Impact on Jesus Week #24
Isaiah 20. A very short chapter, only 6 verses, but full of meaning and impact.
It may sound a little weird, but God tells Isaiah to take off his sackcloth and his sandals. For three years Isaiah walked around "stripped and barefoot." This prophet of God literally walked around naked for Three Years because God told him too. His actions were meant to symbolize a warning to Egypt and Cush of a coming disaster.
How difficult this must have been for Isaiah. Walking around naked for anyone to see. I am pretty sure this would have been quite embarrassing. Isaiah certainly would have been ridiculed and mocked. Laughed at and scorned. Yet, Isaiah did this because God told him to. He was willing to be obedient, despite the mockery and shame it would bring. It was Gods way of delivering the message the people needed to hear.
I imagine Jesus listening to this story and maybe having some reasonable questions, like: Why did Isaiah have to be naked? Why would God ask him to endure that shame and embarrassment? Couldn't the message have been delivered another way?
As Jesus listen and learned from this short section from Isaiah, it would all become so real to him. Imagine as he discovers his true identity as Gods Son and remembers the glory he left behind. Imagine how "stripped" Jesus must have felt in our flesh. Imagine the mockery and scorn he heard from Satan and other spiritual beings as he walked on earth. Then, as he approached the cross, this story surely was in the front of his mind. After three years of walking around in his flesh speaking the message of Gods Kingdom and His love for us, Jesus would be strung up naked for the world to laugh at and mock. He would endure shame and be scorned for his life and especially upon his death.
We know that Jesus asked "Is there any other way?" As a man he would not want to be stripped before all men. However, he also learned from Isaiah that obedience was a necessary component in delivering a message, and Jesus had a huge message to deliver.
Just as when the three years were over for Isaiah, God delivered his warnings to Cush and Egypt and "Those who had put their trust in them." God had a message to deliver through his Son and his shame on the cross!
As Jesus hung naked, stripped of all dignity and manliness, he was delivering Gods message to us. He was saying, "To all those who put their trust in others and not God, you too will be stripped and put to shame! However, for all those who put their trust on me as their Savior, I am going to be stripped and put to shame in your place so you will never have to endure the suffering of standing ashamed before God! To those who flee to any one other than me for help, you will find yourself in a place of disaster, but to those who flee to me, you will find a Deliverer!
Such short passages that Jesus learned from, but what Huge impact they had!
May we, like Isaiah, like Jesus, be willing to be obedient, even if the world will laugh at us, mock us, scorn us, and treat us shamefully. May we put obedience to God above all things, knowing that through our obedience, God has a message to deliver to those around us. May we count this world, including acceptance and popularity, as nothing more than dung, in order to obtain to the high calling of obedience and following Jesus!
I find it interesting how in Isaiah there are these "nuggets" that just pop out while reading. I am again learning that any attempt on my behalf to be comprehensive in sharing these Impact moments would be futile. There are so many and time just simply would not allow. Things like 22:11 where it is pointed out the Jerusalem is in trouble, and they worked hard to save themselves, "but you did not look to the One who made it or have regard for the One who planned it long ago." Impactful words of warning for Jesus as he faced many trials and opportunities to try and save himself, but he learned to always "look to the One" by reading of the failure of those in Jerusalem to look to God for their salvation.
Today though, the story that finishes chapter 22 really grabbed my attention. Verses 15-24, Isaiah tells of a specific message that the Lord sent him to deliver to a steward in charge of the palace in Jerusalem. His name was Shebna, and evidently he was making big plans for himself to be honored. However, God sends word that his position would be stripped away from him and given to someone else, Eliakim. God says:
"I will clothe him with your robe and fasten your sash around him and hand your authority over to him. He will be a father to those who live in Jerusalem and to the house of Judah. I will place on his shoulder the key to the house of David; what he opens no one can shut, and what he shuts no one can open."
These are mighty strong words for the one who had been given the privilege to steward the house of David, yet had chosen to seek his own honor instead. He had put his desire for himself above his task of taking care of the "house of David." Because of this, another was going to rise in his place and God himself was going to lift him up and honor him.
To Jesus, this must have been such an amazing story of encouragement. Shebna represented all the failures of another one who had been given the task to steward the "house of the Lord," Lucifer. Lucifer had chosen to seek his own honor and lift himself up to a place of majesty. He had been given the task of caring for Gods people, but his greed and selfishness had caused him to seek his own glory. Because of this, God was going to strip away from him all that he had been given charge of and give it to another, Jesus. Jesus was going to be clothed in honor by God himself. Jesus was going to be given the Key to the "house of David" and here he learned that whatever he opened, no one would be able to shut. And whatever he shut, no one could open.
What an impactful moment for Jesus as he reads what some might consider a random story about two men, but as Jesus grew in wisdom and knowledge, he understood that this story was about so much more. And when he understood Who was lifting him up and who was giving him the keys, God himself, Jesus knew he had nothing to fear because no one could ever stop God from doing what He purposes to do!
And the impact for me is so encouraging as well. If Jesus has been given the keys and no one can shut what he opens, or open what he shuts, then that means whatever he purposes in my life will be accomplished!
I wonder how comforting Isaiah 24 was to Jesus as he walked on earth?
The title for the chapter in the NIV is "The Lords Devastation of the Earth." So the word comfort and devastation may not seem to go together, but there is a connection.
Through Isaiah, the Lord delivers a tough message. "The Lord is going to lay waste the earth and devastate it." 24:1.
That is a harsh opening message. But it really is Gods mercy pouring out. In verse 5 it says, "The earth is defiled by its people they have disobeyed the laws. Violated the statues, and broken the everlasting covenant. Therefore, a curse consumes the earth. It's people must bear their guilt."
Jesus walked on this earth that is consumed by the curse. He was surrounded by the oppressiveness of the curse and its effects. Just like Isaiah, David, and those who had gone before, Jesus must have wondered how long this curse must go on. He surely would have prayed, "Father, when will you come and set this place and its people free from the curse?"
In this chapter, a long list of devastation at the Lords hands is laid out. "The earth is broken up, split asunder, thoroughly shaken,reeling like a drunk, under the heavy load of the guilt of its rebellion, the earth fails never to rise again!" (Paraphrase of v.19-20)
Verse 21 says "The Lord WILL punish the powers in the heavens above and the kings on earth below."
At the end of the Lord tearing it all down, Jesus reads these words of comfort in verse 23, "the Lord almighty WILL reign . . . Gloriously!"
As Jesus lived in the midst of the oppression of sin on the earth and the devastation it brings upon its people, he rest assured that a day was coming that God would tear it all down, remove every stain, rebuild it with His hands, and reign gloriously over it all! In other words, before the reign of glory, it had to be completely shattered and rebuilt. So Jesus lived in boldness knowing that all the oppression he saw, felt, and lived through, would be "devastated" by his Father so that something glorious could take its place.
That is also why he willingly laid down his body of flesh as a sacrifice, allowing his body to be devastated, because he learned from letters like Isaiah 24, that what is torn down by his Father in order to remove the oppression of this world will be replaced with something far more glorious by the loving hands of his Father!
I pray I live with this same thought in mind. That what I see today is a world consumed by its guilt and shame and that it will be devastated by God himself. Therefore, may I live like Jesus, not for the things of this world which are fading away, but for the glory of God the Father who is preparing a place where all that was devastated will be restored by his hands and He will reign in glory.
"Oh Lord, you are my God: I will exalt you and praise your name, for in perfect faithfulness you have done marvelous things, things planned long ago." Isaiah 25:1
What an amazing way to open up a praise to God. Isaiah writes as if he simply could not control his joy and emotion. This all of course coming off the heels of writing about the devastation God was going to do on earth. This praise seems to be an extension of worship found in 24:23 where Isaiah wrote "the Lord Almighty will reign . . . Gloriously!"
Isaiah continues on in exalting God and praising him for his mighty works. Then he reaches verse 6 which says;
"On this mountain the Lord Almighty will prepare a feast of rich food for all peoples, a banquet of aged wine - the best of meats and the finest of wines! On this mountain he will destroy the shroud that enfolds all peoples, the sheet that covers all nations; he will swallow up death forever. The Sovereign Lord will wipe away the tears from all faces; he will remove the disgrace of his people from all the earth. The Lord has spoken." 25:6-8
There is no doubt in my mind that this passage impacted Jesus in a very real way. As Jesus came to understand the purpose of his life, as he looked to the "mountain" that he faced, Calvary, he knew that his willing sacrifice would bring all of Isaiah's words to pass. As he prepared to ascend that "mountain" these words would have rung true in his ears. He knew that there, where he would lay down his life, that God was going to prepare a feast for his people (unless you eat my flesh and drink my blood). He knew this Feast would be the best any man or woman would ever enjoy, a feast at the banquet table of God. Jesus knew that on that mountain that he would destroy the barrier that separated man from God. He learned that his death would actually "swallow up death" and remove its grip from all his people. By his death, his people would no longer live under the fear and curse of death, but rather be able to enter into life abundant. And as he ascended that mountain, Jesus knew that on that mountain, God, his Father, would wipe away all tears and remove the disgrace from all his people. How did Jesus know all this? Because "The Lord has spoken!"
Jesus had learned that what God said, God would do! That is why Jesus could join Isaiah in praising God in the middle of what appeared to be devastation, because from the midst of it all, God had promised to do an amazing work "on this mountain!"
Therefore, Isaiah, seeing it from years ahead, and Jesus living it, and you and I looking back on it, can all join in saying;
"Surely, this is our God, we trusted in him, and He saved us! This is our Lord, we trusted in him; let us Rejoice and be Glad in His Salvation!"
One verse leapt off the page at me today. Isaiah 27:4. "I am not angry!"
That seems to be in direct contrast to what is before those words.
"The Lord will punish with his sword, his fierce, great and powerful sword." 27:1
But this chapter is not about God punishing his people, it is a prophecy of deliverance. God is declaring that although he has devastated Israel because of of their sin and unbelief. But this is a prophecy of comfort and redemption. God is declaring to his people that he is coming to get them and nothing will stand in his way.
He declares he is going to slay the serpent. God promises he is going to tend his vineyard and guard it day and night, so no one can harm it!
What a gorgeous picture since Jesus declares, "I am the Vine."
Jesus would have found great comfort in this prophecy because his Father had promised that he was going to slay the enemy, and as the master Gardener, he was going to tend his Vine and guard it day and night, so no one could harm it.
As a master Gardener, the Father would trim the Vine, prune its branches, and care for it so it could produce the best fruit. The trimming and pruning would not have felt great, and at times, may have seemed like the Gardener was angry or upset because of the pain. However, Jesus learned early on, from the very mouth of his Father through the pen of Isaiah, "I am not angry!"
As Jesus endured the greatest pruning and trimming a Vine could ever undergo, he had to hold fast to the promise the His Dad was not angry, and that through this pruning, the sweetest fruit would burst forth from his branches. Therefore, Jesus willingly endured the "pruning" because he had faith and trust in the One who protected him from harm. He believed in the hands of the Master Gardener, and as he felt the sting of death, he held fast to these words, "I am not angry!"
Oh that I would trust the hands of the One who tends me, trims me, primes me, so that I might bear great fruit. Oh that I would learn, as Jesus did, to hold fast to the truth that God is not angry as his sword slashes back and forth, but rather I would believe that it is a sign of His deliverance of me from the grip of my enemy. Oh that I would see the trials and tribulations of this world for what they truly are, an act of His Mercy and Love as he protects me from the enemy who thirst for my blood and seeks to destroy me! Oh that I would trust in his loving hands and believe the truth that God is not angry.
I will openly admit, reading through the Old Testament while seeking to learn as Jesus learned has been both invigorating and challenging at the same time. Sometimes it is easy to see how Jesus was impacted because it was reflected in his life. In other days, it is a real challenge to think through the question "How did this impact Jesus?"
Today I read Isaiah 29-30 and it was one of those days for me. It might be because there is an overload of raw material that Jesus read through. Verses that are familiar to us and some that are not. But today, it was that familiar one that rattled around in my mind.
"The Lord says: These people come near to me with their mouth and honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. Their worship me in vain, their teachings are but rules taught by men. " 29:13
I wonder what it was like for Jesus, the Son of God, as he walked among people who lived out these words. Jesus was surrounded by religious activities and zealots. He was trained in the law's and traditions by men. He watched countless sacrifices made on the altar. He saw people fill synagogues and listen to a Rabbi. On the outside, it appeared they were honoring God, but Jesus had learned that the heart was the issue.
We know that Jesus was impacted not only by these words, but also by the reality of them being true in the lives all around him. How do we know?
"Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were not willing." Matthew 23:37
Jesus saw this apathy toward his Father in the hearts of those around him and he saw how it destroyed the joy of their hearts. He longed for the people to experience the joy of a life of one whose heart was close to God. Yet, there was something keeping them apart, a barrier.
So he allowed this raw emotion of grief over those around him missing out on this abundant life to impact him and be a driving force to lead him to the Cross. Jesus longed for his people to experience the joy of life near his Father, so he gave himself to be the One to smash the barrier between me and the Father.
It was no coincidence that today I also read Ephesians 2:13-14
"But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near through the blood of Christ. For he himself is our peace, who has made the two one and has destroyed the BARRIER the dividing wall of hostility."
Now, because Jesus was impacted with the emotion felt in the words "but their hearts are far from me," you and I now have free and unfettered access to the One who longs to be near to us!
Thank you Jesus for be willing to learn and be impacted by these words and give yourself as a willing sacrifice so that the barrier in my life could be removed and my heart can now be brought near to my God!
I was thinking about the prophet Isaiah today. We have many things written by him, but what about those days he did not write anything. Wonder what he was doing?
This caused me to think about Jesus. We have some of the things that he did written down, but what about the many days where there is nothing recorded. What would he have been doing.
Today I chose to not read, but rather just BE. And I realized that was probably what life was like for Isaiah on the many days he was not writing what the Lord had said. That is when I realized how much Jesus learned from that part of all the stories in the OT as well.
There were days when Jesus did not perform some mighty miracle of say something we now have written on red. There were days he was just simply Being. Days he simply took to BE with his Father, with his disciples, with the people. And like Isaiah, it would be in these times, when he was simply being quiet or still that His Father would speak to him and prepare him for what was ahead.
What I am trying to say is that today I realized Jesus was just as impacted by the "in between" times of men like Isaiah as he realized that God moved and spoke when they were still.
I pray today that I am willing to be impacted in the same way and learn to just BE still and listen while I am going about my daily life.