Daily Reflections June 30, 2017
Isaiah has expressed the coming of the Suffering Servant that will bring about the salvation for the people of Israel. Chapter 62 indicates the result of the Lord’s procurement of deliverance on His people. There are two promises highlighted here that we should note:
God will delight in his people.
In verses 1-5, Isaiah provides beautiful analogies of how God will exalt his people. They will shed their disgraceful name and be given a new name by God. They will no longer be forsaken but will be a beautiful and treasured crown in His hand. And we get to experience the blessing of this promise! Many of us who have grown up in churches that highlight morality from God’s Word devoid of the Gospel act in fear toward God even after professing faith in Jesus. It is difficult to be deaf to the whispers of the enemy that God is still disappointed in us because we still sin. However, Jesus was the propitiation for our sins and now we have the Father’s unrelenting favor! Because we have been justified and adopted, we can be confident that we are his beloved children. We have been given us a new identity, a new name, and we are his treasured possession that he will keep for himself for eternity.
God will reverse sin’s curse.
Moses made it clear to the people of Israel that if they broke the covenant then they would be given to the hands of their enemies. Deuteronomy 28:33-34 says,
“A nation that you have not known shall eat up the fruit of your ground and of all your labors, and you shall be only oppressed and crushed continually, so that you are driven mad by the sights that your eyes see.” (Deuteronomy 28:33-34).
Now, Isaiah promises that God will guard the fruit of their labor. But incredibly, not only would these foreigners be prevented from stealing their crops but they would help plant them! They would no longer be enemies because they would be caused to worship God with them! And again, we get to experience the blessing of this promise. Through the work of Christ, we have been given an eternal inheritance that is being kept for us. Peter tells us,
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God's power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.” (1 Peter 1:3-5).
No enemy will never be able to snatch what God has procured for us. And He has exalted his Son so that, at his name, every knee shall fall and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord. Knowing God’s power to save, we should not be surprised one day to see those that cursed us and God fall beside us in worship to him.
We do not have to guess what this is all about. Jesus claims in Luke 4:16-21 that these chapters in Isaiah – the promises of salvation and blessings to follow – are fulfilled in himself. So, take hold of him and rest in him. Be blessed and encouraged.
Yours in Christ,
Associate Pastor Evan Webster
Matthew 9:35-11:1 records the second major teaching discourse in the Gospel of Matthew. The first, of course, was the Sermon on the Mount found in 5:1-7:29. This second discourse is comprised of Jesus’ instructions and admonitions in regards to the mission of the Apostles.
While these instructions were given specifically to the Apostles at a certain time in the ministry of Jesus, the words nevertheless counsel us in our day as well. Noting the context of their initial address is, however, important to our understanding of our own mission. For example, in verse 5 Jesus instructs the Apostles to
go nowhere among the Gentiles and enter no town of the Samaritans, but go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. (Matthew 10:5 ESV)
This instruction is not for us. Jesus changes the parameters of the mission in Matthew 28:19 when he says, “Go therefore and makes disciples of all nations.” We are reminded by this of the necessity to always be noting the context of a passage as we read the Scriptures.
Having noted this we can now approach the text and ask what it tells us regarding our own mission. There is a wealth of gold to be found here that we cannot afford to miss. The first thing that we must note is the content of our proclamation. Matthew 10:7 says, “And proclaim as you go, saying ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand.’” An astute reader will remember that this is same message proclaimed by John the Baptist in 3:2. John’s message, however, also included the command to repent.
While the word repent is not found in 10:7 one can safely assume it was included in the Apostle’s counsel on how to respond to this coming kingdom. In fact, one needs only to turn to Acts 2:38 to see this to be true. Having turned to Acts 2 it is also worth noting how the proclamation of the coming kingdom has taken on more flesh following the death and resurrection of Christ. So it should be in our Gospel witness. We can still attest the imminent message that “the kingdom of heaven is at hand” but we can and must include the details of the Lord of this kingdom.
What proceeds in the rest of this discourse is rather harrowing at first glance. We are told that people will reject this message and that the proper response is to leave them in their guilt and move on looking for more fertile ground (10:14-15). Jesus then goes on to say that not only will His followers be rejected, but they will be flogged, dragged to court, and even put to death (10:17-22). The cost of proclaiming God’s message is so great that it will even tear apart families (10:35-37). If this was all Jesus said the reader would be filled with despair before even beginning this mission.
The good news, however, is that Jesus said much more than this. Dispersed amongst these negatives is the news that the Spirit will be with you (10:20), that the one who perseveres will be saved (10:22), that you are cared for and valued by the Lord (10:29-33), and that in obedience you will ultimately find true life (10:39). There is no doubt that the call to follow our Lord is a costly calling indeed, but at the same time, there is no doubt that there could never be a calling more glorious.