Daily Reflection May 31, 2017
One of the things that strikes me as I study God’s Word each day is how often hope and destruction are presented side by side. Take, for example, Isaiah 32. This is the first chapter since Isaiah 28 which has not started with the word “Woe.” The preceding chapters warned of the incoming judgement upon the Southern Kingdom of Israel. Rather than trusting in God, they had placed all their trust in Egypt. Their foolish leaders had turned their hearts from the Lord, and they were about to receive the just punishment for their faithlessness.
But, as He always does, God interjects a ray of hope into this desperate situation. Chapter 32 begins with a description of a coming King that will reign in righteousness. He will be like a river flowing into the desert, bringing life to that which is dead.
His rule is presented as a beautiful contrast to the reign of the foolish kings who had aligned themselves with Egypt. They were faithless, but he is righteous (v1). They sought protection from neighboring nations, but he promises that he will be a shelter for his people (v2). They ruled over a people who were unable to see and hear the truth, but he will open eyes, unstop ears, soften hearts and loosen tongues (v3). They devised wicked schemes for evil purposes, but he will rule with generosity (v7-8).
Verses 9-15 turn back to judgement. The women of the Southern Kingdom are rebuked for their complacency. They are held accountable for trusting in godless leaders and compromising alliances. These women convinced themselves that they were secure, and this assurance displeased God.
Were these women responsible for the foolishness of their leaders? Did they vote to make an alliance with Egypt? Did they play an active role in the oppression of the poor? Most of us would not hold them personally responsible for the sinful world that they had grown comfortable in.
And yet, God judged these women as culpable for the sin of their people. Don’t miss that simple and humbling truth. Consider for a moment how many children will be aborted this year in the nation you have grown comfortable in. Take a look at the denominations across Canada that are actively denying the truth of Scripture in an attempt to make peace with the world. Reflect on the unimaginable wealth and excess that we indulge in while our brothers and sisters in Christ watch their children starve to death in overwhelming poverty.
Are we responsible for these sins? We are hasty to grant ourselves pardon – perhaps we should spend a moment reflecting on the truth found here in Isaiah. The just and righteous King is coming. Will he find us living complacently in a wicked world? When was the last time you wept over the atrocities that are being committed with your tax dollars? Did you speak out to support Christian physicians when they gathered on Parliament Hill to oppose a bill that would force them to provide referrals for assisted suicide? Do you lovingly and firmly confront fellow believers when they openly endorse and celebrate sin in our culture?
We see in this text that we are culpable for the sins of our people. This truth should assault our complacency and inspire urgency in the church.
Righteous King, come!
Assistant Pastor Levi denBok
The Word of the Lord instructs us to heed its warnings and lay hold of its promises. The wicked say to themselves, “The Lord does not see, and he does not know” as if to fool themselves into believing that God is not omniscient, not omnipresent, not holy, and is not just. This chapter tells us the truth about God. Does God see? Yes, he does. Does God judge and bring reward? Yes, he does.
The Lord Jesus addresses the angel of four different churches - Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum and Thyatira. The Head of the Church reveals himself as “He who holds the seven stars in his right hand, and who walks among the seven golden lampstands” (Ephesus), as “The first and the last, who died and came to life” (Smyrna), as “He who has the sharp two-edged sword” (Pergamum), and as “The Son of God, who has eyes like a flame of fire, and whose feet are like burnished bronze” (Thyatira). These descriptors are highlights of his self-revelation in Revelation 1:12-16.
Jesus is intimately acquainted with each church, for he walks among them. He has a comprehensive assessment of each church. His eyes of fire perceive their trials, their condition, and their needs. The Lord Jesus commends each church for their spiritual health, and with the exception of Smyrna, brings a rebuke, an exhortation, a warning and a call to repent. Each church is called to hear the message and respond in obedience. Each church is promised a reward for faithfulness.
… And all the churches will know that I am he who searches mind and heart, and I will give to each of you according to your works. (Revelation 2:23 ESV)
The church in Ephesus worked hard and persevered but they had lost their first love (see Ephesians 6:24).
But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first. (Revelation 2:4 ESV)
The church in Smyrna was praised for their faithfulness in suffering. Though poor and afflicted they were rich in spiritual maturity.
I know your tribulation and your poverty (but you are rich). (Revelation 2:9 ESV)
The church in Pergamum endured persecution yet lived a life of moral compromise.
I know where you dwell, where Satan's throne is. Yet you hold fast my name, and you did not deny my faith even in the days of Antipas my faithful witness, who was killed among you, where Satan dwells. (Revelation 2:13 ESV)
The church in Thyatira was commended for their deeds and perseverance yet they tolerated false teaching.
I know your works, your love and faith and service and patient endurance, and that your latter works exceed the first. (Revelation 2:19 ESV)
This chapter calls the church and also the saints to:
- Repent of worldly entanglements. May the Lord restore our first love and remove from us our moral and spiritual compromise.
- Persevere and remain faithful in trial and opposition. May the Lord strengthen us with grace, courage and boldness in an ever-increasingly hostile culture.
- Fix our eyes on Jesus and his promised heavenly prize. May the Lord lay before us the joy of his presence and his eternity.
The Christ of judgment is also the Christ of mercy. We are to be motivated by both reward of divine commendation and by the circumspect judgment of a holy God. Let us repent as the Spirit convicts us and let us remain faithful to the end as the Lord empowers us!
Associate Pastor Jody Cross