A New World

Isaiah 64-66

As the new heavens and the new earth that I make will endure before me,” declares the Lord, “so will your name and descendants endure.

God called Jacob and He made the descendants of Jacob his Holy people. These are the ones who call on the name of the Lord. Yet today, there are those in Korea, China, Saudi Arabia, Kenya, Morocco, Malawi, Russia, Slovenia, Italy, Germany, France, America, Canada, Samoa, the Philippines and all over the world who know the name of the same God who called chose Jacob so many years ago. Even though they were his chosen people, God said, “Here I am, here I am” to a nation that was not called by his name (65:1). God has called Christians to the same promise that he called the Israelites. Indeed, He says “I have come to gather all nations and languages; they will come and see My glory…I will establish a sign among them, and I will send survivors from them to the nations…and the islands far away—who have not heard of My fame or seen My glory” (66:19).

Eight hundred years later, God sent a sign by the name of Jesus. Jesus himself performed sign after sign, from healing the blind (John 9) to raising the dead (John 11). The final sign was being raised from the dead himself, but this was different from the sign that he performed by raising Lazarus, for Lazarus returned to the grave. Jesus never returned to the grave; to make sure there could be no confusion, Jesus was taken up into the sky in the presence of his followers (Luke 24). The fact that Jesus was taken up is key here because it signifies his resurrection to something new, just as Isaiah prophesied that the world will be transformed into something new.

The closing words of Isaiah state that just as the new earth will endure, so will we. We will endure from new moon to new moon and from sabbath to sabbath. That is, we will continue living indefinitely. But the final verse takes a turn from the uplifting words that precede it; it promises destruction to God’s enemies, those who rebelled against him. It does leave you with a few questions though, what does it mean for their fire to never go out? It might point to an eternal suffering of those rebels as is believed by many Christians. I am not entirely sure, but asking questions that make you examine your own beliefs is important for growth. We must always be humble and accept that these prophecies are complex, and we may never fully understand them until the end has come.

Nathaniel Johnson

 

Today’s Bible passage can be read or listened to at https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Isaiah+64-66&version=NIV

Tomorrow’s reading will be 2 Kings 20-21 as we continue the 2020 Chronological Bible Reading Plan

Let the Rains Fall

Isaiah 54-58

Isaiah 55 10a 11 NIV sgl

There is an endless cycle of the outpouring of God’s word followed by Man’s obedience and satisfaction before Man disobeys and becomes dissatisfied. This can manifest itself over the course of generations, as is the case in the story of Noah. God is with Man in the Garden and Man knows God. Man is obedient but his obedience quickly turns to disobedience. Once God decides it is time to pour out His Word, He speaks to Noah and Noah listens. Then the cycle repeats. We see an obedient generation in the early kingdom of Israel under David which becomes disobedient in a matter of generations. The cycle can also be seen in the life of individuals. I was fed the Word from the time I was an infant; I grew up with it and accepted it. Then I became disobedient as I became a teen only to see God’s word in a whole new light and to be brought back to obedience and satisfaction in God. In fact, I have seen this cycle no less than three times in my own life. The cycle can be a minor affair, not having to represent a complete falling out with God but instead moments of spiritual hunger and moments of spiritual contentment.

Isaiah 55:8-11 is a wonderful metaphor for this cycle. We see that God’s word is like the rain, for it exists for a purpose; it exists to nurture the earth and to bear fruit. At times the rain can come as a veritable monsoon, as in the days of the early church when men were prophesying and speaking in tongues and the church was spreading like wildfire. It can come and it can go without warning, bringing with it the full force of a thunderstorm, forcing everyone to watch in awe. It can also come gently in the night and no one will hear it.

Droughts can stretch on seemingly endlessly, but survival is still made possible by the preparations that we make during the rainy season. We store up food for ourselves so that we won’t go hungry. Droughts are tough. Some people don’t survive. Some are victims of their own inaction, unable to survive because they didn’t reap a harvest while it was available to them. Yet still others seem to be innocent, faithful in the harvest and responsible in the draught, but they fall victim to it nevertheless. It is possible that there was water nearby and all they had to do was search for it. Sometimes it requires the wisdom to move on from a place to survive a draught. After all, there is a reason that not many people live in the desert.  The draught is difficult to overcome but one thing is certain: the rain will come again.

Nathaniel Johnson

 

Today’s Bible reading passage can be read or listened to at https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Isaiah+54-58&version=NIV

Tomorrow’s reading will be Isaiah 59-63 as we continue on the 2020 Chronological Bible Reading Plan

 

I am He who says: Here I am.

Isaiah 49-53

Isaiah 58 9a NIV

I feel as though it would be a great disservice to pass over this portion of scripture and not comment on the incredible prophecies of and allusions to the Christ. So here is a comment: it is incredible. Please study this passage with a focus on the light it sheds on the history contained in the New Testament. Though I feel as though I should spend more time on this topic than those two sentences, my thoughts can’t help but be drawn to a seemingly simple, yet complex and culturally pervasive game known as “Peekaboo.”

Everyone has seen a parent play peekaboo with their infant child. They will hide behind their hands to the dismay of the child only to pop out with an exclamation of great joy from the same child. This game is not often given much thought, but it illustrates an important concept in developmental psychology known as object permanence. When an infant has yet to develop object permanence, they don’t know that an object still exists when it leaves their sight. Once they have grown and developed, they are able to understand the idea of “hiding,” and can tell that their mom or dad is still there hiding behind their hands even though they are out of the child’s sight.

Object permanence has parallel applications in all aspects of life. If you have never seen the ocean, you still know that it exists albeit with a lesser degree of knowledge than one who has been to the ocean, has seen the ocean, has been in the ocean and experienced the ocean personally. The act of knowing an object exists doesn’t extend just to objects that we can personally experience but also to those which we have no possible way of ever experiencing. We may know that the inner core of the earth is molten metal and that it is close to 10,000 °F even though we can’t see it, we can’t touch it and we may never be able to experience it in any direct way.

Of all the things that we cannot see and yet believe in, God is the one of whom we have the hardest time convincing ourselves. From the age of one, we begin to believe in things which we cannot see, which we cannot touch, which we have yet to experience. As we age and grow “wiser,” we begin to doubt that we cannot truly believe in something that we cannot experience. How foolish that is. If you have never been to the ocean, yet someone told you that it exists, would you not believe them? If a scientist told you that the inner core of the earth is 10,000 °F based on seismic and magnetic readings, would you not at least consider his claim plausible? Yet for some reason, when you tell yourself that God exists, there is a voice in the back of your head that says: “How can you believe in something you cannot see?” Again, I say: How foolish that is.

The Lord has displayed His holy arm in the sight of all the nations; all the ends of the earth will see the salvation of our God. The oral history of our God, the written history of our God and finally the life and works of Jesus Christ and those who witnessed him are an incredible power, foreseen centuries beforehand and proclaimed in the ear of a man, Isaiah, and then to the world, should be enough to convince anyone of the things unseen if only they are mature enough to see it. If you cannot see it, do not take that as a sign of your lack of faith. Instead, pray that you would develop and grow and develop the ability to believe in the things that you can’t see. It is self-evident in our experience as humans that it is indeed an ability that needs to be developed, to believe in that which we cannot see. When you cannot see God, wait and watch, for he is the one who says: Here I am.

Nathaniel Johnson

 

Today’s Bible passage can be read or listened to https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Isaiah+49-53&version=NIV

Tomorrow’s reading will be Isaiah 54-58 as we continue on the 2020 Chronological Bible Reading Plan

The Maker of All Things – including Science

Isaiah 44-48

Isaiah 44 24 NIV sgl

In this short passage, there are three profound thoughts. Indeed, they are incredibly profound considering this text was written by a man who lived around 2500 years ago. The first is that God is uncreated, he is the beginning and the end, the first and the last. How can something be uncreated? Everything seems to be created. You yourself were formed in the womb against your own will, even before you had a conscious will. We create things every day by taking something with potential and turning it into something with value. We turn raw meat into an edible meal, turn wood into heat, turn metals into computers. But even those raw ingredients came from somewhere; the meat came from another animal, the wood came from another tree and the metal came from minerals in the Earth. The fact that something can be uncreated is completely antagonistic to our entire human experience. It may appear there is no reason to believe that there is such a thing as “uncreated,” yet Isaiah believes there is a reason. (It may help that he heard God say it Himself.) God mocks the gods of Babylon, Bel and Nebo who were also known as Marduk and Nabu, for being crafted by human hands. Even those who worshipped these gods knew that they were created since both Nabu and Marduk had parents. How can one who is created be anything close to a god? One who has a beginning cannot begin to come close to the power of one who is uncreated, one who IS the beginning. It is also interesting to realize that shortly after Isaiah’s time (relatively speaking, as it is nearly two centuries after the fact) Greek philosophers began to ponder questions of metaphysics and the meaning and even the existence of time. There were some who concluded that time does exist. More than that, they concluded past and future do not exist, but only the present. Two and a half millennia ago, God said, “I am the beginning and the end.” He is the past and the present. He always has been and always will be. In this day, quantum physics affirms the existence of a beginning. The expansion of the universe can be traced backward to a single point in time where it began. The beginning exists, therefore God exists.

 

Second, God can provide things which cannot be created. While we marvel at our creations, modern technology, architecture and art, though impressive and beneficial to be sure, God creates things that we can only begin to understand. God creates light and darkness. He says he will give us treasures of darkness and riches from secret places. This probably makes me a little odd, but it makes me think about gravity and magnetism. Everyone knows about gravity and magnetism. We know that if you drop something, it will fall. If you place metal near a magnet, they will be attracted. Everyone knows this, yet it is still an incredible mystery. Why do things fall? Why are magnets magnetic? Now you can apply equations all day long and understand exactly how objects will move in certain environments, but no one can explain why matter has a gravitational field or why a magnet has a magnetic field. Wouldn’t it be quite inconvenient if the universe were set up such that gravity actually repelled all matter away from each other? Why do the equations even work? Why are the laws of physics constant? It would be rather chaotic if you were suddenly 100 pounds heavier or lighter from one day to the next based on a non-fixed gravitational constant. Yet someone decided to set up the universe in a way that would be useful for us. That’s a little bit too convenient to call it chance, if you ask me. That was a bit of a tangent, but it is related to God’s creation of light, which is an electro-magnetic wave. The interesting thing about light is that it is affected by gravity. Some guy called Einstein figured that out. Light can be bent through space if the gravitational forces are strong enough. There is a phrase from the Psalms (104:2) that says that God wraps himself in light. How could David have known that this is a physical possibility? Only that God created light, knows everything about it and revealed Himself to David. God promises in this portion of Isaiah to give us these treasures of darkness so that we may know that He is God, and that he calls our name. Knowing that we know hardly anything about light and gravity, even with all our technology and many years of study, convinces me of the intricacy of the universe and the necessity of a Master to tame it.

 

The last thought is the most important for us as Christians. At the beginning of chapter 44, God promises to pour out his spirit on the descendants of Jacob. We see this come to fruition some seven centuries later during Pentecost. God also promises to give us the choice to be heirs to this promise. He says that those who declare themselves as belonging to the Lord are included in this promise. This is our story as Christians. This is reiterated in Galatians 3, when it says that we get to share in the inheritance of Abraham through Christ and thereby receive the spirit of God.

 

Nathaniel Johnson

 

Today’s Bible reading can be read or listened to at https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Isaiah+44-48&version=NIV

Tomorrow’s reading will be 2 Kings 18:9-19:37 and Psalm 46 80,135 as we continue on the 2020 Chronological Bible Reading Plan

Isaiah 40-43

He gives strength to the weary and strengthens the powerless. Those who trust in the LORD will renew their strength; they will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary; they will walk and not faint

“Comfort, comfort My people,” says your God. “Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and announce to her that her time of forced labor is over, her iniquity has been pardoned, and she has received from the LORD’s hand double for all her sins.” ~ Is. 40:1-2 

While the first 39 chapters of Isaiah consist of the judgment pronounced on Israel & Judah, the book of consolation begins in chapter 40 and continues for the last 27 chapters of the book (mirroring the set-up of the Bible itself). Isaiah 40-43 contains beautiful pictures of who God is and breath-taking prophecies of the future messiah. When we look at the story of the Israelites a central theme that we see is the forsaking of the true God for idols. Because they could see the idols and because other nations worshipped in the same way, they felt like it was more profitable to worship them. However, these idols always proved to be worthless and caused pain and destruction. If we see that we are worshipping idols, what should we do? How can we turn away from the worthlessness of these idols to the infinite value found in God through Christ. 

Isaiah 40-43 gives us an answer to that as well. In Isaiah 40, Isaiah reminds us who God is. He asks the question in v. 18-19, “Who will compare God with? What likeness will you compare Him to? To an idol? Something that a smelter casts, and a metalworker plates with gold and makes silver welds for it?” Instead of worshipping a created thing, God points us to what he has created to show his power and to show us that he is the only one worth worshipping. In v. 26, he says, “Look up and see: who created these? He brings out the starry host by number; He calls all of them by name. Because of His great power and strength, not one of them is missing.” When we find ourselves looking towards idols for our value and worth – and in turn worshipping them, we need to remind ourselves of where our true value comes from. To do that, we have to turn our eyes away from ourselves and the things we think define us – whether that’s our relationships, money, career, or anything else – and turn them towards the only thing that really gives us worth. By focusing on God and basing our lives on his unchanging character, we can rest in God through the storms and trials of life. He is our firm foundation. 

~ Cayce Fletcher

 

Today’s Bible passage can be read or listened to on Bible Gateway – Isaiah 40-43.

Tomorrow, we continue reading about the history of Judah and Israel in Isaiah 44-48 – as we continue the 2020 Chronological Bible Reading Plan.

Isaiah 35-36

Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.

The book of Isaiah holds many judgments against Israel, Judah, and all the nations surrounding them. Page after page contains descriptions of how God will deal with these people, because of the sin that they commit. In the midst of this, there are glimpses of a wondrous hope to come and worship God in his future kingdom. We see the beautiful future that God has prepared for all those who love him despite the brokenness of our current realities. 

Isaiah 35 describes this future in a continuation of the prophecy beginning in Isaiah 34. In Isaiah 34, Edom’s eventual punishment and destruction is described: “Edom’s streams will be turned into pitch, her soil into sulfur” (v. 9). In this place, jackals, hyenas, goats, birds of prey, and snakes will gather – all symbols of destruction and brokenness (v. 14-15). The very land has turned bitter and worthless under the consequence of sin. In contrast to this, Isaiah 35 describes the land of the Israelites as a desert that blossoms like a rose (v. 1). In this place, “the eyes of the blind will be opened, and the ears of the deaf unstopped. Then the lame will leap like a deer, and the tongue of the mute will sing for joy, for water will gush in the wilderness and streams in the desert; the parched ground will become a pool of water and the thirsty land springs of water” (v. 5-7). Unlike the land of Edom, in the redeemed land, “There will be no vicious beast, but the redeemed will walk on it” (v. 9). In fact, the places where the vicious beasts resided, like the lairs of jackals, will be turned into a meadow of grass, reeds, and papyrus (v. 7). A road will go through this land called the Holy Way; “the unclean will not travel on it, but it will be for the one who walks the path. Even the fool will not go astray” (v. 8). This path will lead up to the mountain of God where the people will come to worship God. 

We live in an incredibly broken world that seems like it is full of vicious beasts and people bent on destroying themselves and others. We can see the consequences of sin in the hurt that is being done so carelessly to everyone, including our most vulnerable. We can rest in the hope that this will not always be the way the world will be. Those that would be overlooked by society and viewed as less than are the very people that God includes in the description of his future kingdom: the blind, deaf, lame, and mute. These are the people who lead the way for praising God’s redemption of the land. We will not always live in these broken times. We can trust that one day streams of water will flow through the desert and the whole world will blossom like a rose. In fact, through the Holy Spirit, we can begin to redeem our time here for God and be his hands and feet in this broken world. How can you bring the living water to those around you? 

~ Cayce Fletcher

 

Today’s Bible passage can be read or listened to on Bible Gateway – Isaiah 35-36.

Tomorrow, we continue reading about the history of Judah and Israel in Isaiah 37-39 & Psalm 76 – as we continue the 2020 Chronological Bible Reading Plan.

Isaiah 31-34

The Lord gives victory to his anointed. Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God.

One highlight of my year is going to South East Camp held on the mountaintops of the NC Blue Ridge. Years ago, we drove down the mountain to a center with a high ropes course. Everyone suited up with a helmet and a buddy and clipped their carabiner to the first level on the course. Now, I have some friends who are into rock climbing and would be happy to dangle off the top of a mountain just to get the adrenaline rush. However, I am not that person. As a child, I used to get weak knees going to the edge of the second floor balcony at my church. In fact, there are still some rides I refuse to go on at amusement parks, because the drop is just too much. I’ve gotten better, but I definitely am still scared of heights. Going back to our high ropes adventure, I made it through the whole course, including the more difficult parts, but then I came to the end where I needed to zip line down to the ground. 

Looking down off the ledge, I could already feel a tingling in my knees and my palms getting sweaty. At that moment, I felt like turning around and going through the whole ropes course again just to make it back down to the bottom, because I felt like that was something that I could control with my body. Even though my heart was racing, I paused to take a few deep breaths, and then I stepped off the side to zoom through the air. In truth, once I picked up my feet, I felt safe and secure in my harness. The obstacle I had to overcome was one of trusting that my harness would do what it was supposed to do. I had to trust in something that I couldn’t control, but was probably the quickest and safest way down. 

In Isaiah 31, we read about some trust issues that the Israelites had developed with God. They weren’t afraid of heights in this case; instead, they were afraid of the nations around them. Israel had chosen to rely on numbers of men and horses when they faced battle, and because of this, they had grown to depend on Egypt’s help. They thought that by controlling the amount of man- and horsepower they could bring to a fight they could ensure their victory. However, God reminds them that the “Egyptians are men, not God; their horses are flesh, not spirit” (Isaiah 31:3). God was so much stronger than anyone the Israelites would face, but they refused to see it. By not trusting in God, they paved the way for their own demise (v. 3). 

We also have a daily choice between trusting God or trusting our own flesh. It may come in the form of choosing to be obedient to God’s command, by giving away our money or time to someone in need, or by sacrificing a desire to make room for a deeper relationship with God. In those times, we may want to trust in our own minds or bodies, because we feel like we can control those things. But, remember, God is so much more mighty than we are. We can trust him in whatever situation that we face. 

~ Cayce Fletcher

 

Today’s Bible passage can be read or listened to on Bible Gateway – Isaiah 31-34.

Tomorrow, we continue reading about the history of Judah and Israel in Isaiah 35-36– as we continue the 2020 Chronological Bible Reading Plan.

Isaiah 23-27

God makes a way in spite of our brokenness.

Isaiah was a prophet in Israel during some very difficult times due to the fact that Israel had to a great extent departed from the true worship of God and were not keeping the commandments as God instructed.  Due to rebellion Israel was divided into two kingdoms.  The Northern Kingdom was known as the Kingdom of Israel and the Southern Kingdom was referred to as Judah in the books of Isaiah and Jeremiah.  These two divisions were adversarial toward each other.  Isaiah was a prophet in Judah over 700 years before the birth of Jesus.  It might be mentioned that Jeremiah was a prophet in Judah later over 600 years before Jesus.  The sinful departure from serving God continued during the times of both prophets.  Perhaps the sinful conditions then were much like and to the degree of the sinfulness that is prevalent in today’s world.  God through these prophets warned Israel that there would be serious consequences of their sin, but they would be greatly blessed if they returned to faithful service to God.  Unfortunately, Israel did not heed the words of the prophets and made bad choices by continuing in their sinful ways.  Indeed, there were serious consequences resulting from their sinful behaviors.  We also have to make similar choices almost daily.  There are blessings when we make choices pleasing to God.  As previously stated, the sinfulness of Judah continued until about 600 years before Jesus.  God withdrew his protection and they were attacked by the Babylonians.  About 606 BC the Babylonians conquered and took the entire population of Judah from their homeland to the land of the Babylonians where they were to be servants of the Babylonians for 70 years.  After the fall of the Babylonian Empire they were permitted to return to their original homeland and to restore their worship of God.

In spite of all the sins of Judah, God never ceased to love them.  In Isaiah 27 God promises a brighter day for Israel when they will no longer be divided and when they are turned from their sinful ways to serve and obey God.  These blessings will happen after Jesus returns and establishes the Kingdom of God.

We can learn much from the experiences of Israel.  We all have sinned and that includes everyone.  Yet, God loves mankind so much that He gave his only begotten son as a sacrifice for our sins, John 3:16.  Today we live in a world with many problems and challenges.  This week we are not at FUEL because of a very serious and deadly virus.  There is strife and unrest in our nation often leading to violence. There are a number of wars in the world.  Although we live in difficult times, we like Israel are confronted with choices.  God has something better ahead for us if we choose to serve him today and accept his son Jesus – The Wonderful Kingdom of God is promised for us!

~ Joe James

 

Today’s Bible passage can be read or listened to on Bible Gateway.

Tomorrow, we continue reading about the history of Judah and Israel in 2 Kings 18:1-8 & 2 Chronicles 29-31 & Psalm 48 – as we continue the 2020 Chronological Bible Reading Plan.

2 Chronicles 27 & Isaiah 9-12

Surely God is my salvation; I will trust and not be afraid. The Lord, the Lord himself, is my strength and my defense[j]; he has become my salvation.”

I am not where I planned to be today. You see for many years this weekend is when I have helped load vans, buses, SUVs and even a Volkswagen bug with a lively group of cheerful travelers as we start making our way to Northern Indiana. Our group is always made up of students and youth workers heading to a youth camp named FUEL. Weeks spent at camp are so incredible because we intentionally set aside time to focus on God. We worship, we learn, we laugh, we encourage, we grow, we pray, . . . This camp offers us the chance to spend some intentional focused time with God. We remember our ultimate life goals of loving God with all that we are and loving others as ourselves. We align our lives with these main goals. We determine our next steps and develop practical actions that show that we have a close, loving relationship with God through Christ and that we truly love others.

Unfortunately, we will not gather physically for FUEL this year, but that shouldn’t stop us from taking time to connect with God. Yes, He is in northern Indiana, but He is where you are right now (He is not far from any one of us Acts 17:27). God loves us so much that He wants to connect with us and He is always there to direct us as well. We just need to focus on Him.

Today we read about a King who did exactly that. He was Jotham. Jotham was the eleventh king of Judah. It was stated that he did what was right in the eyes of the LORD.  What a great way to be remembered. We are also told that He grew powerful because he walked steadfastly before the Lord his God. Steadfastly-that could describe the way we order the habits of our lives! Walking resolutely, firm and unwavering because we are living our lives connected to God.

Jotham benefited from seeing what a king should and should not do from his father. He also benefited from being a contemporary with the prophets IsaiahHoseaAmos, and Micah. Praise God we have their writings available to us today! Just like the faithful kings we can read the message from God sent through these prophets. Isaiah (9-12) presents the coming of the Messiah, just judgment, the future rally of nations to Christ, the Lord’s glorious holy mountain, and the earth being filled with the knowledge of the LORD as waters cover the sea. What an amazing experience it will be to meet with those prophets and those kings that “did what was right in the eyes of the LORD” in the Kingdom of God!

So even though we may have to be socially distant right now, we look forward to that perfect time. Isaiah (12) describes the people rejoicing on that day because the Holy One of Israel is among them. Today we can rejoice because the Holy One of Israel can also be with us!

~ Rebecca Dauksas

 

Read or listen to today’s bible passage on Bible Gateway: 2 Chronicles 27 & Isaiah 9-12.

Tomorrow, we read more of God’s prophecies to Israel and Judah in Micah 1-7 – as we continue the 2020 Chronological Bible Reading Plan

God Has Answers

Isaiah 5-8

Isaiah 8 20 NLT sgl

Today’s reading contained some pretty grim and possibly confusing stuff. In some sections it seems the people of Judah are completely doomed for destruction, while other parts tell of a coming protection. If you have come here today looking for an explanation and clarification on all that took place in these chapters – I’m sorry to say, I haven’t got one. Mainly because one perfect answer doesn’t exist. Scholars, theologians, historians, have all made attempts at understanding biblical prophecy. There has yet to be one universal agreed upon interpretation. The language barrier is one reason, as is the lack of context and historical gaps. If you want to know more about today’s reading and other prophecy, I encourage you to do two things. One, reach out to your local pastor with your specific questions. He or she would love to help you digest the Old Testament. Many have a wealth of biblical knowledge and bookcases stocked with resources. Plus, during this Covid time, many pastors are feeling a disconnect with their congregation, unable to meet under normal circumstances. They would welcome your questions and this opportunity to serve.

My second bit of advice is to follow that in Isaiah 8:20, “Look to God’s instruction and teachings! People who contradict his word are completely in the dark.” (NLT) Isaiah goes on to describe the type of darkness these people experience as a sort of wandering aimless search for answers. He paints a picture of people looking at the sky and shaking their fists at God. These people sought psychics and other mediums for answers, instead of seeking the LORD’s instruction. Whenever you are reading scripture and stumble upon a passage that confuses you, look to what you know to be true about God. Some of these Old Testament passages can be tricky and may produce the picture of God as being only angry and vengeful. Be sure to look to ALL of God’s instructions and teachings. Personally, when reading doom and gloom in the Old Testament, I try to keep in mind what God says about Himself as being “the LORD, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin. Yet he does not leave the guilty unpunished;” (Exodus 34:6-7 NIV). I love this verse in Isaiah, because right in the midst of confusing prophecy, he gives us an answer, encouraging us to seek “God’s instructions” known to us through scripture.

This advice from Isaiah can also be applied to other aspects of our lives when searching for answers. I would say all aspects, except I’ve not yet found the part in scripture that explains calculus. Math aside, when we face difficult or confusing challenges, wandering in unknown darkness, we as believers are encouraged to seek God for the answers. We can approach God through our wonderful redeemer, Jesus Christ. Whether these answers are revealed to us by understanding scripture, receiving peace, or prayer, answers exist. I am experiencing some personal challenges in my life right now. A couple weeks ago, one of my best friends sent me a text reminding me to seek answers from God during this trial. Her encouragement applies also to you, and whatever your current struggles may be. The last part of Isaiah 8 reminded me of her words. I want to share some of them with you as a closing thought.

“It may seem like the pain, loss, confusion, and hole in your heart, are the only things you will ever know, but please remember, the Lord has a plan for you and He is there to listen to you, He is there to listen to your cries of anguish and despair. And He will console you, but you have to ask Him for His help. Please don’t shut yourself out of His sweet  and divine presence, my dear friend. Ask Him to give you guidance for what you should do next. How you should proceed with your life. Ask Him for His wisdom so that you can understand what lesson He wants to teach you, how He is trying to mold your character. And also maybe think of what He wants you to ask Him. What is HIS will?”

Emilee Ross

 

Today’s Bible passage can be read or listened to at https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Isaiah+5-8&version=NIV

Tomorrow we begin another prophet writing at a similar time – Amos, chapters 1-5 – as we continue the 2020 Chronological Bible Reading Plan