The book of Isaiah speaks frequently of judgment…even God’s people are judged (disciplined) but they’re not destroyed (thank God for His grace!)
The time would come when Assyria would carry Israel away in captivity (722 B.C.). The time would also come when Babylon would carry away the southern kingdom of Judah to captivity (586 B.C.) but the Jews would not be forsaken…God still had plans for Israel.
In today’s reading our heart aches to see the devastation the Jews experienced – the judgment, the oppression. We read the reason in:
Isaiah 3:8 (NKJV) “For Jerusalem stumbled, and Judah is fallen, because their tongue and their doings are against the LORD, to provoke the eyes of His glory.”
Isaiah 3:9 tells us that they flaunted their sins in God’s face, they didn’t even try to hide it, so they brought it (the judgment) upon themselves.
Towards the end of Isaiah 3 we read the painful details of God’s judgment upon the wealthy women of Israel who were also wicked:
Isaiah 3:24 (NLT) “Instead of smelling of sweet perfume, she will stink. She will wear a rope for a sash, and her elegant hair will fall out. She will wear rough burlap instead of rich robes. Shame will replace her beauty.”
God help us to learn through His Word about His loving discipline. As we read of Israel’s judgment for their sins, may it purify us to have a healthy fear of God (Hebrews 12:3-11).
But then Isaiah shift gears and speaks of the Branch of the Lord, which is a reference to Jesus (see also Isaiah 11:1-2). Jesus will be beautiful and glorious – He will rule the earth. The prophet writes in Isaiah 4:2-6 about the Millennial Kingdom. This is the thousand-year reign of Christ which takes place after the Tribulation Period and before the new heavens and the new earth. During the Millennial Kingdom the world will have peace, the fruit of the earth shall be excellent and appealing (Isaiah 4:2) it will be a time of “shade” from the heat, a refuge from the storm.
Isaiah 5 identifies Israel as God’s vineyard. God did everything He could to ensure that this vineyard brought forth good grapes, but tragically it didn’t – it’s grapes were bad, bitter, wild. So God judged His people. This wouldn’t be the last time (see Matthew 21:33-46).
Today the church has been sort of grafted into the vineyard or olive tree (Romans 11; John 15). God expects us to bear fruit, more fruit, and even much fruit. I have to examine my life…am I bearing fruit? “What is fruit?” you might ask. Here’s a produce list to begin that examination. Does this describe my life?
Galatians 5:22–23 (NKJV) “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.”
Another place to look for fruit would be 1 Corinthians 13. Does this list of a loving person describe me? Read it slowly…
1 Corinthians 13:4–8a (NKJV) “Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; 5 does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; 6 does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; 7 bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. 8 Love never fails.”
Am I a loving person? Are you? Is there fruit?
God does everything He can to produce fruit in our lives…but He DOES give us a choice.
Isaiah closes the chapter with six “woes” upon the people – they were not bearing fruit. People eager to get drunk, people wise in their own eyes, people holding on to their sin with ropes, people who had rejected God’s Word (Isaiah 5:24). Society then, reminds me of society now, especially in light of Isaiah 5:20.
Isaiah 5:20 (NLT) “What sorrow for those who say that evil is good and good is evil, that dark is light and light is dark, that bitter is sweet and sweet is bitter.”
People then (like today) had everything backwards, upside down, and inside out. They had their own standards and codes of conduct based on the desires of the flesh and the context of the culture. Woe to those who call evil good…and good evil. God is patient, but God is also holy, and He will judge the world.
2 Corinthians 11:1-15
It’s been said that, “A shepherd’s work can never be done without a shepherd’s heart.” I can’t help but think of David who, as a shepherd, protected his sheep, even to the point of killing lions and bears! (1 Samuel 17:34-36) This is what Paul is doing in this chapter – he fears lest the people be led astray by these false teachers who were trying to undermine his ministry, and take over the church.
2 Corinthians 11:3 has always been a heavy verse to me because Paul was fearful that if a false teacher came in and preached a different Jesus, or a different Spirit, or a different Gospel, the people just might put up with it. Paul wanted to protect them from being corrupted. Tragically, I see it all the time, the cults preying on people who don’t know their Bibles and what it teaches about Jesus. Paul was forced to defend himself in order to defend the flock.
These false teachers questioned Paul’s calling and they criticized his teaching style. They even thought Paul was wrong or weak in that he wasn’t supported by the Corinthians financially. Paul asks in verses 2 Corinthians 11:7-9, “Did I do wrong in not charging you?” Paul was supported by other churches while he was in Corinth and there were other times that he worked with his own hands to support himself. For Paul it was never about being rich or famous, he only wanted to be real and right in God’s sight, he wanted to be faithful. He truly loved the people and God knew it!
2 Corinthians 11:11 (NKJV) “Why? Because I do not love you? God knows!”
Paul was writing this letter to the Corinthians – and he was on his way to Corinth to make sure that these wolves among them were not allowed to take over the church. Paul called them, “false apostles,” and “deceitful workers.” He then reveals something super interesting, that Satan is able to transform himself into an angel of light. Some people mistakenly think that Satan can only show up as a hideous monster, or in red, with horns, a pointy tail, and a pitchfork…it’s not that way. Satan can make himself “look good,” and so can his menacing ministers. Beware friend.
The primary principle of this Psalm is the ultimate defeat of those who persecute God’s people – and the rescue of God’s redeemed; but we learn other truths along the way.
This Psalm is almost identical to Psalm 14, some might ask why? Why would we have a Psalm repeated almost verbatim? I always like to say, “It’s repeated so we won’t be defeated,” God repeats things for emphasis.
Only a fool would say there is no God. (there are many “fools” in the world today).
Many people would never articulate that with their lips (claiming to be an atheist) but many articulate that with their lives because that’s what they say in their hearts, “There is no God.” There is no God I’m accountable to, there is no God who sees me or hears me, there is no God who’s with me. The majority of the world is not necessarily positional atheists, they’re more of what we would call “practical atheists.”
Apart from God, there is none (not one) who does good. Paul the Apostle refers to this truth in Romans 3:10, 12 while teaching us that we’re all guilty before God. When we admit that guilt, we plead guilty before Jesus, which enables us to be covered with His righteousness made perfectly innocent – forever.
Proverbs 22:28 (NKJV) “Do not remove the ancient landmark which your fathers have set.”
To remove an ancient landmark would be the equivalent of stealing a portion of property from our next-door-neighbor.
Bible Knowledge Commentary, “Six times the Bible mentions the sin of moving boundary stones (Deuteronomy 19:14; 27:17; Job 24:2; Proverbs 22:28; 23:10; Hosea 5:10). A farmer could easily increase the extent of his own land and decrease his neighbor’s by moving the stones at the boundary lines.”
Proverbs 22:29 (NKJV) “Do you see a man who excels in his work? He will stand before kings; He will not stand before unknown men.”
I thought of athletes and successful business men who are invited to the White House due to the fact that they excelled in their respective professions.
This is a challenge to work hard, to excel in our labor…such excellence will be rewarded.
Charles Bridges, “Diligence, even without godliness, is often the way to advance in the world. But when we serve the Lord, we will have the honor of standing before the King of kings. Our whole life should be spent so that we will hear his words, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant!’ (Matthew 25:21–23).”
Take a few minutes to take it a step further. Submit the information below and be blessed…it would be cool to hear from you!
If you have any questions or comments on today’s reading, or you’d like to share something the Lord showed you, feel free to leave a reply below. I’d love to hear from you as we grow forward in 2021.