December 26, 2012

Scripture and Commentary, Thursday through Saturday after Christmas Day


Thursday

Morning - Ps. 23 &24, Ex. 33:12, Jn. 13:2-26
Evening - Ps. 97, Is. 6:1-8, Rev. 1

Commentary, Isaiah 6:1-8

Today we return to a passage we have looked at before, Isaiah 6:1-8.  The prophet is given a vision of God in all His terrifying holiness and power.  From the vision of God, Isaiah is moved to see his own unworthiness.  He is a man of unclean lips, meaning, a sinner.  The seraphim sing "Holy, holy, holy," unto God, but Isaiah's lips are not worthy to address the Lord.  He sees his sin as filthy rags beside the incredibly white and shining Goodness of God, and he knows that he is "undone," or, destroyed, before God.  If Isaiah is to be allowed into real fellowship with God, God Himself is going to have to find a way to cover his sins and make him holy.  The seraphim touches Isaiah's mouth with a live coal from the altar where the sacrificial animals are killed and burned.  Symbolically, the sins of the Jewish people were laid upon the sacrifice, which paid the price of sin by dying on the altar.  The coal represents all the animals killed to pay for Isaiah's sin.  The sacrificial lambs themselves represent Christ, the Lamb of God and the only Sacrifice that could truly pay for the sins of any person.  It is Christ broken, sacrificed, and applied to the "undoneness" of people that restores them to wholeness before God.  In sin we are undone.  In Christ we are restored to wholeness. The restoration includes an invitation.  Isaiah was being called to preach the Word of God, but more than that, he was being invited into the fellowship and love of God.

Thus we see a threefold emphasis in these verses.  First is the vision of the greatness of God.  Second is the awareness of being undone.  Third is the cleansing of sin and the invitation to return to full fellowship with God.  The true Christian has a similar experience.  At some point we come to realise that God is far greater, far more worthy, and far more "good" than we ever imagined.  That knowledge immediately brings the knowledge that we are far smaller, far more unworthy, and far more wicked than we ever believed ourselves to be.  At this point we realise, "Woe is me! for I am undone" (vs. 5), and the only way to become whole and restored is for God to do something Himself that will cover our sins and restore us to His favour.  Christ restores us by taking our sins on Himself and paying their price with His own life. He then covers our sins with His own sinless perfection, and God counts us as righteous for His sake.  Now we are taken into the heart of God.  We have the joy of His presence and love in such abundance it can only be described as God dwelling in us, and us dwelling in God.

Friday Holy Innocents

Morning – Ps. 8 & 26, Jer. 31:1-6, 15-16, Mt. 18:1-14
Evening – Ps. 19, & 126, Is. 54:1-13, Mk. 10:13-16, 23-31

Commentary, Isaiah 54:1-13

Isaiah 54 is about God’s faithfulness and mercy.  The barren (childless) woman is Judea, whom God has allowed to be conquered and taken into captivity by the Babylonians.   God says He will not leave them in Babylon.  He will rescue them with great mercy, and gather them back to their home in Jerusalem (vs. 7).  The symbolism of this passage refers to God’s deliverance of the Jews from Babylon.  It also refers to our deliverance from the spiritual Babylon of sin that has held us captive until Christ our Redeemer set us free.  It is a beautiful and moving passage.

Saturday

Morning – Ps. 27, Is. 56:1-8, 1Jn. 1
Evening – Ps. 20, Is. 57:13, Heb. 1

Commentary, Isaiah 57:13

It is difficult to refrain from commenting on 1 John 1 and Hebrews 1.  Both are important chapters of important books.  But I will contain myself and concentrate on Isaiah.  Chapters 56 and 57 continue the message of God’s grace and forgiveness.  But His mercy is not confined to the Jews alone.  His House is a house of prayer for all people.  “Whosoever will may come” to Him and find mercy and hope and peace and forgiveness.  This theme is carried through chapter 57 where it is well stated in verse 19.  Those who are near are the Jews left in Jerusalem after the conquest by Babylon.  Those who are far off are those living in captivity in Babylon.  But the meaning looks beyond Babylon and Judea to the reign of the Messiah who extends His mercy both to the Jews (those who are near) and to the Gentiles (those who are far off).

There is yet another application of this passage.  Those who are far off could symbolise people living without regard to God.  Obviously, people who are deep in unbelief and sin are far off.  But "good people," and even "church people" can be far off too.  For  all who live for themselves, rather than for God, are far off, no matter how bad or good their lives appear to be.  The good news is that Christ came for those who are far off as much as He came for those who are near.