Saturday, October 26, 2013

The Mystery of suffering

Our natural instinct is to focus on our suffering. Let Isaiah point us to the suffering of the Lord Jesus Christ.
       Isaiah 40 is the turning point of the book, and the build up of hope in God revealing Himself rises.  The joyful news bounces upon the mountains as the Gospel of peace.  Then chapter 52 and 53 present the servant of God as, by appearances – a failure!  It certainly is not natural to follow a failure. We cannot ignore Isaiah 53, because the Lord Jesus Himself applied it to Himself (Luke 22).  So the mystery of suffering in this chapter is unlocked by Jesus Himself.

      Up to this chapter, sin was generally rewarded with punishment. In chapter 53, the sins of the wandering sheep, the punishment of the transgressors, is placed upon the innocent, the holy Servant of God, the Messiah himself! Not only is He counted among the transgressors (53.12), but He is the substitute to bear their sins.
    ‘Why should Jesus suffer so on the cross of shame? ‘
    We must note the important factor in this chapter – “The Lord laid on Him”    “ the Lord made His soul an offering for sin”.  When we see the “Lord”  acting , we see the suffering of Jesus Christ as being for a distinct purpose.
Verse 7 has an interesting marginal rendering in the Newberry Bible – “  It was exacted and He became answerable”   Sounds like 2 Corinthians 5.21 “For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ “ NLT.
Isaiah 53 concludes with triumph, not only for the suffering Messiah, but triumph for those whose sins He has borne. He as the risen one intercedes in heaven for them.
This chapter has remarkable detail of the sorrows, rejection, pain, misjudgement, etc of Christ. Take time to search it out.

   Well might Phillip preach to the Ethiopian from this same chapter – Jesus  (Acts 8)
Going forward into Chapters 54 – 66, more precious truth is unfolded about the Messiah eg 61.  Chapter 55 proclaims the Gospel of free grace to all who turn to the Lord. The conclusion is full of hope as the King returns to establish His righteous rule. ‘Even so come Lord Jesus’

In review of Isaiah, we may not understand all its historical background and application, but we sure can rejoice in the unveilings of God’s Son, revealed for God’s will and our blessing.
In closing, please ponder chapter  66.1-2  --The almighty, so great and glorious is willing to dwell with the humble and contrite ones, who tremble at His word! ! !


John McKee

Sunday, October 20, 2013

IDOLS

An apologetic (reasoned defence) passage in Isaiah

           Isaiah chapter 44: 6-20
This chapter begins with promises of God’s grace. Verses 6 to 20 describe the foolishness of idolatry. We know that the ten commandments forbid worshipping any graven image. Worship belongs to God alone. And yet even today, in this sophisticated educated world, millions of people pray to wood and stone images. The new Testament makes it clear that often behind the physical object is a sinister spiritual force. ( Corinthians 10.20 )

          Let Isaiah show the folly of an idol.  A man cuts down a tree, then uses some of the timber to make a fire for cooking ( and in Australia to make a house), and then he carves out an image – maybe of a human, an animal or something a bit out of this world. Then the creator of the image (and likely his family),   bows down to worship it. Logic says that something is distinctly  wrong.  Not only does he honour the idol, but also prays to it to help from it!
It was quite astounding to me when we lived in Hong Kong, a city of so many educated, intelligent and rich people, that at a certain  time of the year they were so engrossed in putting out images and idols. So much time and money spent trying to please the unseen world.

      How blessed it is to know a God who though invisible, yet is real and revealed in Jesus Christ.

I ask you to read through verses 6 to 20 and  having read it , to pray for the many, maybe not so far from you, who are captive to this lie. Verse 20  - “He trusts in something that can’t help him at all. Yet he cannot bring himself to ask ‘is this idol that I’m holding in my hand a lie?’   “  NLT

               Idolatry is non sense -  but I challenge my readers ...............what are we doing with the great liberty and knowledge we have ?

“ So we must listen carefully to the truth we have heard, or we may drift away from it”  Hebrews 2.1  NLT


John McKee     

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Gems from Isaiah

      Let us notice some of the gems in Isaiah.
Chapter 1.18 " Come now and let us reason together says the Lord"   - The Lord God, so offended by rebellion, is not unreasonable! ( try reading this in New Living Translation - it is beautiful)

Chapter 6  In a day when uncleanness was the mark of disobedience, God shines through as "Holy, holy, holy"  This brilliant ray of light brings hope to those willing to be purified by the perpetual value of the alter (Hebrews 1.3)

Chapter 9:6,7  "Unto us a child is born, a son is given......" This  messianic prophecy dispels the hopelessness of unbelief. The riches of these few verses has remained a source of hope for more than 2000 years. I encourage you to take time out to ponder, search the word meanings, consider the  culture and context, and see the prophecy gloriously fulfilled in Jesus Christ our Lord.  You will wonder, worship and praise !!

Chapter 11 is long distance foretelling in full swing. Things yet to be, only possible through the risen exalted Lord Jesus

Chapter 28.16 is a prophecy and a promise quoted in the New Testament (the compass points to Peter  - but I will let you find it)  The promise of safety for those who TRUST in the Lord is like Chapter 30.15 " in returning and rest you will be saved, in quietness and confidence will be your strength"
       These gems reveal the cause for the sad tale of woes  -  the underlying problem of unbelief, departure from God and rebellion against God. O that people today would learn the lesson of history and turn to the God who loves , who waits to cleanse, to comfort................

Chapter 32.1  "The King is coming"    He came once and was rejected, but He said "I will come again" For the believer this prospect is uplifting, but for the unbeliever how terrorizing to one day become the direct object of God's judgements at the hand of Jesus Christ the Lord.  1 Thessalonians 1

Chapter 42 is a delightful description of the servant of Jehovah. This is Jesus in the character of a servant. Let these verses be food for your soul as you meditate on one in whom there is no disappointment.

Chapter 53 stands uniquely significant in the Old Testament and the New  -  the mystery of a suffering Messiah. ( as we referred to in a previous article)

Chapter 61   and  many more places, cheer the heart and inspire faith.

Let us look up instead of around.

Maranatha


John McKee



Sunday, October 13, 2013

Isaiah

       I have been reading the early chapters of Isaiah. How depressing to read of woes and judgements. The messages of destruction are overwhelming and one is inclined to jump to a different section. However it is wise to search the rubble ( I mean the rubble of human disobedience) for the precious gems, for they are there. Some have posed the question 'How could a God of love pronounce devastating judgements?'   --  sometimes the consequences described are the unavoidable outcomes of foolish choices eg to depend on other nations for military protection in the  varying wars.  Often times, and distinctly for Israel and Judah, God was disciplining and punishing His people in His jealous love. The worship of idols and the trust put in other nations instead of God must needs invoke the action of God to recover His wandering flock.
    Reading the woes of condemnation, we watch out for the underlying cause, and so often it is the hearts of the people have turned away from God to trust and follow others. In our western culture of individual independence,  insolence toward God is normal!  However when we consider the relationship of the creator and the creation, the relationships of parent and children, the bonds of the Redeemer and the redeemed, the insolence of rebellion can only invoke problems, discipline and punishment.
    Has the Lord changed today?  He may , in this day of grace, be very slow to anger, but His character is yet the same.  I listen carefully to the words of the Lord Jesus - " As many as I love I rebuke and chasten" (Revelation 3)


to be continued

Good night and God bless you with simple , real  trust in Himself

Sunday, October 6, 2013

He Knew All Things

The foreknowledge of the Lord continued.
            From a human point of view,  Jesus could have done better for Himself. He could have appeased the leaders and remained a good teacher and healer among the nations. He could have negotiated with the Romans ( like Herod ) and established himself with political power. He could have quietly written his new philosophy on scrolls that might be distributed to the ends of the earth. But no, He goes ahead, knowing that ‘disaster’ awaited Him!
   This is where His foreknowledge is most significant – proclaiming eternally that His death was not an accident, not a martyrs death, not a foolish miscalculation of popular opinion etc.  On the road to Emmaus He told the puzzled walkers, ‘All that the prophets have spoken -  that Christ must suffer and rise again from the dead.’

Let us ponder the many foretellings in Luke 22,23
·                       *The Passover night He said “ I have earnestly desired to eat this Passover before I suffer” .    Suffer?   To illustrate what He meant, He took the bread  and broke it – symbolizing that His body would be broken. He  then took the cup – interpreting this Himself – His blood shed as a ransom, shed to seal the covenant of grace soon to be established, shed to bring forgiveness .             Just as He intelligently took the bread and the cup to signify His death as having special and eternal meaning, so should we  eat intelligently (1 Corinthians 11 ).
·                *  Next the Lord foretells the impending betrayal by one of the twelve.
·                 *  Luke 22.28-30 is an intriguing prophetic promise to the eleven disciples who had been faithful to Him. He promised to them in the Kingdom to come, thrones of authority to judge the twelve tribes of Israel ! What a promise when everything seemed to be crashing around them. Did He KNOW something more than the present ?? Indeed He did !!
·                 * He returns to the present burdens  and expresses in advance the anticipated grief of Peter’s denial “you will deny three times that you know  me”
·                 *  Now notice a most important foretelling – 22.37  “this scripture must be fulfilled in me – He was numbered with the transgressors” The Lord is claiming that Isaiah 53.12 would be distinctly fulfilled in His ‘suffering’. As it turned out, it was precisely so, but in no sense engineered by Jesus. He seemed to KNOW what Pilate would do!
·                   * In Gethsemane, He is burdened with grief and anxiety because He KNEW the cup of suffering He must drink.
·                 *  Verse 53 He describes this moment of assault as  “ you hour and the power of darkness” – deeper forces at work than appeared on the surface.
·                   *When the Lord stands before the Sanhedrin court, He makes a prophetic claim that is pivotal for all mankind. The High Priest asks Him “Are you the Son of God”  His answer this time is direct and clear “ I am “ (Mark 14.62). Those who accept this claim are truly His disciples, those who reject  this claim are lost forever. But more astounding is the added sentence. “ From now on the  Son of Man shall be seated at the right hand of the power of God” The Lord is alluding to Daniel 7, and claiming that He KNEW His place in the future as the designated Messiah and ruler of all   !!!
                We would do well to pause and worship HIM.

·                * Luke includes another interesting case of foretelling – Chapter 23.28 “The days are coming..................” How did He KNOW the future of the nation of Israel? – He knew that in rejecting Him, they would invoke the judgement of God.
·                 * Yet another look ahead. To the repentant thief He said “Today you will be with me in paradise” This was not hopeful wishing, but the right of the Redeemer to open the door of heaven to a found sheep.

We see so many varied expressions of His omniscience i.e. He who KNEW all things could so humbly declare Himself the Christ, the Son of God.

            I have not included the many foretellings from John 13-17. I encourage you to search them out. Please note the concluding word John16.30  “Now we know that you know all things and do not need anyone to question you. This is why we believe that you came from God”

May all my readers believe and be blessed.

John McKee