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Isaiah

(21 posts)

Lords Day 28, 2012

Sunday··2012·07·08
I was glad when they said to me, Let us go to the house of the Lord. Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turnedevery oneto his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all. Isaiah 53:46 The Broken Heart O Lord, No day of my life has passed that has not proved me guilty in thy sight. Prayers have been uttered from a prayerless heart; Praise has been often praiseless sound; My best services are filthy rags. Blessed Jesus, let me find a covert in thy appeasing wounds. Though my sins rise to heaven thy merits soar above them; Though unrighteousness weighs me down to hell, thy righteousness exalts me to thy throne. All things in me call for my rejection, All things in thee plead my acceptance. I appeal from the throne of perfect justice to thy throne of boundless grace. Grant me to hear thy voice assuring me: that by thy stripes I am healed, that thou wast bruised for my iniquities, that thou hast been made sin for me that I might be righteous in thee, that my grievous sins, my manifold sins, are all forgiven, buried in the ocean of thy concealing blood. I am guilty, but pardoned, lost, but saved, wandering, but found, sinning, but cleansed. Give me perpetual broken-heartedness, Keep me always clinging to thy cross, Flood me every moment with descending grace, Open to me the springs of divine knowledge, sparkling like crystal, flowing clear and unsullied through my wilderness of life. The Valley of Vision, Arthur Bennett, editor (Banner of Truth Trust, 2002). Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Please don’t miss worshiping with your local congregation if you can possibly help it. But if you’re in need of a good sermon, try these. Tweets about "sermon from:thethirstytheo" !function(d,s,id){var js,fjs=d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0],p=/^http:/.test(d.location)?'http':'https';if(!d.getElementById(id)){js=d.createElement(s);js.id=id;js.src=p+"://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js";fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js,fjs);}}(document,"script","twitter-wjs");

Divine Sovereignty in Isaiah

Monday··2012·09·10
In an election year (for those of us in the United States), when so much is at stake, it is comforting to know that no one can thwart Gods will. Gods sovereign control extends to all the nations of the earth. What God has purposed for the world, both in the macro and micro perspective, will surely come to pass: The Lord of hosts has sworn: As I have planned, so shall it be, and as I have purposed, so shall it stand. . . . This is the purpose that is purposed concerning the whole earth, and this is the hand that is stretched out over all the nations. For the Lord of hosts has purposed, and who will annul it? His hand is stretched out, and who will turn it back? Isaiah 14:2427 According to these words recorded by Isaiah, no portion of Gods eternal plan will be left unfulfilled. When God stretches forth His sovereign hand to act, none can turn it back, not even the strongest king or mightiest nation. In these verses, God warned His people that the armies of Assyria under Sennacherib would bring destruction upon their land in due time. This coming devastation of Israel would show that God alone is God, who reigns above. He but speaks and it comes to pass. Concerning this sovereign purpose of God, John Calvin writes, There can be no repentance or change in God (Numbers 23:19); whatever happens, even in the midst of an endless diversity of events, He always remains like Himself, and no occurrence can thwart His purpose. The same irresistible divine sovereignty is shown in Gods salvation of His elect. Steve Lawson, Foundations of Grace (Reformation Trust, 2006), 168.

Definite Atonement in Isaiah

Tuesday··2012·09·11
Christ did not bear unspecified griefs and sorrows; the transgressions and iniquities for which he was killed were not theoretical. He was stricken for the transgression of a particular people. Gods Messiah would die an ignominious substitutionary death under the judgment of God as He bore the sins of the elect. By so doing, He would take away the sins of His people: Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all. . . . By oppression and judgment he was taken away; and as for his generation, who considered that he was cut off out of the land of the living, stricken for the transgression of my people? Isaiah 53:48 Isaiah taught that Christ would bear and absorb Gods wrath for the sins of Gods people. As a result, He would justify them. In Chapter 53, Isaiah was referring to those for whom Christ would die when he used such terms as our (vv. 45), all we (v. 6), us all (v. 6), my people (v. 8), his offspring (v. 10), their (v. 11), the transgressors (v. 12), and many (v. 12). The Messiah was to die for the seed born out of His sacrificethe elect. James Montgomery Boice argues, Isaiah 53:6 says that God laid on Jesus the iniquity of us all. But it is clear from the verse immediately before this that the ones for whom Jesus bore iniquity are those who have been brought to a state of peace with God, that is, those who have been justified (cf. Rom. 5:1). Again, they are those who have been healed (v. 5), not those who continue to be spiritually sick or dead. That is to say, Christ died to redeem the elect of God. Concerning these verses, Luther writes, This states the purpose of Christs suffering. It was not for Himself and His own sins, but for our sins and griefs. He bore what we should have suffered. . . . These words, OUR, US, FOR US, must be written in letters of gold. He who does not believe this is not a Christian. . . . This is the supreme and chief article of faith, that our sins, placed on Christ, are not ours; again, that the peace is not Christs but ours. The exclusive terms Isaiah uses for Gods elect designate the intent and extent of the atonement. Christ died exclusively for the elect of God, not for the entire world. Steve Lawson, Foundations of Grace (Reformation Trust, 2006), 178179.

Lords Day 48, 2012

Sunday··2012·11·25
I was glad when they said to me, Let us go to the house of the Lord. Seek the Lord while he may be found; call upon him while he is near; let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; let him return to the Lord, that he may have compassion on him, and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon. Isaiah 55:67 Backsliding O Lord, When the worlds unbelievers reject thee, and are so forsaken by thee that thou callest them no more, it is to thine own thou dost turn, for in such seasons of general apostasy they in some measure backslide with the world. O how free is thy grace that reminds them of the danger that confronts them and urges them to persevere in adherence to thyself! I bless thee that those who turn aside may return to thee immediately, and be welcomed without anything to commend them, notwithstanding all their former backslidings. I confess that this is suited to my case, for of late I have found great want, and lack of apprehension of divine grace; I have been greatly distressed of soul because I did not suitably come to the fountain that purges away all sin; I have laboured too much for spiritual life, peace of conscience, progressive holiness, in my own strength. I beg thee, show me the arm of all might; Give me to believe that thou canst do for me more than I ask or think, and that, though I backslide, thy love will never let me go, but will draw me back to thee with everlasting cords; that thou dost provide grace in the wilderness, and canst bring me out, leaning on the arm of my Beloved; that thou canst cause me to walk with him by the rivers of waters in a straight way, wherein I shall not stumble. Keep me solemn, devout, faithful, resting on free grace for assistance, acceptance, and peace of conscience. The Valley of Vision, Arthur Bennett, editor (Banner of Truth Trust, 2002). Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Please don’t miss worshiping with your local congregation if you can possibly help it. But if you’re in need of a good sermon, try these. Tweets about "sermon from:thethirstytheo" !function(d,s,id){var js,fjs=d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0],p=/^http:/.test(d.location)?'http':'https';if(!d.getElementById(id)){js=d.createElement(s);js.id=id;js.src=p+"://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js";fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js,fjs);}}(document,"script","twitter-wjs");

From Tolerance to Embrace

Monday··2013·01·07
27. Q. What do you understand by the providence of God? A. We can be patient when things go against us, thankful when things go well, and for the future we have good confidence in our faithful God and Father that nothing will separate us from His love. All creatures are so completely in his hand that without His will they can neither move nor be moved. The Heidelberg Catechism, Lords Day 10 Remember this and stand firm, recall it to mind, you transgressors, remember the former things of old; for I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me, declaring the end from the beginning and from ancient times things not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will accomplish all my purpose, calling a bird of prey from the east, the man of my counsel from a far country. I have spoken, and I will bring it to pass; I have purposed, and I will do it. Isaiah 46:811 Shall we indeed accept good from God and not accept adversity? Job 2:10 For many Christians, coming to grips with Gods all-encompassing providence requires a massive shift in how they look at the world. It requires changing our vantage pointfrom seeing the cosmos as a place where man rules and God responds, to being a universe where God creates and constantly controls with sovereign love and providential power. The definition of providence in the Catechism is stunning. All thingsyes all thingscome to us not by chance but from His fatherly hand. I will sometimes ask seminary students being examined for ordination, How would the Heidelberg Catechism, particularly Lords Day 10, help you to minister to someone who lost a loved one in Afghanistan or just lost a job? I am usually disappointed to hear students who should be affirming the confessions of their denomination shy away from Heidelbergs strong, biblical language about providence. Like most of us, the students are much more at ease using passive language about Gods permissive will or comfortable generalities about God being in control than they are about stating precisely and confidently to those in the midst of suffering this has come from Gods fatherly hand. And yet, thats what the Catechism, and more importantly the Bible, teaches. Let me be clear: Gods providence is not an excuse to act foolishly or sinfully. Herod and Pontus Pilate, though they did what God had planned beforehand, were still wicked conspirators (Acts 4:2528). The Bible affirms human responsibility. But the Bible also affirms, much more massively and frequently than some imagine, Gods power and authority overall things. The nations are under Gods control (Pss. 2:14; 33:10), as is nature (Mark 4:41; Pss. 135:7; 147:18; 148:8), and animals (2 Kings 17:25; Dan. 6:22; Matt. 10:29). God is sovereign over Satan and evil spirits (Matt. 4:10; 2Cor. 12:78; Mark 1:27). God uses wicked people for His plansnot just in a bringing good out of evil sort of way but in an active, intentional, this was Gods plan from the [beginning] sort of way (Job 12:16; John 19:11; Gen.45:8; Luke 22:22; Acts 4:2728) God hardens hearts (Ex. 14:17; Josh. 11:20; Rom. 9:18). God sends trouble and calamity (Judges 9:23; 1 Sam. 1:5; 16:14; 2 Sam. 24:1; 1 Kings 22:2023; Isa. 45:67; 53:10; Amos 3:6; Ruth 1:20; Eccl. 7:14). God even puts to death (1 Sam. 2:6, 25; 2 Sam. 12:15; 2 Chron. 10:4, 14; Deut. 32:39 ). God does what He pleases and His purposes cannot be thwarted (Isa. 46:910; Dan. 4:3435). In short, god guides all our steps and works all things after the counsel of His will (Prov. 16:33; 20:24; 21:2; Jer. 10:23; Ps. 139:16; Rom. 8:28; Eph. 1:11). These verses are not meant to pound you into submission. I list dozens of verses for two reasons: First, so you can check this teaching out for yourself and see that Gods superintendence is the unavoidable conclusion written large of the pages of Scripture. And second, so you will move past merely tolerating Gods sovereignty to joyously embracing it. Kevin DeYoung, The Good News We Almost Forgot: Rediscovering the Gospel in a 16th Century Catechism (Moody Publishers, 2010), 5960.

Lord’s Day 10, 2013

Sunday··2013·03·10
I was glad when they said to me, “Let us go to the house of the Lord.” Thus says the Lord: “Heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool; what is the house that you would build for me, and what is the place of my rest? All these things my hand has made, and so all these things came to be, declares the Lord.” But this is the one to whom I will look: he who is humble and contrite in spirit and trembles at my word. —Psalm 66:1–2 Pride O Thou terrible Meek, Let not pride swell my heart. My nature is the mire beneath my feet, the dust to which I shall return. In body I surpass not the meanest reptile; Whatever difference of form and intellect is mine is a free grant of thy goodness; Every faculty of mind and body is thy undeserved gift. Low as I am as a creature, I am lower as a sinner; I have trampled thy law times without number; Sin’s deformity is stamped upon me, darkens my brow, touches me with corruption: How can I flaunt myself proudly? Lowest abasement is my due place, for I am less than nothing before thee. Help me to see myself in thy sight, then pride must wither, decay, die, perish. Humble my heart before thee, and replenish it with thy choicest gifts. As water rests not on barren hill summits, but flows down to fertilize lowest vales, So make me the lowest of the lowly, that my spiritual riches may exceedingly abound. When I leave duties undone, may condemning thought strip me of pride, deepen in me devotion to thy service, and quicken me to more watchful care. When I am tempted to think highly of myself, grant me to see the wily power of my spiritual enemy; Help me to stand with wary eye on the watch-tower of faith, and to cling with determined grasp to my humble Lord; If I fall let me hide myself in my Redeemer’s righteousness, and when I escape, may I ascribe all deliverance to thy grace. Keep me humble, meek, lowly. —The Valley of Vision, Arthur Bennett, editor (Banner of Truth Trust, 2002). Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Please don’t miss worshiping with your local congregation if you can possibly help it. But if you’re in need of a good sermon, try these. Tweets about "sermon from:thethirstytheo" !function(d,s,id){var js,fjs=d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0],p=/^http:/.test(d.location)?'http':'https';if(!d.getElementById(id)){js=d.createElement(s);js.id=id;js.src=p+"://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js";fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js,fjs);}}(document,"script","twitter-wjs");

Lord’s Day 30, 2013

Sunday··2013·07·28
I was glad when they said to me, “Let us go to the house of the Lord.” For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven, And do not return there without watering the earth And making it bear and sprout, And furnishing seed to the sower and bread to the eater; So will My word be which goes forth from My mouth; It will not return to Me empty, Without accomplishing what I desire, And without succeeding in the matter for which I sent it. —Isaiah 55:10–11 Hymn XVI. The rod of Moses. John Newton (1725–1807) When Moses wav’d his mystic rod What wonders follow’d while he spoke? Firm as a wall the waters stood, Or gush’d in rivers from the rock! At his command the thunders roll’d, Light’ning and hail his voice obey’d; And Pharaoh trembled, to behold His land in desolation laid. But what could Moses’ rod have done Had he not been divinely sent? The pow’r was from the Lord alone, And Moses but the instrument. O Lord, regard thy peoples pray’rs! Assist a worm to preach aright And since thy gospel–rod he bears, Display thy wonders in our sight. Proclaim the thunders of thy law, Like light’ning let thine arrows fly, That careless sinners, struck with awe, For refuge may to Jesus cry! Make streams of godly sorrow flow From rocky hearts, unus’d to feel; And let the poor in spirit know That thou art near, their griefs to heal. But chiefly, we would now look up To ask a blessing for our youth, The rising generation’s hope, That they may know and love thy truth. Arise, O Lord, afford a sign, Now shall our pray’rs success obtain; Since both the means and pow’r are thine, How can the rod be rais’d in vain! —Olney Hymns. Book II: On Occasional Subjects. Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Please don’t miss worshiping with your local congregation if you can possibly help it. But if you’re in need of a good sermon, try these. Tweets about "sermon from:thethirstytheo" !function(d,s,id){var js,fjs=d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0],p=/^http:/.test(d.location)?'http':'https';if(!d.getElementById(id)){js=d.createElement(s);js.id=id;js.src=p+"://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js";fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js,fjs);}}(document,"script","twitter-wjs");

Lord’s Day 37, 2013

Sunday··2013·09·15
I was glad when they said to me, “Let us go to the house of the Lord.” Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone, a tested stone, A costly cornerstone for the foundation, firmly placed. He who believes in it will not be disturbed. —Isaiah 28:16 (cf. Romans 9:33; 10:11; 1 Peter 2:6; Psalm 118:22; Isaiah 8:14–15; Matthew 21:42; Mark 12:10; Luke 20:17; Acts 4:11; Ephesians 2:20) Hymns of Thanksgiving Hymn X. Thanksgiving for the divine faithfulness. Augustus Toplady (1740–1778) Immoveable our hope remains, Within the veil our anchor lies; Jesus, who wash’d us from our stains. Shall bear us safely to the skies. Strong in his strength, we boldly say. For us Immanuel shed his blood; Who then shall tear our shield away. Or part us from the love of God? Can tribulation or distress, Or persecution’s fiery sword? Can Satan rob us of our peace, Or prove too mighty for the Lord? Founded on Christ, secure we stand, Sealed with his Spirit’s inward seal; We soon shall gain the promis’d land. Triumphant o’er the pow’rs of hell. The winds may roar, the floods may beat; And rain impetuous descend; Yet will he not his own forget, But love and save them to the end. Jesus acquits, and who condemns? Cease, Satan, from thy fruitless strife: Thy malice cannot reach our names, To blot them from the book of life. This is eternal life to know, God and the Lamb for sinners giv’n, Nor will the Saviour let us go, His ransom’d citizens of heav’n. Us to redeem his life he paid, And will he not his purchase have? Who can behold Immanuel bleed, And doubt his willingness to save? Surely the son hath made us free, Who earth and heav’n and hell commands; Our cause of triumph this—that we Are graven on the Saviour’s hands. To Him who washed us in his blood. And lifts apostate man to heav’n, Who reconciles his sheep to God, Be everlasting glory giv’n. —The Complete Works of Augustus Toplady (Sprinkle Publications, 1987). Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Please don’t miss worshiping with your local congregation if you can possibly help it. But if you’re in need of a good sermon, try these. Tweets about "sermon from:thethirstytheo" !function(d,s,id){var js,fjs=d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0],p=/^http:/.test(d.location)?'http':'https';if(!d.getElementById(id)){js=d.createElement(s);js.id=id;js.src=p+"://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js";fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js,fjs);}}(document,"script","twitter-wjs");

Isaiah’s Vision of Sovereignty

Wednesday··2013·11·13
If the apostle Paul is the New Testament figure most associated with the teaching of God’s sovereignty,” writes Richard Phillips, “his Old Testament counterpart is surely Isaiah.” Both men learned of God’s sovereignty in the most dramatic way: in person. The prophecy of Isaiah contains some of the boldest proclamations of God’s sovereignty in Scripture. In chapter 45, he compares God’s relationship with mankind to that of a potter and his clay, making of His creation whatever He will. In chapter 46, Isaiah points out the utter sovereignty of God’s will: “For I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me, declaring the end from the beginning and from ancient times things not yet done, saying, ‘My counsel shall stand, and I will accomplish all my purpose’” (Isa. 46:9–10). In chapter 59, Isaiah speaks of God’s sovereignty in terms of the long arm of the Lord, by which He is able to will the salvation of His people anywhere: “His own arm brought him salvation, and his righteousness upheld him” (Isa. 59:16). Isaiah’s message about divine sovereignty wouldn’t have been any more popular in his time than it is in many circles today. But where did Isaiah get this radical conception of God? Was Isaiah under the influence of eighteenth-century Enlightenment thinking (as is often said of those who espouse his teaching today)? Was Isaiah a closet rationalist, under the influence of Plato and Aristotle, so that he can be written off as a prophet of the Greek philosophers rather than of Israel’s God? These can hardly be the case, given that Isaiah wrote in the late eighth and early seventh centuries BC. So where did Isaiah gain these peculiar views in which God is truly God? The answer is that Isaiah learned of God’s sovereignty through his personal experience of the Lord. And he wasn’t the only one. Paul got his view of a sovereign Christ on the Damascus Road, Jonah attained his “Calvinism” in the belly of the whale, and Habakkuk gained his grasp of God’s sovereignty in his watchtower. In other words, Isaiah—like the other prophets and the apostles, who worshiped God’s sovereign glory—gained his doctrine from the Lord Himself. —Richard D. Phillips, What’s So Great about the Doctrines of Grace? (Reformation Trust, 2008), 3–4.

Holy Boldness

Thursday··2013·11·14
Standing against popular sentiment, or against powerful people, and saying the hard things that need to be said, requires courage. That courage comes from knowing that God holds all things in his hand, and nothing happens outside his plan. A consciousness of God’s sovereignty bestows in us a holy boldness before the world and its powers. This is what made Isaiah useful: he could proclaim the Word of the Lord, even the word of judgment, to a decadent and dangerous generation. “Ah, sinful nation,” he accused in the opening chapter, “a people laden with iniquity, offspring of evildoers, children who deal corruptly! They have forsaken the Lord, they have despised the Holy One of Israel, they are utterly estranged” (Isa. 1:4). I realize that this kind of talk may not fill a stadium today. It may not place a congregation on the roster of church-growth success stories. But the willingness to speak the truth of God, preaching God’s judgment to a generation as depraved as ours, is a sure sign that the speaker has beheld the sovereignty of God. The great Scottish Reformer, John Knox, was another prophetic figure who was famous for his brave confrontations with the Catholic Mary, Queen of Scots. Once Knox was asked how he could defy the queen’s religious views so audaciously, given that she was the sovereign of the land. Knox famously replied, “When you have just spent time on your knees before the King of Kings, you do not find the Queen of Scotland to be so frightening.” Awareness of the sovereignty of God, especially as it brings us to our knees in supplication before His throne of grace, gives us the holy boldness so desperately needed in our time. —Richard D. Phillips, What’s So Great about the Doctrines of Grace? (Reformation Trust, 2008), 14–15.

Lord’s Day 49, 2013

Sunday··2013·12·08 · 1 Comments
I was glad when they said to me, “Let us go to the house of the Lord.” I will rejoice greatly in the Lord, My soul will exult in my God; For He has clothed me with garments of salvation, He has wrapped me with a robe of righteousness, As a bridegroom decks himself with a garland, And as a bride adorns herself with her jewels. —Isaiah 61:10 Hymns of Thanksgiving Hymn XIII. Thanksgiving for the Righteousness of Christ. Augustus Toplady (1740–1778) Fountain of never-ceasing grace, Thy saints’ exhaustless theme, Great object of immortal praise, Essentially supreme; We bless thee for the glorious fruits Thy incarnation gives; The righteousness which grace imputes, And faith alone receives. Whom heaven’s angelic host adores, Was slaughter’d for our sin; The guilt, O Lord, was wholly ours, The punishment was thine: Our God in flesh, to set us free, Was manifested here; And meekly bare our sins, that we His righteousness might wear. Imputatively guilty then Our substitute was made, That we the blessings might obtain For which his blood was shed: Himself he offer’d on the cross. Our sorrows to remove; And all he suffer’d was for us, And all he did was love. In him we have a righteousness, By God himself approv’d Our rock, our sure foundation this, Which never can be mov’d. Our ransom by his death he paid, For all his people giv’n, The law he perfectly obey’d, That they might enter heav’n. As all, when Adam sinn’d alone, In his transgression died, So by the righteousness of one, Are sinners justify’d, We to thy merit, gracious Lord, With humblest joy submit, Again to Paradise restor’d, In thee alone complete. Our souls his watchful love retrieves. Nor lets them go astray, His righteousness to us he gives, And takes our sins away: We claim salvation in his right, Adopted and forgiv’n, His merit is our robe of light, His death the gate of heav’n. —The Complete Works of Augustus Toplady (Sprinkle Publications, 1987). Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Please don’t miss worshiping with your local congregation if you can possibly help it. But if you’re in need of a good sermon, try these. Tweets about "sermon from:thethirstytheo" !function(d,s,id){var js,fjs=d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0],p=/^http:/.test(d.location)?'http':'https';if(!d.getElementById(id)){js=d.createElement(s);js.id=id;js.src=p+"://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js";fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js,fjs);}}(document,"script","twitter-wjs");
The year of Jubilee (Leviticus 25) is frequently used by advocates of “social justice” to advance their social and political agendas. In What Is the Mission of the Church?, DeYoung and Gilbert give several reasons why that is a misuse of the text. Those reasons can be boiled down to two factors: Jubilee didn’t do most of what “social justice” advocates think it did, and even if it had, we aren’t Israel. But that just addresses what Jubilee was not. More importantly, we must see what Jubilee is: Jesus is Jubilee. When Jesus read from the Isaiah scroll in Luke 4, his simple message was, in effect, “I am Jubilee.” He did not lay out a plan to accomplish social reform. Instead he stated matter-of-factly, “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing” (Luke 4:21). All that Jubilee pointed to and more were realized at the revealing of Jesus in Nazareth. The best news of Leviticus 25 found its fullest expression in the good news of Jesus Christ. —Kevin DeYoung & Greg Gilbert, What Is the Mission of the Church? (Crossway, 2011), 153.

Injustice Is Not Inequality

Tuesday··2014·02·04
Your rulers are rebels And companions of thieves; Everyone loves a bribe And chases after rewards. They do not defend the orphan, Nor does the widow’s plea come before them. —Isaiah 1:23 Isaiah 1 is another favorite of “social justice” advocates. And again, they miss the point of the text. DeYoung and Gilbert explain: The Lord was angry with his people because the leaders were oppressing the weak, taking bribes to side with the rich and powerful instead of treating fairly the orphan and the widow. . . . Isaiah 1 is a great example of the Bible saying both more and less about social justice than we think. On the “more” side, we see that Jerusalem is called a “whore” because of her injustice (v. 21). Oppressing the poor and the helpless is not a negligible offense. In fact, it renders all their religious obedience null and void. Until they would “seek justice” and “correct oppression,” God promises that Judah would be “eaten by the sword” (vv. 17, 20). But on the “less” side, notice that the oppression here was not a disparity between rich and poor or even that the poor in society were not taken care of. There are other biblical passages that require the covenant community to take care of the poor in their midst (which is not identical to taking care of the poor in the entire “mixed” society), but this passage is about oppression, a term not to be equated with poverty. The injustice was not that there were poor people in society. Poverty does not inherently indicate injustice. God’s people were guilty of injustice because they were defrauding the weak and helpless in order to line their own pockets. —Kevin DeYoung & Greg Gilbert, What Is the Mission of the Church? (Crossway, 2011), 154–155. Justice is not concerned with equalizing economic outcomes. Justice is dealing honestly (Proverbs 20:10). It is dealing impartially, not favoring the wealthy and powerful in order to gain favor, or taking advantage of the defenseless—widows and orphans in particular—because it is easy and profitable (Proverbs 22:16, 22–23). Justice is giving, indiscriminately, a square deal and an equal opportunity to all.

Lord’s Day 9, 2016

Sunday··2016·02·28
I was glad when they said to me, “Let us go to the house of the Lord.” Behold, My Servant, whom I uphold; My chosen one in whom My soul delights. I have put My Spirit upon Him; He will bring forth justice to the nations. He will not cry out or raise His voice, Nor make His voice heard in the street. A bruised reed He will not break And a dimly burning wick He will not extinguish; He will faithfully bring forth justice. He will not be disheartened or crushed Until He has established justice in the earth; And the coastlands will wait expectantly for His law. —Isaiah 42:1–4, cf. Matthew 12:20–21 Early Piety Samuel Stennett (1727–1795) How soft the words my Savior speaks! How kind the promises He makes! A bruised reed He never breaks, Nor will He quench the smoking flax. The humble poor He won't despise, Nor on the contrite sinner frown; His ear is open to their cries, He quickly sends salvation down. When piety in early minds Like tender buds, begins to shoot, He guards the plants from threatening winds, And ripens blossoms into fruit. With humble souls He bears a part In all the sorrows they endure; Tender and gracious is His heart, His promise is forever sure. He sees the struggles that prevail Between the powers of grace and sin; He kindly listens while they tell The bitter pangs they feel within. Though pressed with fears on every side, They know not how the strife may end; Yet He will soon the cause decide, And judgment into victory send. —Worthy Is the Lamb (Soli Deo Gloria, 2004). Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Please don’t miss worshiping with your local congregation if you can possibly help it. But if you’re in need of a good sermon, try these. Tweets about "sermon from:thethirstytheo" !function(d,s,id){var js,fjs=d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0],p=/^http:/.test(d.location)?'http':'https';if(!d.getElementById(id)){js=d.createElement(s);js.id=id;js.src=p+"://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js";fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js,fjs);}}(document,"script","twitter-wjs");

Lord’s Day 15, 2016

Sunday··2016·04·03
I was glad when they said to me, “Let us go to the house of the Lord.” For behold, the Lord God of hosts is going to remove from Jerusalem and Judah Both supply and support, the whole supply of bread And the whole supply of water; The mighty man and the warrior, The judge and the prophet, The diviner and the elder, The captain of fifty and the honorable man, The counselor and the expert artisan, And the skillful enchanter. And I will make mere lads their princes, And capricious children will rule over them, And the people will be oppressed, Each one by another, and each one by his neighbor; The youth will storm against the elder And the inferior against the honorable. When a man lays hold of his brother in his father’s house, saying, “You have a cloak, you shall be our ruler, And these ruins will be under your charge,” He will protest on that day, saying, “I will not be your healer, For in my house there is neither bread nor cloak; You should not appoint me ruler of the people.” For Jerusalem has stumbled and Judah has fallen, Because their speech and their actions are against the Lord, To rebel against His glorious presence. The expression of their faces bears witness against them, And they display their sin like Sodom; They do not even conceal it. Woe to them! For they have brought evil on themselves. Say to the righteous that it will go well with them, For they will eat the fruit of their actions. Woe to the wicked! It will go badly with him, For what he deserves will be done to him. O My people! Their oppressors are children, And women rule over them. O My people! Those who guide you lead you astray And confuse the direction of your paths. The Lord arises to contend, And stands to judge the people. The Lord enters into judgment with the elders and princes of His people, “It is you who have devoured the vineyard; The plunder of the poor is in your houses. “What do you mean by crushing My people And grinding the face of the poor?” Declares the Lord God of hosts. —Isaiah 3:1–15 Paraphrases on Select Parts of Holy Writ Para. X. Salvation recovered for man by Jesus Christ. Isaiah iii. 1–3, 9–11, 15. Augustus Toplady (1740–1778) Zion, awake, put on thy strength, Resume thy beautiful array: The promis’d Saviour comes at length, To chase thy guilt and grief away: Thee for his purchase God shall own, And save thee by his dying Son. Jerusalem, be holy now, Satan no more shall dwell in thee; Wash’d from thy sin, and white as snow, Prepare thy God-made-man to see; Prepare Immanuel to behold And hear his peaceful message told. Shake off the dust, arise with speed, Too long hast thou a captive been; Redemption’s near, lift up thine head, And cast away the chains of sin; Forth from thy prison come, and shake The yoke of bondage from thy neck. Tho’ ye have sold yourselves for nought. And forfeited your claim to heaven, Accept the Saviour’s love unbought; Your treason now is all forgiv’n My blood the fallen race restores, And saves without desert of yours. Ye desert places, sing for joy; Lost man, your hymns of wonder raise; Let holy shouts invade the sky, And ev’ry altar flame with praise; For I, Almighty to redeem, Have comforted Jerusalem. My arm’s made bare for your defence, To save my Church from Satan’s power. Depart, depart, come out from thence, Defile yourselves with sin no more: Be pure, ye priests, who preach my word, And bear the vessels of the Lord. Look out and see Immanuel come, Myriads to sprinkle with his blood; He many nations shall bring home, And save them from the wrath of God: And earth’s remotest bounds shall see The great salvation wrought by me. —The Complete Works of Augustus Toplady (Sprinkle Publications, 1987). Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Please don’t miss worshiping with your local congregation if you can possibly help it. But if you’re in need of a good sermon, try these. Tweets about "sermon from:thethirstytheo" !function(d,s,id){var js,fjs=d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0],p=/^http:/.test(d.location)?'http':'https';if(!d.getElementById(id)){js=d.createElement(s);js.id=id;js.src=p+"://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js";fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js,fjs);}}(document,"script","twitter-wjs");

A Bible in Miniature

Monday··2019·02·11
This is one of the chapters that lie at the very heart of the Scriptures. It is the very Holy of holies of Divine Writ. Let us, therefore, put off our shoes from our feet, for the place whereon we stand is specially holy ground. This fifty-third of Isaiah is a Bible in miniature. It is the condensed essence of the gospel. —Charles Spurgeon, cited in John MacArthur, The Gospel According to God (Crossway, 2018), 21. Behold, My servant will prosper, He will be high and lifted up and greatly exalted. Just as many were astonished at you, My people, So His appearance was marred more than any man And His form more than the sons of men. Thus He will sprinkle many nations, Kings will shut their mouths on account of Him; For what had not been told them they will see, And what they had not heard they will understand. Who has believed our message? And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed? For He grew up before Him like a tender shoot, And like a root out of parched ground; He has no stately form or majesty That we should look upon Him, Nor appearance that we should be attracted to Him. He was despised and forsaken of men, A man of sorrows and acquainted with grief; And like one from whom men hide their face He was despised, and we did not esteem Him. Surely our griefs He Himself bore, And our sorrows He carried; Yet we ourselves esteemed Him stricken, Smitten of God, and afflicted. But He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; The chastening for our well-being fell upon Him, And by His scourging we are healed. All of us like sheep have gone astray, Each of us has turned to his own way; But the Lord has caused the iniquity of us all To fall on Him. He was oppressed and He was afflicted, Yet He did not open His mouth; Like a lamb that is led to slaughter, And like a sheep that is silent before its shearers, So He did not open His mouth. By oppression and judgment He was taken away; And as for His generation, who considered That He was cut off out of the land of the living For the transgression of my people, to whom the stroke was due? His grave was assigned with wicked men, Yet He was with a rich man in His death, Because He had done no violence, Nor was there any deceit in His mouth. But the Lord was pleased To crush Him, putting Him to grief; If He would render Himself as a guilt offering, He will see His offspring, He will prolong His days, And the good pleasure of the Lord will prosper in His hand. As a result of the anguish of His soul, He will see it and be satisfied; By His knowledge the Righteous One, My Servant, will justify the many, As He will bear their iniquities. Therefore, I will allot Him a portion with the great, And He will divide the booty with the strong; Because He poured out Himself to death, And was numbered with the transgressors; Yet He Himself bore the sin of many, And interceded for the transgressors. —Isaiah 52:13–53:12

The Fifth Gospel

Tuesday··2019·02·12
The entire Old Testament contains messianic prophesies scattered throughout. The book of Isaiah is filled with prophesies that can refer to no one but Jesus of Nazareth. But no Old Testament passage is as packed full of Christ as Isaiah 52:13–53:12. John MacArthur writes, [O]f all the marvelous prophecies in Isaiah, this passage in chapter 53 rises above all the rest. It is a majestic description of Christ’s sacrifice for sins. Some commentators call it the most important text in the entire Old Testament. Isaiah 53 has received many such accolades throughout the history of the church. Polycarp, the second-century church father and disciple of the apostle John, referred to it as “the golden Passional of the Old Testament.” Augustine called the entire book of Isaiah “the fifth gospel,” and that name applies particularly to chapter 53. A collection of John Calvin’s sermons on Isaiah 53 is titled The Gospel According to Isaiah. Martin Luther declared that every Christian ought to have the whole of Isaiah 52:13–53:12 memorized. The noted nineteenth-century Old Testament commentator Franz Delitzsch famously wrote, “In how many an Israelite has it melted the crust of his heart! It looks as if it had been written beneath the cross upon Golgotha. . . . [It] is the most central, the deepest, and the loftiest thing that the Old Testament prophecy, outstripping itself, has ever achieved.” . .  Isaiah 53 is the precise passage the Ethiopian eunuch was reading in the Gaza desert when Philip encountered him. The eunuch read a portion of the passage aloud: “Like a sheep he was led to the slaughter . . .” (Acts 8:32). Then he posed a question to Philip—and it was exactly the right question. This is the key that unlocks the passage: “About whom, I ask you, does the prophet say this, about himself or about someone else?” (v. 34). ”Philip opened his mouth, and beginning with this Scripture [Isaiah 53] he told him the good news about Jesus” (Acts 8:35)—the gospel according to God! . .  For anyone familiar with the New Testament account of Christ’s life, death, resurrection, and high priestly intercession, there should be no mystery about what Isaiah 53 signifies. It is the complete gospel in prophetic form, a surprisingly explicit foretelling of what the Messiah would do to put away the sins of his people forever. It is the gospel according to God, set forth in the Hebrew Scriptures. —John MacArthur, The Gospel According to God (Crossway, 2018), 31–33.

The Forbidden Chapter

Tuesday··2019·02·19
Isaiah 53 is so replete with gospel truth that those who see the passage for the first time might well think they are reading the New Testament. Jewish people whose exposure to the Scripture is limited to texts that are read aloud in their synagogues each week will be completely unfamiliar with Isaiah 53. The entire passage is always omitted from the scheduled public readings. Every Sabbath in every synagogue worldwide, two portions of Scripture are prescribed to be read aloud—one from the Pentateuch (the Torah), and the other (the haftarah) a selection of texts drawn from the prophets. The same schedule of readings is followed in all synagogues, year after year. Over a year’s time, the rotation covers every verse of the Torah in canonical order. But the haftarah readings are more selective. One of the featured haftarah excerpts is Isaiah 51:12–52:12. The next reading in the cycle is Isaiah 54:1–10. Isaiah 52:13–53:12 is therefore never read publicly in the synagogues. As a result, Isaiah 53 is an unfamiliar passage for multitudes of devout Jewish people. In mid 2015, an Israeli-based messianic (Christian) community known as Medabrim released a video on the Internet titled “The ’Forbidden Chapter’ in the Tanakh” (Hebrew Bible), featuring a number of Israelis reading Isaiah 53 from the original Hebrew text. All of them were seeing it for the first time. The astonishment is obvious on the faces of those dear people. Their surprise quickly gives way to thoughtful reflection. As an interviewer asks them to put into their own words the implications of the passage, it is obvious that every one of them sees the clear connection between the prophecy and the New Testament record of Jesus. Christians would do well to reflect on Isaiah 53 more carefully as well. This prophecy is like a bottomless well of biblical truth. The more we look into it, the more we realize that no human preacher or commentator could ever fully plumb its astonishing depth. This passage first arrested my attention when I was a young man, and every time I return to it, I am amazed at the fresh richness of its truths. —John MacArthur, The Gospel According to God (Crossway, 2018), 37–38.

The Crux of Isaiah

Wednesday··2019·02·20
Now here’s another important thing to notice about the literary structure of Isaiah: the good-news portion of Isaiah (chapters 40–66) is an extended triptych. That part of Isaiah’s prophecy divides naturally into three sections of nine chapters each. Each subsection promises a different kind of salvation for God’s people. The first nine chapters (40–48) foretell Judah’s deliverance from the Babylonian captivity. The second nine chapters (49–57) focus on redemption from sin. The final section (chapters 58–66), looking forward to Christ’s millennial and eternal reign, speaks of full emancipation from the curse of Adam’s fall. . . . If we take the entire fifteen-verse pericope—Isaiah 52:13 through 53:12—verse 5 is literally the central verse of the whole passage: “But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed.” In other words, the doctrine of penal substitutionary atonement is the crux of the core verse in the middle chapter of the center panel in Isaiah’s triptych on deliverance. It is the heart and the focal point of everything the book of Isaiah has to say about the forgiveness of sin. That is fitting, because there is no more vital gospel truth. The literary symmetry is perfect and the focus is sharp. You can see it from every possible vantage point. Whether we look at Isaiah 53 in isolation, consider the nine-chapter section where forgiveness is the main topic, or expand our perspective to include the entire good-news section of Isaiah, the cross is always literally at the center. And there it remains, with a bright spotlight on the doctrine of penal substitutionary atonement. —John MacArthur, The Gospel According to God (Crossway, 2018), 40–42.

Deadly Self-Righteousness

Thursday··2019·02·21
John MacArthur explains why Isaiah 53 was, and is, so misunderstood. After the captivity ended and multitudes returned from exile, the Jewish people never again fell into the kind of widespread, wanton idolatry that characterized the nation during the reigns of Ahaz and Manasseh. The Jews came back from captivity with a new devotion to the law. Perhaps the chief distinctive of postexilic Judaism was an unprecedented stress on strict legal obedience, with particular attention given to the law’s external and ceremonial features—dietary laws, dress, ritual washings, and visible symbols of piety like phylacteries and robe tassels (Matt. 23:5). But a show of religious zeal is no solution to the sin problem that plagues the human race. Sinners cannot make themselves holy, even by the most exacting attempts at obedience to God’s law. Rules and regulations—“Do not handle, Do not taste, Do not touch. . . . These . . . are of no value in stopping the indulgence of the flesh” (Col. 2:21–23). Nevertheless, an increasingly ascetic form of Judaism emerged, and it was perpetuated by an appeal to tradition rather than authentic faith. By the time of Christ, sheer legalism was the dominant religion in Israel. . . . Yet because the Jewish nation was chosen by God as the line through whom the deliverer would come, many believed that by virtue of their Abrahamic descent, they already had a claim on God’s favor and blessing. After all, “the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the worship, and the promises” were all theirs by birthright (Rom. 9:4). They took the goodness and mercy of God for granted—exactly like multitudes in Christendom today. The notion that they needed a Savior to expiate their guilt or deliver them from God’s condemnation was as thoroughly offensive to the average Jew of Jesus’s time as it is to today’s cultured secularists, moral relativists, and people who think they became Christians by birth or baptism. Those who followed the Pharisees’ doctrines happily acknowledged that Gentiles and other reprobates were sinners, but they thought of themselves as “righteous persons who need no repentance” (Luke 15:7). They were “clean in their own eyes but . . . not washed of their filth” (Prov. 30:12). That is the deadly danger of works religion. That is the attitude Jesus was condemning when he said, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. . . . I came not to call the righteous, but sinners” (Matt. 9:12–13). And make no mistake: all false religions cultivate sinful self-confidence. That includes every brand of genteel “faith” and pseudo-Christianity that is stylish today. Self-righteous souls who don’t see themselves as hopeless sinners in need of a savior can never truly appreciate the message of Isaiah 53. That, I am convinced, remains the major reason (even today) why so many—Jews and Gentiles alike—remain unmoved by the account of the suffering servant of Isaiah 53. —John MacArthur, The Gospel According to God (Crossway, 2018), 47–49.

The Servant’s Wisdom

Monday··2019·03·04
Isaiah says the servant of the Lord will “act wisely” (Isa. 52:13). The Hebrew word speaks of someone who performs a task with skill and expertise. One modern translation says, “My servant will prosper” (NASB). Both translations are valid. The Hebrew word speaks of prudent action that gains prosperous results. Wisdom and success are often linked in Scripture (cf. Josh. 1:7–8; 1 Sam. 18:5, 30; 1 Kings 2:3 where the same verb appears). The language accents the fact that the servant’s exaltation is not owing to accidental success or good fortune. His ultimate triumph is an accomplishment attained by adroit know-how. The servant’s amazing wisdom will result in the attainment of his purpose. He will not fail to accomplish God’s will, because he prudently employs righteous means to achieve the noblest results. Moreover, “the Servant’s wisdom is deeply self-denying, for it means accepting ends determined by God and willingly shouldering a burden of untold suffering to make them possible. Here God’s wisdom and humankind’s decisively part company (cf. 1 Cor. 1:17–25).” —John MacArthur, The Gospel According to God (Crossway, 2018), 54.

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