September 11

Isaiah 8:1–9:21

God had an interesting name for Isaiah’s son, “Maher-Shalal-Hash-Baz,” it meant “Speed the spoil, hasten the booty.” When Isaiah’s wife (the prophetess) gave birth, this was the name they gave their child, for before he was old enough to speak basic words Israel and Syria would be plundered by the Assyrians. Why? Because of their sin.

We see it over, and over, and over again. God does discipline, God does judge, why won’t the world listen? Nationally and personally God eventually brings about justice.

King Ahaz of Judah hired the Assyrians rather than trusting the LORD. It cost his people. The Assyrians turned on Judah and invaded the land, conquering to the point of reaching their necks (Isaiah 8:8) it was bad and bloody, but by God’s grace they didn’t drown as a nation…for God was with them (Immanuel) (Isaiah 8:8, 10).

God commanded Isaiah not to buy the conspiracy theory of the people (Isaiah 8:12).

Bible Knowledge Commentary, “The Lord had promised to be with His people (Isaiah 8:10), but many in both Israel and Judah refused to believe He would keep His promise. The LORD warned Isaiah not to be like many of those people (Isaiah 8:11). Again Isaiah emphasized that the people of Judah should not be afraid of the Syria-Israel alliance or of the Assyrian threat looming on the horizon (Isaiah 8:12). Rather they were to be afraid of the LORD Almighty. He is the One they should fear and dread…”

Isaiah 8:13 (NKJV) “The LORD of hosts, Him you shall hallow; let Him be your fear, and let Him be your dread.”

The people were seeking mediums and wizards, they were seeking the dead on behalf of the living. Isaiah called them back to the Bible:

Isaiah 8:20 (NKJV) “To the law and to the testimony! If they do not speak according to this word, it is because there is no light in them.”

Things haven’t changed much. Today we have people looking to “spirit-guides,” palm-readers, fortune-tellers, astrological horoscopes – in actuality they’re opening themselves up to demons! No! We need to stick to the Scriptures, God’s Word is the only source of light in this world of utter darkness.

Isaiah shifts gears, again prophesying about Jesus, the blessing He would be one day to the northern portion of Israel (Isaiah 9:1-3; see Matthew 9:14-16), and even the blessing Jesus will be to the whole wide world! Unto us a Child is born (Jesus’ humanity) and unto us a Son is given (Jesus’ deity). Isn’t it one of the most amazing prophecies of all?

Isaiah 9:6–7 (NKJV) “For unto us a Child is born, Unto us a Son is given; and the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. 7 Of the increase of His government and peace there will be no end, upon the throne of David and over His kingdom, to order it and establish it with judgment and justice from that time forward, even forever. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this.”

Clearly this is a prophecy about the future reign of Jesus the Messiah! How one day the Kingdom of God will take place literally on planet earth, O how we long for that day…until then let it take place internally, in my heart (Luke 17:21).

Warren Wiersbe said, “As you wait for His return, be sure the government of your life is on His shoulders. Let Him be to you all that His names proclaim, for every name that He bears is a blessing that He shares.”

The rest of Isaiah 9 speaks of the fact that God would punish Samaria, the capital of Israel (the northern kingdom) because they refused to change in spite of God’s loving discipline. May we learn from the errors of their way; God help us to grow, to change…to be His holy people.

Isaiah 9:13 (NKJV) “For the people do not turn to Him who strikes them, nor do they seek the LORD of hosts.”

2 Corinthians 12:1-10

Paul continues to defend his ministry with a few more “credentials.” Paul was caught up to the third heaven (the first heaven is our atmosphere; the second heaven is space, stars, and galaxies; and the third heaven is God’s dwelling place). Many Bible teachers believe this event occurred when Paul was stoned to death in Lystra (see Acts 14:19-20) it seems to fit the chronology of his life.

Paul considered it to be unlawful to share his experience in detail – perhaps because there are no words to adequately articulate Paradise with earthly words – or maybe it was because he didn’t want too much attention. Nowadays, people write books and make movies about their alleged trip to heaven and back.

At the end of the day, Paul does mention his experience as a whole…and I was thinking that this, along with the appearance of Christ to him on the road to Damascus must have been instrumental in making him the man of God he was.

With the trip to heaven, God also gave Paul a “thorn in the flesh.” We don’t know what this was precisely, some say it was a physical malady, others say it was an actual person, or demon. We do know that this messenger of Satan was somehow able to “buffet” Paul (beat Paul). So, he prayed, three times that God would take it away, but God said, “No.” The “thorn” kept Paul humble, the “thorn” kept Paul usable, the “thorn” made him acutely aware of his utter weakness, so that his only hope was the power of Christ. I need to be cognizant of the fact that oftentimes the best things for me are not the easiest things for me, or the things that are most comfortable. Physical weaknesses, illness, insults, needs, persecutions, circumstances under which I am subject to extreme pressure on behalf of Christ are things to take “pleasure” in for it forces me to rely on the Lord and therefore function in His strength.

Pastor Chuck Smith said, “Sometimes we find that we will never truly experience the strength of God until we first experience our own weakness in some glaring way. Do you want power? It might come through infirmities.”

Psalm 55:1-23

We may not be able to pinpoint the exact background to this Psalm, after all, David was fiercely opposed many times in his life. Was it when Saul came against him? Was it when Ahithophel betrayed him by joining Absalom’s rebellion?

Ultimately it was the enemy, and David knew where to run. He ran to God in praise and prayer.

David tells us his heart was severely pained within him (Psalm 55:4). It especially hurts when those who oppose you are friends you used to have sweet fellowship with. 

Psalm 55:12–14 (NKJV) “For it is not an enemy who reproaches me; then I could bear it. Nor is it one who hates me who has exalted himself against me; then I could hide from him. 13 But it was you, a man my equal, my companion and my acquaintance. 14 We took sweet counsel together, and walked to the house of God in the throng.”

Beware of flattery which can often be a form of manipulation; the words are smoother than butter, but war is in their hearts (Psalm 55:21).

David gave himself to prayer – morning, noon, and night (Psalm 55:17). He knew the promise of God and shared it with the righteous:

Psalm 55:22 (NKJV) “Cast your burden on the LORD, and He shall sustain you; He shall never permit the righteous to be moved.”

The enemy, the world, and the flesh are constantly opposing us; let’s be sure to give it to God in earnest and heartfelt prayer. Therein God will take care of us to the point of keeping us in His perfect plan.

Proverbs 23:4-5

Proverbs 23:4-5 (NKJV) “Do not overwork to be rich; because of your own understanding, cease! 5 Will you set your eyes on that which is not?  For riches certainly make themselves wings; they fly away like an eagle toward heaven.

The New English Translation puts verse 4 this way:

Proverbs 23:4 (NET) “Do not wear yourself out to become rich; be wise enough to restrain yourself.”

A couple of things to consider in these two verses:

1. Don’t overwork to be rich.

2. Don’t foolishly put yourself in a position where you have to work and work and work overtime hours or multiple jobs because you have multiple boats, and multiple cars, and all the bling – where you buy in to all the world is offering.

Here we read that one day it’ll all “fly away” (if not immediately it will eventually; see Matthew 6:19-20).

“Because of your own understanding, cease…” What do we “understand” about riches?

One thing I “understand” is that contentment is a choice, not based on how much I have, but Who I have (Hebrews 13:5). Another thing I know is that I can’t serve both God and riches (mammon) equally – my loyalty will be tested eventually (Matthew 6:24).

It’s not easy in the materialistic world that I live in, the temptation is strong but Paul’s statement speaks to this:

Philippians 4:12–13 (NKJV) “I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. 13 I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”

Christ helps us triumph over this temptation.

Not that riches are bad; some people can handle it…but most can’t and all must make sure it’s not their focus.

Charles Bridges said, “If riches come as a result of God’s blessing, receive them thankfully, and consecrate them wisely and freely to Him. But to wear yourself out trying to become rich is to follow earthly wisdom, not the wisdom from above.”

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.

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