10, Go into the rocks, hide in the ground from dread of the Lord and the splendor of His majesty!

And as if we really needed to catch what He is saying it is repeated in Isa 2:19 and Isa 2:21! The splendor of His majesty. What a great book title that would be. But what does it mean? We don't say splendid that often and when we do it sounds a bit old fashioned or formal. And splendor is just plain missing in our everyday language.

In Isaiah 2:10 the wicked find themselves running in fear from God. For those of us who find ourselves having received His righteousness and therefore able to be in His presence (and have His presence with us) we find the splendor of the King a glorious thought. Glorious. That is a great reaction because it is one of the basic meanings of the word splendor, along with honor, beauty, and excellency and magnificence. The breadth of terms to describe the meaning of splendor gives us a hint that it is a hard job to describe the glory of the Lord, the splendor of our God. (Isa 35:2c).

A common biblical approach to describing God is to string characteristics together. It is as if the author is trying to describe a multi-faceted diamond and can only begin by mentioning the fullness of all he sees, as in, I am bringing My righteousness near, it is not far away; and My salvation will not be delayed. I will grant salvation to Zion, My splendor to Israel (Isa 46:13). Righteousness and salvation.

What a wonderful thought that God would share some of this splendor with His people.

Isaiah 49:3, He said to me, "You are My servant, Israel, in whom I will display My splendor."

Isaiah 55:5, Surely you will summon nations you know not, and nations that do not know you will hasten to you, because of the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, for He has endowed you with splendor ."

Isaiah 60:20, 21, Your sun will never set again, and your moon will wane no more; the Lord will be your everlasting light, and your days of sorrow will end. 21 Then will all your people be righteous and they will possess the land forever. They are the shoot I have planted, the work of my hands, for the display of My splendor.

And in one of the most beautiful descriptions of Israel...

Isa 62:3, You will be a crown of splendor in the Lord's hand, a royal diadem in the hand of your God.

In GREAT CONTRAST we find an amazing description of the Suffering Servant. He grew up before Him like a tender shoot, and like a root out of dry ground. He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to Him, nothing in His appearance that we should desire Him (53:20). The suffering servant didn't display this splendor in His earthly body during His first visit. Certainly this is a part of what Paul meant when he said,

(He) did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7 but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. 8 Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself... (Phil 2:6-8).

Splendor was one of the divine characteristic that Jesus left behind, only to regain it at His resurrection, and will one day again be displayed in Himself and in His people.

The Splendor of the King, Clothed in Majesty,
let all the earth rejoice, let all the earth rejoice.
How great is our God.

ISAIAH 3 DEVOTIONAL

A core message of the book of Isaiah is one of judgment. That makes the book hard to read. But in the words of Henri Nouwen, we must also let the book read us!

Isaiah 3:8-11, “Jerusalem staggers, Judah is falling; their words and deeds are against the Lord, defying his glorious presence. 9 The look on their faces testifies against them; they parade their sin like Sodom; they do not hide it. Woe to them! They have brought disaster upon themselves. 10 Tell the righteous it will be well with them, for they will enjoy the fruit of their deeds. 11 Woe to the wicked! Disaster is upon them! They will be paid back for what their hands have done.”

Isaiah 3:8

God doesn’t mince words in including His own people in His divine judgment. Israel stood against God in word and deed (Isa 3:8). (Do I?)

I find these words incredible, “defying His glorious presence” (Isa 3:8). (Where do I know God is present and yet choose to walk into sin? Oh, God, thank you for forgiveness.)

Isaiah 3:9

The very look on their faces (Isa 3:9) gave away the condition of their heart. I know that my face often expresses the reality of my heart and it isn’t pretty. (My wife has had to live with this for 25 years! Talk about longsuffering…) My face often expresses displeasure, disappointment, impatience, discouragement. It is amazing to think that Christ’s face NEVER expressed any sin (not that it didn’t express genuine disappointment, hurt, righteous anger, etc.). (Please, God, make my face more like Yours!)

Isaiah 3:10

There is grace for the righteous (those found in Christ) and there is all the fullness of blessing to enjoy (Isa 3:10). Even though I have complete confidence that I am in Christ and will be found in Him because of His sustaining power, I nevertheless must call my sin what it is and live in daily gratitude for forgiveness and the ongoing sanctifying work that is being orchestrated by His powerful Holy Spirit.

ISAIAH - LEADERS

Why had Israel (and other nations) gone astray in the period of Israel’s history leading up to the writing of Isaiah?

The Book of Isaiah certainly teaches personal responsibility. But, I have also been intrigued by God’s posture toward the leaders of the nation.

Interestingly, God doesn’t have much to say about the specific kings of Israel (with the exception of Hezekiah in Isaiah 36-38). God saves His choices words for the spiritual guides, leaders, and elders of His people.

Isaiah 1:23, “Your rulers are rebels, companions of thieves; they all love bribes and chase after gifts. They do not defend the cause of the fatherless; the widow's case does not come before them.”

These are harsh words of condemnation, both for their offences and their omissions.

How bad did it get?

Isaiah 3:12,“Youths oppress My people, women rule over them. O My people, your guides lead you astray; they turn you from the path.”

Some models of obedience, huh? In some cases the leaders were just plain drunkards.

Isaiah 28:7, “…Priests and prophets stagger from beer and are befuddled with wine; they reel from beer, …”

Their leaders turned them away from the Law and obedience. In some cases those not intended to bear the responsibility of such leadership had been forced into service (children and women, see Isa 3:4 also).

God’s judgment of this situation is crystal clear. God’s main concern is for the abuse of leadership. They had become corrupt and led the people poorly. His main accusation is their lack of attention to the poor and the oppressed among them. In fact the leaders themselves had instead become the oppressors.

Isaiah 3:14-15 “The Lord enters into judgment against the elders and leaders of His people: "It is you who have ruined My vineyard; the plunder from the poor is in your houses. 15 What do you mean by crushing My people and grinding the faces of the poor?" declares the Lord, the Lord Almighty.“

(It is a whole study in itself, but please note those who were listed as being trampled upon: fatherless (orphan), widow, young, women, and poor. These are the ones most needful of righteous protection and least able to provide it for themselves. It ought to break our hearts. I have friends and relatives working among the orphans around the world and among those forced into human trafficking. May God bless and multiply their efforts.)

So, what will God do about these wicked leaders?

“So the Lord will cut off from Israel both head and tail, both palm branch and reed in a single day; the elders and prominent men are the head, the prophets who teach lies are the tail. Those who guide this people mislead them, and those who are guided are led astray” (Isaiah 9:14-16).

God is certainly disappointed in this kind of leadership and judges it severely.

“He brings princes to naught and reduces the rulers of this world to nothing. No sooner are they planted, no sooner are they sown, no sooner do they take root in the ground, than he blows on them and they wither, and a whirlwind sweeps them away like chaff” (Isa 40:23, 24).

I believe there are many lessons to be learned from this by spiritual leaders today.

“As the leadership goes so goes the people.”

So, I have to ask myself, “How am I doing? Do I lead people astray? Am I in fact in rebellion against the very One I claim to love and serve? Am I neglecting care for those in most need?”

Fortunately, we have an ultimate Ruler, a King, to whom we bend the knee.

Isaiah 44:6 "This is what the Lord says — Israel's King and Redeemer, the Lord Almighty: I am the first and I am the last; apart from me there is no God”

And one day all this will change and our spiritual leadership will be pure.

Isaiah 32:1, “See, a king will reign in righteousness and rulers will rule with justice.”

Isaiah 33:17, “Your eyes will see the king in His beauty…”

Isaiah 49:7, “…to Him…: ‘Kings will see You and arise, princes will see and bow down, because of the LORD,…”

The weight of leading others spiritually is heavy. It brings extra responsibility and scrutiny. Beware. God will not be mocked by those who claim to lead others yet live a life which betrays those they lead and the One who they are to be following.

ISAIAH 4 DEVOTIONAL

Isaiah 4:2, “In that day the Branch of the LORD will be beautiful and glorious, and the fruit of the land will be the pride and glory of the survivors in Israel.”

Many interpreters look at this verse as one of the first references to be found in the book of Isaiah to the coming Messiah. “Branch of the LORD” could be referring to the Messiah and Jeremiah (Jer 23:5; 33:15) and Zechariah (Zech 3:8; 6:12) certainly add biblically to this argument. These later prophets are a bit more clear that they are referring to an individual. Isaiah is more vague than we would like as to whom or what he is referring.

(It is interesting to me coming from an agricultural background that in this very same verse is found a reference to restored agricultural prosperity to the nation of Israel.)

One of my Hebrew professors in graduate school lists twenty two specific prophecies of the coming Messiah in the book of Isaiah. Many of them are familiar (born of a virgin and called Immanuel, Is 7:14; descendant of Jesse and the Davidic line, Is 11:1,10; voluntarily submits to suffering, Is 50:6; Is 53:7, 8; takes on Himself the sins of the world, Is 53:4, 5, 6; 10, 11, 12). Others are not so familiar but are all the same very important (has a divine nature, Is 9:6; called by God before His birth, Is 49:1; empowered by the Holy Spirit, Is 11:2; Is 42:1; will be gentle toward the weak, Is 42:3; will bring joy to Israel, Is 9:2; will be a light to the Gentles, Is 42:6; Is 49:6; will judge in righteousness, justice, and faithfulness, Is 11:3, 4, 5; Is 42;1,4).

We will see some of these characteristics as we travel through the book. I love the simplicity of this first reference in the book to the Messiah: “…the Branch of the LORD will be beautiful and glorious…” And, yes, He is! Beautiful in Who He is and what He does. Glorious in Who He is and What He does.

I’m wondering. Do you (and I) spend time basking in His beauty and glory? Do we enjoy His beauty and glory? Do we call upon Him to act consistent with His beauty and glory?

ISAIAH 5 DEVOTIONAL

Isaiah chapter 5 begins with a song of the vineyard (Isaiah 5:1-7). The vineyard is one of God’s favorite word pictures for Israel. He clearly states this in Isaiah 5:7,

“The vineyard of the LORD almighty is the house of Israel, and the men of Judah are the garden of His delight…”

God established this vineyard for Himself (Isaiah 5:1-4, 7). We are going to look at it more closely in a moment. But, God also talks about the systematic dismantling of this vineyard as well, due to their disobedience (Isaiah 5:5-6, 8-30). God is both One before whom we should be in awe for His goodness and also One to be feared.

In establishing His vineyard God says He: owned it (Is 5:1), placed it on a fertile hillside (Is 5:1), dug it up (Is 5:2), cleared it (Is 5:2), planted choicest vines (Is 5:2), built a watchtower (Is 5:2), and then looked for fruitfulness (Is 5:2). Nothing more could have been done (Is 5:4).

Clearly these verses are directed at Israel, His people. Nevertheless, in application, is it going too far to say that God owns me, made me a soil that would respond, took the time to make my soul ripe to respond, planted the seed of His Word, has been watching over me so Satan wouldn’t claim me, and now wants my obedience?

These things are certainly taught in the New Testament. It may be a bit too much to read all of this back into God’s previous covenant of relating to His people. But, it seems apparent that this work of God in our lives is at least consistent with His character and is either a foreshadowing of His new covenant or a direct reflection of how God has always viewed the relationship with His people.

No wonder Isaiah says He loves God?

“I will sing to the one I love a song about His vineyard:…” (Isa 5:1)

God does the work. He does the preparing. He plants. He grows. He protects. He brings fruitfulness. Then He looks for obedience that reflects itself in justice and righteousness. “…And He looked for justice, but saw bloodshed; for righteousness, but heard cries of distress” (Isaiah 5:7b). The judgment Israel experienced was due to their lack of response to the God who owned them.

What does God see in me in response to His work in my life?

ISAIAH 6 DEVOTIONAL

This is one of the most recognizable chapters in the book of Isaiah. My intent is not to make commentary of it as a whole. Many others are more qualified than I to do so. But I do have one primary thought.

Most preachers focus on Isaiah: the recognition of his unworthiness to be in God’s presence, God cleansing him with a burning coal touched to his tongue, followed by Isaiah’s offer to be used.

I would say that most teaching, though, fails to look enough (in my opinion) at the Lord seated on the throne.

When one starts to take a close look, this revelation in verses 1-6 raises more questions than it answers.

We long to know what heaven is like. Is this an accurate/complete picture of heaven?

The “Lord” reveals Himself to Isaiah. Is this the Father or the Son?

God speaks to Isaiah. Is this a dream? Trance? Here on earth? Was Isaiah transported to heaven like John was to receive The Revelation?

God is in the temple complete with doorposts and thresholds. Is this in Jerusalem? Is this a temple in heaven? How physical is this in reality?

One day we’ll see clearly. For now we take God directly at His Word for we can take it no other way. God reveals Himself this way for a reason(s). My tendency is to believe these are reflections of what heaven will be like (“now we see as if in a mirror dimly”). The real thing will be much grander, but God (the Infinite One) can only reveal Himself to finite beings in ways humans can understand. We could not understand Him any other way. So how He reveals Himself here is absolutely accurate and is all we need (for now).

Everything about Isaiah 6:1-6 speaks to God’s holiness.

Either the Lord is present with Isaiah or Isaiah is brought into the presence of God but either way it is into an environment of holiness.

The Lord is seated on a throne. He is the only one worthy to be so seated.

Either He or the throne is properly high and exalted. It is the only place appropriate for One who is holy.

The extent of His robe fills the temple. I believe this reflects the overflow of His character. His robe, symbol of His rank, has no end. Nothing can contain Him or accurately reflect all that He is.

Seraphs accompany Him. He is truly worth as the holy One to be worshipped by all creation. Their posture depicts His worthiness and their unworthiness, but nevertheless they can’t help but be close and worship.

They called out “holy, holy, holy”. It is interesting to me that this theme may have come out of Psalm 99:3,5,9 and it also reflects itself on into eternity as revealed in Revelation 4:8. God’s creation when put in God’s presence can’t help but verbally reflect the character they see in the Lord and it is holiness.

Bob Lepine (FamilyLife Ministries) is the only person I know who has taught through Isaiah chapter by chapter (of course there are many fine written commentaries on the book) and I’m indebted to him for the following insights:

“The God of Scripture is first and foremost a holy God. His love is a holy love. His mercy is a holy mercy. His justice is a holy justice. His righteousness is a holy righteousness. Where He stands is holy ground. He dwells on His holy mountain and is worshipped in His holy temple. His name is holy. His law is holy, and those who are his followers are a holy nation. All His works and all His words and all His ways are holy….You may have always thought of God first and foremost as a loving God. While God’s love, His grace and His mercy are seen clearly and powerfully in scripture, they flow from God’s holiness... Nowhere is he called The Loving One. His Spirit is His Holy Spirit, not His Loving Spirit.”

And finally, Isaiah’s response is to proclaim “woe” on himself. There is much woe pronounced in the book of Isaiah. Here Isaiah says it of himself. “Woe is me. I’m undone. I can’t stand in the presence of such a Holy One. I shouldn’t be able to remain here. This is a Holy place and I’m anything but holy.”

These six verses are drenched in the holiness of God. No wonder Isaiah’s favorite description (as opposed to a name or title) of God is the Holy One of Israel. He uses it 30 times in this book. (It is used only 6 times outside of Isaiah. - Lev 16:17; 2 Kgs 19:22; Ps 71:22; 78:41; 89:18; Isa 1:4; 5:19, 24; 10:17, 20; 12:6; 17:7; 29:19, 23; 30:11f, 15; 31:1; 37:23; 41:14, 16, 20; 43:3, 14f; 45:11; 47:4; 48:17; 49:7; 54:5; 55:5; 60:9, 14; Jer 50:29; 51:5; Ezek 39:7; Hos 11:12)

Isaiah was clearly marked by this experience. He was brought face to face (to the degree that anyone can be) with the HOLY One of Israel....the LORD our God.

My response should be similar to Isaiah’s (humility, bowed, awed, “woed” (as in woe is me), and eventually ‘here am I, send me.) But my focus should not be on me but on the Holy One.

ISAIAH - MORE ON HOLINESS

As previously mentioned, Isaiah was somehow brought into the presence of God and responded in amazing fashion. Isaiah never recovered from having been called by the Holy One of Israel. Holiness is Isaiah’s indelible impression of God. Holiness forever flavors Isaiah’s view of the Creator. It wouldn’t surprise us then to see holiness reflected in the rest of the book.

When you look at all the references to holy or holiness it is as if everything associated with God becomes holy. His people are His holy ones (Is 4:3; 13:3; 62:12). His feasts are holy (Is 30:29). His temple is holy (Is 64:11). Even His day, the Sabbath, is holy.

“If you keep your feet from breaking the Sabbath and from doing as you please on my holy day, if you call the Sabbath a delight and the Lord's holy day honorable, and if you honor it by not going your own way and not doing as you please or speaking idle words, …” (Isa 58:13).

In what I believe is a reference to all of God’s works or at least His ability to work His will, God’s arm is holy.

“The Lord will lay bare his holy arm in the sight of all the nations, and all the ends of the earth will see the salvation of our God” (Is 52:10).

Why is it that everything directly connected to God becomes holy? I believe this has to do with two things. First of all, God can’t act any other way. All His actions are holy.

“But the Lord Almighty will be exalted by his justice, and the holy God will show himself holy by his righteousness” (Is 5:16).

“When they see among them their children, the work of my hands, they will keep my name holy; they will acknowledge the holiness of the Holy One of Jacob, and will stand in awe of the God of Israel” (Is 29:23).

This is a virtual double-whammy. His name is holy because He is filled with holiness. And yes, our appropriate response is to stand (or bow) in awe of Him.

Second, I believe all God touches is holy because of His presence. Because of His character, He CANNOT be in the presence of un-holiness. Heaven itself is called holy (Is 63:15) because God’s presence is there. Therefore, wherever God is, is holy. This is most directly reflected in Isaiah by his single most common reference to something that is holy and that is His holy mountain (or Jerusalem).

“They will neither harm nor destroy on all my holy mountain, for the earth will be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea” (Is 11:9).

This is merely the first of a total of ten references to His holy mountain ( see also Is 27:13; 38:2; 52:1; 56:7; 57:13; 63:18; 65:11, 25; 66:20). Why is Jerusalem the location of His holy mountain? Because of His presence. That is where He chose to have the temple built to house His presence among Israel, or at least His demonstrated presence. And what is the specific place in the temple called which houses His presence?...the holy of holies or the Most Holy place (Exodus 26:33,34)!

Isaiah records that God never intended for this to be the ONLY place of His presence. He also abides … well, frankly, wherever He chooses to abide.

“…But the man who makes Me His refuge will inherit the land and possess my holy mountain…. 15 For this is what the high and lofty One says — He who lives forever, whose name is holy : "I live in a high and holy place, but also with him who is contrite and lowly in spirit, to revive the spirit of the lowly and to revive the heart of the contrite” (Is 57:13,15).

God’s presence touches and makes things holy. We know this is through His Spirit and it would only be consistent that in the one direct reference to the Spirit (other than the description of ‘My Spirit’) the book of Isaiah He is referred to as the Holy Spirit (Is 63:10,11).

Thus, Isaiah has recorded God’s word faithfully which directs us to the very character of God. This should elicit a certain reverence, rest, or fear of Him who has come close to save us. “The Lord Almighty is the one you are to regard as holy , He is the one you are to fear, He is the one you are to dread,…” (Is 8:13).

So, we do that very thing and join in with all creation saying,

"Holy , holy , holy is the Lord Almighty; the whole earth is full of His glory" (Isa 6:3).

Related Resource: Holiness of God

ISAIAH 7 DEVOTIONAL

Isaiah chapter seven has a couple pieces of interesting biblical trivia. Of course I only use that phrase from a human perspective. Nothing in Scripture is unimportant or included merely for our fascination. There may be things for which we don’t know its full significance, but God has gone to a whole lot of trouble to preserve Scripture exactly as it is, for very good reasons, even if we don’t know those reasons.

A case in point. In Isa 7:18, it is said that,

“In that day the LORD will whistle for flies from the distant streams of Egypt and for bees from the land of Assyria.”

God whistles? Who knew? This is clearly an anthropomorphism (attributing human attributes to God). It is sort of embarrassing to even read. But, God was not embarrassed to have this recorded this way. Why? I don’t have a clue. He could clearly have used other words to describe calling “flies” and “bees” to come to Israel.

Another case in point. Did you know that Isaiah was a father? Yes. He had at least one son. His name was Shear-Jashub. Part of the significant of this is seen in the meaning of his son’s name. It means “a remnant shall return”. What a wonderful reminder to Isaiah and his family that God would hold onto Israel so closely that there would always remain a faithful remnant who would one day return to Israel in the midst of or following mass disobedience and exiles to other countries.

But I see in the chapter yet another significance to God recording that Isaiah had a son. Isaiah is a father in part to be able to relate to God the Father and to God the Son. Embedded in this chapter is the famous, almost iconoclastic verse,

“Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: The virgin will be with child and the give birth to a son, and will call Him Immanuel” (Isa 7:14).

And while there certainly was an immediate context in Isaiah’s day for the plain fulfillment of this verse, Matthew 1:22, 23 makes it clear that this was also intended to reflect a divine reality and plan that would ultimately be fulfilled through a human agent, Mary, a divine agent, the Holy Spirit, resulting in the arrival of the Incarnate One, God’s very own son, the Messiah, the Christ, Jesus.

Any father is amazed at the birth of his child. He marvels at the wonder of nine months of gestation. He is appreciate of the amazing efforts of the mother. He is in awe of the process and adores the product. I’m glad Isaiah was a father. I’m thankful I am a father.

I’m all the more amazed and in awe of the process and product of God choosing to send His Son as fully God and fully man. The incarnation! Oh, the wonder of it all.

ISAIAH - THE PRESENCE OF GOD

Immanuel (Isaiah 7:14)… God with us! This is most frequently referred to during the Christmas season, celebrating the triune God’s decision for the second person of the Trinity to take on human flesh in its fullness without losing His deity. The incarnation had many, many purposes, but one of the most important is found embodied in one of the names given the Messiah, that of Immanuel. God intended to show us exactly what it would be like for the transcendent God Creator to become like us in all ways except without sin. We LONG for Him to be present. He was. He is. He will always be.

A number of years ago I embarked on a yearlong study of this subject. I won’t bore you with the details of that study, but it turned out to be one of my all time favorite studies and today is still one of the best jobs I’ve ever done of “original research”. My attempt at tracing various themes through Isaiah practices many of the things I learned during that particular study.

So, what do we learn about God’s presence if we only had Isaiah to study?

He is indeed present.

“Devise your (Assyria’s) strategy, but it will be thwarted; propose your plan, but it will not stand, for God is with us” (Isa 8:10).

“Shout aloud and sing for joy, people of Zion, for great is the Holy One of Israel among you” (Isa 12:6).

His presence is glorious (Isa 3:8).

His presence reveals His holiness (Isa 6:1-6).

And in what is possibly my favorite verse in all the Scriptures (at least in my top two or three),

“Do not fear for I am with you. Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you. Surely I will help you. Surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand” (Isa 41:10).

(In just a few words God presents two commands, two reasons, and three promises.)

God promises His presence is with us when we face difficult situations.

“When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;…”(Isa 43:2a).

In fact He commands us to move beyond our fear in the midst of these situations. His reason? Because He is present.

“Do not be afraid, for I am with you;…” (Isa 43:5 and also Isa 41:10).

There is a principle found in other places in Scripture that is also repeated here in Isaiah and that is the idea that God promises to go before us and He also follows us, using His presence as protection and guidance (fore and aft).

“I will go before you and will level the mountains;…” (Isa 45:2).

“…And the glory of the LORD will be your rear guard” (Isa 58:8b).

And in a reference that I believe is picked up by John in his gospel (no one can take them out of My hand),

“See, I have engraved you on the palms of My hands;…” (Isa 49:16a).

You can’t get any closer to God than that!

When asking questions about God’s presence it would be logical to start with, “Where is God?” God specifically answers that. He is exalted, reigning on high as well as presence with us, both at the same time!

“For this is what the high and lofty One says – He who lives forever whose name is holy: ‘I live in a high and holy place, and also with him who is contrite and lowly in spirit, to revive the spirit of the lowly and to revive the heart of the contrite” (Isa 57:15).

I have studied the Holy Spirit’s presence and concluded that God has specifically described it in a variety of ways on purpose. One of those descriptions is that He is present through the Holy Spirit being upon us.

“…I will pour out My Spirit on your offspring, and my blessing on your descendants” (Isa 44:3b).

“As for Me, this is My covenant with them,” says the LORD. “My Spirit who is on you, and My words that I have put in your mouth will not depart from your mouth…” (Isa 59:21).

He also reveals that the Spirit would be upon the Messiah Isaiah 61:1 (quoted in Lk 4:17, 18, 19).

And in a corporate sense, He is among us.

“Where is He who set His Holy Spirit among them…” (Isa 63:11c)

So Isaiah describes God’s presence with us, on us, among us. (Later in Scripture we learn the Holy Spirit is also within us.)

That’s a lot to learn about God’s presence from just one book of the Bible…and there are 55 more books to go!

Immanuel – God with us! This is God’s choice. He has chosen to move toward us. It is His very nature to be close. He has even chosen it as one of His names. Therefore we need not fear.

ISAIAH 8 DEVOTIONAL

Isaiah didn’t have a clue he would become so popular. No, he never was embraced by his immediate audience. He preached the same message for 60 years with little response.

But, wow, was he wildly popular 600 years later! Isaiah is the most often quoted Old Testament book in the New Testament. Chapter eight provides examples. In a span a fourteen verses, seven of them get quoted in multiple places within the books of Matthew, Romans, Hebrews, and 1 Peter.

I have always been curious as to God’s use of “stone” or “rock” (and in extension “fortress” and “refuge”). Paul writes in Romans that Jesus is both the stumbling block AND the cornerstone. Paul gets his imagery of stumbling block from Isaiah 8:14,

“…but for both houses of Israel He will be a stone that causes men to stumble and a rock that makes them fall….”

And, Paul gets his imagery of Jesus as the cornerstone from Isaiah 28:16,

“…See, I lay a stone in Zion, a tested stone, a precious cornerstone for a sure foundation; the one who trusts will never be dismayed.”

Paul just puts the two ideas into one proximity, into one person.

We see two reactions to this stone/Person. To mix my metaphors a bit here, some ‘kick against the goad’ and find themselves stumbling, falling. For them “…He will be a trap and a snare. Many of them will stumble; they will fall and be broken, they will be snared and captured” (8:14b-15). These are sobering consequences. We know man is responsible for his own sin. He deserves to experience the full weight of his sin.

Amazingly, though, this very same stone can be our “sure foundation” and for the one who trusts in Him he “will never be dismayed” (Is 28:16). Chapter eight certainly doesn’t reveal all there is to know about this Cornerstone aspect, but it provides glimpses of hope...

“for God is with us” (Is 8:10);

“The LORD Almighty is the One you are to regard as holy, He is the one you are to fear…” (Is 8:13);

“…and He will be a sanctuary;… (Is 8:14);

“…I will put my trust in Him” (Is 8:17).

Praise God that Another has taken the weight and consequences of our sin away and put it on Himself.

Stumbling or standing. Falling under the weight of sin or falling upon the sure foundation. Snared or snatched up. Broken body or broken spirit (contrite heart). Spurring God’s provision or stirred to respond in faith. Dismayed or never dismayed. Stumbling block or cornerstone.

By God’s grace I choose to trust…
And, you can quote me on that
!

ISAIAH - GOD'S SOVEREIGNTY

It doesn’t take long studying Isaiah before you see the sovereignty of God pop up everywhere. There are direct references and there are indirect references. I’ll focus here primarily on the direct references. But let me point out that every time God says “I will” or “I will not” do such-and-such is an expression of His sovereignty. That is a total of at least 191 times! In addition, every time He has a command for His people, it is a reflection of His sovereignty over them/us. (Somebody else will have to read through the book and give me a count of all the commands. Any takers?)

In addition there are the eighteen references to one of God’s titles “the Sovereign LORD” (NIV). The first mention of the Sovereign LORD is typical for the book in that it is about to record a quote from our LORD, ”Yet this is what the Sovereign Lord says:

"'It will not take place, it will not happen,…” (Isa 7:7NIV)

In what is the most concentrated repetition of the use of this title we find

“The Sovereign LORD has given me an instructed tongue…wakens my ear to listen…The Sovereign LORD has opened my ears…the Sovereign LORD helps me…It is the Sovereign LORD who helps me” (Is 50:4NIV, Is 50:5NIV, Is 50:7NIV, Is 50:9NIV).

The word “sovereign” or “sovereignty” isn’t used outside of this title, but the concept is throughout the book. For example, if you have been following along and read chapter eight you would have come across Isa 8:10 which says,

“Devise your strategy, but it will be thwarted; propose your plan, but it will not stand, for God is with us” (also quoted in Matt 1:23).

We can make our plans and strategies, but they only stand by the sovereign will of God.

The flip flop is true, as well. No matter what God plans, it will absolutely, positively come to pass. No exceptions, no surprises.

“The LORD Almighty has sworn, ‘Surely, as I have planned so it will be, and as I have purposed, so it will stand….This is the plan determined for the whole world; this is the hand stretched out over all nations. For the LORD Almighty has purposed, and who can thwart Him?...” (Isa 14:24,26, 27).

And again,

“…My purpose will stand and I will do all that I please.” ( Isa 46:11).

That pretty much covers it all.

Nine different times there is a reference to God’s plan/promise which He revealed LONG AGO. There is something about the durability of God’s promises that demonstrate His control over all things. A quick example is God having predicted Sennacherib’s fall in Isa 37:26.

“Have you not heard? Long ago I ordained it. In days of old I planned it; now I have brought it to pass…”

Planned, ordained, brought to pass. (This reminds me of “Signed Sealed Delivered, I’m Yours”).

This provides us such confidence when we read the dozens and dozens of promises regarding future events.

“The Sovereign LORD will wipe away the tears from all faces;… “ (Is 25:8NIV; see also Rev. 21:4).

All of these are just as assured for us looking forward as His hundreds of past promises which have already come to pass.

How far does His sovereignty extend? God demonstrates that with a mere rebuke He can and does control the seas (Is 50:2b). By mere act of His will He clothes the sky with darkness (Is 50:3) and He can open ears to hear (Is 50:5). And in reference to His control over nations He says, “ …so the Sovereign LORD will make righteousness and praise spring up before all nations” (Is 61:11). (You would have to be sovereign to pull that off.)

Many of God’s characteristics are intertwined. It would not be surprising to find God’s power and His strength tied to His sovereignty. “…’Here is your God!’ See, the Sovereign LORD comes with power, and His arm rules for Him….” (Is 40:9NIV, Is 40:10NIV).

What should our response be to learning at a deeper level that God is indeed sovereign? This characteristic of God is not merely to be relied upon but it elicits our praise.

“O LORD, You are My God; I will exalt You and praise Your name, for in perfect faithfulness you have done marvelous things, things planned long ago” (Is 25:1).

The question should no longer be “Is God sovereign?” He has declared Himself and demonstrated Himself to indeed be in control. The remaining question is do I trust Him and believe that what pleases Him will be for my good?  That is the nature of faith in and trust in our Sovereign LORD.
 

Related Resources:

El Elyon - God Most High - Sovereign over All and for All Time
Sovereignty of God

 ISAIAH 9 DEVOTIONAL

“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David's throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. The zeal of the Lord Almighty will accomplish this.” (Is 9:6, 7).

It is almost impossible for us today to hear these words without thinking of Christmas. (There is nothing wrong with that, but I wonder if we would learn still more if we could somehow think of theses words for a while separate from Christmas hymns, narrations, and Christmas pageants.)

Beautiful words. Wonderful words. Familiar words. Words of hope. Words of anticipation. Words of promise.

Curious words (a child shouldering a government? Increasing with no end?)

“Too good to be true” words (justice and righteousness forever).

Nouns: Counselor, God, Father, Prince

Adjectives: Wonderful, Mighty, Everlasting, Peaceful

Messianic words.

Words that raise all kinds of questions. (Is the “us” everyone? When will this child take on the responsibilities of governing? How is a son also the Everlasting Father? When will all this “peace with no end” take place? How will this be accomplished? Who will call him these things?) (I believe I told you before that good Bible study often leaves us with more questions than it does answers.)

I love the phrase “the zeal of the LORD Almighty will accomplish this.” It denotes His strength, His passion, His love for His Son, and His purpose.

Father, thank you for sending Your Son. Thank you for Your promises of His kingdom that will one day reflect all You intend for Your children ‘from that time on and forever’. Thank You for being a zealous God for all that You intend to accomplish both in the life and work of Your Son and in my life, as well.

 ISAIAH - JOY AND REJOICING

Isaiah is seen almost universally as a book of judgment and understandable so. But don’t think the book is absent of joy. Chapter nine begins the first of thirty two references to “joy” and twenty two more to the word “rejoice”.

“You have enlarged the nation and increased their joy; they rejoice before You as people rejoice at the harvest, as men rejoice when dividing the plunder” (Is 9:3).

That’s a lot of joy and rejoicing for one verse, don’t you think?

I’ll try to, first, summarize Isaiah’s teaching on joy and rejoicing and, second, include some of the verses from which these principles come.

A. Who rejoices?

God’s people (9:3), the people of Zion (Is 12:6; 35:10; 52:8, 9); those whom God is among (Is 12:6); the ransomed (Is 35:10; 65:17, 18, 19); those who see His glory (44:2; 60:2-5)

The heavens (Is 44:2; 49:13), mountains, forests, and trees (Is 44:2; 48:20; 49:13; 55:12)

I do (Is 65:17, 18, 19)

B. How does joy happen?

God causes joy (Is 9:3; 56:7; 61:11)

Joy just happens (it overtakes us) (Is 35:10)

Found in keeping the Sabbath (Is 58:14)

C. Even though God causes joy, joy is nevertheless commanded

(Is 44:2; 49:13; 52:9; 65:18)

D. Why do we rejoice?

Because God has displayed His glory (Is 24:11, 12, 13, 14; 44:2; 60:2, 3, 4, 5)

Because of His comfort and compassion (Is 49:13; 52:8, 9)

Because of redemption (Is 49:8, 9; 61:10)

E. Not surprisingly, joy is tied closely to singing

(Is 12:6; 24:11, 12, 13, 14; 35:10; 44:2; 49:13; 65:14)

F. There’s a whole lot of shoutin’ goin’ on

(Is 11:6; 26:19; 35:2; 24:11, 12, 13, 14; 44:2; 48:2; 49:13; 52:3-9; 55:12)

(It seems that if we aren’t shoutin’, then we aren’t doin’ joy right.) (On a side note: I believe the biblical definition of “rejoice” is “to sing and shout for joy”. It may not be that fancy, but it is accurate.)

G. What happens when we rejoice?

It replaces sorrow and sighing (Is 35:10)

H. God rejoices, too

(Isaiah 62:5)

Here is my attempt to summarize Isaiah’s teaching on joy… “God commands us to do that which He actually creates within us, that is the ability to shout and sing for joy along with all of creation (and God Himself!) because of His glory as reflected in His wonderful character and His work in our salvation.”

Isa 12:6, “Shout aloud and sing for joy, people of Zion, for great is the Holy One of Israel among you."

Isa 35:10, “…and the ransomed of the Lord will return. They will enter Zion with singing; everlasting joy will crown their heads. Gladness and joy will overtake them, and sorrow and sighing will flee away. “

Isa 44:2, “Sing for joy, O heavens, for the Lord has done this; shout aloud, O earth beneath. Burst into song, you mountains, you forests and all your trees, for the Lord has redeemed Jacob, He displays His glory in Israel.”

Isa 49:13,”Shout for joy, O heavens; rejoice, O earth; burst into song, O mountains! For the Lord comforts His people and will have compassion on His afflicted ones.”

Isa 52:8-9, “Listen! Your watchmen lift up their voices; together they shout for joy. When the Lord returns to Zion, they will see it with their own eyes. 9 Burst into songs of joy together, you ruins of Jerusalem, for the Lord has comforted His people, He has redeemed Jerusalem.”

Isa 55:12, “You will go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and hills will burst into song before you, and all the trees of the field will clap their hands.”

Isa 61:10-11, “I delight greatly in the Lord; my soul rejoices in my God. For He has clothed me with garments of salvation and arrayed me in a robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom adorns his head like a priest, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels. 11 For as the soil makes the sprout come up and a garden causes seeds to grow, so the Sovereign Lord will make righteousness and praise spring up before all nations.”

Isa 62:5, “As a young man marries a maiden, so will your sons marry you; as a bridegroom rejoices over his bride, so will your God rejoice over you. “

Isa 65:17-19, “Behold, I will create new heavens and a new earth. The former things will not be remembered, nor will they come to mind. 18 But be glad and rejoice forever in what I will create, for I will create Jerusalem to be a delight and its people a joy. 19 I will rejoice over Jerusalem and take delight in my people; the sound of weeping and of crying will be heard in it no more.”

 ISAIAH 10 DEVOTIONAL

Isa 10:20-22, “In that day the remnant of Israel, the survivors of the house of Jacob, will no longer rely on him who struck them down but will truly rely on the Lord, the Holy One of Israel. 21 A remnant will return, a remnant of Jacob will return to the Mighty God. 22 Though your people, O Israel, be like the sand by the sea, only a remnant will return. Destruction has been decreed overwhelming and righteous.”

These would be the key verses (to me) in Isaiah 10. I’ve commented on them before under the subject of “the remnant" (See related resource on remnant) I’ve repeated just a portion of that reflection here for your convenience.

“I’ve always been intrigued by the concept of the
remnant of Israel. Much in prophetic study talks about a remnant. Chapter 4 of Isaiah contains an amazing statement.

“In that day the Branch of the Lord will be beautiful and glorious, and the fruit of the land will be the pride and glory of the survivors in Israel. 3 Those who are left in Zion, who remain in Jerusalem, will be called holy, all who are recorded among the living in Jerusalem” (Is 4:2,3).

In some places like these verses it appears this remnant will be “those who have remained faithful” while the others have turned away. In other verse we’ll see these individuals appear to have come out of a reliance on the enemy and turned their allegiance/dependence back to the One true God.

In virtually all cases there is an emphasis on their presence in or returning to the land of Israel and Jerusalem in particular. I assume the returning to the land is a result of their first having turned their hearts back to Him. One reflects the other.

Isaiah 4:2-3 don’t actually say “remnant”, but other verses make the connection clear.

“In that day the remnant of Israel, the survivors of the house of Jacob, will no longer rely on him who struck them down but will truly rely on the Lord, the Holy One of Israel. 21 A remnant will return, a remnant of Jacob will return to the Mighty God. 22 Though your people, O Israel, be like the sand by the sea, only a remnant will return…” (Isa 10:20,21).

These verses were important to Paul since he quoted them in Ro 9:27, 28. In the future kingdom there will be those recognized out of Israel that are survivors, those who are left, those remaining. Their home will be Jerusalem. They will be lucky to be alive. And they are marked by holiness (faithful/righteous).”

God is VERY committed to this detail of Israel’s future.

“Once more a remnant of the house of Judah will take root below and bear fruit above. For out of Jerusalem will come a remnant , and out of Mount Zion a band of survivors. The zeal of the Lord Almighty will accomplish this” (Is 37:31, 32).”

 ISAIAH 11 DEVOTIONAL

“A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse: from his roots a Branch will bear fruit. The Spirit of the LORD will rest on Him – the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding, the Spirit of counsel and of power, the Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the LORD – and He will delight in the fear of the LORD” (Isaiah 11:1-3).

“In that day the Root of Jesse will stand as a banner for the peoples; the nations will rally to Him, and His place of rest will be glorious” (Isaiah 11:10).

We previously discussed Isaiah’s look at the Messiah back in Is 4:2, 7:14, and Is 9:6, 7. This, then in chapter 11, would be the fourth major section focusing on the Messiah. There are at least twenty five references to the Messiah in this chapter alone. (I encourage you to read all of the chapter to gain a fuller picture.)

Looking at the passages I’ve copied above, the two major emphases here are His origin (from the tribe of Jesse…emphasizing his humanity) and His nature (having the Spirit of the Lord rest on Him…emphasizing His divinity).

Although not much is said here regarding the importance or implications of His coming from the line of Jesse, the line of David, it is full of meaning to the Old Testament reader, and should be to us as well. This is God’s fulfillment of His promise, His covenant. This is God’s plan of salvation. This wasn’t overlooked by the New Testament writers as they relied on it in Luke 3:22,23,32 and Acts 13:22, 23.

This Spirit is “of the LORD”, clearly indicating the Father’s full intention to endow the Messiah with power and authority. The Old Testament’s primary view of the Spirit (but not the only view –see my previous thoughts on the presence of God) was that He came upon those God used. We see this fulfilled in part at Jesus’ baptism when the Holy Spirit came upon Jesus as if in the form of a dove.

This Spirit has certain characteristics: wisdom, understanding, counsel, power, knowledge and fear of the LORD. I know of no fuller description of the Holy Spirit’s character in all of the Old Testament. But as is typical of the biblical record, these characteristics aren’t included to draw undue attention to the Spirit but are meant to help us see more clearly who the Messiah would be, how He would be.

I love the description in Isaiah 11:10. The Messiah would be a banner for the people. Their covering, their protector. The nations will rally to Him. This has yet happen in all its fullness, but we see the spread of Christianity to thousands of people groups around the globe and its ever spreading nature as partial fulfillment of this promise.

I’m intrigued by the last phrase, “and His place of rest will be glorious.” My wife, Jana, and I have just had a wonderful couple of weeks in some great places to rest. When I think of rest I think of peaceful, quiet, serene. I don’t often think of “glorious”. But of course, Jesus’ place of rest would have to be glorious since He is glorious. You might be able to find some rest in a dark room, or a spot on your back porch, or in an office without interruption. I’m sure heaven will be glorious in all that we’ll be able to enjoy with our new, resurrected bodies, but I sense that it will be truly glorious, not merely because of the yet to be created new heaven and earth, but primarily because of God’s presence there.

When I first read this latter phrase I could only see that Jesus’ place of rest would be glorious for Him, but the more I think about it, the more I realize it will be glorious for all of those He calls to join Him…to be with Him…Oh, what a glorious day.

 ISAIAH - SPIRIT OF GOD

What? The Holy Spirit shows up in the Old Testament? You bet. And, in spades throughout the book of Isaiah. The clearest descriptions come with explicit references to the “Holy Spirit” as in Is 63:10, 11, but also in references to the “Spirit of the Lord” (Is 11:2; 63:14) and to “My Spirit” (Is 26:8 and five others). A study of these correspond to the previous work done on the “presence of God”.

Clearly not all references to “spirit” in the book are references to the Holy Spirit. Many refer to a man’s spirit, as in a man having a humble and contrite spirit (Is 26:9; 29:24; 38:16; 54:6; 57:15, 16; 61:3; 54:14; 66:2).

Some of the references are a bit obscure. For example,

“The Lord will wash away the filth of the women of Zion; he will cleanse the bloodstains from Jerusalem by a spirit of judgment and a spirit of fire” (Is 4:4).

Other passages are more clear show God sending a spirit for a specific purpose (Is 19:14; 37:7).

There is no doubting God has a Spirit and this Spirit is divine and He has a ministry of facilitating God’s work among us. The character of the Holy Spirit is defined in Isaiah 11:2

 “The Spirit of the Lord will rest on him — the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding, the Spirit of counsel and of power, the Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord — …”

In addition 63:10 clearly states that this Spirit can be grieved, another aspect of His character. Other aspects include His being a Spirit of justice (Is 28:6) and one who provides rest (Is 63:14).

One of the more consistent descriptions of the Spirit’s actions is represented by Is 32:15,

“…till the Spirit is poured upon us from on high,…’

This “pouring out upon” God’s people is found elsewhere both in the book of Isaiah (44:3) and elsewhere in the Old Testament. It is the same description of God pouring His Spirit on His Servant/the Messiah. Isaiah 42:1 says,

"Here is my servant, whom I uphold, my chosen one in whom I delight; I will put my Spirit on him and he will bring justice to the nations.”

Another common description of the Spirit’s work is being upon someone for the ability to speak for God. Isa 59:21,

"As for me, this is my covenant with them," says the Lord. "My Spirit, who is on you, and my words that I have put in your mouth will not depart from your mouth,…”

Is 61:1, “The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to preach good news to the poor.”

Isaiah is one of the clearest writers in the Old Testament in providing us direct evidence of the Holy Spirit, His divine work, and His presence upon us.

ISAIAH
A GOD OF JUSTICE OR
A GOD AGAINST INJUSTICE

One of the roles of the Messiah is to judge righteously.

Isa 11:3-5, “…He will not judge by what he sees with his eyes, or decide by what he hears with his ears; 4 but with righteousness he will judge the needy, with justice he will give decisions for the poor of the earth. He will strike the earth with the rod of his mouth; with the breath of his lips he will slay the wicked. 5 Righteousness will be his belt and faithfulness the sash around his waist.”

Note some of the characteristics of His judgment. First, His isn’t like man’s. He does not merely see with His eyes and hear with His ears. Instead, He will add into the mix righteousness and faithfulness.

But don’t miss that His judgment, even though laced with righteousness and faithfulness, indeed is severe. “He will strike the earth with the rod of his mouth; with the breath of his lips he will slay the wicked.”

Isaiah certainly is a book regarding judgment of the nations and of God’s people. But, it is FILLED with the greater, overarching subject of God’s justice. (Hang on, this is longer than most.)

The Character of God

God demonstrates that He is a God of justice.

“Yet the Lord longs to be gracious to you; he rises to show you compassion. For the Lord is a God of justice. Blessed are all who wait for him!” Isa 30:18

Isa 61:8, "For I, the Lord, love justice; I hate robbery and iniquity.”

The Work of God

And out of His character He is committed to works of justice.

"The poor and needy search for water, but there is none; their tongues are parched with thirst. But I the Lord will answer them; I, the God of Israel, will not forsake them” (Isa 41:17).

Expectation of Leaders

He also expects those who represent Him (leaders) to lead/rule with justice.

Isa 25:4a, “You have been a refuge for the poor, a refuge for the needy in his distress, a shelter from the storm and a shade from the heat.”

Isa 1:23, “Your rulers are rebels, companions of thieves; they all love bribes and chase after gifts. They do not defend the cause of the fatherless; the widow's case does not come before them.”

Some of God’s harshest words are reserved for those who are in a position to help and either turn away, or incredibly, make matters worse,

“Woe to those who make unjust laws, to those who issue oppressive decrees, 2 to deprive the poor of their rights and withhold justice from the oppressed of my people, making widows their prey and robbing the fatherless” (Isa 10:1, 2).

So for us to claim that we follow God and not follow in His steps of justice, we face God’s frustration, particularly when we call ourselves leaders.

“The Lord enters into judgment against the elders and leaders of his people: "It is you who have ruined my vineyard; the plunder from the poor is in your houses. 15 What do you mean by crushing my people and grinding the faces of the poor?" declares the Lord, the Lord Almighty” (Isa 3:14, 15).

Key Chapter

The single longest discussion of this topic in Isaiah is found in Isaiah 59:4, 8, 11, 14, 15. The chapter is a discussion of sin that is ever present before us. Among these offenses or iniquities is a lack of practicing justice.

“No one calls for justice; no one pleads his case with integrity. They rely on empty arguments and speak lies; they conceive trouble and give birth to evil.” Is 59:4

“The way of peace they do not know; there is no justice in their paths…” Is 59:8a

“We look for justice but find none…”, Is 59:11a

“…The LORD looked and was displeased that there was no justice. He saw that there was no one, and He was appalled that there was no one to intercede…”,  Is 59:15-16a

Great Expectations

God says that the practice of justice among the poor and oppressed is an indicator of our genuine spirituality. After chastising His people for going through the motions of fasting He says,

“Yet on the day of your fasting you do as you please and exploit all your workers…Is this the kind of fast I have chosen…? Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke? Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter – when you see the naked, to clothe him,…?” (Is 58:2c, Is 58:4a, Is 58:5a, Is 58:6, 7a).

Rewards of obedience

And then to make His point crystal clear, God says that the joy of walking with God and answers to prayer are tied directly to our practice of justice.

“Then your light will break forth like the dawn, and your healing will quickly appear; then your righteousness will go before you, and the glory of the LORD will be your rear guard. Then you will call, and the LORD will answer you; and you will cry for help, and He will say: Here am I. If you do away with the yoke of oppression, with the pointing finger and malicious talk, 10 and if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed , then your light will rise in the darkness, and your night will become like the noonday. 11 The Lord will guide you always; he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame. You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail. ” (Is 58:8-11)

Action Steps

So, what should we do about it?

“…Stop doing wrong, learn to do right! Seek justice, encourage the oppressed. Defend the cause of the fatherless, plead the case of the widow” (Isa 1:16-17).

“This is what the Lord says: "Maintain justice and do what is right, or my salvation is close at hand and my righteousness will soon be revealed” (Isa 56:1).

Let me be blunt: Followers of Christ should be at the forefront of community activities/ministries that focus on: the unborn, foster care, adoptions, single parenting, care of widows, genuine cases of amnesty, the persecuted Church, those false accused (particularly for their faith), homeless, the hungry, clean water, the basic needs of the poor. Not to be involved is a reflection of the shallowness of our understanding of who God is, who Jesus is, what He came to do, and what He wants to do in and through us.

ACT NOW. Not to is be foolish. How is that?

Isaiah is very clear in providing us a very practical definition of a fool: the hungry and thirsty are left that way and the poor are exploited.

”For the fool speaks folly, his mind is busy with evil: He practices ungodliness and spreads error concerning the Lord; the hungry he leaves empty and from the thirsty he withholds water. 7 The scoundrel's methods are wicked, he makes up evil schemes to destroy the poor with lies, even when the plea of the needy is just” (Isa 32:6,7).

If this stirs something in you, I encourage you to respond in some way immediately. First, consider a financial donation to a ministry that is already involved. Second, do some research of groups that are involved in some of these issues within ten miles of your home. Volunteer some time. Third, educate yourself in an even fuller biblical view of these issues.

 ISAIAH 12 DEVOTIONAL

Chapter 12 of Isaiah is powerful even though it only has six verses…the shortest chapter of Isaiah.

Isaiah 12:1 In that day you will say: "I will praise you, O Lord. Although you were angry with me, your anger has turned away and you have comforted me. 2 Surely God is my salvation; I will trust and not be afraid. The Lord, the Lord, is my strength and my song; he has become my salvation." 3 With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation. 4 In that day you will say: "Give thanks to the Lord, call on his name; make known among the nations what he has done, and proclaim that his name is exalted. 5 Sing to the Lord, for he has done glorious things; let this be known to all the world. 6 Shout aloud and sing for joy, people of Zion, for great is the Holy One of Israel among you."

That’s it. That is all there is to chapter 12. I view it a bit like Psalm 23: short, but it packs a wallop. I couldn’t pick a favorite verse or two, so you get the whole thing this time.

There are at least three “firsts” in this chapter. Verse 1 is the first use of “praise” in the book of Isaiah. Is 12:2 is the first use of “comfort”. (We won’t hear it again until chapter 40.) Isaiah 12:2 is the first use of “salvation”. Once he has used it, though, he can’t get it off his mind, using it three times in two verses.

“in that day”, Is 12:1, 4 – I praise God that I can say these words TODAY. I don’t have to wait for another day to come

“You have comforted me” – Yes, He has. Whether it is in my weakness, insecurity, fear, loss, confusion, or anger, I have received comfort from my Lord.

“I will trust and not be afraid” – (anticipate a Reflection to come that ties these two together)

“God is my salvation” “He has become my salvation” – There is NO other source

“give thanks, call, make known, proclaim, sing, let this be known, should, sing”, Isa 12:4-6 – These are all commands, with one primary purpose: we are to respond to God by telling others. And, this is to extend to “the nations”, “all the world”.

“the Holy One among you” – You know how I feel about the presence of God! (See former Reflection)

Full, rich verses, wouldn’t you say?

ISAIAH - TRUSTING IN GOD

There are twelve key Passages in Isaiah on the topic of trust. Here they each are with some observations we can draw. Trust is a topic that only the Psalms and Jeremiah address with equal or more emphasis.

We tend to trust in man rather than in God. Man will fail us.

Isa 2:22, “Stop trusting in man, who has but a breath in his nostrils. Of what account is he? “

Waiting seems to be a key component of trusting.

Isa 8:17, “I will wait for the Lord, who is hiding his face from the house of Jacob. I will put my trust in him.”

Sometimes people (ironically) rely on those who abuse authority over them.

Isa 10:20, “In that day the remnant of Israel, the survivors of the house of Jacob, will no longer rely on him who struck them down but will truly rely on the Lord, the Holy One of Israel.”

Trust chases away fear.

Isa 12:2, “Surely God is my salvation; I will trust and not be afraid. The Lord, the Lord, is my strength and my song; he has become my salvation."

Trusting in other power leads to fear and shame. (Also, it is tempting to trust a big authority figure.)

Isa 20:5, “Those who trusted in Cush and boasted in Egypt will be afraid and put to shame. 6 In that day the people who live on this coast will say, 'See what has happened to those we relied on, those we fled to for help and deliverance from the king of Assyria! How then can we escape?'"

Trusting is inexplicably tied to salvation.

Isa 25:9, “In that day they will say, "Surely this is our God; we trusted in him, and he saved us. This is the Lord, we trusted in him; let us rejoice and be glad in his salvation."

God provides peace of mind to those who trust in Him. Interestingly, trust is something we are exhorted to do. Our trust is in the character of God (LORD, Rock eternal).

Isa 26:3, “You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in you. 4 Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord, the Lord, is the Rock eternal.”

Relying on something other than God is the equivalent of rejecting what God has said about Himself. Relying on something else is a sin. Repentance, rest, salvation, quietness are tied together. Some choose to reject God’s offer (It is implied they are trusting in something else).

Isa 30:12-15, “Therefore, this is what the Holy One of Israel says: "Because you have rejected this message, relied on oppression and depended on deceit, 13 this sin will become for you like a high wall, cracked and bulging, that collapses suddenly, in an instant. 14 It will break in pieces like pottery, shattered so mercilessly that among its pieces not a fragment will be found for taking coals from a hearth or scooping water out of a cistern. This is what the Sovereign Lord, the Holy One of Israel, says: "In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength, but you would have none of it.”

Some have trusted in other sources (Egypt) and on human sources of strength (horses, chariots, horsemen, cp Ps 20:7). Trusting God here is synonymous to looking to Him for help.

Isa 31:1, “Woe to those who go down to Egypt for help, who rely on horses, who trust in the multitude of their chariots and in the great strength of their horsemen, but do not look to the Holy One of Israel, or seek help from the Lord. “

Some trust in idols. They will be found wanting.

Isa 42:17, “But those who trust in idols, who say to images, 'You are our gods,' will be turned back in utter shame.”

Trust in self is at the end of the day trusting in our own wickedness. It is self deceiving. It will be found to lead to disaster (it doesn’t work).

Isa 47:10, “You have trusted in your wickedness and have said, 'No one sees me.' Your wisdom and knowledge mislead you when you say to yourself, 'I am, and there is none besides me.' 11 Disaster will come upon you, and you will not know how to conjure it away. A calamity will fall upon you that you cannot ward off with a ransom; a catastrophe you cannot foresee will suddenly come upon you. “

We are exhorted to trust and rely on God. The other option is to rely on your own self efforts which will lead to destruction.

Isa 50:10, “Who among you fears the Lord and obeys the word of his servant? Let him who walks in the dark, who has no light, trust in the name of the Lord and rely on his God. 11 But now, all you who light fires and provide yourselves with flaming torches, go, walk in the light of your fires and of the torches you have set ablaze. This is what you shall receive from my hand: You will lie down in torment.”

 ISAIAH 13 DEVOTIONAL

Isaiah 13 begins a long section of the book of Isaiah (Isaiah 13-23) that deals with judgments or prophecies against nine neighboring cities or countries. This section can be a bit tedious to read straight through and specific verses can be a challenge to interpret. The primary question for much this section is , “When will this take place?”

For example,

“Wail, for the day of the LORD is near; it will come like destruction from the Almighty” (Is 13:6).

What does He mean by “near”? Was this something that Isaiah’s audience would live to see? Was it a warning for a future audience? Was it both? Is it an attitude all of should maintain no matter what its original intent may have been?

Following this verse is a series of proclamations/promises. There are 34 specific outcomes promised by the use of “will” or “will not” in this chapter alone!

My personal question is this: “What is it about the character and will of God that motivates Him to use language that states/implies nearness when from a human perspective it has turned out to be “so long”? He certainly knew it would create anticipation (a good thing) and at the same time create a disappointment (feels like a bad thing to us). I’m not merely referring to these prophecies in Isaiah, but also to several references Christ makes to His disciples and other New Testament writes use to the Church.

I have no answer today. But I have confidence when I’m in heaven that I’ll finally be able to say, “Now I understand.” It will all makes sense one day.

ISAIAH - THE COMPASSION OF  GOD

I have learned a few things about God’s compassion through a survey of Isaiah. Not surprisingly there are many positive synonyms or companion characteristics mentioned in many of the verses: things like kindness, comfort, love, favor, gracious, tenderness. But surprisingly, as we will see, anger is also a mentioned.

Examples of some of these companion characteristics include, Isa 51:3a,

“The Lord will surely comfort Zion and will look with compassion on all her ruins;…”

Isa 63:7, “I will tell of the kindnesses of the Lord, the deeds for which he is to be praised, according to all the Lord has done for us — yes, the many good things he has done for the house of Israel, according to his compassion and many kindnesses. “

Isa 30:18, “Yet the Lord longs to be gracious to you; he rises to show you compassion…”

God’s compassion has action involved. It isn’t a passive emotion. For example, Isa 49:10b, Is 49:13, 14,

“…He who has compassion on them will guide them and lead them beside springs of water….13 Shout for joy, O heavens; rejoice, O earth; burst into song, O mountains! For the Lord comforts his people and will have compassion on his afflicted ones. …

God in no way is embarrassed for maintaining this characteristic. In fact, He acts surprised when accused of NOT being compassionate. After being accused of lacking compassion (see also Is 63:15) God answers, defending Himself, using a comparison God assumes is self evident by saying,

"Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne?” (Isa 49:15)

And in an extended passage, God acknowledges that at times His compassion is absent or at least seems absent (see also Is 27:11)…but it is only for a moment. His love overcomes His anger.

Isa 54:7-10, “For a brief moment I abandoned you, but with deep compassion I will bring you back. 8 In a surge of anger I hid my face from you for a moment, but with everlasting kindness I will have compassion on you, "says the Lord your Redeemer. 9 "To me this is like the days of Noah, when I swore that the waters of Noah would never again cover the earth. So now I have sworn not to be angry with you, never to rebuke you again. 10 Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken nor my covenant of peace be removed, "says the Lord, who has compassion on you.”

A similar thought is mentioned in a much shorter version in Isa 60:10,

“Though in anger I struck you, in favor I will show you compassion.”

Compassion wrapped in kindness, comfort, love, favor, graciousness, and tenderness…that is the kind of God who sets aside His anger in order to have a relationship with us.

“…yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken nor my covenant of peace be removed, "says the Lord, who has compassion on you” (Isa 54:10b).

 ISAIAH 14 DEVOTIONAL

The key verses in Isaiah chapter 14 reveal much about the evil intent of the heart.

Isa 14:12-15, “How you have fallen from heaven, O morning star, son of the dawn! You have been cast down to the earth, you who once laid low the nations! You said in your heart, "I will ascend to heaven; I will raise my throne above the stars of God; I will sit enthroned on the mount of assembly, on the utmost heights of the sacred mountain. 14 I will ascend above the tops of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High." 15 But you are brought down to the grave, to the depths of the pit.”

I, I, I. Me, me, me.

“There is nothing new under the sun” (Ecclesiastes 1:9).

Pride, self-centeredness. Me first. Me only.

We are all afflicted with this particular disease.

In this passage, we have certainly one of the most extreme expression of pride. Whether it is specific to an enemy of Israel or a description of the ultimate enemy, Satan, either way we have pride on display.

Satan vowed to ascend to heaven, but has instead fallen from heaven.

Satan vowed to be raised on a throne above the stars, but has been cast down to earth.

Satan vowed to make himself like the Most High, but has been brought down to the grave.

But it is so similar to the pride that I find in my own heart.

I want my needs met.

I want people to agree with me.

I think I’m the one who is right.

I want people to listen to me.

As believers who have been delivered from our vain attempts at self righteousness,. Even after forgiveness, we are tempted in out flesh (“boasting pride of life” 1John 2:16) to continue down this path. And to whatever degree we allow ourselves to be “conformed to the image of this world” (Ro 12:2) we are squeezed into a mold of selfish pursuits. Nevertheless, even in our salvation, we are told EXACTLY what to do.

Phil 2:2-5,”Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; 4 do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.”

Col 3:12, “Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility , gentleness and patience.”

1Peter 5:5-6, “…All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because, "God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble." 6 Humble yourselves, therefore, under God's mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time.”


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Last Updated July, 2013

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