March 20, 2019

Today you should read: Isaiah 27

Isaiah 27 is about God’s victory over evil and the restoration of His people.

This passage begins with God defeating this creature called the Leviathan. The Leviathan is described as “the dragon that is in the sea”, and Revelation 12:7-9 gives a further description of the Leviathan and its defeat.

“Now war arose in heaven, Michael and his angels fighting against the dragon. And the dragon and his angels fought back, but he was defeated, and there was no longer any place for them in heaven. And the dragon was thrown down, that ancient serpent, who is called the devil and Satan, the deceiver of the world.”

Satan is no match for God, and we can rejoice in the fact that we have already seen the defeat of Satan by Jesus’ death and resurrection. Praise God for His victory!

Secondly, God restores His people. In verses 2-3, God is the keeper of the vineyard. The imagery of the vineyard should remind us of the Garden of Eden, where God walked with His people in perfect harmony. One day there will be a return to the Garden and God will dwell with His people forever. The vineyard will have “the full fruit of the removal of his sin.” It will be a place of perfection where there is no sin and the dragon will not come into.

For us, this passage should cause us to be filled with joy. We know that God wins. He defeats the dragon and gathers His people in His vineyard. Let us rejoice as we look forward to our return to the Garden.

By: Brice Stockton — Student Ministry Apprentice

March 19, 2019

Today you should read: Isaiah 26

In Isaiah 24, things were bad. Like a forest fire searing the landscape, God’s judgment left the Earth in ruin—desolate (24:1), empty & plundered (3), mourning, withering & languishing (4), etc. Watch the following clip and pay special attention at about 1 minute and 40 seconds.

From their birth among the ashes, seedlings transform into 300-foot-tall groves. The promise we see in Isaiah 25 is birthed among the ashes of destruction and judgment. Our passage today, in Isaiah 26, we hear the song of the people as they enter the Land of rest and peace.

The song begins with reference to the “strong city,” Jerusalem from which the Messiah will establish his throne. It is here that the gates will open and the “righteous nation” shall enter into “perfect peace.”

While the nation is a reference to Israel, righteousness and faithfulness are God’s standard for salvation. People may disagree about how the end-times play out, but nobody can disagree that God’s standard is perfection—His standard is Christ. Thankfully, although God demands perfection, He makes a way for us to be perfect.

As I read this passage, verse 13 sticks out. In this song, the people say, “O Lord our God, other masters besides You have ruled us; But through You alone we confess Your name.” The name of God is a theme in Scripture, especially the Old Testament. It is the exaltation of God’s character—the recognition of His greatness. Although we have experienced various authorities in our lives, as well as the things we have allowed to rule us in sin, only God is worthy of praise. We quickly offer our allegiance to fleeting things, and yet, our first allegiance must be to the Lord. Only He is eternal. Only He is good.

This song is on the heels of great tribulation. Sin increased to a peak and the Lord intervened. This passage not only shows us the praise that will be sung on the day of deliverance but, as one commentator points out, also a paradigm for dealing with sin in our own lives. When experiencing the consequences of sin and suffering, we can: “(a) confidently look to God in hope, waiting for him to smooth out one’s path (26:7–8a); (b) maintain a strong desire to see the name of God glorified (26:8b–9a); (c) request for God to discipline the wicked and zealously intervene on behalf of his own people (26:9b–11); (d) recognize God’s sovereignty, admit past failures, and realize that God acts to bring himself glory (26:12–15); and (e) confess past sins and lament the agony of divine discipline (26:16–18). This is a practical theology of suffering that honestly faces the causes for discipline, the consequences of being disciplined, and the hope that God provides to overcome divine discipline. No one should forget the way back to God.” (New American Commentary).

Take a moment today and review this list. What points of your life can you look back and find confidence that God is at work? What can you do today to elevate the name of God in your life? For whom are you praying that the Lord would intervene? What sins do you need to confess?

By: Tyler Short — Connections Ministry Associate

March 18, 2019

Today you should read: Isaiah 25

He will swallow up death forever; and the Lord GOD will wipe away tears from all faces, and the reproach of his people he will take away from all the earth, for the LORD has spoken. (Isaiah 25:8 ESV)

Is there a cooler verse in the Bible?! I am sure you could come up with some, but this one is definitely in my top 10. What a breathtaking, awe-inspiring, hope-filling promise. And the cool thing is that that part of this verse has already been fulfilled. See, Jesus showed us that God was serious about this when He went to the cross for our sins. Some have called this the “death of death” because Jesus’ death would ensure that many of us would not face eternal death.  I know it is lengthy, but I want to remind you of Paul’s exhortation along the same lines of Isaiah 25 that is found in Romans 5:

Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned—for sin indeed was in the world before the law was given, but sin is not counted where there is no law. Yet death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those whose sinning was not like the transgression of Adam, who was a type of the one who was to come. But the free gift is not like the trespass. For if many died through one man’s trespass, much more have the grace of God and the free gift by the grace of that one man Jesus Christ abounded for many. And the free gift is not like the result of that one man’s sin. For the judgment following one trespass brought condemnation, but the free gift following many trespasses brought justification. For if, because of one man’s trespass, death reigned through that one man, much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ. Therefore, as one trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all men. (Romans 5:12-18 ESV)

Paul loves this theme. He continues to hammer it home in his first Corinthian letter:

“Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?” The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. (1 Corinthians 15:54-57 ESV)

What did God teach you today? Did you find hope in today’s reading? May Isaiah continue to draw us near to God, and as it does, let’s believe in God’s promise to draw near to us.

By: Todd Thomas — Worship & College Pastor

March 16, 2019

Today you should read: Isaiah 24

In today’s reading, we see much of the same that we have read in the book of Isaiah thus far. The people of Israel and Judah have disobeyed the Lord, and judgment is coming. God’s instruments of judgment, Assyria and Babylon, are also prophesied to be destroyed. There is destruction.

The earth mourns and dries up, and the land wastes away and withers. Even the greatest people on earth waste away. The earth suffers for the sins of its people, for they have twisted God’s instructions, violated his laws, and broken his everlasting covenant. Therefore, a curse consumes the earth. Its people must pay the price for their sin. Isaiah 24:4-6

People on the earth, in the past and in the present, have twisted God’s instructions and violated his laws. The punishment for disobedience is that all people must pay the price for their sin.

Sin is rebellion against God, and because of our rebellion against him, we deserve punishment. We must pay the price for our sin. However, God loved us enough to send Jesus to live the perfect life that we should and lived and to die in our place, paying the price for our sin. Jesus’s life, death, and resurrection make it possible for us to enter back into a relationship with God through faith in Jesus and repentance from sin.

Take some time today to thank God for salvation made possible through Jesus.  

By: Lucas Taylor— West Campus Pastoral Ministry Apprentice