Today’s Reading: Isaiah 22:15-25; 27:2-13; 29:22-24; 32:12-20; 33:2-24
This Sunday at Eagle Street Christian Fellowship, we are going to learn about a new devotional method of studying the Bible called ‘the picture method’. It means exactly what it says – picture what is happening, talked about, the people in the story or parable and what they are thinking and feeling as things happen – have you been in similar places and events in your life? I suspect that today’s reading is a good one for this type of devotional reading!
Can you picture what it would be like to be Isaiah in his day of living? He was living in a day of revival under Hezekiah, but under the joy of seeing real attempts at returning to God, both by King Hezekiah and the people, still under the surface lurked the real potential to turn away from the Lord and revert back to worshipping idols ( in my life, meaning that I want something so badly, that ‘that something’ becomes the most important thing in life!). And this happened in Isaiah’s case! I’m suspect that Isaiah was aware of the signs in people’s lives that pointed in that direction. But how refreshing, must have been his thoughts given to him by God, that permanent revival ACTUALLY would happen in the future. How beautiful and comforting the thoughts of the first section that ‘the wayward in spirit WILL gain understanding; those who complain will accept instruction – Judah certainly didn’t accept Isaiah’s?!
And Israel will be a fruitful vineyard in the future with the Lord Himself personally watching over it and watering it and guarding it day and night. Yet I seem to remember in one of the earlier chapters, the Lord wistfully asking, “What more could I have done to my vineyard?” So I sadly wonder sometimes whether my loving Lord is singing over me, or wistfully asking about what more He could have done! And although Isaiah talks about the Lord disciplining Israel, he also talks about their repentance and how the Lord will gloriously gather His people back again from wherever they have been scattered in His discipline. And I am comforted by the verse in Philippines 2:12-13, which assures me ‘that the work which He has begun, He WILL work in me BOTH to WILL and to ACT according to His good purpose (despite my sometimes inability ‘to work out my own salvation (into practical results) with fear and trembling! Thank you, Lord! So keep one eye fastened on the future and know that He WILL win in HIS endeavors with us! And so I can only imagine how Isaiah must have been comforted as he wrote or prophesied (despite his sense of apprehension about his PRESENT!).
So Isaiah prophecies and writes down events of Israel’s restoration, it seems to me, in a spirit of joy, wonder and comfort at looking into the future at Israel’s restoration. And the Bible encourages me that human eye has not seen or ear heard and it has not even entered into the human heart, all that God has prepared for those who love Him,” but as in Isaiah’s case, “God HAS revealed them to us through his Spirit” and in His Word! (1 Cor. 2:9-10).
But how sad to end the day with the story of Shebna, losing his position, because he was busy trying to build for himself something BIG in life, so that people won’t forget him! But he, as I sometimes, forgot that he had a Lord – the LORD ALMIGHTY, with Whom he had to reckon! – Curiously for me, the expression used for his successor was that he would have the ability to open and no one would be able to shut and to shut and no one would be able to open! Interestingly, in Revelation, the second last church which had some people in it who endeavoured to be faithful to Him, also had this characteristic. But the Lord lovingly points out, “I have set before you an OPENED door which no one can shut! So I pray quietly each day, “Please Lord, don’t let me die a wicked selfish old man, but like my brothers and sisters in the first century – someone in great weakness- quietly always making use of the opportunities you have opened up for me in life!” Please Lord, give me the UNDERSTANDING, to use the opportunities You give me to glorify you and bless others, and not be busy building my own tombstone so people remember me – whatever that means?!