Yesterday was a refreshing break, call it a day of rest, but it was such a joy to dive back into the Scriptures again today.
Isaiah 31 opens like this:
"Woe to those who go down to Egypt for help, who rely on horses, who trust in the multitude of their chariots and in the great strength of their horsemen, but do not look to the Holy One of Israel, or seek help from the Lord." 31:1
What a blunt opening to this passage by Isaiah. Call it a letter, prophecy, or spoken word. Either way, this is an attention grabber, and it surely would have captured the ears and mind of Jesus as he grew up a young Jewish boy. He had lived in Egypt. He had heard of its great an powerful history. He read the stories of Israelite kings who chose to align themselves with a Pharoah instead of inquiring of God or seeking His help.
Then Jesus faced his own moment where he had a choice. Rome, evident by Herods obsession with Jesus, had kept tabs on this man who people claimed so much about. The amount of people who crowded around him probably caused some concern. Jesus could have easily amassed an army and formed a rebellion, and won. He could have driven Rome from power. "Do you not think I could call on my Father and he would send 12 legions (approximately 72000) angels to my defense?"
Jesus could have turned to his devoted followers in his time of need. He could have sent out word and amassed an army to defend him. At any moment, he could have commanded all of heaven to rescue him. However, Jesus heeded this warning in Isaiah 31 and chose to seek God during his time of need.
I have read many books in the past year, all about prayer. I was impressed by a word I heard in January to seek out someone to help me learn how to pray. I have wrestled with prayer. Is it worth my time? Does prayer work? Should I bother God with my seemingly trivial needs? Is God listening?
Because of my personal struggle, I have been desperately lacking in my "looking to the Holy One of Israel" and "seeking the help of the Lord." All too often, I turn to my own wisdom, my own abilities, or I call upon my own personal "Egypt" and its mighty army (people I know with influence and power) to get things done.
However, I am currently reading "Prayer: does it matter?" By Phillip Yancy. In it he ask, "Why should I pray?" And his simple answer is this - "Because Jesus did!"
And here in Isaiah 31, we see a passage that impressed on Jesus why he should pray.
"But the Egyptians are men and not God: their horses are flesh not Spirit. When the Lord stretches out his hand . . . (my paraphrase) HE DOES WHAT HE PLEASES and accomplishes his purposes!" 31:3
When God moves, nothing can stop him from accomplishing His will.
"As a lion growls, . . . So the Lord Almighty will come down to do battle on Mt Zion and in its heights. Like birds hovering overhead, the Lord Almighty will shield Jerusalem: he will shied and deliver it, he will "pass over" it and will rescue it."
Jesus learned God was his mighty Defender and his Shield in time of trouble. No army of men, no mighty act of his own hand, not even 12 legions of angels could do what The Lord Almighty could do!
Jesus was impacted to put ALL his hope, All his trust, and all his confidence in the Lord Almighty. Jesus did not look to any man, any angel, or any might of his own to deliver him, Jesus turned to the only One who could move mountains, heal the sick, raise the dead, feed the hungry, quench the thirsty, and deliver from the grips of sin and death. He learned to "turn to the Holy One of Israel and seek help from the Lord" alone! And because he did, he could live with a bold confidence that the Lion would prevail, the Lord would shelter, and he would be rescued from the grip of his Enemy!
I pray today that I would allow the words of Isaiah to impact my natural response as it did Jesus'. I pray I will learn to turn to the Holy One and seek help from the Lord" alone so that I too may live in boldness that the Lion of the tribe of Judah will do battle for me, that he will shelter me, he will be my shield and my deliverer, and that He will pass over me and rescue me when my Enemy comes against me!
Isaiah 33, so rich!
"Who of us can dwell with the consuming fire? Who of us can dwell with everlasting burning?" (Referring to the holiness of God) 33::14
Jesus read these words and the question was real to him. He longed to be the one to dwell with the consuming fire! His heart burned with a passion to be that one, so he longed to know the answer to Isaiah's question. Thankfully Isaiah continued to write:
"He who walks righteously and speaks what is right, who rejects gain from extortion and keeps his hands from accepting bribes, who stops his ears against plots of murder and shut his eyes against contemplating evil - this is the man who will dwell on the heights., whose refuge will be the mountain fortress. His bread will be supplied, and water will not fail him." 33:15-16
Here Jesus gained the answer to the burning question, of how he could dwell with the One he so longed to dwell with. He had to walk righteously. He had to speak what was right. He had to reject gain from extortion and not accept bribes. (Things Satan offered him). But what was the key to best my able to do this?
Jesus found the answer just prior to these verses in Isaiah 33. He could not accomplish this life in and of himself. However, there was hope.
"The Lord is exalted, for he dwells on high (where Jesus longed to be) he will fill Zion with Justice and righteousness. He will be the sure foundation for your times, a rich store of salvation and wisdom and knowledge" 33:5-6
Jesus learned in order to obtain his dream of dwelling with his Father, he had to depend on God to be his Foundation, salvation, wisdom and knowledge. In order to reach his goal, Jesus was going to have to rely on his Father to sustain him. And how would all this happen?
"The fear of the Lord is the key to this treasure!" 33:6
Jesus learned the only way to obtain the treasure his heart desires was to "fear the Lord." He had to rely on God, trust God, seek God, all in humility and meekness, as a man approaching a Holy God!
I am so grateful Jesus longed to dwell with his Father. I am so grateful that the path to Him obtaining his desire was pointed out to him. And I am so thankful that God almighty was his sure foundation and his salvation who gave him wisdom and knowledge. And I am thankful that Jesus learned to fear the Lord, so that today I might have the hope of dwelling in His presence forever by His side!
3 Strengthen the feeble hands,
steady the knees that give way;
4 say to those with fearful hearts,
“Be strong, do not fear;
your God will come,
he will come with vengeance;
with divine retribution
he will come to save you.” Isaiah 35:3-4
Feeble hands, unsteady knees, fearful heart. Not words I would often associate with my Lord and Savior. However, as I read these words, I remembered a Garden in which all of these words would be descriptive of my Savior. As he faced the enormous reality of torture and death, Jesus displayed his humanity and weakness for a moment. He became overwhelmed. "Daddy, can we please find another way?"
But in that moment of struggle, when his flesh was ready to call it quits, Jesus remembered words that impacted him as he meditates on these words of Isaiah -
5 Then will the eyes of the blind be opened
and the ears of the deaf unstopped.
6 Then will the lame leap like a deer,
and the mute tongue shout for joy.
Water will gush forth in the wilderness
and streams in the desert.
7 The burning sand will become a pool,
the thirsty ground bubbling springs.
In the haunts where jackals once lay,
grass and reeds and papyrus will grow.
He remembered his life had shown a purpose that was fulfilled by God. He remembered the blind who had been given sight, he remembers the deaf who could now hear and the mute who could now speak. He had watched his Father work through him to resto