July 31 — Not Forgotten — Isaiah 42-44. Reflecting on the Exodus deliverance by God “who makes a way in the sea” (43:16), He looks forward to “doing a new thing … I will make a way in the wilderness” (43:19), as Israel’s release from the Babylonian captivity is not only predicted but the name of the Persian king (Cyrus) who will order it is given (44:28). The first-century Jewish historian Josephus wrote that Cyrus read this ancient prophecy of Isaiah and was so impressed that he considered it a divine order to accomplish what had been predicted. Despite Israel’s predicted 70-year exile in Babylon (Jer. 29:10), God would remember to deliver them. Even today, after having lived 2,000 years in rejection of the Messiah, God’s promise to the Jewish people still stands: “O Israel, you will not be forgotten by me” (44:21).
August 1 — Declaring the End — Isaiah 45-47. God named and addressed the emperor Cyrus long before he was born. God “anointed” him and took him by the “right hand” (45:1) to do His will in freeing the Jews (45:13). Why did God predict this in advance? For Cyrus, the reason was, “that you may know that it is I, the LORD” (45:3). But God also named Cyrus in advance “for the sake of … Israel my chosen” (45:4). The Jews would not only be freed but their faith would be strengthened by seeing this prophecy fulfilled. It should strengthen ours as well. The God whom we serve knows and declares “the end from the beginning” (45:10). He is leading us down that path He chose for us long before we were born.
August 2 — Evangelistic Purpose — Isaiah 48-49. These chapters emphasize repeatedly that God wants His people to share what He has declared and accomplished. Since He “declared of old” prophecies “and they came to pass” (48:3), God challenged His people, “You have heard; now … will you not declare it?” (48:6). When God would later free His people from their captivity in Babylon, they were commanded to “declare this with a shout of joy, proclaim it .. say, ‘The LORD has redeemed his servant Jacob!’” (48:20). God’s purpose for raising up His servant, the Messiah, was so “that my salvation may reach to the end of the earth” (49:6). When that happens, “Then all flesh shall know that I am the LORD your Savior …” (49:26). We have the same responsibility to declare what we have seen about who God is and what He has done. Let’s declare His praises!
August 3 — Deliverance — Isaiah 50-52. God proclaimed deliverance on two levels in these chapters today. One level is the physical deliverance of the Jews from the 70-year exile in Babylon. God told them, “Depart, depart, go out from there … not go out in haste … not go in flight” (52:11-12). Why? Because “the LORD will go before you” (52:12). Just like they did in leaving Egypt—they didn’t run away then; they were urged to go by the Egyptians. This return from Babylon to Jerusalem is like a second Exodus. They were encouraged to go by Cyrus. The second level of deliverance we see is that of the promised Messiah, the One who suffered to deliver us. “I gave my back to those who strike and my cheeks to those who pull out the beard” (50:6), and “his appearance was so marred, beyond human semblance …” (52:14). “Hallelujah, What a Savior!” We are delivered from the bondage of sin.
August 4 — Suffering Servant — Isaiah 53-56. Chapter 53 is one of the Christian’s most cherished OT passages. It describes the sacrificial death of the Suffering Servant, the Messiah. The prediction that “they made his grave with the wicked and with a rich man in his death” (53:9) so closely fits the description of Jesus’ burial in the borrowed tomb of Joseph of Arimathea (Matt. 27:60), that many modern Jews who hear it read, don’t believe that it is really part of the OT. Other Jews try to identify the repetitious “he” throughout the chapter as referring to the people of God, Israel. But “he” is not the same as the “our” and “we” people of God in this passage; it is separate and distinct: “Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted” (53:4). Chapter 56 leaves the subject of the prophesied return of the Babylonian exiles and begins the last of the three sections of Isaiah by focusing more broadly, even to the more distant predicted people of God who follow the Messiah.
August 6 — Coming — Isaiah 60-63. If anyone should doubt that so many of these passages are speaking of the anticipated Messiah, Jesus made it clear in Luke 4:18-19 when He quoted Isaiah 61:1-2 and applied it to Himself. He is the Anointed One, the bringer of good news, the liberator of people in bondage, “to proclaim the year of the LORD’s favor.” This prophecy was given 700 years before the fulfillment came at the incarnation of Christ. An even longer span of time awaits the fulfillment of the prophecies concerning His Second Coming and the life we will share with Him after that. Just wait!