:) Finally had some time! Next week should be fun... we're heading into some messianic prophecies... :)

Happy studying!

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Isaiah Chapter 8:17-22

vs. 17

- “I will wait for the Lord, who has turned away from the descendants of Jacob. I will put my hope in Him.”

- When I read the first part of this verse (cause in my bible, it's split across two pages) I immediately thought about the verse in Isaiah 40:28-31 that says “Have you not known? have you not heard, that the everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth, faints not, neither is weary? there is no searching of His understanding. He gives power to the faint; and to them that have no might He increases strength. Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall: But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.” (KJV)

- When I looked at this verse in my NLT version, instead of saying “they that wait” it says “those who trust”. So I looked at a few different versions online. “Wait” is also translated as “trust” and “hope”. One versions says “those who wait with hope”.

- This isn't just a sit around wait. “Oh I suppose I'll have to wait on God... see what He decides to do.” A friend of mine once asked me if I was just waiting... or if I was ACTIVELY waiting on God. And at the time... I didn't really understand the question... but now it makes sense.

- Just because we're waiting on God to move, or waiting on something from God... doesn't mean we just sit back and wait. We still have to DO something.

- My family are hunters. We pretty much live off the land and so hunting comes as a part of that. If any of you are anti-hunting, I apologize... it's just a way of life where I live...

- Anyway, when we go hunting, we pray that God would bring through what we need as meat for the year. As we sit and wait on the animal to come through within range... we don't just sit and wait... If you just sit and do nothing else... you'll fall asleep, or you'll start making noise without realizing it... Waiting when you are hunting means being aware of your surroundings at all times. When you hear footsteps, is it a man? Is it a deer? Or is it just a squirrel playing in the leaves? When you see shadows change, is it just the wind in the leaves of the trees? Or is it an actual something moving through the brush?

- If you stop watching, you can miss it. Animals are cunning... and quiet. They move through the woods nearly silently sometimes. Especially if it's been snowing or raining and the leaves are wet.

- Waiting on God is kind of like that. You can't stop watching and listening just because you're waiting. You can't fall asleep... nor can you take for granted that what you're waiting for is suddenly going to appear or jump right in your line of view. It's not always going to walk up to you shouting it's arrival or presence. If I've learned nothing else in my life... I've learned that God most of the time seems to want to move quietly in my life... Maybe He's not like that with everybody... but hardly ever has God in effect yelled at me... most of the time... He just gives quiet nudges in the right direction...

- Even when waiting, we have to seek after God. He could have a hundred other things for us to do or experience before it's time for the thing that we see as the goal. We have to put our HOPE in Christ and TRUST that God is still in control and still has a plan.

- The statement that follows “I will wait for the Lord...” is a little... hard to take in.

- Isaiah says that he will wait on the Lord, “who has turned away from the descendants of Jacob. I will put my hope in Him.”

- Isaiah's part of the descendants! Has God also turned away from him? And why would you put your hope and trust in waiting on a God who... has turned away from your people?

- Because Isaiah understood the character of God.

- If you look back at chapter 5 where God was speaking about His vineyard, He says things like, “I will sing for the one I love.” or “what more could I have done for my vineyard that I have not already done?” In chapter 1 we read “Though your sins are like scarlet, I will make them as white as snow. Though they are red like crimson, I will make them as white as wool.”

- Isaiah understood Grace and Mercy.

- Mercy is defined by as “(1) compassionate or kindly forbearance shown toward an offender, an enemy, or other person in one's power; compassion, pity, or benevolence and (3) the discretionary power of a judge to pardon someone or to mitigate punishment, especially to send to prison rather than invoke the death penalty.”

- Grace is defined by World English Dictionary ( under Christianity as “a. the free and unmerited favour of God shown towards man b. the divine assistance and power given to man in spiritual rebirth and sanctification c. the condition of being favoured or sanctified by God d. an unmerited gift, favour, etc, granted by God.”

- Even when we don't deserve it... at ALL... God still loves us. He still wants the best for us. Even though He COULD punish us... even though our sin deserves death... He doesn't judge us on our sin... He judges us on our acceptance of the gift of freedom through the sacrifice of His Son. Christ paid our debt. All of it. In full. We are judged on whether or not we accepted that gift and acted upon it accordingly.

- Even though God turned away from His people because of their persistent sin... He didn't stop loving them. And in the midst of promising to bring down judgment on them for their idolatry, He is also promising restoration, freedom from sin, and new beginnings.

- THIS is the God that Isaiah was clinging to. The God who loves us in spite of ourselves. He was clinging to the promise of restoration and renewal. Now... a short side note... some of these prophets who spoke to the people never saw what they were talking about... I mean think about Abraham. The promise was that his descendants would be numbered with the stars... He definitely wasn't going to see that...

- Isaiah prophesied the coming of Christ... which came like 700 years later.

- So many times these men and women had to take God at His word for things that were SO far in the future...

- Waiting for something from God means that... sometimes it may be something that our children are still waiting on after we are long gone...

- How long did Israel wait in captivity in Egypt praying for a deliverer? There were generations of people who died without ever seeing their deliverance. But they never stopped asking God for it. Hebrews 6:12 has a part in it that talks about those who will “inherit God's promises because of their faith and endurance.” If they inherited them, they didn't get them directly... and you only inherit after a death... so... those who received the promise first-hand didn't get to see it... on the earth anyway...

- When Isaiah said that he would wait on the Lord... who had turned His face away from His people... Isaiah KNEW that restoration was coming. God was still in control of all things. He hadn't changed. So... should we change our view of God just because our circumstances look a little rough? Just because it looks like God has abandoned us... do we abandon Him? Knowing that He promised to never leave us? Do we take Him at His word and trust His honor?

- God keeps His promises... Deuteronomy 7:9 says: “Understand, therefore, that the Lord your God is indeed God. He is the faithful God who keeps His covenant for a thousand generations and lavishes His unfailing love on those who love Him and obey His commands.”

- What we have to understand is that God never changes. If He promised something... He'll do it. He doesn't lie.

- Our pastor last week mentioned “blind faith”. In our small group meeting on Wednesday we were talking about that, and one of the guys said that he doesn't really think “blind faith” is a good way to put it... because we're not just closing our eyes and walking into nothingness... We're looking at Who we know God to be, looking at our past experiences with God, maybe the past experiences of others... and we see the character of God... We can trust in the character of God... whether or not we see the whole picture becomes irrelevant... We need to see the big picture... and the big picture is that Christ died on the cross to pay for our sin-debt. We are bought and paid for, redeemed creatures. If we accept it, we have eternal life in heaven with Him. This life... is just part of a process to get there. Obedience is key... and we have to follow Christ... But this life... is just a small spec in the large scheme of things. It goes back to actively waiting... actively seeking... we are walking forward into what God wants of us... but not without at least some idea of what He wants from us. If He asks us to step out... He at least has given some direction as to what we are to be stepping into... even if we don't know ALL the details...

vs. 18

- “I and the children the Lord has given me serve as signs and warning to Israel from the Lord of Heaven's Armies who dwells in His Temple on Mount Zion.”

- Isaiah named his children as God directed... which is what Hosea did as well... and so the kids were given names that were messages... like at the beginning of the chapter when his son was named “Swift to plunder and quick to carry away.”

- Most of the prophets were asked to do some pretty crazy things. Isaiah was asked to strip off and walk around naked and barefoot for 3 years as a sign to the people. Ezekiel was asked to cook his food using human dung for fuel... which was something that made him ceremonially unclean...

- All the things that God asked the prophets to do were signs and warnings. He was speaking to His people all the time... even though they refused to listen. There were physical, visible signs given as warnings to the people... God of Grace and Mercy calling His people back home... God never stops calling after His people... He won't force them to come back... but... He places as many things in your path that He can to make you change your mind...

vs. 19-22

- “Someone may say to you, “Let's ask the mediums and those who consult the spirits of the dead. With their whisperings and mutterings, they will tell us what to do.” But shouldn't people ask God for guidance? Should the living seek guidance from the dead?”

- So this is talking about seances etc. Witches or mediums or psychics who commune with the dead. But if you're looking to them for advice or wisdom... why should you not instead seek after God? The dead have no more wisdom than they had when alive... God on the other hand is full of wisdom...

- footnote- “The people would consult mediums and psychics, seeking answers from dead people instead of consulting the living God. God alone knows the future, and only He is eternal. We can trust God to guide us.”

- Leviticus 20:6-7 says: “I will also turn against those who commit spiritual prostitution by putting their trust in mediums or in those who consult the spirits of the dead. I will cut them off from the community.”

- Spiritual prostitution. Ouch... That puts a whole new spin on it. How many times did God through the prophets talk about His people prostituting themselves with idols or with practices from other nations? They are leaving their first love... their only TRUE love... and running after other things that won't fulfill them.

- God is all we need! He is our everything! He has the answers! Sure... He doesn't give you the answer you want all the time... but neither does chasing after something that has no eternal value! At least with God you know that there's an answer coming!

- So what should we do?

- “Look to God's instructions and teachings! People who contradict His word are completely in the dark. They will go from one place to another, weary and hungry. And because they are hungry, they will rage and curse their king and their God. They will look up to heaven and down at the earth, but wherever they look, there will be trouble and anguish and dark despair. They will be thrown out into the darkness.”

- Follow God's Word. If it doesn't line up with what God says... it's not God saying it...

- People who contradict God's word are not in tune with God.

- Paul went a little further in I Timothy 4 and said this: “Now the Holy Spirit tells us clearly that in the last times some will turn away from the true faith; they will follow deceptive spirits and teachings that come from demons. These people are hypocrites and liars, and their consciences are dead.” and in I Timothy 6: “Some people may contradict our teaching, but these are the wholesome teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ. These teachings promote a godly life. Anyone who teaches something different is arrogant and lacks understanding. Such a person has an unhealthy desire to quibble over the meaning of words. This stirs up arguments ending in jealousy, division, slander, and evil suspicions.”

- False teachings run rampant in our world... our job is to sift through them, lay them out side by side with the Word of God and see if they line up. If they don't... well... ignore them, don't listen to them, pass them off, get rid of them... If they do, well... then learn from them, take them to heart. If they seem kind of gray... look at the character of God and other things He's said... do they all make sense together? And be cautious... sometimes false teachings can sound awfully close to truth... and be just enough wrong to be... well... WRONG.

- Eventually these false teachers will get their desserts... They will look everywhere... but gain nothing but trouble and anguish and dark despair... and eventually... they will be thrown out into the outer darkness...

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