Sunday, May 27, 2012

Isaiah 3 & 4 - Judgment Followed by Hope

LINK: Isaiah 3 & 4


BACKGROUND


Isaiah 3 returns to the courtroom image and elaborates on the more general indictment of Judah in Isaiah 2 by giving examples of specific sins that require judgment. In judgment they could not rely on food, water, soldiers, civil and religious leaders, soothsayers, clever enchanters, wise people, military leaders, or skilled workers. The Lord would rise up foolish and weak leadership instead.


The reason for this destruction is made clear:
For Jerusalem has stumbled and Judah has fallen,
Because their speech and their actions are against the Lord,
To rebel against His glorious presence. (Isaiah 3:8)
Isaiah 3:13-15 gives two charges against the leaders:

1) They had ruined God’s vineyard (God’s people) by oppressing them.

2) They had taken advantage of the poor by making money at their expense.

Even in the midst of God’s judgment, Isaiah 4 returns to the hope (like Isaiah 2 after Isaiah 1). In spite of severe judgment, divine blessing would eventually come. Some interpreters refer to the “Branch of the LORD” as the believing remnant of Judah. Others interpret this as the future Messiah and cross-reference it with Jeremiah 23:5; 33:15; Zechariah 3:8, and John 15:1.

Regardless of your interpretation, the point is that there will come a time when God will cleanse His people (Isaiah 4:4; see Zech 12:10-13:1) and His glorious presence will fill Mount Zion with a cloud of smoke by day and fire by night. Where have you heard this before in our Bible reading journey? In Israel’s Exodus from Egypt (Exodus 13:21)!

REFLECTION

The distinctive mark of the surviving remnant is holiness. Is that a distinctive mark of my life?

The remnant was fully cleansed. The bloodstains would be cleansed by judgment and fire. John the Baptist said that Jesus would “baptize . . . with fire” (Matthew 3:11).

Jesus is 100% holy and the only means by which we can be cleansed from the filth of our sin. The pursuit of holiness comes by fellowship with God through Jesus Christ on a daily basis as we obey and walk wholeheartedly with Him.

APPLICATION

Are you ready for a recommitment to holiness in your life? Recently, George and I had lunch with a very new believer who was on FIRE in his relationship with God. It was invigorating to be around him. He had just read The Pursuit of Holiness by Jerry Bridges. This was my favorite book when I was this young man’s age (22 years old). It is a foundational book, and I heartily recommend it!

PRAYER

Lord, make us holy, for You are holy. We can only come to holiness through the most Holy Jesus, and it is in His name we pray. Amen.

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