It was wonderful this evening to have our Bible study group re-convene after the winter and spring hiatus. Other that one of our couples who are away on the west coast, we were at full force and it was great to see everyone after 6 months of not being together.
Needless to say it has been a hectic spring but there is something very comforting and familiar about the group getting together. We spent the first part of the evening just going over all the stuff that has happened to each of us since the fall. And after all the catching up we jumped into the book of Isaiah – probably considered the greatest prophet in all Scripture.
The book is divided into 66 chapters, just like there are 66 books in the Bible. And the first 39 books are all about obedience to God and how the people of Israel (Judah) lost their way and were drawn away from the Father. The last 27 chapters are devoted to the idea of comfort and a far brighter future for obedience to God. Isn’t it something that the Old Testament has 39 books and the New Testament, pointing the way to Jesus, has 27 books?
Certainly, Isaiah is a summation of the theology of the Old Testament with many prophecies pointing to Jesus in the New Testament. And in the ultimate analysis, what a wonderful story is told about the future with the arrival of Jesus. But before Isaiah tells us about the coming of the Messiah, he warns us about disobedience to God and how the people of Israel have choices they can make – return to God or suffer the consequences of separation.
Isn’t that much the same that it is today? We are a people of convenient faith – we call on the name of God when we need him and tend to push Him away when we believe that we can handle it on our own. And most of us go through the motions, out of habit, in our worship experiences without really thinking about how God wants us to be devoted to Him all the time. Certainly, the people of Israel had that chance back when Isaiah was doing his work as God’s prophet in 681 BC. But time hasn’t changed things too much.
God wants us to be in communion and obedience to Him every hour of every day. And for most of us, when we are in the Word, we are just kinder, gentler people. The world would be a better place if we weren’t stuck in spiritual apostasy.
The verse for tonight is from the Old Testament – in fact, it comes from the very prophet we are talking about. God, through Isaiah, tells us in the very first chapter of the book what He expects from us. We are told, in Isaiah 1:16-17, “Wash and make yourselves clean. Take your evil deeds out of my sight; stop doing wrong. Learn to do right; seek justice. Defend the oppressed. Take up the cause of the fatherless; plead the case of the widow.”
It all sounds so simple, doesn’t it? But it’s not. It takes all our resolve to honor the wishes of the Father. My encouragement this evening is that God knows that we are human and our efforts on His behalf will fall far short of perfection – and that’s understood by God. My prayer is that perhaps you will consider the challenge of Isaiah and try to do better in our worship and obedience to the will of the Father. After all, we have an eternity to spend with Him.
Have a great day in the Lord, grace and peace…