Hezekiah was a good and godly king, but he wasn’t perfect (none of us are). Hezekiah let his pride get the best of him, and against all wise judgment, he allowed the ambassadors of Babylon to see all the treasures of Jerusalem. Isaiah breaks the news to Hezekiah that one day the Babylonians would return and completely conquer Jerusalem. They would take away all the treasures, and even the precious people of the land.
According to 2 Chronicles 32:31 God withdrew from Hezekiah at this time, He didn’t influence him, he testd him in order to show him (and us) his heart. We read in:
2 Chronicles 32:31 (NKJV) “However, regarding the ambassadors of the princes of Babylon, whom they sent to him to inquire about the wonder that was done in the land, God withdrew from him, in order to test him, that he might know all that was in his heart.”
Warren Wiersbe commented, “This was the third test (2 Chronicles 32:31), and the king failed miserably. What could not be accomplished through an army or an illness was accomplished through flattery. If Satan cannot succeed as a lion, then he comes as a serpent.”
As we transition into Isaiah 40 we now enter the second half of the book that has often been compared to a Bible. Just as the Bible has 66 books, Isaiah has 66 chapters. Just as the Bible has 39 Old Testament chapters that emphasize God’s holiness and judgment, Isaiah does the same in the its first 39 chapters. But just as the Bible emphasizes God’s grace in the New Testament and the last 27 books, so also Isaiah emphasizes the grace of God in the last 27 chapters. It’s a fascinating parallel.
It’s now time to comfort the people – her war is ended, her iniquity is pardoned (Isaiah 40:1-2). The Messiah would come, but before Him, the forerunner would come. Isaiah 40:3-5 is in reference to John the Baptist who was the fulfillment of this, “voice” crying in the wilderness. The people needed to get ready for the coming of the Christ.
The day would come when the religious leaders would ask John about this. He identified himself with this passage of Scripture.
John 1:22-23 (NKJV) “Then they said to him, ‘Who are you, that we may give an answer to those who sent us? What do you say about yourself?’ He said: ‘I am The voice of one crying in the wilderness: “Make straight the way of the LORD.’’ as the prophet Isaiah said.”
Isaiah goes on to describe an awesome and wonderful God. He’s the Good Shepherd of His people. He’s sovereign over all the nations. He’s not the work of man, lifeless idols, no – our God is the Maker of heaven and earth. There is no one like Him (Isaiah 40:25).
If He made and maintains the stars, knowing them all by name where not one is missing, how much more does He take care of every single one of us? Don’t think that God doesn’t see you my friend…and all that you’re going through.
Isaiah 40:27 (NKJV) “Why do you say, O Jacob, and speak, O Israel: ‘My way is hidden from the LORD, and my just claim is passed over by my God?’”
He sees. He knows. Wait on Him. Trust Him. The Caring Creator, the Maker of heaven and earth will give you power.
Isaiah 40:29–31 (NKJV) “He gives power to the weak, and to those who have no might He increases strength. 30 Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall, 31 But those who wait on the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.
Don’t fear. Don’t act hastily. Don’t step out in sin. Wait on God, trust Him. Be patient and be empowered…next think you know you’ll be flying high, soaring far above all the struggles of life that at one time had you down and out.
Isaiah 41 predicts the return of the nation of Israel to her land. The “one” God will raise up is King Cyrus (Isaiah 41:2, 25; 44:28; 45:1) who will be used by Him to bring this to pass. Again…the LORD is not like the lifeless, useless idols of pagan people, He is the first and the last (Isaiah 41:4), He is the Savior of Israel and the people whom He’s chosen (Isaiah 41:8), there is nothing, nothing for us to fear (and for good reason)
Isaiah 41:10 (NKJV) “Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.”
What a beautiful promise. May it give us peace. God will defeat every enemy of ours (Isaiah 41:12). Even though we’re as helpless and as weak as wretched worms, God will strengthen us – He will transform us into victorious weapons of righteousness.
Isaiah 41:14–15 (NKJV) “Fear not, you worm Jacob, you men of Israel! I will help you,” says the LORD and your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel. 15 “Behold, I will make you into a new threshing sledge with sharp teeth; you shall thresh the mountains and beat them small, and make the hills like chaff.
I hope that encourages you. What a difference it makes, with the living God on our side!
We now embark on the book of Ephesians (I must confess, it’s one of my favorite books in the Bible). Paul begins by listing some of our spiritual riches as believers – in Christ. We read in Ephesians 1:3 that we’ve actually been blessed with EVERY SPIRITUAL BLESSING! I can’t list or elaborate on all that is here, but I was mulling through verses 3-13 (which are all one sentence in the Greek language) and here it is:
Chosen by God to be forgiven by God (Ephesians 1:4); Predestined and adopted as children of God (Ephesians 1:5); Accepted in Christ, to the glory of God (Ephesians 1:6, 12); Redeemed by the very blood of God (Ephesians 1:7a); Abounding in the amazing grace of God (Ephesians 1:7b-8); Selected to know the mysteries of God (Ephesians 1:9a); Blessed to be pleasing and part of the purpose of God (Ephesians 1:9b); Destined to one day live forever in the Kingdom of God (Ephesians 1:10); Willed to be joint heirs with the Son of God (Ephesians 1:11); and just to express the certainty of all this, now and forever – we are sealed with the Holy Spirit of God (Ephesians 1:13-14).
In Ephesians 1:15 Paul points to two aspects of genuine salvation – faith in God, and love for the brethren.
After Paul heard this about the people, he, from that point forward did not cease to pray for them. Ephesians 1:16-20 would be a great section to memorize and pray for those believers in your life – that God would open their eyes to realize the riches they have in Christ. I like the way the NLT translates v. 17 (NLT) “…asking God, the glorious Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, to give you spiritual wisdom and insight so that you might grow in your knowledge of God.” Paul wanted them to get to know God more, to get to know the great hope of our calling, the riches of our inheritance, and the “exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe.”
Do we truly, actually, and in all reality know that the same power that raised Christ from the dead, that lifted Him up above ALL demonic entities – lives in us! It’s vital that we come to understand our wealth (Ephesians 1-3) for that transitions into the faith to walk as Christians (Ephesians 4:1-6:9), end even war against the devil and his demons (Ephesians 6:10-20).
Before duty comes doctrine, before behavior comes belief, before the walk or the war, we must know our wealth. This is Ephesians chapters 1-3.
We are the body of Christ, and He is our Head (Ephesians 1:22) may this encourage us and even empower us to live and love like Jesus by drawing upon the infinite resources and riches that we’ve been freely given “in Christ.”
This Psalm exalts God far above the nations of the earth and even looks forward to the day when the whole wide world will worship Him (Psalm 66:4). What a day that will be!
In the meantime, we can clearly see God’s power, love, and work in the nation of Israel.
The Psalmist invites the world to “Come and see” (Psalm 66:5) and to “Come and hear” (Psalm 66:16).
How God parted the Red Sea and His people prevailed. Even how they went through difficult times of trial and discipline, and yet God refined them in the fires and the floods (see also Isaiah 43:2).
Psalm 66:10–12 (NKJV) “For You, O God, have tested us; You have refined us as silver is refined. 11 You brought us into the net; You laid affliction on our backs. 12 You have caused men to ride over our heads; we went through fire and through water; but You brought us out to rich fulfillment.”
A closer look at God’s people reveals that He really does work ALL things together for good for those of us who love Him (Romans 8:28); that He really does hear our prayers, as we do our best to keep our hearts right before Him.
I’ve always been challenged by Psalm 66:18, its essence is captured in the NIV:
Psalm 66:18 (NIV) “If I had cherished sin in my heart, the Lord would not have listened.”
As we abide in Him, believe in Him, trust in Him, and even yield to His discipline, with clean hands and surrendered hearts, we will see God work, He will answer our prayers and inevitably the day will come when we will:
Psalm 66:1a (NKJV) “Make a joyful SHOUT to God…”
Proverbs 23:25-28 (NKJV) “Let your father and your mother be glad, and let her who bore you rejoice. 26 My son, give me your heart, and let your eyes observe my ways. 27 For a harlot is a deep pit, and a seductress is a narrow well. 28 She also lies in wait as for a victim, and increases the unfaithful among men.”
It’s probably no secret to read that we parents will be glad and even rejoice when our children walk in wisdom.
And as we give God our hearts, and observe His ways, we will be protected from one of the most dangerous temptations of all – seduction.
That 18 inches from the head to the heart, make all the difference in the world.
How we need to know, believe, and receive, that “…a harlot is a deep pit…” “a narrow well.”
Proverbs 22:14 (NKJV) “The mouth of an immoral woman is a deep pit; He who is abhorred by the Lord will fall there.”
NET Notes, “The metaphors of a “deep pit” and a “narrow well” describe this sin as one that is a trap from which there is no escape. The “pit” is a gateway to Sheol, and those who enter are as good as dead…”
Friend, be so careful, that man, or that woman you might be flirting with, “Lies in wait…”
Proverbs 23:28 (NLT) “She hides and waits like a robber, eager to make more men unfaithful.”
Will you be a victim? Will I? Not if we give God our hearts and observe (obey) His ways.
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.