Thursday, January 4, 2018

Isaiah Post 36 - All Creation Celebrates! (Chapter 55)

After all the rejoicing and promises in chapter 54, can it get any better? Why yes. Yes it can.

Chapter 55 opens up with an invitation:
“Ho! Everyone who thirsts,
Come to the waters;
And you who have no money,
Come, buy and eat.
Yes, come, buy wine and milk
Without money and without price.

Everything previous is just so good! Come to the waters! Come and eat! It’s all free – paid for by our Messiah! Ho!

Verse 2 poses to us a very good question.
Why do you spend money for what is not bread,
And your wages for what does not satisfy?
Listen carefully to Me, and eat what is good,
And let your soul delight itself in abundance.

Really... why DO we strive so hard for stuff that does not satisfy?  We need to eat what is good:  The Word of God.  In Matthew 6, when Yeshua was teaching His disciples to pray, He said, "Give us this day our daily bread."  

Was He talking about food there? I believe not. If you skip ahead in Matthew 6 to verse 25, Yeshua asks this:
“Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing?

These can be hard words for me.  I'm a foodie.  I love food, I love cooking, and I love to eat.  In fact, "Eat!" was my very first word as a baby.

Thankfully, I have come to love the Word of God, and I am so grateful for that Daily Bread.

Our chapter continues in verses 3 and 4 with a plea and a promise. Incline your ear!  Come to Me!  Listen and live! What follows is a reference to David, who was given as a witness and to whom was given a covenant (2 Samuel 7 outlines the Davidic covenant, which is the promise of a coming King from the house of David, whose reign will never end).

In verses 5-7, Isaiah speaks about the nations outside of Israel who will seek Him.  He encourages the world to seek Him.  This includes us! The time to seek Him is NOW, today, while we are alive. We don’t know how long we have. Our birth certificates do not come with expiration dates. Today is the day of salvation.  If you hear His voice today, receive Him!  Do not harden your heart against Him.

Verse 7 includes a plea to the wicked:  forsake your ways! Return to the LORD, for He is merciful and will pardon!

The LORD is merciful and will pardon the wicked?  Yes, a thousand times yes!  How often do we hear the next two verses?
“For My thoughts are not your thoughts,
Nor are your ways My ways,” says the LORD.
“For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
So are My ways higher than your ways,
And My thoughts than your thoughts.

How much higher are His ways? He is so much bigger, so much higher than we could ever be. The gospel isn’t “fair”! All other religions teach man’s works for their own salvation. I don't think our human minds can fully fathom how great is His plan of salvation!

Verses 10 and 11 go on to liken His word to the rain that waters the earth. The context is still speaking about seeking Him. His Word will not return to Him void (meaning vainly, or empty), but it WILL accomplish His will and His purpose.

The word of God is sharper than a double edged sword,
and it is under ferocious attack in these last days.

The chapter wraps up with an awesome picture of the joy and celebration in the coming Messianic kingdom. Even the mountains and trees will celebrate! No more will there be thorns and briers, but beautiful foliage!  (As a gardener, can I get an amen here??  And may I politely inquire of the Lord about the fate of  mosquitoes while I am at it?)

All of creation will celebrate the King!  I can hardly stand waiting sometimes.

Before I post this edition, I want to camp on the thorn bush for a moment.  (Not literally).

First, some thoughts: 
  • The word for “bush” in both Hebrew and Greek is not simply bush, but thorn bush.
  • Biblically, the thorn bush is very significant.
  • Thorns represent sin and fallen creation. 
  • Thorns cause bloodshed.
  • God’s plan is to deal with sin.
  • Farmers know that before the harvest, the thorns must be addressed.

When we read about Moses and the burning bush story, we can look at the original Hebrew and see that the bush was a thorn bush.  It was actually the thorns that were on fire, but they were not burning up.
  • If thorns represent sinful man, the fire represents God
  • The thorns were not being destroyed.  Moses was perplexed.

What we have here is a picture of God dwelling with man, and man is not consumed (although he should be because of sin). It is a promise that God will deal with our sin.

After Moses saw the flaming thorn bush, he was eventually given instructions on how to build the mishkahn – the tabernacle. The final piece of furniture in the tabernacle, the Ark of the Covenant, was built out of acacia wood – a thorny tree. (Hebrew shettim)

The Ark, representing the place where God dwells, is acacia wood (thorny wood, representing man) covered in gold (representing the deity of God).

The word shekinah comes from the same root word as mishkah – the manifest presence of God.  The creator of the universe dwelling with man!

Let's go further... Fire and blood were both present in the tabernacle. The tabernacle featured fire on the altar, on the golden menorah, and on the altar of incense.

Blood was on the altar every day.  And then once a year, blood had to be sprinkled onto the Ark of the Covenant by the high priest.

In Leviticus 16:11-14, we see one of many places where the fire and the blood appear together:
“And Aaron shall bring the bull of the sin offering, which is for himself, and make atonement for himself and for his house, and shall kill the bull as the sin offering which is for himself. Then he shall take a censer full of burning coals of fire from the altar before the Lord, with his hands full of sweet incense beaten fine, and bring it inside the veil.  And he shall put the incense on the fire before the Lord, that the cloud of incense may cover the mercy seat that is on the Testimony, lest he die.  He shall take some of the blood of the bull and sprinkle it with his finger on the mercy seat on the east side; and before the mercy seat he shall sprinkle some of the blood with his finger seven times.

All of this is a shadow of the Messiah to come, whose blood saves us.  

Messiah had to die before there could be a harvest. On His head (the head is a picture of authority and kingship) was a crown of thorns, showing us yet another picture of how He conquered sin. 

Shortly after His return to heaven, tongues of fire appeared at Shavuot (Pentecost) when His Spirit began to dwell INSIDE man! (The apostles weren’t consumed by the tongues of fire).

(As I was writing this, two Jehovah's witnesses appeared at my door. I was able to share some of this with them before they scurried off).

So Isaiah 55 ends beautifully, with kingdom language - the world to come!  The thorns will be gone; dealt with; and all that remains is abundance and joy. We have a measure of that abundance and joy now as believers, but our joy will be complete in the soon-to-come Kingdom of Messiah when He returns and rules from Jerusalem!

The next post is ready!  To read, click here.

To start at the beginning of this series on Isaiah, click here.

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