January 6, 2013

Scripture and Commentary, Monday and Tuesday after Epiphany


Monday

Morning – Ps. 85, Is. 42:1-9, Mt. 3:13
Evening – Ps. 97& 99, Is 43:1-12, Acts 11:1-18

The Jewish people believe the Servant of Isaiah 42 is the remnant of Jews who survived the Babylonian Captivity and returned to Jerusalem to carry on their calling as the people of God.  In one sense they are right.  In another sense, no mere human person or group of people is able to do and be the things expected of the Servant in the book of Isaiah.  Yes, it is true that Isaiah spoke to the situation at hand, and that his words had meaning to that time and place.  It is also true that he foresaw things far ahead of his own time, and that he told the people about them also.  In this sense Isaiah’s work was much like that of the Apostle John witting the book of Revelation.
            Thus, the Servant in our morning reading is ultimately none other than Christ, the Word become flesh.  In verse 1 Christ brings judgment to the Gentiles.  They have abandoned His law, and lived for the fulfillment of their sinful desires.  They knew the will of God, but lived in sin by their own choice (Rom. 1:18-2:1).
            But the Lord is gracious.  He will not harm tiniest faith though it is no stronger than a bruised reed or a smoking flax barely able to smolder.  This grace is for Jew and Gentile alike, and verse 6 tells us Christ is the Light of the Gentiles.  His mission to open the eyes of the blind and to bring prisoners out of the prison and darkness of sin and hell, (42:7), is to both Jews and Gentiles.

Tuesday

Morning – Ps. 65, Is. 45:20, Mk. 9:2-13
Evening – Ps. 93 & 96, Is. 48:12-21, Acts 26:1-23

We start today with a reminder that when the Lectionary lesson says “Is. 45:20” it means to begin at verse 20 and read to the end of the chapter.  And what a wonderful reading this is.  Few laces in the Old Testament set forth God’s mercy and hope to the Gentiles as Isaiah 45:20-25.  It is unclear whether, “ye that are escaped of the nations” (45:20) refers to Jews who have survived their conquest and captivity by Babylon, or Gentiles who survive their own conquests by other nations.  Either way, and, both ways, their God given task is to proclaim the grace of God to all people.  Jews and Gentiles have been worshiping idols that cannot save (45:20).  God has told them that was so.  He has proved it by allowing them to be conquered in spite of their prayers to idols.  The survivors, Jew and Gentile, are to bring their brethren near so they may know there is no God but God and no Saviour but Him (45:21).
One of the grandest verses in all of Scripture is found in this chapter.  It does not get the attention given to chapters 7, or 9, or 53, but it is glorious none the less.  It is verse 22, “Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth: for I am God and there is none else.” 

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