Daily Bible Studies
|Series Theme: Isaiah Studies (Series 6 of 8 - chapters 49 to 54)|
Chapter: Isaiah 54
Passage: Isaiah 54:1-3
A. Find Out:
1. Who is encouraged to do what? v.1a-d
2. Why? v.1e,f
3. What is she also encouraged to do? v.2
4. Why? v.3a
5. How will this be seen on a larger scale? v.3b,c
Here is Israel in a shocking devastated state, after the enemy has plundered the land (as so often happened) and men have been taken or killed. Women have been left and are childless. It was common in war torn times, and because Israel turned away from the Lord so often, it was often like that. And then the Lord comes and says the barren woman will have more children than the (neighbouring nations) women who have husbands. Barren here, in the light of the last phrase of verse 1 must mean more a woman with no husband than one who simply can't conceive. So the Lord takes a hopeless example and says, you don't need to worry because I will come and make you very fruitful. Devastation and desolation is not the end of the day.
As if to emphasise what He's just said, He then goes on, enlarge your tents, enlarge your homes because the present ones will not be big enough to cope with the inhabitants that I will bring. In fact, He goes on, your numbers will be so great that you will spread and spread, so far that you will take over the land and cities of other nations.
In each of these ways the Lord is painting a picture of amazing restoration, a restoration that will be the supernatural act of God. Don't look at your present circumstances, is what He is saying, for I am going to come and multiply you dramatically, and it will be a supernatural working of God!
Chapter: Isaiah 54
Passage: Isaiah 54:4-8
A. Find Out:
1. What does the Lord say will not happen to them? v.4a,b
2. What will they do? v.4c,d
3. In what ways does the Lord describe Himself? v.5
4. How will the Lord call them? v.6
5. What had He done, and what was He now doing? v.7
6. How does he express that again? v.8
The Lord has just spoken of Israel as if she were a barren women without any children, without any future, and has promised many children, a great future. So now He enlarges on that. It's all right, He says, you can forget the past, I'm not going to humiliate you or put you to further shame. You can forget the times of your earlier history when, as far as a relationship with me was concerned, you were like a widow. I AM your husband, I AM your redeemer, I AM the all-powerful One.
Yes, He goes on, it was like you were a young bride who was rejected, but I WILL bring you back. Yes, you did deserve it (implied) but my feelings of compassion for you overcome the righteous anger that was there. There WILL be a restoration.
In these verses we find amazing truths. First the Lord does bring judgement and He does step away from His unrepentant people in discipline. Sin does bring with it the judgement and discipline of God. However, that is not the end of it. The Lord's heart is a heart of compassion that reaches out again and again to seek the restoration of His people. He does not just give up on His people, but keeps on coming back to seek the next generation to see if they will respond well to Him. The Lord seeks to bring people, as many as possible, to know Him and to enter into the blessedness of knowing Him – even after failure.
Chapter: Isaiah 54
Passage: Isaiah 54:9-12
A. Find Out:
1. To what does the Lord compare this time? v.9a,b
2. So what does He now do? v.9c,d
3. What might happen? v.10a,b
4. Yet what won't happen? v.10c,d
5. How does He describe Jerusalem ? v.11a
6. What does He say He will do? v.11b,c,12
This is a difficult passage – and it is good to be honest and face difficulties. It is clear and easily understood as far as what it says, but it's application or fulfilment is difficult.
So, first the content of the passage. The Lord continues on to confirm yet again what He has already said – He will restore Jerusalem and bring back future generations. He does this here by first of all saying it will be like the promise He made after the flood (Gen 9:12 -17). Even as then He promised never again to flood the earth, here he promises never again to remove His love from Jerusalem. Whatever else may happen (the hills shaken), His love and peace will not be removed, and He will go on to build it into the most beautiful of places.
Now comes the difficult part: how was this fulfilled? It may be that as with much else we have read, it applied after the exile and after the destruction of Jerusalem then. Yet in AD 70 we know that Jerusalem was overrun by the Romans and the Jews put into exile for 2000 years. What of Jerusalem throughout that time? Perhaps the fact that Jerusalem still exists despite the ravages of the centuries says something. Yet for much of the period of church history it was largely empty. A mystery. Sometimes we have to say, “Lord, I don't understand this, but I still trust you. This may be one of those times.
Chapter: Isaiah 54
Passage: Isaiah 54:13-17
A. Find Out:
1. How will future generations be blessed? v.13
2. How will they be established? v.14a
3. What will be far from them? v.14b,c
4. What will happen if anyone attacks them? v.15
5. What does the Lord do? v.16
6. So of what can they be assured? v.17
The Lord has said previously that He will redeem them and rebuild Jerusalem. Now He goes on to bring fresh reassurances to them that they will be secure there. He does this in various ways.
First by simple declaration that the future generations will live at peace with the Lord being their teacher, so that right living (righteousness) will be the norm in the land, so that injustice (tyranny) will no longer exist there. Indeed terror from invaders will also be unknown.
Then the Lord expands on that and says that if any enemy should have the temerity to come against them, it won't be Him sending them and so they will not come to anything! Look, He goes on, I am the one who stirs up men to act as my tools of judgement, so if I'm not behind them, they won't come to anything. Realise this and rest in it. They may come, because sinful men do such things, but they won't be able to prevail against you because I won't be behind them.
We, at the end of this set of studies, really need to take this on board. When the Lord brings judgement, then a) it is deserved, and b) it will ‘work' and achieve its goal. If sinful man rises against the people of God then they will be thwarted and come to nothing because God is not behind them, but He is behind us! Be at peace.
RECAP - "Heritage of the Servants of the Lord" - Isaiah Chapter 54
In this final group of 4 studies we have seen :
This is both a glorious passage of Scripture and an uncertain one. It is glorious in that it spells out fruitfulness, restoration of relationship, ongoing care and compassion, and establishing security. These are glorious themes for the people of God. Yet there is an uncertainty. Does this apply to Israel alone? Isn't it too big for just Israel? Does it mean the Church, the fruit of the work of the Suffering Servant? Or does it mean Israel the nation that becomes the womb for many children of God across the earth, a nation without boundaries, a nation within nations, the people of God, Jew AND Gentile who are redeemed by the blood of the Lamb of God?
1. God purposes fruitfulness for the kingdom of God .
2. God initiates the restoration of relationship with Him.
3. God draws us back to Him by the work of His Holy Spirit.
4. God's new covenant establishes peace between us for ever.
5. God's new covenant establishes security for us for ever.
Thank the Lord that
In these chapters we have seen:
1. "The Bigger Picture" Isaiah 49
2. "Sin and Salvation" Isaiah 50
3. " The Coming Salvation" Isaiah 51 & 52
4. " The Suffering Servant" Isaiah 52:13 – 53:12
5. "The heritage of the servants of the Lord" Isaiah 54
As we come to the end of this set of studies, the following may be some of the things we may wish to consider further:
1. How we View God
Often in discussions, you hear people (very often unbelievers, but sometimes Christians) expressing the opinion that God is a harsh God, that the Old Testament is taken up with talk of judgement. The danger of doing verse by verse daily studies is that sometimes it is possibly that we get so taken up with the detail that we miss the enormity of the truths being conveyed overall. Go back to the Summary above and scan the contents and then think of a word or words that describe God as these chapters convey Him. Do that before you read on.
2. Getting the bigger picture
As we said within the notes, and have just suggested above, it is often possible to lose perspective because we're too close to it. Above we suggested that we can get too close to the detail. Earlier in the notes we suggested that we can only see the things that are happening to us at this moment (very understandably). These chapters of Isaiah lift us up into the heavenly realms (see Eph 2:6) so that we see the bigger long-term purposes of God. That happens in 2 particular ways.
First there is the revelation of the Servant, the one who is going to come at some point in future history to establish a new covenant and bring the salvation of God to the world. That would be some 700 years in the future.
Second there was revelation with constant repetition, that there was coming a time in the future when God would bring His people back into the land, and this was probably some 200 years or so later.
These two examples make us lift our eyes from the detail of today to see it in the context of the long-term planning of God. If we can see that perspective we will see constant encouragement coming from the Lord – the difficulties of today are temporary – the long-term design of God is for the blessing of His people, His faithful ones.
Considering these prophecies should stir hope within us. Hope, for the Christian is that strong confidence of what WILL be in the days ahead. Hope in the face of the exile said restoration WILL come. Hope in the face of the sin of the world said, God has a plan whereby He will deal with this sin and open a door of opportunity for us to come back into relationship with Him and to enjoy His long-term plans for blessing His people. This hope says God is for us (Rom 8:31) and God is working all things together for our good (Rom 8:28). The enemy may be raging, the world may be seething and collapsing all around us, but the hope stirred by these prophecies enables us to say, “yet I will rejoice in the Lord” (Hab 3:18). May it be so!