Impact on Jesus week #25
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 restore life to those who felt rejected, ignored, and abandoned. He was comforted as he pondered the life that would be given birth through his death, and through these words Jesus regained Strength for the task at hand. His will to go forward was steadied as he pondered the promise in these words:
“Be strong, do not fear;
your God will come,
he will come with vengeance;
with divine retribution
he will come to save you.” 35:4
How thrilled my heart is today that Isiah was prompted to write these words, so that in his moment of vulnerability, Jesus would find strength and resolve to believe the promise His Father would come to save him, and therefore provide the way for God to come to me and redeem me too!
Isaiah 37 is the written story of Assyria besieging Judah from Isaiahs point of view. It reflects the same story that is found in 2 Kings 19. Hezekiah has received a letter from the king of Assyria which essentially says "Your God is no different than any other gods, he cannot save you!" King Hezekiah lays the letter on the floor before the Lord and the Lord responds through Isaiah by saying:
(My paraphrase) "I, the Lord, am going to defeat him and send the king of Assyria packing"
37:32 says "The Zeal of the Lord Almighty WILL accomplish this."
If you read 37:22-31 it seems to reflect another, more significant situation. The story of Assyria claiming it would over run Judah seems to be the same as Satan claiming he will over take Gods throne. It is almost like human history reflected a heavenly story. God ask:
"Against whom have you raised your voice and lifted your eyes of pride? Against the Holy One of Israel" (Dangerous position to be in) 37:23
"You have heaped insults on the Lord. You have said With my many chariots I have ascended the heights of the mountains" (attacking the heavenly places) 37:24
But listen to Gods response:
"But I know where you stay and when you come and go and how you rage against me. Because you rage against me and because your insolence has reached my ears, I will put a hook in your nose and my bit in your mouth, and I will make you return by the way you came. . . the zeal of the Lord Almighty will accomplish this."
What strength. What comfort. What peace these words must have given to Jesus. As he put together that this passage was much more than a history lesson and he realized it spoke of what his Dad would accomplish through him, how he must have rejoiced knowing the zeal of the Lord Almighty would accomplish it! That is how he was able to clear the temple with zeal. How he was able to set his face like a flint toward Calvary, because he knew his Daddy was going to accomplish it.
Didn't hurt that this history lesson also ended with the angel of the Lord killing 185,000 of the Assyrian army that night! What a boost of confidence for Jesus knowing that history was telling him about how his Daddy was going to handle the Enemy of his life as well!
And what impact that should have on you and I, those called into the service of the Lord. We, like Hezekiah, like Jesus, are daily faced with an insurmountable Enemy who screams in our ears "Your God cannot save you!" But we know that we have been made more than conquerors through Jesus Christ, and we can lay all his screams on the floor before the Lord and then we can listen as God rises up and says, "My zeal, the zeal of the Lord Almighty will accomplish this!"
Praise be to His name, the name of Jesus!
I suspect Jesus enjoyed reading Isaiah 40, and I imagined he might have even smiled when he realized his cousin John was the one verses 3-5 talked about.
What I am truly grateful for today is that Jesus was impacted by these words and became the man they spoke of:
Jesus knew who he was:
"You who bring good tidings to Jerusalem,lift up your voice and shout, lift it up and do not be afraid, say to the towns of Judah 'Here is your God!" 40:9
Jesus was not afraid to declare the kingdom of God was at hand. He learned to not shrink away from his identity as the Son of God. He learned of his true identity and was not afraid to say "I Am!"
Jesus came in power:
"See the Sovereign Lord comes with power and his arm rules for him." 40:10
Jesus learned how to care for his people:
"He tends his flock like a Shepherd. He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart: he gently leads those that have young." 40:11
I cannot help but believe that part of Jesus' life was spent tending sheep. Personal hope of mine maybe. But for him to know how to tenderly care for the lambs and gently lead the ones with young, he must have practiced. As a Shepherd, knowing when to be gentle, and when to be firm was a learned discipline. Here it says Jesus would hold his people close to his heart, like a shepherd with a lamb. Jesus learned how he needed to lead and he learned it from the life of a shepherd he was around growing up. He must have been a good shepherd.
Jesus knew the power of his Daddy.
As Isaiah wraps up chapter 40, speaking of the stars and who holds it all in His hand and calls them out by name, Jesus must have loved 40:18
"To whom then will you compare God?"
"To whom will you compare me? Or who is my equal?" Says the Holy One
I know if I was a little boy and I was told stories of this God every day, I would want to know who He was. Jesus gave himself to pursue this knowledge. He wanted to know this Holy One. He gave himself, even to the point of staying behind at the age of 12 to ask about His Father in the Temple and seek answers from the older priest. Jesus was determined to know this amazing Holy One of Israel!
Thankfully, Isaiah left a huge clue to these answers for Jesus in this same passage saying:
"The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired and weary, and his understanding no one can fathom. He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak." 40:28-29
How deep Jesus hid these words in his soul. He desperately wanted to know his Father and Isaiah has described him so well in this chapter. And Jesus would need to hold tightly to them because -
"Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men will stumble and fall; but those who wait upon the Lord will renew their strength. They will mount up with wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not faint."
Jesus would need these words, as a young man who would face weariness in his journey. As a man who would face tiresome moments. As a man who would face the hopelessness of death. He needed to know that if he waited on his Father, hoped in Him, that his strength would be renewed (and it was) and his hope would be restored (as it was) and that though he would lay in a grave, that he would again soar like the eagle (which he has done!)
These are the words of truth that allowed Jesus to run and. It grow weary. These words allowed him to walk to the Cross and not faint, because his hope was in the One that no one else could compare to!
I pray these words impact me each day, knowing this same Holy One of Israel, the God that none other compare to, has chosen to call me friend. May I, like Jesus find hope and strength as I wait on the Lord!
You are my servant, I have chosen you and have not rejected you." Isaiah 41:9
What amazing words! As Jesus reads these words and over the years he comes to understand these are about him, confirmed on the day of his baptism, how bold they must have made him! Though the word was rejecting him, the Holy One, the Lord Almighty, had chosen him. Jesus easily would have connected these words with tending sheep, seeing lambs rejected by their own mothers, but accepted by the arms of the Shepherd. What confidence these words gave Jesus as he walked here on earth. But God was not finished impacting Jesus just yet:
"So do not fear, for I AM with you. Do not be dismayed, for I AM your God. I WILL strengthen you and help you; I WILL uphold you with my righteous right hand!" 41:10
Jesus learned he had absolutely nothing to worry about. His Father, the God and Holy One of Israel was on his side and was going to hold him up in the strength of His hand!
But that is not all:
"All who rage against you will surely be ashamed and disgraced: those who oppose you will be as nothing and persist." 41:11
Jesus was opposed by Satan. He was opposed by the proud religious leaders. He was opposed by world leaders. He was opposed by demons. Yet he had learned that all who raged against him would perish. How could he be sure? Because his Daddy had said:
"For I am the Lord, your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, 'Do not fear, I will help you. Do not be afraid, O worm Jacob, O little Israel, for I MYSELF will help you,' declared the Lord!
Jesus had no reason to be afraid of those opposing him because he accepted the promise and reality of who was for him, God!
I could go on about Isaiah 42:1-9 and the strength, boldness, and confidence these words gave to Jesus. But then it would take me all night.
I pray tonight that I will live in these same promises Jesus did. "If God is for us, who can stand against us?" Jesus was immensely impacted by the truth that God was for him, was there for him,