Old Testament Prophecies Fulfilled by Christ

via Wilmington/Tyndale Guide to the Bible (P 350)

You can reverently see the mighty hand of God guiding men throughout thousands of years and inspiring them through His Holy Spirit as they lay ink to papyrus and lay down God’s Word in such a way as to see it come to pass in a (mind boggling) mathematically impossible improbability.

  1. Born of a virgin – Isaiah 7:14 Fulfilled in Matthew 1:22,23
  2. Given the throne of David – 2 Samuel 7:11-12; Psalm 132:11; Isaiah 9:6, 16:5,Jeremiah 23:5 Fulfilled in Luke 1:31-32
  3. This throne to be an eternal throne – Daniel 2:44, 7:14,27; Micah 4:7 Fulfilled in Luke 1:33
  4. To be called Emmanuel – Isaiah 7:14 Fulfilled in Matthew 1:23
  5. To have a forerunner – Isaiah 40:3-5; Maleachi 3:1 Fulfilled in Luke 1:76-78, 3:3-6; Matthew 3:1-3
  6. To be born in Bethlehem – Micah 5:2 Fulfilled in Matthew 2:5-6
  7. To be worshipped by wise men and be presented with Gifts – Psalm 72:10; Isaiah 60:3, 6, 9 Fulfilled in Matthew 2:11
  8. To be in Egypt for a season – Numbers 24:8, Hosea 11:1 Fulfilled in Matthew 2:15
  9. Birthplace to suffer a massacre of infants – Jeremiah 31:15 Fulfilled in Matthew 2:17-18
  10. To be called a Nazarene – Isaiah 11:1 Fulfilled in Matthew 2:23
  11. To be zealous for the Father – Psalm 69:9, 119:139 Fulfilled in John 2:16-17
  12. To be filled with God’s Spirit – Isaiah 11:2, 61:1-2; Psalm 45:7 Fulfilled in Luke 4:18-19
  13. To heal many – Isaiah 53:4 Fulfilled in Matthew 8:16-17
  14. To deal gently with the Gentiles – Isaiah 9:1-2, 42:1-3 Fulfilled in Matthew 12:17-21, 4:13-16
  15. To speak in parables – Isaiah 6:9-10 Fulfilled in Matthew 13:10-15
  16. To be rejected by His own – Isaiah 53:3, Psalm 69:8 Fulfilled in John 1:11, 7:5
  17. To make a triumphal entry into Jerusalem – Zechariah 9:9 Fulfilled in Matthew 21:4-5
  18. To be praised by little children – Zechariah 9:9 Fulfilled in Matthew 21:16
  19. To be the rejected cornerstone – Psalm 118:22-23 Fulfilled in Matthew 21:42
  20. That His miracles would not be believed – Isaiah 53:1 Fulfilled in John 12:37-38
  21. To be betrayed by His friend for 30 pieces of silver – Psalm 41:9, 55:12-14 Fulfilled in Matthew 26:14-16, 21-25
  22. To be a man of sorrows – Isaiah 53:3 Fulfilled in Matthew 26:37-38
  23. To be forsaken by His disciples – Zechariah 13:7 Fulfilled in Matthew 26:31, 56
  24. To be scourged and spat upon – Isaiah 50:6 Fulfilled in Matthew 26:67, 27:26
  25. His price money to be used to buy a potter’s field – Zechariah 11:12-13; Jeremiah 18:1-4, 19:1-4 Fulfilled in Matthew 27:9-10
  26. To be crucified between two thieves – Isaiah 53:12 Fulfilled in Matthew 27:38
  27. To be given vinegar to drink – Psalm 69:21 Fulfilled in Matthew 27:34, 48; John 19:36-40
  28. To suffer the piercing of hands and feet – Psalm 22:15; Zechariah 12:10 Fulfilled in Matthew 15:25; John 19:34,37, 20:25-27
  29. His garments to be parted and gambled for – Psalm 22:18 Fulfilled in Luke 23:34; John 19:23-24
  30. To be surrounded and ridiculed by His enemies – Psalm 22:7-8 Fulfilled in Matthew 27:39-44; Mark 15:29-32
  31. That He would thirst – Psalm 22:15 Fulfilled in John 19:28
  32. To commend His spirit to the Father – Psalm 31:5 Fulfilled in Luke 23:46
  33. No bones to be broken – Psalm 34:20; Exodus 12:46; Numbers 9:12 Fulfilled in John 19:33-36
  34. To be stared at in death – Zechariah 12:10 Fulfilled in John 19:37; Matthew 27:36
  35. To be buried with the rich – Isaiah 53:9 Fulfilled in Matthew 27:57-60
  36. To be raised from the dead – Psalm 16:10 Fulfilled in Matthew 28:2-8
  37. To ascend – Psalm 24:7-10; Isaiah 52:13 Fulfilled in Mark 16:19; Luke 24:51
Reclame

John MacArthur – Isaiah 53 The Riddle of Redemption

Pentru traducere automata, fa click aici – Romanian

Message from – Moody Founder’s Week 2013
Watch/read D A Carson’s message at Moody Founder’s Week 2013 here – When Jesus confronts the world 

Watch/read Tony Evans’s message at Moody Founder’s Week 2013 here – There is no more important place to know Christ than the struggles of lifeisaiah scroll
This is about Christ, and about knowing Christ. Martin Luther said,”There’s a chapter in the Bible that every Christian should memorize, if that Christian intends to know Christ.” The German theologian, in 1866 said, „There is the chapter of the Bible, that is the most central, the deepest, the loftiest that Scripture has ever achieved. That same chapter, others have called ‘The Gospel of all vocabulary’. There’s a chapter in the Bible that has such stirring predictions, so complex, that only God could have known them centuries before history unfolded them. There’s a chapter in the Bible that is the most comprehensive exposition of the cross in all of Scripture, the most complete description of the substitutionary vicarious sacrificial death of the Savior in all of Holy writ. This same chapter has a scope that extends from eternity past to eternity future, and gathers up a whole history of redemption by focusing on the redeemer. It sweeps from His position in the eternal trinity to His return to full glory with His redeemed in the new heavens and the new earth. There is a chapter that embraces His past glory, His incarnation, His humiliation, His rejection, His unjust treatment, His unfair trial, His mistreatment, His death sentence, His execution, His resurrection, His intercession, His exaltation, and His coronation.

What is this chapter? It is the first Gospel, and it’s not Matthew. Matthew is the second Gospel. This is a chapter that is sufficient to save sinners. In fact, it is a chapter that was used by Philip to explain the Gospel to an Ethiopian eunuch. This is a chapter that you know. It is Isaiah 53- the first Gospel.

The description of the atoning work of Jesus Christ in Isaiah 53 surpasses any single Scripture on those subjects in the epistles of the New Testament. Let me tell you about Isaiah. 66 chapters, same as the number of books of the Bible. It’s split into two parts: the first 39 and the second 27. Exactly the way the Bible is split: Old Testament 39 books, New Testament 27.

The first 39 are about judgment, much like the Old Testament. The last 27 chapters (of Isaiah) are about redemption, just like the New Testament – Salvation. The last 27 are divided into 3 – 9 – 9 – and 9. The first 9 is about the physical salvation of Israel, the last 9 are about the physical salvation of creation. And the middle 9 is about the spiritual salvation of sinners. (8) So, let’s go down into the middle 9, and the middle chapter is chapter 53, and the middle verse, essentially, is, „He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our inequities.” The Holy Spirit forces us right down into this incredible chapter. Isaiah 53 has been called the torture chamber of the rabbis. It has been called the guilty conscience of the Jews. And it is that. They run from this chapter like the black death.

This chapter, stepping back in history and the place that it occupies in Scripture, this chapter answers the most critical question that will ever be asked or answered, ever, by anyone, anytime. The most essential question, the most important question is answered by this chapter. Religion must answer this question correctly or it is form hell. Any religion that does not give the right answer to this question is right out of hell. What is the question? It’s the riddle of the Old Testament. Did you know there was a riddle in the Old Testament? Turn to Exodus 34. Moses comes before God and wants God to assure him, he wants God to show up and reveal His glory. In Exodus 34:5 we read „the Lord descended from a cloud and stood there as he called upon the name of the Lord.” Now, the Lord is going to introduce Himself. „The Lord passed by in front of Him and proclaimed, „The Lord God, compassionate, and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in loving kindness and truth, who keeps grace, loving kindness for thousands, who forgives iniquity, transgression and sin.” And, by the way, „He will by no means leave the guilty unpunished.” That’s the riddle of the Old Testament.

That’s the riddle of redemption. How can God be gracious and punish the guilty? The answer to that is Isaiah 53. He will punish someone else. How can God, in the words of Paul, be just and the justifier of sinners? That is the question: How can a sinner be reconciled to a holy God? How can God love and bring to heavenly glory, sinners, without violating his righteousness? That is the question. If the right answer to that question is SAVED, then every other wrong answer DAMNS. That’s why I say that whoever doesn’t answer that question accurately is from hell. One more thing to say, about Isaiah 53. Just by way of introduction, if we think about it, this is a paralyzingly sad chapter. I don’t know of a sadder moment in all of redemptive history than the moment depicted in this chapter. It is horrific, beyond comprehension. This starts out as the most plaintive lament, the most extreme expression of sorrow. It is a kind of epic dirge. It is a funeral song with massive, sweeping implications. The crushing sorrow that is depicted in Isaiah 53 has no historic parallel, exceeds all other sorrows. (13:25)

The astonishing revelation

We start back in Isaiah 52 at verse 13. And, everything about this section is astonishing, absolutely astonishing. To start, in verse 13 we come to the very words of God. This section begins and ends with God speaking. God speaks in 52:13-15 and speaks half way through verse 11 and verse 12. So, what happens in the middle is bracketed by the words of God. God introduces and God sums up what’s in this great chapter. In 52:13-15, God Himself introduces the Messiah. He introduces His servant, His slave. First, it is an astonishing revelation. By the way, this is the 4th chapter that focuses on the servant or slave of God- the Messiah- vv. 42, 49, 50, 53. All servant songs, slave songs of the slave of God. He introduces Him: Behold because it is astonishing. „My slave will succeed”. Any reader of the Old Testament knows that that’s a Messianic title. Going all the way back to chapter 42, this is the Messiah. (15:29)

He will prosper. Actually, in Hebrew it is ‘act intelligently, act wisely’, succeed. It’s important that we understand that’s how God introduces this, because when He came, it looked like He didn’t succeed. It looked to the world like He failed. Then He begins to introduce Him. He will be high and lifted up, and greatly exalted. That identifies Him. Well, you say, isn’t that just repetitious? No, in the Hebrew, here’s what it says: He will be high, He will be higher, He will be highest. And those 3 designations in combination, only appear in one other place in all of Scripture. And those three designations refer to God. They only appear together in one other place- Isaiah 6. „I saw the Lord high, and higher, and highest.” So, now we know that the slave is God.

The astonishing humiliation

isaiah 53 5

The deity of Messiah is proclaimed. Verse 14 adds: Just as many were astonished at you My people, so His appearance was far more than any man.”  Now we know that He not only will be God, but He will also be man. The God man. He will be marred, that word in Hebrew means mutilated, it means distorted, it means disfigured. And, so extremely disfigured as to be literally beyond human recognition, looking like a beast, not a man. This servant is God? The eternal God: high, higher, highest. Exalted, loftiest, sitting on His throne. And, in the New testament, we know the writer of the Gospel of John tells us that the vision of Isaiah 6 is none other than Jesus Christ. He is God, lifted up and exalted. And He is man, marred, disfigured. This is the second riddle. Who is this Messiah? The Jews had a Messianic view, they had a concept of Messiah. I don’t know that they thought He would be God, but they assumed that He would be exalted. They had no sense that He would be marred, disfigured, far form it. But, that is only temporary.

His marring will be so severe, end of verse 14, that His form would be disfigured and distorted more than the sons of man. The implication of the language is- in face and form He will become subhuman. And we know that happened. All the brutality imposed upon Him. The physical distortion of His body, in all that He suffered and the distortion of His face, from sin bearing… We’re glad to get to verse 15. because the astonishing revelation, followed by the astonishing humiliation, brings us to the astonishing exaltation. (19:50)

The astonishing exaltation

„He will startle many nations.” Startle means to burst, to jump up. „He will startle many nations and Kings will shut their mouths on account of Him. What has not been told them, they will see, what they had not heard they will understand.” This is His final exaltation. So, God Himself, introduces His servant, His slave, the slave of Yahweh. the slave of Messiah, who is to come. He will be God, He will be man, He will be marred, He will be exalted. There is the career of the Lord Jesus in broad terms, from the mouth of God. This information is given to the Jews from Isaiah, 700 years before Jesus came. (21)

Isaiah 53

Now, let’s come to chapter 53. And, all of a suede something changes. Verses 13-15 ‘1st person- future’. „He will be”… „He will…” Kings will..”  „they will…”, „they will see..”. All future- speaking of the coming of the Messiah. Everything changes. This is one speaker: God, speaking of the future career of His servant. When you come to verse 1, everything changes. Everything now is in the past tense. And plural pronouns: „we”, „our”, „us”. The big question for us is, „Who is talking?” Not God. Who is speaking?

The Suffering Servant

53 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.

10 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.
11 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.
12 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.

Who is saying this? Who is making this massive confession? What group of people is this? What group of people is this? This is plural ‘til you get down to verse 11, where God begins to speak again. Who is this? It is Israel.

What did we learn about Isaiah? Israel’s physical deliverance in the first 9 chapters of the second half, and Israel’s salvation in the second nine. You bore down to those 9 in the middle chapter and the middle verses- this is the prophecy, not the death of Christ. This is not a prophecy of the death of Christ, this is a prophecy of the future conversion of Israel, when they look back at the death of Christ and see who He really was. This is stunning. This leaps across the death and resurrection of Christ to the future conversion of Israel. That’s why Isaiah gave this. To give hope for the national salvation of his people.

Remember Ezekiel 36, when God promises salvation to Israel, a new heart, His spirit… you remember Jeremiah 31, the covenant passage promised to Israel, where God saves Israel. But, you might wanna think about this in terms of another prophecy. As you come to the end of the Old Testament, in Zechariah 12:10 I will pour out on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the Spirit of grace and of supplication, so that they will look on Me whom they have pierced; and they will mourn for Him, as one mourns for an only son, and they will weep bitterly over Him like the bitter weeping over a firstborn. 
And Zechariah sees the future day, when Israel has, by the sovereign purposes of God, the spirit of grace and supplication comes down from heaven and gives them life. And when God does that, they will look on the one they pierced and they will mourn. vv 11-14 11 In that day there will be great mourning in Jerusalem, like the mourning of Hadadrimmon in the plain of Megiddo. 12 The land will mourn, every family by itself; the family of the house of David by itself and their wives by themselves; the family of the house of Nathan by itself and their wives by themselves; 13 the family of the house of Levi by itself and their wives by themselves; the family of the Shimeites by itself and their wives by themselves; 14 all the families that remain, every family by itself and their wives by themselves. What are they all mourning about? That is the future work of God, when He saves the nation of Israel. Romans 11 „So, all Israel will be saved”. That’s the future promise of God.

When that day comes, what will they say? They will recite Isaiah 53. This is their confession. That’s why it’s in the past tense. Think of it this way, as we look at this incredible chapter. Why the mourning? Why the horror? Why does everybody mourn, from the lowest to the highest? From the King, the leader, always down to the humblest family? What is all this mourning and weeping, and sorrowing? It’s obvious. In that future day, when Israel is saved, they will look back over their history and realize that everyone that came before them and rejected Jesus Christ was damned forever. The horror. All the history of holocaust, all those people are lost. The mourning will be beyond comprehension. (transcript from first 30 min provided by our blog)

D.A. Carson – Adams Lecture Series: Why Did Jesus Speak in Parables? Matthew 13:10-17, 34-35 Part 1

Part 1 February 11, 2014 at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, Dr. D A Carson of Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, Deerfield, Illinois.

D A CarsonD A Carson: Why does Jesus tell stories? Why the narrative parables? Well, it’s easy enough to list some wrong answers, or at least, reductionistic answers.

  1. Jesus used them as illustrations. He was a good homilitician; so He’d make a point, then He would illustrate it,  tell a story. But then, you have a hard job understanding [Matthew] chapter 13:11-12. „Why do you speak to the people in parables?” the disciples ask in verse 10. And he answered them, “To you it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given. (verse 11) 12 For to the one who has, more will be given, and he will have an abundance, but from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away. 13 This is why I speak to them in parables. In this passage it doesn’t seem like parables are used for illustrative purposes, to make things clearer.
  2. Others say He told parables because He favors the enigmatic, the thought provoking, the open ended, rather than truths and propositions. And so, some who take this stance look at verse 34 All these things Jesus said to the crowds in parables; indeed, he said nothing to them without a parable. 35 This was to fulfill what was spoken by the prophet:
    “I will open my mouth in parables;
    I will utter what has been hidden since the foundation of the world.” [so some will say,]”And so, if we are going to preach effectively today, then we should tell stories, in order so be enigmatic. Away with this tough propositional down the line thunder from heaven stuff. Tell stories!”

The ways in which Jesus speaks:

  • But, although Jesus can certainly be enigmatic, and He can tell stories in order to illustrate something, yet He also preaches in other genres.
  • He preaches with wisdom type utterances, where „it’s either this or that”. There are two ways, one that is broad and  large and leads to distruction. Another that is narrow and leads to life. There are 2 kinds of trees, one that produces good fruit, one that produces bad fruit. And so on. These are wisdom type structured.
  • Moreover, He can preach in apocalyptic type categories.
  • He can use provers.
  • He can use extended discourse
  • Lament
  • Exposition of Old Testament texts
  • Non-narritival extended  metaphors, as in John 10 and the shepherd, John 15m the vine.
  • Dialogue
  • Provocative questions

So whatever [Matthew] 13:34 means, it does not mean that the only way He preached was using parables. All you have to do is read the New testament to discover that’s  not true. When He says He did not say anything to them when using a parable, what it means is, in the course of His regular preaching, He regularly had parables.

Others say He told parables in order to hide things from the non-elect. After all, we did read verses 11-12, which certainly  sound as if part of the purposes of parables is to hide things. Yes, but then there is verse 34-35. All these things Jesus said to the crowds in parables; indeed, he said nothing to them without a parable. 35 This was to fulfill what was spoken by the prophet:
“I will open my mouth in parables;
I will utter what has been hidden since the foundation of the world.

At this juncture, it seems that parables are disclosing things, not hiding them. So the question is: Why did jesus tell parables? I think there is some element of truth in these  and other answers that could be given, but let me give you two overwhelming reasons why Jesus told parables. Before I do, I am going to read [Matthew] 13:10-17, and then some verses at the end of the chapter:

10 Then the disciples came and said to him, “Why do you speak to them in parables?”11 And he answered them, “To you it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given. 12 For to the one who has, more will be given, and he will have an abundance, but from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away. 13 This is why I speak to them in parables, because seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand. 14 Indeed, in their case the prophecy of Isaiah is fulfilled that says:
“‘“You will indeed hear but never understand,
and you will indeed see but never perceive.”
15 For this people’s heart has grown dull,
and with their ears they can barely hear,
and their eyes they have closed,
lest they should see with their eyes
and hear with their ears
and understand with their heart
and turn, and I would heal them.’
16 But blessed are your eyes, for they see, and your ears, for they hear. 17 For truly, I say to you, many prophets and righteous people longed to see what you see, and did not see it, and to hear what you hear, and did not hear it.

Verses 34-35  34 All these things Jesus said to the crowds in parables; indeed, he said nothing to them without a parable. 35 This was to fulfill what was spoken by the prophet:“I will open my mouth in parables; I will utter what has been hidden since the foundation of the world.”

52 And he said to them,“Therefore every scribe who has been trained for the kingdom of heaven is like a master of a house, who brings out of his treasure what is new and what is old.”

So then, let me give 2 reasons why Jesus spoke in parables. This is not an exhaustive list:

1. Jesus tells parables because, in line with Scripture, His message blinds, deafens and hardens.

Now, reread verses 10 & 12, and you will see right away that there is a contrast  that is set up. And once the contrast  is set up, then the rest of the passage  is divided into 2 parts. So, verse 10- the question: Why do you speak to people in parables? Then, Jesus divides His answer in 2 parts, setting up a contrast: „Cause the knowledge of the kingdom of heaven has been given unto you,” that’s positive. „But, not to them.” That’s negative. „Whoever has will be given more, they will have in abundance,” that’s positive. „Whoever does not have, even what they have will be taken from them,” that’s negative. And then, the negative is further expounded in verses 13, 14, and 15. And then the positive is expounded in verses 16, 17, and 18. That’s the structure of these verses.

But the negative side, which we’re going to focus on first, verses 13, 14, and 15  is largely cast, in terms of quotations from Isaiah 6. In the year that King Uzziah died I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up; and the train of his robe filled the temple.2 Above him stood the seraphim. Each had six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. 3 And one called to another and said:
“Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts;
the whole earth is full of his glory!”
The very foundations shake and Isaiah testifies that he is a lost man. In the previous chapters he’s pronouncing the woes of God, the condemnations of God against corruption and greed, and idolatry, against evil and all of its forms. Against drunkenness and debauchery, and lack of faith. „Woe to you, woe to you,” and now, he sees God and he says, „Woe to me, I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips and my eyes have seen the King.” „THE KING”, not the king who just died, King Uzziah, „My eyes have seen the KING, the Lord Almighty.” One of the seraphim takes a live coal from the altar, touches Isaiah’s lips, after all, he’s said he’s a man of unclean lips. Now, coal from the altar touches his lips to clean him up, as if to say: It takes the sacrifice that God has ordained to clean you up. And the angel said, „ “Behold, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away, and your sin atoned for.”

And the, for the first time in this chapter, God speaks. Its almost as if He’s asking a rhetorical question to the counsels of heaven, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” And Isaiah says, „Here am I, send me.” Don’t misunderstand this. He’s nor saying, „I’m your man, God. Bring it on!” In the context it’s just the opposite. He’s saying, „Excuse me, would I do? Pleaaaaaase? Could you use me?” Away with this arrogance  with which people approach ministry. God says, „Go. This is what you have to do.”

Go, and say to this people:
“‘Keep on hearing, but do not understand; keep on seeing, but do not perceive.’
10 Make the heart of this people dull, and their ears heavy, and blind their eyes;
lest they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their hearts, and turn and be healed.”

How would you like that preached at your ordination service? And [then], Isaiah says the obvious thing, „I understand there are cycles in preaching, but for how long? When will revival finally come? I mean, I preach faithfully all this time and all of these bad things are happening, when will revival start? How long, Lord? And the answer, in verse 11:

11 Then I said, “How long, O Lord?”
And he said:
“Until cities lie waste without inhabitant,
and houses without people, and the land is a desolate waste,
12 and the Lord removes people far away,
and the forsaken places are many in the midst of the land.
13 And though a tenth remain in it,
it will be burned again, like a terebinth or an oak,
whose stump remains when it is felled.”
The holy seed is its stump.

„That’s how long. You’ve got a whole life ministry where there is nothing to show  at the end of it except waste and condemnation. That’s your job Isaiah. Go.” And the only spark of hope in the entire chapter is the last two lines.
13like a terebinth or an oak,
whose stump remains when it is felled.”
The holy seed is its stump. 
When that stump left, the structure of the book of Isaiah is set up again in chapter 11, one of the great passages of hope. „A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse. And now you have a Christological promise that ends in apocalyptical transformation until  the whole world is filled with the knowledge of the Lord, and the waters cover the sea.But of course, you would have to remember, that would take place 700 years after his ministry.
And these are the words that Jesus quotes, when He explains what He is doing with His parables, these words from Isaiah. Probably the closest connection in the New Testament is found in John 8:45, Jesus says to some of His opponents, „Because I tell you the truth, you do not believe Me.”  Note, that’s not a concessive. „Although I tell you the truth, though you do not believe Me.” That would be bad enough.  But He says, with a causal, „Because I tell you the truth, you do not believe Me.” In other words, it is the truth itself, for some people, that blinds. It is the truth itself that hardens. It is the truth itself  that guarantees unbelief.
If you talk to a culture which is absolutely steadfastly committed to the view that there are many ways to God, and you say the truth, that „There’s only one way to God”, you guarantee their unbelief. You guarantee that they think you’re a bigot. You guarantee that they are convinced that you are narrow minded, right wing and ignorant. It’s the very truth that causes offense, on occasion. Do you see? „Because I tell you the truth, you do not believe Me.” Thus, it is the faithful preaching of truth itself, which for some people , at some points in history guarantees unbelief.
So what are your options? Tell untruth? Trim the message? In effect, therefore Isaiah is commanded to harden them, not because He is saying, „I want to make you hard,” but because he’s commanded to preach the truth. And if he’s commanded to preach the truth to this particular group, at this particular point in history, then the effect is guaranteed. Namely that they will be hardened and blinded, coarsened and deafened. All he’s gotta do is preach the truth. And Jesus, we’re told, fulfills this text. He fulfills this pattern.
„In them,” verse 14 of Matthew 13 is fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah, of „hearing, but never understanding, seeing, but never perceiving. 15For this people’s heart has grown dull, and with their ears they can barely hear, and their eyes they have closed, lest they should see with their eyes.

Of course, Jesus had earlier in Matthew indicated [that] there is a trajectory of unbelief. At the end of the Beatitudes, in Matthew chapter 5:11-12- 11 “Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. 12 Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you. There is a trajectory of unbelief. And Jesus brings that trajectory to fulfillment. Where Jesus is aware of how some are being blinded by light, He uses more parabolic teaching. That’s what he says in verses 11 & 12. In line with chap 7:6 He knows not to cast His pearls before swine. He is prepared to preach in such a way that they will not get it. That is part of judgment. And after all, that notion is found on occasion in the New Testament as well.

Do you recall what Paul writes to the Thessalonians in the second letter? 2 Thessalonians 2: 10 and with all wicked deception for those who are perishing, because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. 11 Therefore God sends them a strong delusion, so that they may believe what is false, 12 in order that all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness. In other words, God hardens them. They love the lie? They don’t want to be saved? Can’t stand the truth? Then God, therefore, as it were, imposes the final judgment back into time. He sends them a strong delusion so they’re hardened in their delusion.

In other words, one of the reasons why Jesus tells parables is because, in line with Scripture, His message blinds, deafens and hardens. 
2. Jesus tells parables because in line with Scripture, His message reveals things hidden in Scripture. 
Now, focus on verses 34-35. We’ll come back to verses 15-18 in a moment. Once again, we discover Jesus appeals to an Old Testament text.34 All these things Jesus said to the crowds in parables; indeed, he said nothing to them without a parable. 35 This was to fulfill what was spoken by the prophet:
“I will open my mouth in parables;
I will utter what has been hidden since the foundation of the world.
This is a quotation from Psalm 78:2 I will open my mouth in a parable; I will utter dark sayings from of old Psalm 78 is one of the psalms called historical psalms. God unpacks, in a psalm, something of Israel’s history. But he does so in such a way, as to make certain points. You see, history is never exhaustive. You can’t possibly explain everything that happened, about anything. It’s inevitably selective. So that you can tell the same story from different perspectives by simply including or excluding certain details. So, it’s possible to tell the story of the civil war from the Northern perspective, and from a Southern perspective. It’s possible to tell the story of the Revolutionary war from the perspective of the Americans; it looks a little different in Britain. And in between there are… I speak now as someone born in Canada, there are the UEL’s, we call themThe United Empire Loyalists, thousands of them who went north of the 49 parallel, because they wanted to remain loyal to the crown. They look at things a little bit differently, too. In fact, some people have done their phd’s on the sermons of the UEL Christians vs. the sermons of the American Christians. And both are claiming Scripture. So, it’s possible to tell the story of America in grandiose and wonderful terms and how the pilgrim fathers came here and wanted freedom and so forth, and they wanted to build a new place where it was safe for the Gospel and to build a light, a city set on a hill. Then you can talk about their sacrifices and the way the 13 colonies grew on the east coast, and eventually moved west and settled. There was commerce and glory, they struggled with England in 1812, but nevertheless settled and yes, there was the shame of slavery, but we did get through that, and now we’ve come out the other side and we should be grateful for the grace of God in this respect, and at least we did eventually do the right thing and besides that, we came to the rescue of Europe, not once, but twice in the 20th century. And so on, and so on, and so on. We prevailed against communism simply by holding the line and being a robust economy until finally they collapsed. It’s all true. It’s wonderfully true.
But then, of course, somebody else could come along and tell a story: They came in here and took over the lands of the Indians and  they said there was freedom for all, but they still had slaves… and tell the whole story and slant it a whole different way. I could tell you similar store from Canada, of which I spring (come from). I can paint a pretty shameful story of what we’ve done to the inuit, the eskimo. I could do the same thing for the British Empire. I could do the same thing for parts of Chinese history. Because every country has some things for which to be proud and some things for which to be deeply ashamed.
So, how will Jews think of Israelite history? On the one hand, you could say, „You know, God chose us. Of all the nations of the earth, He chose us. That’s what Deuteronomy 10:7 says, He chose us because He loved us. He did choose us. And He made Jerusalem to be a city on a hill, too. He promised a great messianic King. He reveals Himself in glory at the tabernacle  that He has established Himself. He gave us a great body of law, the word of God, the books of the law. He gave us a man like Moses, raised up prophets again and again, and again. When we sinned, He rescued us. Yes, He sometime punished us, by sending us into exile, but He restored us back to Himself again and again. We are the people of God. All true.
And then you read Psalm 78. Now the psalmist presents the city of Israel in rather painful terms. They remind you a bit of Stephen’s speech  in Acts 7. That’s another sermon that begins with the history of Israel, but Stephen slants the history to show how often people rejected the revelation that God sent. God sent prophets and God sent the law, God sent various people He raised up to teach the people the way of God and they rejected them again and again, and again. So it’s not too surprising that when He sends the Messiah, they reject the Messiah too. He builds a whole theology that warrants a whole rejection of Messiah by reading Old Testament history.
And there’s something of that going on in Psalm 78. „Don’t you remember your own history?” He says. You look back at your own history, you see how many times people complained and whined and were disgruntled with God in the desert. And as a preface to this psalm, the writer says, „My people hear my teaching, listen to the words of my mouth..” Verse 2 in the NIV has, „I will open my mouth with a parable. I will utter hidden things, things of old.” You start asking: If they’re hidden, why does he go on to say, „Things we have heard and things our ancestors have told us.” If they’re things we have known and our ancestors have told us, why are they hidden things? Things that we have not known. But you see, that’s the way expounding is. Even when you know the data, as it were, the materials are there, there are new lessons that are being brought out. So that, when Steven for example, teaches from the Old Testament, the actual data that he refers to are all known. It’s common ground. It’s the raw data of history, but they’re so configured, that lessons are brought out  that we haven’t thought about at all. You see? ANd that’s what Psalm 78 is doing. It’s an historical Psalm that looks at Israel’s history to bring forth moral lessons, which most Jews at the time of the Psalmist, they’re not ready to hear about themselves. It’s a bit too hot, too privileged. They didn’t see their own history as a massive call for repentance.
And that’s what Jesus does Himself. He takes the Old Testament, and He now says things that have been hidden. Go back to verse 11. Why do you speak in parables? „Because the knowledge of the secret of the kingdom,” the NIV has, some translations have „the mysteries of the kingdom”. What does that mean „the mysteries of the kingdom”? Not the mysterious things of the kingdom. That’s not what mysteries means in the New Testament. The word mystery is used 27 or 28 times, with one variant. And in just about every case, the word mystery refers to that which has been hidden in the past, but is now disclosed. „So, I am going to tell you,” he says, „I’m going to make you understand, the mysteries of the kingdom.” Things that were hidden in the past, that are now disclosed.They’re hidden, but they’re hidden in plain sight. They’re in the text, but they’re hidden and nowI disclose them to you. The knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of heaven has been given to you, not to them.
That is, Jesus tells parables now because in line with Scripture, His message reveals things hidden in Scripture. What does this mean? What does this look like? Take a look at the parable of the sower, which is the context in which Jesus says these things. What’s the parable of the sower about? You have to remember that most jews expected that when the Messiah came, He would come with a bang. There would be clear differentiation between the just and the unjust. The kingdom would be established. All you have to do is read the preaching of John the Baptist to see what that would look like. When He comes, He will gather the wheat into barns, and He will thoroughly clear His threshing floor, and pass the chaff into unquenchable fire. Matthew 3:11-12. That’s what Jews expected would happen when the kingdom came. And what Jesus says is: The kingdom is a bit like a farmer, who goes out to sow . He scatters seed here, there. Some of it falls on good soil, some of it falls on bad soil, the birds take it away… some places are rocky, shallow, that soil warms up the fastest in the spring, the seed germinates, looks as if it’s gonna be the most promising crop, and then the middle east sun pelts down and the plant keels over and dies. Other seed falls over amongst thorns and  the thorns choke the life out of it. But some seed falls on good ground with various degrees of productivity. That’s what the kingdom is like.
What? I thought it came with a bang. I thought God was gonna clean up the whole mess. You’re just making things confusing. And so, the parable is not understood by the people who are hearing it. And even the christians to be – believers, they don’t understand it as well, though Jesus does carefully unpack it for them in the following verses. How does that come from the Old Testament? But it does. It does. Take a look, for ex., at Daniel 2 -The great vision of Nebuchadnezzar’s dream. Daniel interprets the dream. The various body parts, then verse 2:34 „While you were watching,” Daniel says to Nebuchadnezzar, describing a dream, „a rock was cut out, but not by human hands. It struck the statue on its feet of iron and clay and smashed them. Then the iron , the clay, the bronze, the silver, and gold were all broken to pieces and became like chaff on a threshing floor in the sumer. The wind swept away without leaving a trace.” Here’s a vision of the kingdom of God, coming with a bang. And then, in the vision we read, „The rock that struck the statue  grew to become a whole mountain and filled the whole earth.” Now you got growth, not a bang.  But where is the evidence that jews got those bits put together as coming explanations of Christ?
Or, to take an example that’s better known, yet. In Caesarea Philippi (later in Matthew chapter 16), Jesus says, „Who do people say that I am?” Some say this, some say that. So he asks his own apostles, „What do you say?” Peter says, „You are the Christ, the Messiah, the Son of the Living God.” And Jesus responds, „You are blessed Simon, son of John, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven.” Great. But, does Peter mean by his confession what you and I mean? Do we confess that Jesus is the Christ? Nope. Because when you and  I confess that Jesus is the Christ, we cannot help but think of Christ crucified. Christ on the cross, dead, buried, risen again, ascended to the Father’s right hand. You see, we cannot help but think of the Father in these holistic categories. But those are not category that Peter understands, because when Jesus then goes on n the context of Matthew 16, to talk about His own impending death, Peter, having scored once theologically thinks to try again. „Never Lord, this shall never happen to you, Messiah’s don’t die, they win. Especially one like you, you can do all these nice miracles. This will never happen to you. You’re wrong on this one, Jesus.” Jesus wheels on him and says, „Get behind me Satan, you do not understand the things of God.” So then, why is Peter told he is blessed because he understands, because he confesses that Jesus is the Messiah? Because, while others are doubting that Jesus is the Davidic Messiah, the promised King, Peter, anointed by God Himself, really does grasp that Jesus is the Messiah, but he doesn’t have all the categories for Messiahship. He doesn’t see that this King must also be the suffering servant. He doesn’t see that this king will reign from a cross. He doesn’t see that. And the proof that he doesn’t see it carries on in the entire Gospel. He and the disciples are in the upper room. He still doesn’t know that the Messiah must die, even though 5 times, in Matthew’s Gospel alone, Jesus has unpacked that He’s the sort of Messiah  who must die and give His life. Well, tell me, is that announced in Scripture? Well, there’s the Passover, there’s Yom Kippur, there are passages like Isaiah 53. There are psalms, like Psalm 69 where the Davidic King is broken and crushed, betrayed by his own familiar friend. But you really cannot find any jews  of Jesus’ generation, before the cross, who simply got it together and believed that Jesus was simultaneously  the Davidic promised triumphant king and the suffering slaughtered  damned servant. But it was there in Scripture. They just hadn’t gotten it together.
One of the reasons Jesus tells parables, He says, is to unpack  this change slowly. In a way analogous  to what the historical psalms do: „I will open my mouth in parables, where you tell stories, compare things with things. I will utter things secret since the creation of the world.” But nevertheless, things  in the context of Psalm 78, your father knew about Isaiah 53,  and could get it together. Which is why when you read on in verse 16 „Blessed are your eyes because they see and your ears because you hear, for truly, I tell you, many prophets and righteous people long to see what you see, but did not see it. And to hear what you hear, and did not hear it. Even the Old Testament saints could not put all the pieces together, which is why at the end of the chapter, verse 52 „Therefore every teacher of the law, who has become a disciple in the kingdom of heaven is like the owner of a house that brings down in the store room new treasures as well. You open the Old Testament Scriptures, and now you’re putting them together in  things you haven’t seen before, they are truly there, but they have not been put together. They’ve been hidden a little bit.
Now, what can we learn from these passages? We could easily spend a half hour unpacking this. Let me summarize.
  1. We should gain wonder in worship where there is a fresh grasp about how God has put the Bible together. I have my professors here and they’re all trying to get me to read the Old Testament is a Christological way, and I see it, I’m beginning to understand what typology  is and I’m beginning to understand what the trajectories are that run from the New Testament to the Old Testament and all , but I don’t wanna be blasphemous or anything, but couldn’t God have done it a little more simply? Why not be just a bit more straightforward? God in His great wisdom reveals so very much, but he shadows and types and structures, and you don’t really get them all together until after the events and those with eyes to see look back and say, „Spectacular. Here is the mind of our God. First thing is wonder in worship where there is a fresh grasp about how God has put the Bible together.
  2. We should gain gratitude in humility, for the gift of seeing the truth about Jesus and His Gospel, because so many people do not see it. That’s a gift.
  3. We should gain discretion in witness where there is a hostile environment. For we, too, understand as I understood, as Jesus understood, as Paul understood that sometimes the environment is so hostile, that you must approach these things with a certain kind of discretion, understanding that the truth itself can blind and harden, and deafen, as well as reveal.

At Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary

D.A. Carson – Adams Lecture Series: Why Did Jesus Speak in Parables? – Matthew 13:10-17, 34-35 from Southeastern Seminary on Vimeo.

What God says to Egypt

Read news about the persecution of Christians this week and the burning of churches (some reports say 27, some as high as 45 churches burned down) here – Egyptian Christians under attack

Photo credit http://www.wnd.com

Egypt! Egypt!
A Meditation for Today by John Piper
on Isaiah 19:24–25

(Listen to the poem read by Piper here – http://www.desiringgod.org

O Egypt, Egypt, do you not
Recall, dear friend — have you forgot —
That twice you were the savior of
My only Son — though not from love?

You fed him in the famine. Then
You took him for a slave. And when
I rescued him, I made you know
My name, my power, and how much woe
Will fall on those who mock my Son.

And when he came again, the One
That Herod would destroy, he fled
Once more to his dear friend who fed
Him once before. And there you hid
And suckled him like Moses, ’mid
The rushes and the riches of
The regal court — though not from love.
Two years you gave him shield and bread
Until his enemies were dead
And it was safe for him to make
His way back home, and for your sake
To die.

O Egypt, Egypt, will
You now destroy his house, and kill
His people, cut his seamless word
To pieces, lest the truth be heard —
The sweetest news that he, or I,
Could ever speak?
And so I cry

Aloud again: O Egypt, Hear
This tender word. It is as near
To you as hope. Did not your own
Isaiah tenderly make known
My heart? O Listen, Egypt! “In
That day, in spite of all your sin,
Together, you and Israel,
And vast Assyria, will dwell
As one — the kingdom of my Son —
And in that day, with joy, I’ll stun
The world, and call you mine. And you
Will be my people. Yes, the true
And happy bride of Christ, with all
Your meek and broken foes who call
On his great name. And in the end,
You’ll know why I have called you friend.”

Matt Chandler – Marveling at the Majesty of God

Screen Shot 2013-06-05 at 7.01.48 PMBeing in 2013 is such a gift from God is we have all this history to look back on and to marvel that God has just consistently has done exactly what He said He would do. In Genesis 12, we know our Bibles, the world is fallen, it is broken. I mean, the very fabric of what God created now torn asunder. Death, disease, the world has grown dark, and in the middle of it God calls a man named Abram. And in Genesis chapter 12:1 we read: „Now the Lord said to Abram, “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”

So now, we’ve got this faint whisper of a promise, that all that has gone wrong will be made right. That God is calling Abram from Kush. The first Jew is an Iraqi, let that mingle around in your head a bit. God calls Abram and says: Through you, I am going to create a people and through that people I’m going to bless all people on earth. So that, from the very beginning, the promise is that what God is up to is global. It is making right what has gone wrong and then at the testing of Abraham, in Genesis 22, he puts his son Isaac on the altar, and then we read in Genesis 22:15-18:

 And the angel of the Lord called to Abraham a second time from heaven 16 and said, “By myself I have sworn, declares the Lord, because you have done this and have not withheld your son, your only son, 17 I will surely bless you, and I will surely multiply your offspring as the stars of heaven and as the sand that is on the seashore. And your offspring shall possessthe gate of his enemies, 18 and in your offspring shall all the nations of the earth be blessed, because you have obeyed my voice.” So there we have it, once again God’s plan, through Abraham, in the founding of the covenant community of faith is that the nations would be glad, the nations would be blessed, and that all that went wrong would be set right in this plan of God’s.

And throughout the Old Testament we see this repeatedly, God’s heart for the nations, on Mt. Sinai when the Lord told Moses, this is in Exodus 19:5-6  Now therefore, if you will indeed obey my voice and keep my covenant, you shall be my treasured possession among all peoples, for all the earth is mine; and you shall be to me akingdom of priests and a holy nation. These are the words that you shall speak to the people of Israel.” 

So what’s gonna be the role of Israel when it comes to the rest of the world? We will serve as priests, we will be the ones that herald the good news of what God is going to do, of what God is going to accomplish at the crossing of the Jordan river- Joshua 4:24 God crosses Israel into the promised land. And He did this that all the peoples of the world might know. At the founding of the Temple, in 1 Kings 8:43 we read „so that all the peoples of the earth might know your name”. Just a cursory reading of the Psalms would have the Psalmist repeatedly saying „the nations, and the great glorious day of the Lord, perpetually painting this picture of the nations gathering around God to make much of God.”

And again, even in the prophets, we see this confirmed yet again, one of my favorites, in Isaiah 45:44 „Turn to me and besaved, you ends of the earth„. And then, we have the incarnation: God in the flesh dwells among us, and He does not deviate off of His plan to redeem and rescue from the nations. In John chapter 10:15-16 „Just as the Father knows Me, and  I know the Father, and I lay down my life for the sheep, I have other sheep that are not of this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to My voice„.  So there will be one flock and one shepherd. So, Jesus does not deviate off this Old Testament  declaration that the nations will be glad, that the nations will worship our God, that there is, when it’s all said and done, one group of people that God is drawing unto Himself- sons of God, adopted sons of God. So, you have sons of Adam and sons of Christ, and so Christ is not deviating off of this declaration.

In fact, even in Matthew 28:18-20, if you go up to verse 16, you find some hope for you, if you tend to struggle and wrestle with doubts, because the Bible says upon that mountain they worshipped Him, but some doubted. I’ve always marveled at that. You have the resurrection with Christ ascending into glory , and there are those even on the hill, at that time saying, „I don’t know, just not quite sure”. But what we read, starting in verse 18 is „And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.  Now „All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.”  You can just stop right there, because whatever comes next is happening. So now, at this point, it doesn’t matter what is coming next. It doesn’t matter what He says, what the command is, what He’s gonna order for us to do, it’s happening. Why? Because „All authority”. Where? Everywhere. Has been given to whom? „Me,” Christ says and then the command, „19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age. Remember what the disciples do, they gather in the upper room, they’re praying and waiting for the helper to come? And in Acts chapter 2, the Helper comes and now we’ve got ourselves a completely different ballgame than what we watched with the disciples when they were following Christ. In fact, if you’re really paying attention, the only one who really kind of nails who Jesus is in the Gospels is the demons. Everyone else kind of gets it wrong.

What’s the word on the street? Who do people say that I am? Well, some say that you’re John the Baptist, others say that you’re Elijah. But who do you say that I am. Only Peter gets it right. And the demons cry out „I know who you are, the Holy One of God. You have come to destroy us before the appointed time.” I mean, no dualism in the New Testament when it comes to kingdoms and conflict. No arguments with Christ. No demons say „Make me”. Just ferocious, God besot powerful declaration. When the Holy Spirit falls at Pentecost, Peter stands up and gives the most unseeker friendly sermon in the history of Christianity. And thousands are added to our numbers that day. And we see the Gospel begin to grow, but at this point it’s predominantly, if not entirely a Jewish faith, and then we get Acts chapter 10 & 11, Cornelius of the Italian cohort, a man who has rejected Roman paganism, believes there is one God, not quite sure who that one God is. He’s praying, giving alms, taking care of the poor and he is visited by an angel with very detailed instructions. Simon the tanner in Jaffa, another Simon Peter staying at his house saying, „Go get ‘em and bring him to you”. Simultaneously, around that same time Peter is up on the roof: „Kill, eat,” Peter’s not gonna be fooled again, „Not gonna get me this time. I would never touch that stuff”. „Wrong answer again, Peter”. Can it be unclean if I made it? Kill and eat.

And so, about that time there’s a knock at the door and the soldiers from the Italian cohort grab Peter and bring him to Cornelius where they have, what I believe to be, one of the most awkward exchanges that you find in the Scriptures, where Peter then shows up at Cornelius’s house  and then reminds Cornelius that a Jew shouldn’t even be in this house because he is a Gentile. Cornelius  unpacks why he sent for Peter, „Look, I was praying, angels showed up…” Then Peter says, „This can only be about one thing”. In that moment, Peter shares the Gospel with Cornelius’s household and they believe, they’re filled with the Holy Spirit, they speak in tongues, they’re baptized. In fact, Peter’s got a little inner turmoil here. „What should we do?” They baptize Cornelius  and his household and Peter runs back to report . And the church does what it usually does. It gathers together to vote whether God’s allowed to save the Gentiles. So they get together and they talk about, „Can God do what He just did?” Peter testifies, „All I did was share the Gospel, this one’s not on me”. And then, really, from that moment on, starting in Acts 15 you begin to watch the promise. And here’s what I’m saying, 2013 is such a sweet year to be  in because starting in Acts 15, you have Paul and Barnabas separate and go in different directions and it just takes off.

Acts 15 is the Council at Jerusalem, 42 A.D. Mark goes to Egypt and  49 A.D. Paul heads to Turkey. In 51 A.D. Paul heads to Greece, in 52 A.D. the apostle Thomas heads to India. In 54 A.D. Paul heads on his third missionary journey. In 174 A.D., the first Christians are reported in Austria. In 280, the first rural churches emerge in Northern Italy. Now this is significant because Christianity in the first century was predominantly an urban religion. It wasn’t out in the rural areas, and so it wasn’t really until 280 A.D. that we began to see rural churches emerging. Stark says that by 350 A.D., 31.7 million people, roughly 53% of the Roman empire confessed Christ as Lord. So there’s a lot of debate as to who made Christianity? Did Constantine make Christianity or did Christianity make Constantine? In 432 A.D. Patrick heads to Ireland. In 596 A.D. Gregory the Great sends Augustine and a team of missionaries to what is now England to reintroduce the Gospel. The missionaries resettle in Canterbury, and within a year baptize 10,000. In 635 A.D., the first Christian missionaries arrive in China. 740 A.D., Irish monks reach Iceland. In 900 A.D. missionaries reach Norway. By 1200 A.D. the Bible is now available in 22 different languages and in 1498 the first Christians are reported in Kenya. In 1554  there are 1500 converts to Christianity  in what is now known as Thailand. In 1630 an attempt is made  in the El Paso, Texas area  to establish a mission among the Mason Indians. In 1743 David Brainerd starts missions to the North American Indians. In 1845 the Southern Baptist Convention Missionary Organization is founded. In 1853 a group of at least 17 people immigrated to America, accompanied by a group of Danish Baptists, arriving in New York, and later settling in Chicago. On March 5th, 1853 F.O.Nielsen planted the first American Baptist Church in Minneapolis, which was the first church to be planted in the territory of Minnesota, before it became a state in 1858 on this side of the Mississippi River. In 1871, 22 Swedish Christians, who branched off from the First American Baptist Church in Minneapolis  planted the first Swedish Baptist Church known today as Bethlehem Baptist Church. The reason for this new church plant was to take the Gospel to a rapidly growing number of Swedish immigrants in Minneapolis. (Chandler goes through the succession of churches that leads up to Bethlehem)(17:00)

You and me, friend, God had us in mind when He pulled Abram aside and said, „I’m gonna fix this”.  And really, at every place along the way, according to Ephesians 1, according to Romans 8, God was coming to rescue me and you. And we are caught up in something so much bigger than most of us can get our heads around and all over the world today, what I just did was such a cursory sad attempt at a linear attacking of our history, but I find it to be marvelous, even in its smallness. In fact, if present trends continue, by 2025 there will be 633 million Christians in Africa, 640 million in South America, and 460 million in Asia. This is what you and I are caught up in, this is our history. This is what’s happening right now, on this day, all over the world. Men and women have gathered, they have preached the Scriptures, they have taken holy communion and they have rejoiced in the God of their salvation. And our family is much bigger than this, and God is at work and He is moving and He is saving. There’s no such thing as a closed country, anybody picking up on this- there’s a lot of Iranian pastors being arrested this year? Seems like God’s doing some pretty good work in a country that doesn’t have any work.

And yet, still, so much to do. You see, you and I, we find our lives playing out in what the reformers call the narrow space, what we call the already, but not yet. See, the prophet Isaiah speaks of this day that’s coming for you and me, friend, where the desert blooms with roses. Where the mountaintops produce sweet wine. Where the wolf will lay down with the lamb and they will dine together. And then, the clarity on that, the next verse is ‘and the lion will chew hay like the oxen.’ And the apostle Paul says these weak frail bodies of ours will be replaced. That what is perishable will be imperishable, we’ll be raised in honor and you get this picture from the word of God of a renewed world with renewed bodies, reigning and ruling alongside the king of glory, having no ceiling on our worship. See, there have been times when I have heard the Word of God proclaimed, we begun to sing to God and I have felt all my emotions hindered, I felt like I hit a ceiling, that either my legs got tired or my voice couldn’t get loud enough. I felt like I was gonna explode, and in my heart I couldn’t be contained, in this gangly body God gave me. And Paul says in 1 Corinthians 15 God’s gonna fix that for me. And God’s gonna fix that for you. And there’ll be a day, unfettered with the constraints of this mortal body. We will make much of Jesus together.

But today, we’re in the space between, today we’re in the space ‘already, but not yet’. So you exist to spread a passion for the supremacy of God in all things, for the joy of all peoples, through Jesus Christ.

The Record of the Ascension of Jesus Part 1

Photo via hubpages.com

A study by  J. Hampton Keathley, III at Bible.org

Tomorrow in Part 2 – The Record of Jesus’ ascension.

Seeing the Lord High and Exalted
(Isaiah 6)

I would like to introduce this study on the ascension of Christ with a brief look at Isaiah 6. This passage gives us a vision of the incomparable majesty of God, and in the process sets forth a number of contrasts between:

  • The human and the divine
  • The temporal and the eternal
  • The earthly and the heavenly

Isaiah 6:1-13 In the year of King Uzziah’s death, I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, lofty and exalted, with the train of His robe filling the temple. Seraphim stood above Him, each having six wings; with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. And one called out to another and said, “Holy, Holy, Holy, is the LORD of hosts, The whole earth is full of His glory.” And the foundations of the thresholds trembled at the voice of him who called out, while the temple was filling with smoke. Then I said, “Woe is me, for I am ruined! Because I am a man of unclean lips, And I live among a people of unclean lips; For my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts.”

Then one of the seraphim flew to me, with a burning coal in his hand which he had taken from the altar with tongs. And he touched my mouth with it and said, “Behold, this has touched your lips; and your iniquity is taken away, and your sin is forgiven.” Then I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for Us?” Then I said, “Here am I. Send me!” And He said, “Go, and tell this people: ‘Keep on listening, but do not perceive; Keep on looking, but do not understand.’ 10 “Render the hearts of this people insensitive, Their ears dull, And their eyes dim, Lest they see with their eyes, Hear with their ears, Understand with their hearts, And return and be healed.” 11 Then I said, “Lord, how long?” And He answered, “Until cities are devastated and without inhabitant, Houses are without people, And the land is utterly desolate, 12 “The LORD has removed men far away, And the forsaken places are many in the midst of the land. 13 “Yet there will be a tenth portion in it, And it will again be subject to burning, Like a terebinth or an oak Whose stump remains when it is felled. The holy seed is its stump.”

Isaiah’s vision, with its contrasts, is both timely and vital for believers of any age and time–but especially in times like these when our nation is literally on the skids spiritually, morally, and politically. The passage consists of REVELATION from God followed by a RESPONSE with specific RESULTS in the life of Isaiah.

God’s revelation always demands a response consistent with His revelation. Isaiah 6 contains a:

  • VISION–God’s REVELATION of Himself to Isaiah,
  • VERDICT–Isaiah’s RESPONSE by way of a confession of his and his people’s sinfulness, and
  • VOCATION–the RESULT, Isaiah’s commissioning and commitment of His life to the purpose of God.

In verse 1 the Hebrew text literally reads, “in the death year of King Uzziah.” This is emphatic and shortened for emphasis and effect. We would normally expect something like, “and it came to pass” as in Isaiah 7:1. The important point is that this vision of the heavenly king, the sovereign of the universe, came in the same year of this earthly king’s death.

This is important to note because it dramatically ties the vision to a critical moment in the spiritual and political history of the nation. Under King Uzziah Judah had experienced prosperous times. This King had extended the country’s boundaries to is ancient limits. Commerce and agriculture flourished, and the two nations, (Judah and Israel) were at peace. But more importantly, King Uzziah had established spiritual renewal. He had removed much of the idolatry and established spiritual reforms. He had sought to bring the people back to the Word of God.

But without King Uzziah’s leadership (which sought to bring the people back to God and His Word) these conditions would fast erode for there were already signs of spiritual lethargy and mere externalism in their religious life. Judah’s prosperity had degenerated into softness, luxurious living, and complacency toward God and their calling as a priesthood nation. Worship had been maintained with external regularity and religious precision–but they were keeping their hearts far from God. So, with King Uzziah’s death, apostasy could very well increase fast . As Isaiah considered the death of Uzziah, he must have thought that things could really go to the dogs.

Moreover, Assyria, a cruel, ruthless, and hungry tyrant, was increasing in power like a huge beast ready to pounce on all the nations of Palestine. So, it was a critical time, a time that not only involved the death of a godly king, but a time that foresaw the death of a nation as it turned not only away from the Lord but to the idolatrous influences from the East.

As we think about our own country today and see what is happening on every front, it is frightening, discouraging, and frustrating. We see the influx of the New Age movement and the tremendous rise of all the cults; the unisex issue; the abortion problem; the drug problem; the gay movement that has become politically powerful; the multi-billion dollar rock music industry with its blatant attacks on Jesus Christ and its emphasis on rebellion, violence, hedonism, and sex. We see the violence in our streets, especially on the rise among our young teens; the corruption in business and politics; an almost complete loss of moral values; the divorce rate and the break up of the home including abuse of women and children; and the failure of the church to make a significant difference.

But in the midst of the problems of Isaiah’s day, he was given a vision, one that we need perhaps more than Isaiah did. So note what we read next.

“I saw the Lord sitting . . .” Literally the text reads, “I saw also . . .” or “and then I saw the Lord.” In other words, against the backdrop of the problems of his day, Isaiah also saw the LORD. He saw the Lord “sitting on a throne, lofty and exalted” or “seated on a throne, high and exalted” (NIV). In other words, regardless of what was happening in the nation and on this earth, God was on the throne carrying out His purposes.

Psalm 103:19 The LORD has established His throne in the heavens; And His sovereignty rules over all. (NASB)

This revelation of the Lord turns our attention from the HUMAN and the EARTHLY to the DIVINE and the HEAVENLY–from the CHAOTIC and DEGENERATE to the PEACEFUL and HOLY. This passage gives us heaven’s perspective and the effect this should have on us as the people of God whom God has left here to represent Him. Let us gaze into heaven through the lens of Scripture to see our ascended and seated Lord, high and lifted up. And also, let us begin to see (1) what this means to us by way of blessings and privileges and (2) what effect this should have on us as the people of God.

In view of the phrase, “lofty and exalted” in Isaiah 6:1, let’s note the same phrase in Isaiah 52:13.

Isaiah 52:13 Behold, My servant will prosper, He will be high and lifted up, and greatly exalted.

Isaiah 52:13-53:12 is a prophecy of the suffering Servant of the Lord who must die for our sin, but at the very beginning of this passage, it anticipates His victory and exaltation or ascension.

The ascension of the Savior is a very important event which accomplished some wonderful and awesome things in the plan of God.

On Easter we commemorate the resurrection of Christ–one of the four greatest events in human history since the creation of man. The others include:

1. The first great event, and one anticipated since the fall of man, is the incarnation–the moment in time when God descended to earth in the person of His Son to become true, yet sinless humanity.

2. The second great event is the cross when the God-Man Savior died for our sins–the innocent bearing the penalty of the guilty.

3. The third great event is the resurrection, when Jesus Christ was raised from death by the glory of the Father.

4. “In our culture, as in most cultures around the world, the ultimate symbol of foreboding and despair is the grave . . . Yet the Bible shows us a grave–and empty grave–which is the picture of ultimate hope” (Donald K. Campbell, Seminary Easter Card, 1988).

But why was Christ raised from the grave? (1) To prove who He was–the eternal Son of God, and (2) to confirm the value of His death. But there is another important reason for the resurrection, (3) that Jesus Christ might, as the glorified and victorious Savior, ascend into the very presence of God, thus, opening the way for others to follow.

Many studies of the life of Christ trace His life and ministry beginning at Bethlehem and ending with the ascension. But Christ’s life existed from all eternity and continues into the eternal future. The ascension is the connecting link, the link between the past ministry of Christ and His future ministry.

“The ascension is not only a great FACT of the New Testament, but a greater FACTOR in the life of Christ and Christians, and no complete view of Jesus Christ is possible unless the ascension and its consequences are included” (ISBE, Griffith Thomas, Vol. 1, p. 263).

When you think of Christ, how do you think of Him? As the babe lying in the manger? Do you think of Him in terms of His ministry on earth and His mighty words and works? Or perhaps you think of Him as the one who died and rose again. There are many ways we may (and should) think about Jesus Christ and that we do so is tremendously important to the issues of life . . . assuming we come up with the right verdict.

In view of the Easter season and in view of the moral decay of our nation, I’d like to invite you to think especially of Jesus Christ as one who ascended into heaven. We want to be able to answer our Lord’s very provocative question, “What then if you should see the Son of Man ascending where He was before?” In other words, what does the ascension mean to us? What differences should it make in our belief and behavior?

We need to answer this question because it is tremendously important (1) to the impact of Christ on our daily lives, (2) to our courage and the enjoyment of our salvation in Christ, and (3) for our effectiveness in the mission of the Great Commission to which Christ has called each of us.

IT IS IMPERATIVE THAT, LIKE ISAIAH, WE SEE JESUS EXALTED OR HIGH AND LIFTED UP REGARDLESS OF WHAT IS HAPPENING ON EARTH.

The ascension, as one of the important truths of the Bible, occupies a large portion in the Word of God. Our study will demonstrate just why this is so, but let’s look at two passages that demonstrate our need to know and personally relate our lives to Jesus Christ–not only as the one who died and rose from the grave, but also as the ascended Lord.

John 20:17 Jesus said to her, “Stop clinging to Me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father; but go to My brethren, and say to them, ‘I ascend to My Father and your Father, and My God and your God.’”

2 Corinthians 5:16-17 Therefore from now on we recognize no man according to the flesh; even though we have known Christ according to the flesh, yet now we know Him thus no longer. 17 Therefore if any man is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.

Paul is saying that we know him no longer as just a man, indeed He is the God-Man, but he is also saying that we know Him no longer as the one who came to earth in the flesh. We must know Him now as the ascended, exalted, glorified Savior.

By the word “ascension” we mean the removal of Jesus Christ from this earth into a different place and sphere which we call heaven. A place seen by Isaiah as high and exalted, a place of sovereign control and authority. It is a removal, a change of position and locale which is of the utmost importance both to God and to man.

The ascension completes the resurrection. Without the resurrection Christ’s death would be meaningless as far as the great issues of life are concerned. And without the ascension, the resurrection would also be incomplete and meaningless. We would have a resurrected person, but not one who was now at God’s right hand in the place of authority.

Please note the progression:

  • First there is Christ’s descent to earth–God becoming man, the incarnation.
  • This is followed by Christ’s death and resurrection as the God-Man Savior.
  • But for God’s purposes to be fulfilled and our need supplied, there must also be Christ’s ascent into heaven as the God-Man Savior and King of His people.

“The ascension is the important link between His work on earth and His work in heaven which begins with the ascension” (Walvoord, Jesus Christ Our Lord, p. 224).

It is important to remember that the New Testament was written by men who were thoroughly convinced that Jesus was at the right hand of the Father, and that through the ministry of the Holy Spirit they were in union with this ascended Lord and were, by His commission and through His ascended authority and power, left here to continue the work which He began.

In relation to the ascension, the Lord said, “I am with you for only a short time, and then I go to the one who sent me.” The ascension means the Lord’s physical removal from His people on earth and from this present state of affairs, “but the spiritual value of the Ascension lies not in Christ’s physical remoteness, but in His spiritual nearness. He is free from earthly limitations, and His life above is the promise and guarantee” (Thomas, p. 265) not only life and life eternal, but it is also the proof of our purpose and the promise of capacity for ministry as His people.

Jesus said, “Because I live you shall live also.” But in the total context of the New Testament, this refers not only to the resurrection but to His continued life as the ascended and seated Lord of the church and the universe.

The Christ of the Gospels is the Christ of the past, the eternal past and the historic past, “but the full New Testament picture of Christ is that of a living Christ , the Christ of heaven, the Christ of experience, the Christ of the present and the future” (Griffith Thomas, p. 263).

We must not miss the connection between Isaiah’s VISION and his VOCATION. It had the right impact on the prophet’s life. The Gospel ends with the promise of Christ’s authority as the ascended Lord, the gift of the Spirit, and the Great Commission (God’s calling on our lives). It did not end with the promise of peace and prosperity, which is so often the emphasis in our culture. It ended with the fact and picture of an ascended, sovereign LORD who has commissioned us to live for Him.

If we are to endure and carry on in this sin-ridden world, running the race God has laid out before us, we need to see Jesus Christ. We must fix our gaze on Him, but how are we to do that?

John MacArthur – Isaiah 53 The Riddle of Redemption – Moody Founder’s Week 2013

Watch/read D A Carson’s message at Moody Founder’s Week 2013 here – When Jesus confronts the world 

Watch/read Tony Evans’s message at Moody Founder’s Week 2013 here – There is no more important place to know Christ than the struggles of lifeisaiah scroll
This is about Christ, and about knowing Christ. Martin Luther said,”There’s a chapter in the Bible that every Christian should memorize, if that Christian intends to know Christ.” The German theologian, in 1866 said, „There is the chapter of the Bible, that is the most central, the deepest, the loftiest that Scripture has ever achieved. That same chapter, others have called ‘The Gospel of all vocabulary’. There’s a chapter in the Bible that has such stirring predictions, so complex, that only God could have known them centuries before history unfolded them. There’s a chapter in the Bible that is the most comprehensive exposition of the cross in all of Scripture, the most complete description of the substitutionary vicarious sacrificial death of the Savior in all of Holy writ. This same chapter has a scope that extends from eternity past to eternity future, and gathers up a whole history of redemption by focusing on the redeemer. It sweeps from His position in the eternal trinity to His return to full glory with His redeemed in the new heavens and the new earth. There is a chapter that embraces His past glory, His incarnation, His humiliation, His rejection, His unjust treatment, His unfair trial, His mistreatment, His death sentence, His execution, His resurrection, His intercession, His exaltation, and His coronation.

What is this chapter? It is the first Gospel, and it’s not Matthew. Matthew is the second Gospel. This is a chapter that is sufficient to save sinners. In fact, it is a chapter that was used by Philip to explain the Gospel to an Ethiopian eunuch. This is a chapter that you know. It is Isaiah 53- the first Gospel.

The description of the atoning work of Jesus Christ in Isaiah 53 surpasses any single Scripture on those subjects in the epistles of the New Testament. Let me tell you about Isaiah. 66 chapters, same as the number of books of the Bible. It’s split into two parts: the first 39 and the second 27. Exactly the way the Bible is split: Old Testament 39 books, New Testament 27.

The first 39 are about judgment, much like the Old Testament. The last 27 chapters (of Isaiah) are about redemption, just like the New Testament – Salvation. The last 27 are divided into 3 – 9 – 9 – and 9. The first 9 is about the physical salvation of Israel, the last 9 are about the physical salvation of creation. And the middle 9 is about the spiritual salvation of sinners. (8) So, let’s go down into the middle 9, and the middle chapter is chapter 53, and the middle verse, essentially, is, „He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our inequities.” The Holy Spirit forces us right down into this incredible chapter. Isaiah 53 has been called the torture chamber of the rabbis. It has been called the guilty conscience of the Jews. And it is that. They run from this chapter like the black death.

This chapter, stepping back in history and the place that it occupies in Scripture, this chapter answers the most critical question that will ever be asked or answered, ever, by anyone, anytime. The most essential question, the most important question is answered by this chapter. Religion must answer this question correctly or it is form hell. Any religion that does not give the right answer to this question is right out of hell. What is the question? It’s the riddle of the Old Testament. Did you know there was a riddle in the Old Testament? Turn to Exodus 34. Moses comes before God and wants God to assure him, he wants God to show up and reveal His glory. In Exodus 34:5 we read „the Lord descended from a cloud and stood there as he called upon the name of the Lord.” Now, the Lord is going to introduce Himself. „The Lord passed by in front of Him and proclaimed, „The Lord God, compassionate, and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in loving kindness and truth, who keeps grace, loving kindness for thousands, who forgives iniquity, transgression and sin.” And, by the way, „He will by no means leave the guilty unpunished.” That’s the riddle of the Old Testament.

That’s the riddle of redemption. How can God be gracious and punish the guilty? The answer to that is Isaiah 53. He will punish someone else. How can God, in the words of Paul, be just and the justifier of sinners? That is the question: How can a sinner be reconciled to a holy God? How can God love and bring to heavenly glory, sinners, without violating his righteousness? That is the question. If the right answer to that question is SAVED, then every other wrong answer DAMNS. That’s why I say that whoever doesn’t answer that question accurately is from hell. One more thing to say, about Isaiah 53. Just by way of introduction, if we think about it, this is a paralyzingly sad chapter. I don’t know of a sadder moment in all of redemptive history than the moment depicted in this chapter. It is horrific, beyond comprehension. This starts out as the most plaintive lament, the most extreme expression of sorrow. It is a kind of epic dirge. It is a funeral song with massive, sweeping implications. The crushing sorrow that is depicted in Isaiah 53 has no historic parallel, exceeds all other sorrows. (13:25)

The astonishing revelation

We start back in Isaiah 52 at verse 13. And, everything about this section is astonishing, absolutely astonishing. To start, in verse 13 we come to the very words of God. This section begins and ends with God speaking. God speaks in 52:13-15 and speaks half way through verse 11 and verse 12. So, what happens in the middle is bracketed by the words of God. God introduces and God sums up what’s in this great chapter. In 52:13-15, God Himself introduces the Messiah. He introduces His servant, His slave. First, it is an astonishing revelation. By the way, this is the 4th chapter that focuses on the servant or slave of God- the Messiah- vv. 42, 49, 50, 53. All servant songs, slave songs of the slave of God. He introduces Him: Behold because it is astonishing. „My slave will succeed”. Any reader of the Old Testament knows that that’s a Messianic title. Going all the way back to chapter 42, this is the Messiah. (15:29)

He will prosper. Actually, in Hebrew it is ‘act intelligently, act wisely’, succeed. It’s important that we understand that’s how God introduces this, because when He came, it looked like He didn’t succeed. It looked to the world like He failed. Then He begins to introduce Him. He will be high and lifted up, and greatly exalted. That identifies Him. Well, you say, isn’t that just repetitious? No, in the Hebrew, here’s what it says: He will be high, He will be higher, He will be highest. And those 3 designations in combination, only appear in one other place in all of Scripture. And those three designations refer to God. They only appear together in one other place- Isaiah 6. „I saw the Lord high, and higher, and highest.” So, now we know that the slave is God.

The astonishing humiliation

isaiah 53 5

The deity of Messiah is proclaimed. Verse 14 adds: Just as many were astonished at you My people, so His appearance was far more than any man.”  Now we know that He not only will be God, but He will also be man. The God man. He will be marred, that word in Hebrew means mutilated, it means distorted, it means disfigured. And, so extremely disfigured as to be literally beyond human recognition, looking like a beast, not a man. This servant is God? The eternal God: high, higher, highest. Exalted, loftiest, sitting on His throne. And, in the New testament, we know the writer of the Gospel of John tells us that the vision of Isaiah 6 is none other than Jesus Christ. He is God, lifted up and exalted. And He is man, marred, disfigured. This is the second riddle. Who is this Messiah? The Jews had a Messianic view, they had a concept of Messiah. I don’t know that they thought He would be God, but they assumed that He would be exalted. They had no sense that He would be marred, disfigured, far form it. But, that is only temporary.

His marring will be so severe, end of verse 14, that His form would be disfigured and distorted more than the sons of man. The implication of the language is- in face and form He will become subhuman. And we know that happened. All the brutality imposed upon Him. The physical distortion of His body, in all that He suffered and the distortion of His face, from sin bearing… We’re glad to get to verse 15. because the astonishing revelation, followed by the astonishing humiliation, brings us to the astonishing exaltation. (19:50)

The astonishing exaltation

„He will startle many nations.” Startle means to burst, to jump up. „He will startle many nations and Kings will shut their mouths on account of Him. What has not been told them, they will see, what they had not heard they will understand.” This is His final exaltation. So, God Himself, introduces His servant, His slave, the slave of Yahweh. the slave of Messiah, who is to come. He will be God, He will be man, He will be marred, He will be exalted. There is the career of the Lord Jesus in broad terms, from the mouth of God. This information is given to the Jews from Isaiah, 700 years before Jesus came. (21)

Isaiah 53

Now, let’s come to chapter 53. And, all of a suede something changes. Verses 13-15 ‘1st person- future’. „He will be”… „He will…” Kings will..”  „they will…”, „they will see..”. All future- speaking of the coming of the Messiah. Everything changes. This is one speaker: God, speaking of the future career of His servant. When you come to verse 1, everything changes. Everything now is in the past tense. And plural pronouns: „we”, „our”, „us”. The big question for us is, „Who is talking?” Not God. Who is speaking?

The Suffering Servant

53 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.

10 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.
11 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.
12 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.

Who is saying this? Who is making this massive confession? What group of people is this? What group of people is this? This is plural ‘til you get down to verse 11, where God begins to speak again. Who is this? It is Israel.

What did we learn about Isaiah? Israel’s physical deliverance in the first 9 chapters of the second half, and Israel’s salvation in the second nine. You bore down to those 9 in the middle chapter and the middle verses- this is the prophecy, not the death of Christ. This is not a prophecy of the death of Christ, this is a prophecy of the future conversion of Israel, when they look back at the death of Christ and see who He really was. This is stunning. This leaps across the death and resurrection of Christ to the future conversion of Israel. That’s why Isaiah gave this. To give hope for the national salvation of his people.

Remember Ezekiel 36, when God promises salvation to Israel, a new heart, His spirit… you remember Jeremiah 31, the covenant passage promised to Israel, where God saves Israel. But, you might wanna think about this in terms of another prophecy. As you come to the end of the Old Testament, in Zechariah 12:10 I will pour out on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the Spirit of grace and of supplication, so that they will look on Me whom they have pierced; and they will mourn for Him, as one mourns for an only son, and they will weep bitterly over Him like the bitter weeping over a firstborn. 
And Zechariah sees the future day, when Israel has, by the sovereign purposes of God, the spirit of grace and supplication comes down from heaven and gives them life. And when God does that, they will look on the one they pierced and they will mourn. vv 11-14 11 In that day there will be great mourning in Jerusalem, like the mourning of Hadadrimmon in the plain of Megiddo. 12 The land will mourn, every family by itself; the family of the house of David by itself and their wives by themselves; the family of the house of Nathan by itself and their wives by themselves; 13 the family of the house of Levi by itself and their wives by themselves; the family of the Shimeites by itself and their wives by themselves; 14 all the families that remain, every family by itself and their wives by themselves. What are they all mourning about? That is the future work of God, when He saves the nation of Israel. Romans 11 „So, all Israel will be saved”. That’s the future promise of God.

When that day comes, what will they say? They will recite Isaiah 53. This is their confession. That’s why it’s in the past tense. Think of it this way, as we look at this incredible chapter. Why the mourning? Why the horror? Why does everybody mourn, from the lowest to the highest? From the King, the leader, always down to the humblest family? What is all this mourning and weeping, and sorrowing? It’s obvious. In that future day, when Israel is saved, they will look back over their history and realize that everyone that came before them and rejected Jesus Christ was damned forever. The horror. All the history of holocaust, all those people are lost. The mourning will be beyond comprehension. (transcript from first 30 min provided by our blog)

R.C. Sproul – on the Ubiquity of God’s Glory in Creation

photo from – http://farm1.static.flickr.com/

In Isaiah, chapter 6, when he was having his vision, on the occasion of his call to be a prophet, we recall the song of the angels in the presence of God, in which they sing- Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord God of Hosts. And what else did the song contain? „For the whole earth is full of His glory”.  So, do you see the antithesis? Do you see the collision? Between the radical secularism of people like Jean Paul Sartre and the teaching of the Scripture? The teaching of the Scripture is not that the holy and the sacred is in some hidden realm, some esoteric sphere where only the most brilliant, elite thinker can penetrate to find a slight glimpse of the Holy. On the contrary, the whole earth is filled with the glory of God.

So, why then, do we have this sense of the profane? Well, Calvin answered that question this way. He said, „The whole of creation is a glorious theatre- screaming, as it were, manifesting so clearly the holiness of God.” But we were blind to it. But, that blindness is a willful blindness. We are, like human beings, walking in this glorious theatre wearing blindfolds. Blindfolds that we have put on our own eyes, lest we see the holy and the sacred, because there is nothing more terrifying to sinful creatures than to be exposed to the Holy. Moses sees the bush that is burning and is not consumed, and we’re told in the narrative that he turns aside to look at it. And, as he turns aside, looking in the direction of that bush, he’s not satisfied to observe it from a distance. He begins to walk towards the bush and approach it. As he is approaching it, suddenly, the voice comes out of the bush, calling to him, saying, „Moses, Moses, stop right there. Don’t come any closer. Don’t draw near. Instead, take your shoes off your feet, because the ground you are standing on is holy ground.”

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow – I heard the Bells on Christmas Day – sung by Casting Crowns Live

heart shaped world via Weird Awesomw Atuffs

CastingCrowns· with the celebration of the birth of Jesus upon us here is a song celebrating the coming of the Prince of Peace:

Isaiah 9:6 (KJV)

For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.

Christmas Bells by Henry Wadsworth

I heard the bells on Christmas Day
Their old, familiar carols play,
And wild and sweet
The words repeat
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

And thought how, as the day had come,
The belfries of all Christendom
Had rolled along
The unbroken song
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

Till, ringing, singing on its way
The world revolved from night to day,
A voice, a chime,
A chant sublime
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

Then from each black, accursed mouth
The cannon thundered in the South,
And with the sound
The Carols drowned
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

And in despair I bowed my head;
‘There is no peace on earth,’ I said;
‘For hate is strong,
And mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!’

Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
‘God is not dead; nor doth he sleep!
The Wrong shall fail,
The Right prevail,
With peace on earth, good-will to men!’

Immanuel – God with us – Timothy Warren at Dallas Theological Seminary

immanuel

Isaiah 7:14  (NIV)

Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.

Matthew 1:23 (NIV)

“The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel”(which means “God with us”).

Text: Isaiah 7:1-14 – Isaiah comes on the scene to warn Israel of coming judgement and to invite them to step into a world where God is present  even though He is transcendent. Although He is sovereign, He is immanent, here with us in this moment. And those who will repent, those who will acknowledge Him will be part of a remnant which will survive, and that He will bless and prosper. And those who will repent, those who will acknowledge Him will be part of a remnant which will survive and that He will bless and prosper.

Isaiah goes to a people who do not want to and will not see or hear the message. Really, Isaiah, then and today is presenting to us the choice between fear & fear induced behavior and faith resting in God, His promise of protection and His presence.

Ahaz
Preceded by
Jotham
King of Judah
Coregency: 736 – 732 BC
Sole reign: 732 – 716 BC
Succeeded by
Hezekiah

source (wikipedia)

Fact of life: Our natural response to threat is fear

There are a ton of things that can make us fearful and fear is a natural response in a time of threat. But, when we fear, when we’re overwhelmed with our fear, God shows up with a presence of his presence.

English: Ahaz was king of Judah, and the son a...

Verse 14 – ‘Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.‘ Before verse 14 had any meaning in the New Testament, as we relate it to Jesus, it had meaning for Ahaz and for Isaiah, and for the people of Judah at that time.

The promise from God: God tells Ahaz, „Ahaz, you can be part of the remnant. Your soul can be at peace. This threat to my people will not happen. And the reason all of that is true is because I am with you.”

When our normal response to our life is fear, God steps in and gives us the promise of His presence. He says, ‘I will be with you.”

What is our response to God’s promise of His presence?

What is our response to God’s promise of His presence, even when we face the fear of the threat that we so often do and will face for the rest of our lives? Sometimes we lie. Sometime we make bad choices.

We need to reject fear based behavior that will come back and bite us. Lying will come back and bite you. Ahaz’s fear induced behavior was to make an alliance with the King of Assyria. When God said in the last part of verse 9, „if you do not believe, you will not last,” there is a play on words in Hebrew. It says, „If you don’t have faith, then you will not faithfully stand. If you do not believe, you will not survive.” Because Isaiah knew and God knew that Ahaz has a plan and his plan was to go to the King of Assyria and make an alliance so that the King of Assyria would come and beat up on Syria and Israel. and keep Ahaz and Judah from being destroyed by them. God says, „That will come back and bite you”.

Look at verse 7. He says, „If you go that route, the Lord will bring upon you and upon your people, and upon your father’s house, some days as has never come since the days of Ephraim separated in Judah. That is the King of Assyria. If you compromise, if you default in your behavior, the compromise of alliance rather than trusting me, that will come back to bite you.”

The lesson of Isaiah 7- Trust God. He will protect you and provide for you.

The Land of Judah during the reign of the Kings- source

A sidenote: King Ahaz did not trust God and went on to defile the temple. He died at the age of 36 and was succeeded by his son, Hezekiah. Because of his wickedness he was „not brought into the sepulchre of the kings” (2 Chronicles 28:27) (he was not buried with . An insight into Ahaz’s neglect of the worship of the Lord is found in the statement that on the first day of the month of Nisan that followed Ahaz’s death, his son Hezekiah commissioned the priests and Levites to open and repair the doors of the Temple and to remove the defilements of the sanctuary, a task which took 16 days (2 Chronicles 29:3-20). (via)

You can also read more about idolatrous King Ahaz here – http://www.chabad.org Ahaz was twenty years old when he succeeded his father Jotham to the throne of Judea. He was a weak and idolatrous king. He even made his son walk through the fire of Moloch, aping the abominable custom of the Phoenicians. Another son, Hezekiah, who was to become king after Ahaz, was saved from the flames of the idol by his mother.

Published on Dec 6, 2012 dallasseminary Dr. Timothy Warren, Professor of Pastoral Ministries, DTS, explains how God is with His people.

R.C. Sproul – (1) The Holiness of God – Isaiah 6

From the 2007 Desiring God conference. For notes or audio file:  click here for the Desiring God website (www.desiringGod.org)

Text – Isaiah 6:1-8

Isaiah’s Vision

6 In the year of King Uzziah’s death I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, lofty and exalted, with the train of His robe filling the temple. Seraphim stood above Him, each having six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew.And one called out to another and said,

“ Holy, Holy, Holy, is the Lord of hosts,
The  whole earth is full of His glory.”

And the foundations of the thresholds trembled at the voice of him who called out, while the  temple was filling with smoke. Then I said,

“ Woe is me, for I am ruined!
Because I am a man of unclean lips,
And I live among a people of unclean lips;
For my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts.”

Then one of the seraphim flew to me with a burning coal in his hand, which he had taken from the altar with tongs. He touched my mouth with it and said, “Behold, this has touched your lips; and your iniquity is taken away and your sin is forgiven.”

Isaiah’s Commission

Then I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for Us?” Then I said, “Here am I. Send me!” He said, “Go, and tell this people:

‘Keep on listening, but do not perceive;
Keep on looking, but do not understand.’
10 “ Render the hearts of this people  insensitive,
Their ears dull,
And their eyes dim,
Otherwise they might see with their eyes,
Hear with their ears,
Understand with their hearts,
And return and be healed.”

A few (my) notes from the message given at the Desiring God Conference:

  • If we are to desire God, it is imperative that we desire the God who is and not a god of our own imagination and what I’ve appreciated about John’s (Piper) ministry over these many  decades is that he knows who God is. And he doesn’t seek to hide the true God from people for convenience’s sake, but has been relentless and courageous, as we all must be to proclaim and set forth for all the people of God, the character of God in all of His glory.
  • Sproul states that Isaiah 6 is his favorite text that sets forth the holiness of God. Isaiah chapter 6 gives to us the record of Isaiah’s call to be a prophet. In order to be a prophet in ancient Israel it was a lonely task because at the forefront of that vocation was to be a prosecutor of God against people that violated the terms of their covenant with God. So, the life expectancy of a prophet in Israel was about the same as a first lieutenant in combat. It was not a pleasurable enterprise and the land was filled with false prophets, who made the task of the authentic prophet all the more difficult. And the thing that distinguished the false prophet from the true prophet was not simply that the true prophet was faithful to the word that God had given him, but, the true prophet was called directly and immediately by God. That’s why the prophets were so zealous to record the circumstances of their call, which Isaiah has done for us here in this chapter (Isaiah 6).
  • After reading Isaiah 6:1-10: What you have just heard is the unvarnished word of God. This is not an insight delivered from an ancient Hebrew teacher. This is a word that comes from heaven, with all of its inspiration, infallibility and inerrancy. Before which words, we as mortals should tremble. I don’t know what year King Uzziah died, sometime in the 8th century BC, but there is a bit of irony when pinpointing the kink’s demise as corresponding to the same year that a little village was founded across the Mediterranean, the village that would be named Roma. The city that, centuries later would provoke intersection between the force of the mightiest empire of antiquity with the man that was the chief subject of the future prophecy of Isaiah. The year Roma was born Isaiah was commissioned as a prophet of God. (Sproul suggests further reading on King Uzziah in 2 Chronicles ch. 26) Those of us familiar with Chronicles and Kings know that it reads like a rogue gallery, because most of the monarchs in Judah and in Israel were men of unspeakable wickedness and infidelity. We are hard pressed to find even a handful of Godly kings during that period. But, if we were to rate the great kings of that nation, surely David would be accorded first place. And in any important list of monarchs we would include Josiah and Hezekiah. But, we should  never exclude from that list this man who was Uzziah.
  • Uzziah came to the throne when he was 16 years old and he reigned in Jerusalem for 52 years. And, perhaps the only king in the history of the Jewish people, that had greater accomplishments on the battlefield then Uzziah was David himself.   Uzziah built the strength of the military to a level rivaling that of David. His agricultural project reforms brought unprecedented prosperity to the land. And, the Bible says of this king that for most of his reign that he did that which was right in the face of the Lord. Unfortunately, toward the end of his reign he became full of himself and he ended his life like a Shakespearean tragic hero. He got so puffed up with himself that he irrigated  his own province the right to perform the task of the priesthood. And so, he entered with his censor into the temple and moved to offer incense there, which absolutely shocked the priest. It horrified them in fact and they moved one man to stop the king from this act of sacrilege and they pled with him and said, „King, you are not permitted to minister here, in the sanctuary. God has set us apart for that task”. When they protested this intrusion into their domain, Uziiah became furious and demanded they give way so that he could perform what he wanted to do. At that instant God struck him with leprosy and forbade him any further entrance into the temple. He could no longer be the king, he could no longer worship in the presence of his people and he was consigned to solitary confinement in his dying days.
  • So, this man’s 52 year reign ended in shame and in disgrace. However, when he died it was truly the end of an era. And, when a monarch of this duration passes from the scene, there’s a sense of unsettled spirits among the people. They don’t know what the future will bring and I don’t know if that was the psychology that provoked Isaiah to enter into the temple. I don’t even know if he was in the ‘earthly’ temple  or if the vision he records here was a visit into the heavenly temple. In any case, the throne of Israel was vacant.
  • „I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne”- At approx. 14th minute Sproul explains the difference between the word Lord and LORD. LORD Yahweh is the name of God.  Add on Adonai, is the supreme title for God. God has many names in the Old Testament, but, the title that I say, that was most exalted is the title Adonai, which means ‘the one who is absolutely sovereign’. The God who is holy is the God who is sovereign.  He is Adonai, the supreme ruler of heaven and earth. Translation in the New Testament, of the Old Testament’s Adonai is the Greek word Kyrios (κύριος) for the title LORD. And, you know that title can be used in different ways. What is astonishing is that that  title which for the most part is reserved for God in the Old Testament Scriptures, is now given to the Son of God.
  • Philippians 2:9 ‘Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name,”. What is this name that is above every name? Most people say, „Jesus”. No, that is not what Paul says. The name that is above every name is the name Adonai. The name Kyrios (κύριος), which is given to Jesus. And so Paul concludes that „at the name of Jesus, let every knee bow and every tongue confess that He is Adonai. John tells us that the content of this vision that Isaiah beheld was of the exalted Son of God, on the throne, prior to His incarnation.

  • Verse 1 – „I saw the Lord, sitting on a throne, high and lifted up. The train of His robe filled the temple. In the ancient times, the status of a ruler, the loftiness of a king, in many ways was measured by the stuff and substance of his garments. Were they purple? White, ermine, mink or simply wool? How big was the train of his garment? Here, Isaiah sees a monarch on the throne, high and lifted up and the train of his garment is so massive, that it furls over the sides of the throne into the front of the sanctuary and encompasses the entire interior of the sanctuary. There had never been a king like this before, where the train of his robe would fill the temple. That’s what Isaiah saw as he gazed into heaven.
  • „And above Him stood Seraphim, and what follows is an anatomical description of the seraphim. One of the most remarkable aspects of God’s work of creation is the efficiency with which God makes His creatures. He makes them and shapes them suitable for their environment. When He makes the Seraphim , He creates them with the anatomy suitable for their environment, because the immediate environment of seraphim is the presence of God.  And to be in the presence of God and the presence of His unveiled glory, every moment of the day, requires a certain anatomical apparatus. They’re given 2 wings to cover their eyes. Remember when Moses was on the mountain and he makes the great request; he said, „Lord, let me see your face”. And you know what God said, he said, „Moses, I don’t think you understand what you are asking for. I will carve out a cleft in the rock, I will place you there and I will pass you by and I will pass by you and let you have a momentary glance at my back, but My face shall not be seen. To look upon My face is to die”. Looking into the face of God is banned from our eyes, from the first sin. And the reason why we cannot see God is not because there is an innate deficiency with our eyesight. The problem is not with the eye, it’s with the soul. In the Beatitudes, who is given the promise that they will see God? The pure in heart. They shall see God. Moses’ heart was not yet pure; he wasn’t allowed to see God. We have that eschatological promise that John tells us, „We don’t know yet what we’re gonna be like, but, we do know this, that when He comes, we will be like Him because we will see Him as He is- in His essence. Not by way of some refraction of glory, not by way of a simple burning bush, theophany or pillar of cloud or of fire, but we will see Him as He is (which is called the beatific vision, the vision that will give to our souls its supreme blessedness. But, in the meantime, He remains invisible, hidden from our eyes, inaccessible and His glory is so intense that even when His shekinah is manifested on this planet, to the eyes of the people like Saul on the road to Damascus, he’s blinded by it and it is so glorious in its intensity, that even the angels who are made to live in the immediate presence of God  every day, have to shield their eyes from the brilliance of His glory.
  • With 2 wings he covers his feet. Why that? The feet, biblically, are symbols of creatureliness. Back to Moses when he notices the bush that is burning without being consumed and the voice comes out of the bush saying to him, „Moses, Moses, take off your shoes from off your feet, for the ground on which you are standing is holy ground”. What made it holy? It was the intersection, the visitation when God came into his (Moses) presence. (Moses) your feet are a symbol that you are of the dust. Your frame is of dust and your feet are of clay and in My presence, you cover your creatureliness.  And, even the angels, the seraphim’s in heaven, as exalted as they are, are still creatures, and so they cover their feet in the presence of God.
  • The other 2 wings are for flying. But, the real import of this vision that Isaiah records is not found in the anatomy of the seraphim, but in their message. ‘One called to another’, I imagine that this was some heavenly chorus, ‘Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord of Hosts”- the God of the heavenly armies- the whole earth is full of His glory (his weightiness, his substance, his majesty- that provokes the angels to sing, „Holy, Holy, Holy”, what we call the three time holy. What’s the significance of that to the Jew? If they wanted  to express emphasis they used  repetition. Paul and also our Lord did it all the time. Do you notice that the seraphim’s don’t say that „God is holy”. Nor are they content to say that He is „Holy, Holy”. But the heavenly song that celebrates the character of God, declares that He is „Holy, Holy, Holy!” You see, taken now to the 3rd degree, taken now to the superlative degree, nowhere else in Scripture is an attribute of God elevated to the 3rd degree. The Bible does not say „God is love, love, love”. Or „mercy, mercy, mercy”. Or „justice, justice, justice”. Or even „sovereign, sovereign, sovereign”. But, that He is „Holy, Holy, Holy”. (40 th minute with 20 more minutes to go)

John Piper – In the Throne Room: The God of Holiness and Hope – Isaiah 6

Photo via Christian Post

At the Gospel Coalition for Women Conference 2012 – Plenary Session #3 – the by  via Vimeo

Isaiah’s vision of the Lord

Text: Isaiah 6:1-5

6 In the year that King Uzziah died I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up; and the train of his robe filled the temple. Above him stood the seraphim. Each had six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew.And one called to another and said:

“Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts;
the whole earth is full of his glory!”

And the foundations of the thresholds shook at the voice of him who called, and the house was filled with smoke.And I said: “Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, theLord of hosts!”

Notes from the introduction- John Piper: (this) happened to many people, a complete and new understanding of God, though already saved with an inadequate view of God. It happened to Job. Do you remember how the book begins? „He is blameless and upright. One who feared God, turned away from evil”… I mean, what more could you want? He was the best man in the land. And then, because God is merciful, according to James’ interpretation of Job; suffering broke over his life like a tidal wave and he wrestled with God chapter after chapter, until God speaks to him.

Job 40:8-12

Will you even put me in the wrong?
Will you condemn me that you may be in the right?
Have you an arm like God,
and can you thunder with a voice like his?

10 “Adorn yourself with majesty and dignity;
clothe yourself with glory and splendor.11 Pour out the overflowings of your anger,
and look on everyone who is proud and abase him.
12 Look on everyone who is proud and bring him low
and tread down the wicked where they stand.

And Job had a completely new grasp of God and he said-

Job 42:3 – 6

Therefore I have uttered what I did not understand,
things too wonderful for me, which I did not know.
‘Hear, and I will speak;
I will question you, and you make it known to me.’
I had heard of you by the hearing of the ear,
but now my eye sees you;
therefore I despise myself,
and repent in dust and ashes.”

It happened to Job and it happened to Isaiah. It happened to me between the ages of 22 and 25 in Pasadena, Caifornia- a new understanding of God. Saved when I was six, a taste for the majesty of God that has never, ever gone away and did not exist in the same way before and my prayer is that God will do it for you as we look together at this vision.

…..

There are 7 glimpses of God in the first 4 verses of Isaiah 6:

  1. God is alive.
  2. God is authoritative. You don’t give God authority in your life; He has it! You can either pretend He doesn’t and perish, or you can own it with joy. He has, in the universe, absolute authority. Sometimes, our little flaunted fist shakings need some strong words to be put in their place.
  3. God is omnipotent. The throne of His authority is not one among many. It is high: „I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne high and lifted up”, meaning ‘over every other throne’ and thus, superior in power, superior in authority, superior in rule and control, over every other throne. It is not just authority, it is authority with supremacy of rule, supremacy of power and control. „My counsel shall stand and I will accomplish all my purpose”, Isaiah 46:10. „He does according to His will in the host of heaven, among the inhabitants of earth. None can stay His hand or say to Him, ‘What are you doing?'” Daniel 4:35. This omnipotent God, this sovereign and omnipotent God is a refuge for holy women (this message was given at a women’s conference) who hope in God.
  4. God is resplendent. So He has a robe and it has a train… He is lavish in His beauty, lavish in his creativity and lavish in his splendor.
  5. God is revered.  Above him stood the seraphim. Each had six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. No one knows who these beings are. They never show up again in the bible, under this name. We grope for meanings of what it would be for God to have in His presence beings, who, when they speak, shake heaven.But, these magnificent creatures cannot look directly upon God. They take their wings and they cover their face. These are sinless beings; they’ve never fallen and their ashamed of their feet before this God. So, they can’t see Him straight on and they’ve got to cover their feet and they kind of keep moving around Him… God is revered, He is always revered. Though we may look at this world and weep at how many millions give Him no reverence at all, God will see to it that He will always be fittingly revered with these seraphim angels; day and night doing what one ought to do always in life.
  6. God is Holy. What these beings are saying in this vision- one called to another „Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord of Hosts”. Language is pushing its limits with the word ‘holy’. What does holy mean? In one sense, when you are done trying to define holy, you have said, „God is God”. But, we should try. The language was not used for nothing. Now, many of you have studied this and you know that the root meaning of this word ‘holy’ is to cut or to separate. So, a holy thing is cut off from or separated from something else and usually devoted to something else. So, the holiness of it consists of – it’s not part of the common, it’s not part of the profane, the impure. It’s devoted unto God. So you read about holy ground, holy assemblies, holy sabbaths, holy nations, holy garments, holy city, holy promises, holy men, holy women, holy Scriptures, holy hands, holy kiss, holy faith. Almost anything can be separated unto God, devoted to God, consecrated to God, separated from the common, the profane. But, notice what happens when we try to apply this definition to God. Separated… unto…? The Godness of God means He is separated from all that He made. There is a infinite qualitative difference between God and everything else that is. All of that is made and dependent by His second by second  upholding it and being. He is who He is. „What,” Moses asked, „shall I tell them is your name?” „Tell them I am who I am”. „Tell them ‘I am” sent you. That’s my essential being. I am and I’m not dependent on anything outside of me. All of you are totally dependent on Me. I am not dependent on anything, I am separate. ” Which in the end means we’ve said- His holiness, in this respect, is His Godness, and that’s not wrong. That’s a right thought. God is absolutely unique in this regard. The other side of holiness is holy things are devoted to something, not just cut off from, separated from; they’re devoted to… What are you going to devote God to? There is nothing above God to which He should be devoted. It’s blasphemy to think that God’s holiness consists in His conformity to something other than Himself. Which means that if there’s anything like holiness in the world, it is God. It just starts there. That’s what it is. God isn’t good ‘cause He conforms to a law above Him- He wrote the law. He is not holy because He keeps the rules- He made the rules. He’s not holy because He keeps the law- The law is holy because it reveals God. God is absolute. Everything else is derivative and dependent. So what then did they mean: „Holy, Holy, Holy” thrice Holy? I think they meant (doing my best with language) His holiness is His utterly unique, one of a kind, in a class by Himself, pure essence, which therefore has infinite value. The more rare a diamond is, the more value it has. And if there’s only one of this kind, it’s valuable. God is infinitely valuable. Determining the  value and the goodness and the truth of everything else. I can’t think of anything that would have a greater impact in your life than for you to believe that. The most important value in the universe is not you and not your family, and not 7 billion human beings and not billions upon billions of galaxies. They are, we are as nothing, a drop in the bucket compared to the value of God. And, the main problem in the world is the failure to feel that. God is infinitely valuable. He has infinite worth. All other value has value in proportion to its reflection of His value. That changes everything, absolutely everything. John Piper at 23 waking up to a whole new experience of God and a taste for His majesty and experiencing a copernican revolution where the value, the supremacy, the majesty of God goes square to the center of everything. There is no questioning anymore whether He has any rights. We have NONE! And we had none before we fell. Humans and angels don’t have rights before their maker. God is right and has all rights. He defines right, He is right and holy. You will know that you have experienced something extraordinary when that is sweet to you. When we speak of holiness it feels very far away, very distant, very unexperience-able and I am just saying, „You haven’t gotten there yet”. It is sweet.
  7. God is glorious. We said He is holy and the last glimpse is God is glorious. The silence that’s coming, the shaking of the house, the all concealing smoke that is going to descend upon the house… before that happens, these blue angels seraphim say, „Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord of Hosts, the whole earth is full of His glory”. Why ? Why didn’t they say, „Holy, Holy, Holy , the whole earth is full of your holiness?” Because, this is my best effort to understand, the glory of God in God’s mind and Isaiah’s mind and most places in Scripture, I believe, is the manifestation of the holiness of God. God’s holiness is His incomparable perfection, his intrinsic infinite worth. When that goes public, when that goes on display, it’s called in the Bible- the glory of God. God is glorious means God’s holiness has gone public. His glory is the open revelation of the secret of his holiness. Here’s Leviticus 10:3  „I will show you myself. I will show myself holy among those who are near me and before all the people I will be glorified”. Interesting. „I will show them my holiness,” and their response, „Glorious!” because in the move from the intrinsic, infinite, eternal worth and perfection and purity and transcendent wonder of God; in the movement out what we see is the radiance of God and that’s called glory in the Bible. The glory of God is the radiance of His holiness. When God shows Himself holy, we see glory. The holiness of God is concealed glory and the glory of God is revealed holiness.
My last question: What does all of that have to do with Jesus Christ, incarnate, Son of Man? Coeternal with the Father, in the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was this God. This God has a name: Jesus. What does this vision have to do with the Jesus we meet in the Gospels, who goes to the cross and dies for sinners and rises again that we may make this vision the unfathomable delight of our souls. And there is a place in the New Testament that blows my mind away with the way it applies what we have seen and it’s John chapter 12, where John, writing the most exalted story of Jesus, quotes Isaiah 6 once, and he quotes Isaiah 53 in the same context. I’m going to close by trying to explain to you what John is doing so that this vision will not only be majestic, but sweet.
In verse 10 of Isaiah 6, Isaiah realizes he must take this vision and preach it with very bleak effect. „The people will be hardened. Make the heart of this people dull and their ears heavy and blind their eyes”, so Isaiah’s ready now. He’s dedicated himself, acknowledging his sin, receiving the coal of purification, he’s now ready to go preach this vision and God says, „It’s no going to go well. This vision is going to make people very hard. It’s going to have an effect on Israel like that, a hardening will come upon Israel”. But, at the end of the chapter, as the tree is cut down, a stump of faithfulness remain. Do you see that at the end of verse 13?  A stump remaining when the yoke is felled and the holy seed (last phrase) is its stump.
What is that? There’s a remnant and the remnant is going to flower. The stump has been cut, but something is going to happen. When you get to chapter 53, what do you see? I think you see the seed, the suffering servant, despised and rejected by man, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. So, the description of the seed in chapter 53 of Isaiah, the picture of Christ’s misery and suffering. He doesn’t have any form or beauty that people would behold Him and that chapter begins also bleak, who has believed our report… So you got bleakness in chapter 6: Nobody’s gonna hear this exalted vision. You’ve got bleakness in chapter 53: people aren’t gonna hear this suffering servant who lays down His life and takes the sins of Israel upon Himself like a slaughtered sheep. They’re not  gonna listen.
And in the Gospel of John, Jesus public ministry ends at the end of chapter 12 and the rest is all about talking to His disciples and dying. And, as that chapter 12 draws the public ministry of Jesus to a close, John has to explain ‘haven’t they believed’? Why has there been such a hardness in Israel? Why is Jesus being rejected for who He is by the very leaders He came to bring the kingdom to? And he uses Isaiah to answer that question and he doesn’t just use the verse 10 of chapter 6, which we would expect him to. He uses verse 1 of chapter 53″ no form or majesty, that we should look at Him, no beauty that we should desire in Him, who has believed what he has heard from us … and they reject. People then reject it and people here reject it.
So what’s John trying to show us? He’s trying to show us that Jesus is fulfillment of this majestic vision in chapter 6  and He’s the fulfillment of the suffering servant in chapter 53 and He has brought them together in His incarnate lowliness, making claims that ‘I and the Father are one and if you’ve seen Me, you’ve seen the Father’ and yet presenting Himself as a lowly, suffering servant who gets down on His knees and washes His disciples feet  and both of those are rejected. They don’t want majesty and they don’t want miserable, lowly suffering. They don’t want Isaiah 6 and they don’t want Isaiah 53. Why not? John answers this in chapter 12 verse 43: The people loved the glory that comes from man, more than the glory that comes from God. If I have any prayer for you, is that it would not be said of you. Women love the glory of other women, you can tell by the way they dress. They love the glory of man more than the glory of God. Back in Chapter 5:43 Jesus said, „How can you believe in me who receive glory from man and do not receive the glory that comes from the only God?
Faith in this Jesus is impossible for those who crave the approval of other people more than they crave, knowing and enjoying the glory of God. Can’t do it. If you are so desperately needy that you live second handedly off the glory of other people, women or men, you will look at this vision and it will repulse you. And you will look at the miserable lowly serving Jesus and it will repulse you because both of them take your glory away. Decide whether you will love that glory or yours. That’s the answer John gives as to why in Isaiah’s day and his day, and I would say our day, people don’t love Isaiah 6 or Isaiah 53. They don’t want an authoritative God over them and they don’t want a suffering Savior that might imply they would have to take up their cross and follow Him and get on their knees and wash somebody’s feet. They don’t want either and Jesus was both.
One last observation. What was the reason Jesus was rejected ultimately? The sin of man or was it the plan of God? The Son of man came not to be served, but to give His life a ransom for many. That’s why He came. That’s why the Trinity agreed with one another, „The time is full Son, go do this great work of dying for our people”, which means ‘You will be rejected’. That’s the way it’s going to go. There are no detours between God’s plan and God’s accomplishment. There are no wasted centuries. Every byway has a meaning. No suffering is without meaning and no rebellion is without meaning.
Will Israel be thrown away because they rejected their Messiah? Because this hardening came upon Israel, will they be thrown away? This long covenant people and Paul answers „no”. Romans 11:25 „A partial hardening has come upon Israel until the fulness of the gentiles comes in and then in this way all Israel will be saved. The nation will, one day, turn to the Messiah. So Romans 11:31 says „So, Israel too has been disobedient”, rejecting the God of Isaiah 6, rejecting the God of Isaiah 53, rejecting Jesus who embodied both so humbly, so magnificently, so sweetly for us. „So Israel too has been disobedient in order that mercy might be shown to you gentiles. They also now through the mercy shown to you, will be shown mercy”. God isn’t done with Israel or the nations. Things are right on schedule, which led Paul to end like this and so I’m going to end like this. You know how he ended. He came to this chapter 9.10.11 of Romans, looking at the strange and inexplicable ways of God in history and he says, „Oh the depth of the riches and the wisdom and the knowledge of God. How unsearchable are His judgements and how inscrutable are His ways. Who has ever known the mind of the Lord or who has ever been His counselor? Who has ever given Him a gift that he should be repaid? But, from Him and through Him, and to Him are all things. To Him be glory. Yes, glory forever and ever.

In the Throne Room: The God of Holiness and Hope (Isaiah 6) – John Piper from The Gospel Coalition on Vimeo.

D.A.Carson on God and Israel from Isaiah 1

From today’s post at the Gospel Coalition You can subscribe to get his daily posts through email, which consist of Daily Devotionals from the Riches of God’s Word from his 2 book set- For the Love of God.

Below is an example of the insightful and in depth Bible study that D.A.Carson takes the reader through:

THE OPENING VERSE OF ISAIAH 1 introduces the massive sweep of the book. It announces a vision that Isaiah saw, a vision that runs through the reigns of the four kings of Judah from King Uzziah on.

The first section (Isa. 1:2–9) displays how far the nation has fallen. God himself raised up the nation of Israel (Isa. 1:2)—indeed, he “reared” them, brought them up like children; and like rebellious children they have turned against him. An ox or a donkey knows more of its true home than Israel knows of hers. The heavens and earth are invited to listen in on the rebuke (Isa. 1:2), both as a measure of the intensity of the rebellion and because there is a sense in which the well-being of the entire universe depends on whether God’s people obey or disobey his word. The description of the devastation in the land (Isa. 1:5–9) is not metaphorical: probably what is being described is the bloody carnage that accompanied the invasion of Judah by Sennacherib’s Assyrian forces (701 B.C.)—a foretaste of judgment to come.

From here to the end of the chapter, the thought runs in three movements:

(1) Israel is excoriated for her corrupt and hypocritical worship (Isa. 1:10–17). In dripping sarcasm, God addresses his covenant people as Sodom and Gomorrah. They maintain the stipulated sacrificial system and high feast days, but God insists he cannot bear their “evil assemblies” (Isa. 1:13); he hates them (Isa. 1:14). God will not even listen to his people when they pray (Isa. 1:15), for oppression of the weak and corruption in the administration have reached such proportions that he must act in line with the Sinai covenant (Deut. 21:18–21). He can ignore these violations no longer.

(2) Nevertheless Israel is still being invited to forgiveness and cleansing: “ ‘Come now, let us reason together,’ says the LORD. ‘Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool’ ” (Isa. 1:18–20). It is not cultic observance that triggers such forgiveness, but repentance: “If you are willing and obedient, you will eat the best from the land” (Isa. 1:19). The alternative is judgment (Isa. 1:20). Later in the book the basis for such forgiveness will be set forth; the devastating judgment of oppression and exile was not necessary, but so often we prefer sin to salvation, greed to grace.

(3) Yet Zion (representing the people of God) will one day “be redeemed with justice, her penitent ones with righteousness” (Isa. 1:27). There is no final redemption that ignores justice and righteousness; only judgment awaits the impenitent (Isa. 1:28, 31).

Hello world!

lion of judah lamb of God

Welcome to Rodi’s blog! Here’s an inspiring song whose words are at the heart of what this blog is all about- giving praise to the Lord God almighty. I cannot listen to this song without singing along (at the top of my lungs when no one else is around 🙂  )  Give it a try yourself !

  • He was despised and rejected by mankind, a man of suffering, and familiar with pain.
  • like one from whom people hide their faces He was despised, and we held Him in low esteem.
  • Surely he took up our pain and bore our suffering, yet we considered him punished by God,stricken by him, and afflicted.
  • But he was pierced for our transgressions,he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him,and by his wounds we are healed.
  • We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way;and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all.
  • He was oppressed and afflicted,yet he did not open his mouth; he was led like a lamb to the slaughter
  • …Yet it was the LORD’s will to crush him and cause him to suffer
  • …For he bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.

Isaiah 53:3-7,10,12

…the lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. John 1:29

In a loud voice they were saying: “Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and praise!” Revelation 5:12

Behold the Lamb of God- who died, and rose 3 days later and is coming back in glory for His church.

On one occasion, while he was eating with them, he gave them this command: “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about.  For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.” Acts 1:4-5

They were looking intently up into the sky as he was going, when suddenly two men dressed in white stood beside them.  “Men of Galilee,” they said, “why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven. Acts 1:10-11

What a wonderful promise Jesus left us with!

Blogosfera Evanghelică

Vizite unicate din Martie 6,2011

free counters

Va multumim ca ne-ati vizitat azi!


România – LIVE webcams de la orase mari