Thursday, July 14, 2011
Today’s Topic: Stubbornness
Today’s Text: Isaiah 48:5 “Therefore I told you these things long ago; before they happened I announced them to you so that you could not say, ‘My idols did them; my wooden image and metal god ordained them.’”
Please, please, please, to get a full understanding of the context and content of God’s message to us today, read Isaiah 48:1-11 first. Then be warned. Do not be discouraged and stop reading after the next paragraph. Think hard about its truth, but do not be discouraged. There is hope.
We are a stubborn people. We don’t have to try to want our own way; it is the natural expression of our sinful nature. It culminates in us giving credit for what happens in our lives to gods of our own creation. That way our pride can be fully self-sustaining with no need for outside interference. It is the circle of bondage that pleases the Enemy of our souls. We are obnoxious to Almighty God when we live according to the flesh.
God is full of grace and mercy. For his own sake – for the sake of His Name and fame – He delays His wrath. He has chosen to reveal Himself and His plan to us so that He may be honored and glorified in our lives. Our troubles are His testing ground to prove His faithfulness and build our faith. He does not permit His people to remain in a place of pride. In His love for us as His children He draws us back to His heart so that in us and to all who know us He is shown to be the only true God.
One way that God destroys our pride and restores our souls is through prophecy. In Isaiah 48 God reveals to us the importance of prophecy. It has to do with our stubbornness. First, He reminds us that the prophecies of old that have come true give us a foundation of faith upon which we can look to the future. If God had not revealed specific details of His plan to His people, their pride would have allowed them to give credit to gods of their own choosing – gods they created to allow the co-existence of faith and flesh in their lives. But because God told them what would happen eons before it did, they had to give credit to Him.
That’s why for us today the study of Old Testament prophecy is important – we see the workings of Almighty God and build an understanding of His sovereignty. Without that foundation of faith, we would quickly give credit for what happens in our world to gods of our own creation today; gods like government or economics or the worst one of all, personal knowledge and power. But when we study the Old Testament and see the prophecies of God proclaimed hundreds of years before the event took place, and the perfection of every prophetic detail, we can give glory to only One – Jehovah God.
Second, God has revealed new things that have not yet been fulfilled, and our study of them will bring the blessings of faith, patience, and perseverance to our lives because we will understand current events in light of God’s purpose. For the nation of Israel God revealed His plan for their restoration as a nation, and that is the theme of the rest of Isaiah. It is the plan for the restoration of His glory to His chosen people the nation of Israel. For us today, the prophecies extend into the New Testament and reveal the glory of God in His church and into eternity. His wrath will be revealed as He strikes down all sin and all sinners. His glory will be revealed as the church fulfills its calling as the Bride of Christ. Those who study these prophecies will be constantly refined and revived and will be able to keep their eyes fixed on Jesus, the Author and Finisher of our faith, despite the circumstances of life.
But we are a stubborn people. We still turn our attention to man’s solutions for the problems of the world, rather than seeing the problems as God’s plan to turn our eyes on Him. Four times in verses nine through eleven God says that what He does is for His sake – for His glory. He will not share His glory. If in any way we have created gods that get glory for what happens in our lives, we will be tested and afflicted. It is God’s expression of love to His children so that we turn back to Him. We are to be the proof of God’s glory to the sinful world around us. Unfortunately many so-called Christians are becoming proof of humanism and man’s glory rather than God’s. Let that not be said of us! Let us return to a study of prophecy and listen to the words of Scripture. May our discussions of current events always be in the context of God’s plan revealed in Scripture, not man’s plan devised in stubbornness and rebellion against God.