Daily Reflections May 26, 2017
It is often helpful when reading the Old Testament to notice repeated words or phrases. In Hebrew, this was often how they indicated transitions of thought and emphasis in theme. For this chapter, the repetition of “in that day” may help to see the main points the author wants to convey.
1. God will be victorious (vs. 1). God’s fierce, great, powerful sword would battle against the twisting, fleeing, beastly Leviathan. Leviathan was a water-beast that was a symbol of a great power that was pit against the Creator. Here, we are comforted that God will one day conquer every opposing foe that stands against him and seeks to devour his people. There is no match for his sword and there is no place for them to hide.
2. God will keep his people (vs. 2). Unlike the vineyard described in Isaiah 5, God is described here as its intimate keeper. The former vineyard was given gifts of grace but wild thorns and rotten grapes were still found. The gifts of God were never the ultimate means by which they would flourish. Those gifts, not used in accordance with the giver, did not produce a good harvest. But this passage tells us that one day God will be the one who perfectly manages, protects, and monitors so that his people flourish. Isaiah then explains to them that this will not be immediately evident in the way God acts toward them. This may seem like a departure from the point of the passage but one commentator helps by saying, “Knowledge of the reason for God’s actions should cause the audience to understand why some in Israel will die, why there is a need to atone for their sins and remove all idolatry from the land, and what God will do to their enemies.”1
3. God will gather his people (vs. 13 &14). God will separate his true covenant people from Israel (vs. 13) and he will also draw all those who are truly his from all over the world. And they will worship God in joyous exaltation. The harvest may seem to be filled with weeds and dead stalks. But be of good cheer, one day God will come to separate and to judge.
Yours in Christ,
Associate Pastor Evan Webster
1Gary V. Smith, Isaiah 1–39, ed. E. Ray Clendenen, The New American Commentary (Nashville: B & H Publishing Group, 2007), 462.
1 John 5
If you have been tracking with the RMM readings in 1 John, you will already be familiar with the three tests that the apostle has laid out: obedience, love, and belief. In the opening verses of this chapter, John ties them all together by saying that these tests are so intertwined, they cannot be had separately. Belief flows from your salvation. Your salvation brings with it obedience to God, and love for God and His people. Assurance of your salvation comes from an ever-increasing desire to be obedient to God.
In the second section of this chapter, we run into a fairly confusing portion that talks about the testimony concerning Jesus. John gives us three witnesses that give us assurance Jesus is the Christ: the water, blood, and Spirit. There have been many interpretations as to what John meant by water and blood. My favorite interpretation states that the water is meant to signify Jesus’ baptism when God the Father declared Jesus to be His Son, and the blood refers to Jesus' death when He completed the work set out for Him by His Father. No one seems to argue too much about what John means by the Spirit; this definitely points to the fact that the Holy Spirit gives testimony in our hearts about Christ.
In the last section of this chapter John gives us encouragement, because all that we've read to this point should give us confidence that we are God’s children if we have a growing desire to obey Him, love Him, and love His people. There is one verse here that can be a bit confusing: verse 16 talks about sin not leading to death and sin leading to death. If we don’t read this carefully, it can seem that John is speaking to believers - after all that he has just said about having confidence in knowing that we are saved, is he now stating that a Christian could lose their salvation on account of sin?!? If you read carefully, you will notice John is calling the one who has committed a sin that doesn’t lead to death a 'brother'. Note this title of 'brother' does not get applied to the one who commits a sin that does lead to death. True children of God are in a continuous process of sanctification - God puts the Holy Spirit into His children. Then, through the work and testimony of the Holy Spirit, children of God learn to love Him more and more every day. Eternal life comes through no one but Jesus; John finishes this book with this line:
Little children, keep yourselves from idols. (1 John 5:21 ESV)
An idol is anything that dims the power of God in your life. Brothers and sisters, we must focus - first on the person and work of Jesus Christ, and second, on growing more and more in love with Him through obedience and love.
Associate Pastor Jonathan Welch