“40 Days and 40 Nights of God’s Word”
DAY 24: AUGUST 15
ISAIAH 55 – JEREMIAH 22:30
The book of Isaiah, as I’ve mentioned repeatedly over the past few days, has Jesus written all over it. Most of the book is about Jesus as God’s servant. The final few chapters of Isaiah in today’s reading are more about the fruit of Jesus’ labours, which is God’s Kingdom on Earth, otherwise known as spiritual Zion, the holy mountain, and spiritual Israel. These are all the same place, and their establishment was foretold in scripture, including and foremost in Isaiah.
If you’re born-again, you live in God’s Kingdom on Earth (i.e., spiritual Zion, the holy mountain, spiritual Israel). Establishing this Kingdom is what Jesus came to accomplish by offering himself as the final and perfect redeeming sacrifice. He aced it, and is now seated at the right hand of God, ruling over us born-agains as our King and High Priest. Being redeemed enables us, as Jesus’ followers, to have the same relationship with God as he had, and as Adam once had (before the fall), and as all true prophets have had throughout the ages.
- Isaiah 61:1-2 is the famous verse that Jesus quoted in his hometown synagogue in Nazareth when he came out as the Messiah. In case anyone in the synagogue was dozing off that day, Jesus forcefully and unequivocally stated that he was the fulfillment of that scripture. He left no room for misinterpretation. Then he went on to castigate the hometown crowd for their spiritual blindness and lack of faith, and in so doing incited a lynch mob against him. But Jesus just calmly walked through the midst of them and left.
- In this reading, the “Great Invitation” that was initially given only to the children of Israel is being extended to everyone else who chooses God’s way over the world’s way. What we essentially see here is God petitioning for new believers outside the 12 tribes of Israel. At the same time, Isaiah gives us a run-down of why God is looking for new spiritual blood – the spiritual leaders are blind and greedy and leading the people astray, and the people themselves are unrepentantly following the demon-worshiping practices of the heathens around them. This, as we’ve seen in previous readings, is nothing new for the children of Israel, but God has reached the end of his patience. If his chosen don’t want what he’s offering, maybe someone else will. As for his children who reject him, “the Lord God shall slay [them] and call his servants by another name”.
- Hence, “Christians”.
- I’m sad to see the last of Isaiah in this read-through. I could scour that book every day, never tiring of it and still finding something I hadn’t noticed before, still hearing an echo from something written elsewhere in the Bible. Jesus, I suspect, knew Isaiah by heart. It was, after all, his script. Note that it even mentions the kings, the shepherds, and the angels (Isaiah 60:1, 2 and 3, respectively) coming to worship him. God laid it all out for Isaiah, and Jesus soaked it up.
- Jeremiah is considered by some Jewish historians as a “failed prophet” solely because his warnings failed to turn the children of Israel (particularly Judah) back to God. But that’s not the job of a prophet, to force people to worship God. A prophet speaks God’s Word; he/she doesn’t twist arms and coerce people into doing what they don’t want to do. Even God doesn’t do that. Is God, then, by the measure of these same Jewish historians, a failed God?
- Jeremiah is anything but a failed prophet (and God is anything but a failed God!). On the contrary, and even despite being imprisoned for preaching God’s Word, Jeremiah never swerved from speaking God’s Truth. There were other prophets also prophesying at the time who lied to the people and told them “everything’s going to be OK”, but Jeremiah warned the Israelites that unless they turned back to God wholeheartedly, “OK” was the last thing everything was going to be.
- For me, Jeremiah’s is the voice of this present age. I think the times we’re in now, with so-called formerly Christian nations collectively turning their backs on God and adopting demonic lifestyles and laws, is much like Israel just before the destruction of Jerusalem and their captivity in Babylon. Jeremiah was singular in his message, but pretty much universally ignored, as are all people who speak God’s Truth today. In fact, speaking God’s Truth today can get you arrested, just like in Jeremiah’s day.
- I particularly relate to Jeremiah’s lack of a bedside manner. When there’s plenty of time, you can be soft-spoken, hold hands, and sing Kumbaya; but when time is almost up, you speak plainly and bark orders. Those who want what God is offering will gratefully accept it; those who object to how the message is being delivered are lost anyway, so don’t waste your time on them. Let them go.
- It might be helpful to take note of the kings under which both Isaiah and Jeremiah were prophesying (you can check the list of kings in 2 Chronicles, towards the end of the book). Isaiah prophesied mostly under kings who “did that which was right in the sight of the Lord”, whereas Jeremiah was stuck with the short stick, except for Josiah. After Josiah, all the kings Jeremiah endured “did that which was evil in the sight of the Lord”. This in large part explains both the trouble Jeremiah had (arrests, imprisonment, etc.) and also the spiritual disaster state that was the children of Israel. We get the leaders we’ve earned through our thoughts and actions, and the Israelites at that time had earned some real doozies. So have we.
What are your thoughts about the final chapter of Isaiah and the opening chapters of Jeremiah? Do you object to Jeremy’s lack of bedside manner, or do you find it refreshing? He certainly doesn’t mince his words, and those who prefer to see themselves as victims rather than as getting back what they put out would obviously object. This is so much like today’s society, where perceived (that is, false) victimhood has been elevated to a new form of secular sainthood by the social justice crowd. Don’t give into them and don’t go along with them. Be like Jeremiah, who stood alone on God’s Truth
For a full schedule of the BIBLE READ-THROUGH, click on the links below.