ABC July 24-30

July 24 — Isaiah 35-36 — Defying Deity (about 725 – 701 BC).  Isaiah challenged those who were weak and anxious with these words: “Be strong; fear not!  Behold your God will come with vengeance … He will come and save you” (35:4).  Righteous King Hezekiah heard those words from Isaiah and took them to heart.  That promise apparently also found its way to the Assyrian King Sennacherib, so he sent his high-ranking officer with a huge army to surround Jerusalem and defy Yahweh and His prediction, claiming that Assyria was a messenger sent by God (36:10).  He challenged the Jews three times: “Do not let Hezekiah deceive you” (v. 14), “Do not let Hezekiah make you trust in the LORD…” (v. 15), and “Beware lest Hezekiah mislead you…” (v. 18).  It is not wise to defy God!  The world sees our trust in God as foolishness.  We will read tomorrow about how God silenced people who disbelieved His promises and defied His power.

July 25 — Isaiah 37-39, Ps. 76 — The Prayer Letter (about 712 – 701 BC).  I like Hezekiah.  He wasn’t perfect but his heart was right before God and he knew where to go for help.  Jerusalem was surrounded by the army of an empire.  In response, King Hezekiah showed humility by tearing his clothes and wearing sackcloth, and he showed faith by going to the temple (Isa. 37:1) and asking Isaiah to pray (v. 4).  Later, when he received a threatening letter from King Sennacherib, he returned to the temple, spread it before God with a beautiful prayer that honored God (“…you alone … made heaven and earth”—vs. 16), stated the mocking threat of the Assyrian king (vv. 17-18), and requested help for Jerusalem for the purpose, “that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that you alone are the LORD” (v. 20).  God was pleased to answer that prayer by destroying both the opposing army and the king without the men of Jerusalem having to lift a sword.  What trouble surrounds your life today?  Follow Hezekiah’s example by humbly honoring God in presenting your need before him in faith.  You might even want to write it out and spread it before God as you pray.  Don’t forget to ask others to pray with you about your need.

July 26 — Isaiah 40-43 — The Great I Am (about 711 BC).  These chapters are filled with the absolute uniqueness of God.  He clearly identified Himself by His name: “I am the LORD; that is my name” (42:8).  Where the word “LORD” appears in the Old Testament in an all-caps form, it represents four letters in Hebrew, or YHWH, which we pronounce “Yahweh.”  That is His name.  Five other times in these chapters God declares, “I am the LORD” (42:6, 43:3, 11, 15; 44:24).  He is unequivocally unique and He asks, “To whom then will you liken God …?” (40:18) and, “To whom then will you compare me …?” (40:25).  The Creator of all that we see in nature (40:28) asked, “Who has performed and done this …?” and then answered in the same verse, “I, the LORD, the first, and with the last; am he” (41:4).  In the beginning, there was nothing else, so He said, “I, the LORD, the first …”  Then He said He would be “with the last” because then, those whom He has created will be with Him.  Take a minute to praise Yahweh for who He is.  He is the one who created you.

July 27 — Isaiah 44-48 — Declaring the End (about 711 BC).  The main thing that stands out in these chapters about God is that He demonstrates who He is in contrast to any so-called god by announcing in advance what will happen.  “I am God, and there is none like me, declaring the end from the beginning” (46:9-10).  Are there other gods?  If so, “Let them declare what is to come.” (44:7).  They cannot but Yahweh can and did.  He demonstrated it by announcing over 100 years in advance the name of the king who would free Israel from being captives in Babylon.  He “says of Cyrus, ‘He is my shepherd, and he shall fulfill all my purpose’; saying of Jerusalem, ‘She shall be built’” (44:28, cf. 45:13).  Only God can accurately predict something like that.  Before Babylon would fall, they would be futilely exalting themselves by saying twice in their hearts, “I am, and there is no one besides me” (47:8, 10).  Oh yes, there is!  Both Cyrus and Yahweh would show themselves to be superior to Babylon.  Pride comes before a fall.  God is the only one who is able to truthfully claim, “there is none like me” and prove it by “declaring the end from the beginning.”  Be in awe!

July 28 — 2 Kings 18:9—19:37; Ps. 46, 80, 135 — Rescue (about 701 BC).  We have read this story about the kings Hezekiah and Sennacherib a few days ago in Isa. 36-37 and will read about them again later in 2 Chron. 32.  It was a terrifying time for Jerusalem.  Only 20 years earlier, the northern kingdom of Israel was conquered by the army of this same Assyrian empire.  They had since also overcome all the fortified cities of Judah except Jerusalem.  Would God rescue them?  The three psalms chosen for today’s reading fit well into this context because they are psalms that cry for God’s help as well as praising Him.  Three times they cried, “Restore us, O God; let your face shine, that we may be saved!” (80:3, 7, 19).  God responded with, “Be still, and know that I am God.  I will be exalted among the nations” (46:10).  Perhaps after God miraculously destroyed the surrounding enemy, the people sang Ps. 135, which begins with a four-fold “Praise the LORD!” (vv. 1, 3) and ends with a four-fold “Bless the LORD!” (vv. 19-20).  Let’s surround this day with expressions of praise and blessing to our God!

July 29 — Isa. 49-53 — Suffering Servant (about 711 BC).  Many modern religious Jews interpret the Suffering Servant of Isa. 53 as being Israel, based on 49:3: “You are my servant, Israel.”  But the four other times this “servant” is mentioned in our reading, it seems to clearly point to the coming Messiah.  Just two verses later, this servant’s purpose is “to raise up the tribes of Jacob and to bring back … Israel” (v. 5), so the servant cannot be Israel here, or he would be restoring himself.  This suffering Servant is descriptively introduced in 52:13 as the One who would be “lifted up and … exalted” by God but “marred, beyond human semblance” by man.  Then chapter 53 reads as if it comes from the New Testament because it so closely fits the description of the sacrificial Jesus as He gave up His life to pay the penalty for our sins and offer us eternal life.  The chapter concludes with the ultimate purpose of Jesus’ incarnation: “… the righteous one, my servant [shall] make many to be accounted righteous” (53:11).  About 700 years before Jesus appeared on earth, Isaiah was given this description of the coming Messiah.  Hail, conquering Servant!

July 30 — Isaiah 54-58 — A Spiritual Two-Step (about 711 BC).  As I read through Isa. 55 today, I was struck by how familiar it was to me.  It was almost as if I had memorized the whole chapter at one time, which I had not.  It is brought to our attention so frequently because it is so rich and applicable.  For example, there are four things mentioned in vv. 6-7 that we are to do: seek … call … forsake … and return.  Actually, they are two double-sided actions that God requires.  The first has to do with an attentive relationship: “Seek the LORD while he may be found; call upon him while he is near” (v. 6).  Seek and call.  God said we should orientate ourselves toward Him because “my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts” (v. 8).  We live on a lower plane until we connect in the close relationship God wants us to have with Him.  The second required action pair has to do with full repentance: “let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; let him return to the LORD, that he may have compassion on him” (v. 7).  The two sides of repentance are to forsake our sinful ways and to return to God.  Seek and turn—that is all.  Keep doing it to live on that higher plane!

Published by abibleread

This website honors the Bible as the inspired Word of God through which God speaks to us as we read and study it.

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