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

Happy studying!

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Isaiah Chapter 9:1-5

Isaiah Chapter 9:1-5
vs. 1

- “Nevertheless, that time of darkness and despair will not go on forever. The land of Zebulun and Naphtali will be humbled, but there will be a time in the future when Galilee of the Gentiles, which lies along the road that runs between the Jordan and the sea, will be filled with glory.”

- Zebulun and Naphtali were places of commerce. Zebulun was placed in the middle of the northern tribes with river access to the Mediterranean Sea. Naphtali was right beside the Sea of Galilee with river access to the Jordan River. These two tribes were places of business and trade.

- However... these two tribes did not follow God's plan. When they moved in to take over the land, they were supposed to get rid of all the people living there... but instead, Zebulun and Naphtali left them there. Oh sure, they made them slaves... but they didn't get rid of them. They didn't put sin out of the nation.

- Joshua 19:10-16; 32-39
- Judges 1:30; 33

- Zebulun and Naphtali were also the first tribes to be led away into captivity.

- II Kings 15:27-31

- So when Isaiah speaks about the lands of Zebulun and Naphtali being humbled, I think that's what he's referring to. They became a great people... and God would now humble them.

- In II Chronicles 30, Hezekiah, king of Judah, sent out a message to all the tribes, from the northern and southern kingdoms, calling them all to come and worship at the rededicated Temple.

- But it says this: “The runners went from town to town throughout Ephraim and Manasseh and as far as the territory of Zebulun. But most of the people just laughed at the runners and made fun of them. However, some people from Asher, Manasseh, and Zebulun humbled themselves and went to Jerusalem.” (vs. 10-11)

- Then later in verses 15-20 it talks about the people not purifying themselves before Passover as the law required... again... it's those same tribes from the north... However, partly, that was because they were so out of practice... The northern tribes hadn't made a practice of worshiping God in the way He dictated in quite some time by this point.

- But again... a reason for humbling...

- So where is YOUR heart? When you hear a sermon about the character of God, or the requirements of this walk... do you laugh it off? Call it old-fashioned? Do you take God seriously in what He asks of you?

- And when it comes to purifying yourself to be ready for a time of worship... are you willing to let God do some heart-cleaning? Or do you ignore that direction?

- If God asks of us a clean heart... He's the only one who can clean it up... so do you let Him? Or do you try and clean it yourself? Or assume that the condition that you're in is good enough for now?

- What is your attitude towards God? When He asks you to get rid of sin in your life... do you do it with all your might? Or do you kinda work around it and let it stay there. “I have it all under control.” Well that's what the tribes of Zebulun and Naphtali thought too... “We'll make them all slaves... that'll be good enough.” But they still maintained influence... and Zebulun and Naphtali fell to the worship of idols...

- These tribes got caught up in themselves. They forgot about Who God was... They were looking to themselves for all that they needed... and consequently, they needed to be humbled. So they were the first who were taken out of their inherited land... the land of promise... the land of hope... into captivity.

- BUT! God never breaks a promise.

- Galilee of the Gentiles. It was called as such because of the number of Gentiles who lived in that area. And this place of Gentiles... this place of pagans... was where God chose to send His Son.

- This land that was the first to be humbled, the first to feel the judgment of God... would also be the first to hear the Gospel proclaimed. The first to hear from the very lips of God that He still loved this people and that He was willing to redeem them from their sins. The very glory of God would fill this land...

- I'm looking at a map in the back of my bible that has all the places of the ministry of Jesus on it... most of them are miracles or places of sermons. In the area that would be Zebulun and Naphtali... there are 9 major places... These include:

1. Cana, the city of the first miracle, turning the water into wine.
2. The feeding of the multitudes
3. The city of Capernaum... where a little bit of everything happened. The Sermon on the Mount, the healing of Peter's mother-in-law, the raising of Jairus's daughter, the healing of the servant of the Roman officer, a couple incidents of casting out demons, the twelve disciples are sent out to minister, and many more.
4. The quieting of the storm on the Sea of Galilee
5. Nazareth, Jesus' childhood home.
6. The town of Nain where the widow's son was raised from the dead.
7. The cleansing of the leper
8. The resurrected Jesus appeared to the disciples.

These are all major events in Christ's ministry. Things that we remember as being important. I think it's... neat that the first miracle was in the area... as well as the coming of Christ to the disciples after He was raised from the dead... the beginning and ending of Christ's earthly ministry took place in this land. If that doesn't speak of glory filling the place, I don't know what will... :)

- Matthew 4:12-17

vs. 2-5

- “The people who walk in darkness will see a great light. For those who live in a land of deep darkness, a light will shine. You will enlarge the nation of Israel, and its people will rejoice. They will rejoice before you as people rejoice at the harvest and like warriors dividing the plunder. For you will break the yoke of their slavery and lift the heavy burden from their shoulders. You will break the oppressor's rod, just as you did when you destroyed the army of Midian. The boots of the warrior and the uniforms bloodstained by war will all be burned. They will be fuel for the fire.”

- Now this prophecy in general is pretty obvious. Those who walk in darkness will see a great light. The great light being Christ or the gospel.

- John 1 says “In the beginning the Word already existed. The Word was with God, and the Word was God. He existed in the beginning with God. God created everything through Him, and nothing was created except through Him. The Word gave life to everything that was created, and His life brought light to everyone. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it.”

- John 12:35-36

- Jesus came as a light to the world. In John 8:12, He said, “I am the light of the world. If you follow me, you won't have to walk in darkness, because you will have the light that leads to life.”

- In a place of darkness... in a place of saturated sin, Christ came as a light to disperse the darkness. If we follow Christ, then we too will become children of light.

- II Corinthians 4:6-7 says: “For God, who said, “Let there be light in the darkness,” has made this light shine in our hearts so we could know the glory of God that is seen in the face of Jesus Christ. We now have this light shining in our hearts, but we ourselves are like fragile clay jars containing this great treasure. This makes it clear that our great power is from God, not from ourselves.”

- Our own hearts will be filled with the light of Christ. Through our acceptance of His dwelling within our hearts, His light will shine out to the world around us. Then they too will have the chance to let God shine His light in their hearts...

- Ephesians 5:1-20

- So what is this light? Well it's the gospel truth. It's salvation that comes through the blood covering of Christ on our sins. It's redemption. It's God coming to dwell in a living sanctuary.

- But what happens if we reject the light? What happens if we turn away and decide instead to remain in our natural-born dark state?

- “If you trust Me, you are trusting not only Me, but also God who sent Me. For when you see Me, you are seeing the One who sent Me. I have come as a light to shine in this dark world, so that all who put their trust in me will no longer remain in the dark. I will not judge those who hear Me but don't obey me, for I have come to save the world and not to judge it. But all who reject Me and My message will be judged on the day of judgment by the truth I have spoken. I don't speak on My own authority. The Father who sent Me has commanded Me what to say and how to say it. And I know His commands lead to eternal life; so I say whatever the Father tells Me to say.” (John 12:44-50)

- They will be judged based on the truth that was preached to them. If it is rejected... well...

- footnote- “The purpose of Jesus' first mission on earth was not to judge people, but to show them the way to find salvation and eternal life. When He comes again, one of His main purposes will be to judge people for how they lived on earth. Christ's words that we would not accept and obey will condemn us. On the day of judgment, those who accepted Jesus and lived His way will be raised to eternal life (I Corinthians 15:51-57; I Thessalonians 4:15-18; Revelation 21:1-7), and those who rejected Jesus and lived any way they pleased will face eternal punishment (Revelation 20:11-15). Decide now which side you'll be on, for the consequences of your decision last forever.”

- Isaiah said that the Light coming to the world would enlarge the nation of Israel. How?

- Well my first thought is the sending of the gospel to the Gentiles. I think it's kind of... odd that the first place Jesus went was Galilee... the place known as the place of the Gentiles. Yeah there were Jews living there... but... there were a lot of Gentiles too. He didn't go to Jerusalem first. He didn't go to all the synagogues first. He went to a wedding... and He preached in the streets...

- Christ came to preach to the Jews yes... and there's a place in Matthew 15 when a Gentile woman came to Jesus asking for help, He says “I was sent only to help God's lost sheep—the people of Israel.” He was sent first and foremost to the people who had had the closest communion with Him over time.

- But the gospel was also sent out with the disciples and apostles to the Gentiles. Paul many times called himself a minister or preacher of the gospel who was sent to the Gentiles.

- Through the grafting in of the Gentiles, the nation of Israel would be enlarged.

- Galatians 3:5-9 speaks of the adding of the Gentiles to the nation of Israel as being the plan from the time of Abraham. God told Abraham that ALL nations would be blessed by him.

- The slavery to sin would be lifted from not only the Jewish nation, but also from the shoulders of the Gentiles. ALL nations would be saved through faith.

- Psalm 81

- I also find it funny that the defeat of Midian is mentioned amongst the section on the light coming to free the world from darkness.

- This incident is found in Judges chapters 6-8. It is the story of Gideon. If you don't know the story of Gideon, it goes a little something like this.

- The Israelites are being oppressed by the Midianites. An angel appears to Gideon and tells him that he will free the people from the oppressors. Gideon of course protests because he is weak, and his tribe is weak... how will he fight against such a powerful adversary?

- But he finally rallies the troops together and prepares to go up to battle. And God tells him he has too many soldiers... WHAT? How can you have TOO MANY soldiers? Isn't more better?

- So God narrows down the ranks... to 300 men.

- Gideon had a good plan... follow God's plan no matter how scary it looked...

- So Gideon and his 300 men all get a ram's horn and a clay jar with a light in it. At Gideon's signal, the men all busted their jars so the light shone forth and blew on their horns. The Midianites panicked... and started killing each other. Those who survived fled for their lives.

- Just as God defeated the Midianites with... light. :) So He will defeat the darkness of this world with light.

- Lastly, verse 5 talks about the boots of the warrior and the bloodstained uniforms being fuel for the fire. They will no longer be needed. The blood on our hands will be purged clean. We will be given a new uniform... new armor.

- The boots that have taken our feet into dark places will be replaced with the shoes of the preparation of the gospel of peace. Instead of walking into war and destruction, we will have peace that passes all understanding... Even if we're walking in darkness... we are now clothed with light... So we should live like it.

- Paul said in Romans 13: “The night is almost gone; the day of salvation will soon be here. So remove your dark deeds like dirty clothes, and put on the shining armor of right living. Because we belong to the day, we must live decent lives for all to see. Don't participate in the darkness of wild parties and drunkenness, or in sexual promiscuity and immoral living, or in quarreling and jealousy. Instead, clothe yourself with the presence of the Lord Jesus Christ. And don't let yourself think about ways to indulge your evil desires.” (verses 12-14)