+ In the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen!
Opening – (Northumbria Community)
One thing I have asked of the Lord, this is what I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life; to behold the beauty of the Lord and to seek Him in His temple.
Praise to You, Lord Jesus Christ, King of endless glory.
Israel’s Promised Day of Restoration
Isaiah 27 (NLT)
In that day the Lord will take his terrible, swift sword and punish Leviathan, the swiftly moving serpent, the coiling, writhing serpent. He will kill the dragon of the sea.
+ A fruitful vineyard – “In that day, sing about the fruitful vineyard. I, the Lord, will watch over it, watering it carefully. Day and night I will watch so no one can harm it. My anger will be gone. If I find briers and thorns growing, I will attack them; I will burn them up—unless they turn to me for help. Let them make peace with me; yes, let them make peace with me.”
The time is coming when Jacob’s descendants will take root. Israel will bud and blossom and fill the whole earth with fruit!
+ Exiled to purge wickedness – Has the Lord struck Israel as he struck her enemies? Has he punished her as he punished them? No, but he exiled Israel to call her to account. She was exiled from her land as though blown away in a storm from the east. The Lord did this to purge Israel’s wickedness, to take away all her sin. As a result, all the pagan altars will be crushed to dust. No Asherah pole or pagan shrine will be left standing.
The fortified towns will be silent and empty, the houses abandoned, the streets overgrown with weeds. Calves will graze there, chewing on twigs and branches. The people are like the dead branches of a tree, broken off and used for kindling beneath the cooking pots. Israel is a foolish and stupid nation, for its people have turned away from God. Therefore, the one who made them will show them no pity or mercy.
+ Gathered to worship – Yet the time will come when the Lord will gather them together like handpicked grain. One by one he will gather them—from the Euphrates River in the east to the Brook of Egypt in the west. In that day the great trumpet will sound. Many who were dying in exile in Assyria and Egypt will return to Jerusalem to worship the Lord on his holy mountain.
Isaiah 28 (NLT)
What sorrow awaits the proud city of Samaria—the glorious crown of the drunks of Israel. It sits at the head of a fertile valley, but its glorious beauty will fade like a flower. It is the pride of a people brought down by wine. For the Lord will send a mighty army against it. Like a mighty hailstorm and a torrential rain, they will burst upon it like a surging flood and smash it to the ground.
+ The glorious crown of the drunks of Israel – The proud city of Samaria—the glorious crown of the drunks of Israel—will be trampled beneath its enemies’ feet. It sits at the head of a fertile valley, but its glorious beauty will fade like a flower. Whoever sees it will snatch it up, as an early fig is quickly picked and eaten.
+ Then God will be Israel’s pride and joy – Then at last the Lord of Heaven’s Armies will himself be Israel’s glorious crown. He will be the pride and joy of the remnant of his people. He will give a longing for justice to their judges. He will give great courage to their warriors who stand at the gates.
+ Now Israel is led by drunks – Now, however, Israel is led by drunks who reel with wine and stagger with alcohol. The priests and prophets stagger with alcohol and lose themselves in wine. They reel when they see visions and stagger as they render decisions. Their tables are covered with vomit; filth is everywhere.
“Who does the Lord think we are?” they ask. “Why does he speak to us like this? Are we little children, just recently weaned? He tells us everything over and over—one line at a time, one line at a time, a little here, and a little there!”
+ Now God will speak through foreign oppressors – So now God will have to speak to his people through foreign oppressors who speak a strange language! God has told his people, “Here is a place of rest; let the weary rest here. This is a place of quiet rest.” But they would not listen. So the Lord will spell out his message for them again, one line at a time, one line at a time, a little here, and a little there, so that they will stumble and fall. They will be injured, trapped, and captured.
+ Scoffing ruler’s foundation of lies – Therefore, listen to this message from the Lord, you scoffing rulers in Jerusalem. You boast, “We have struck a bargain to cheat death and have made a deal to dodge the grave. The coming destruction can never touch us, for we have built a strong refuge made of lies and deception.
+ God’s precious foundation stone – ”Therefore, this is what the Sovereign Lord says: “Look! I am placing a foundation stone in Jerusalem, a firm and tested stone. It is a precious cornerstone that is safe to build on. Whoever believes need never be shaken. I will test you with the measuring line of justice and the plumb line of righteousness.
+ Israel’s refuge of lies – Since your refuge is made of lies, a hailstorm will knock it down. Since it is made of deception, a flood will sweep it away. I will cancel the bargain you made to cheat death, and I will overturn your deal to dodge the grave. When the terrible enemy sweeps through, you will be trampled into the ground. Again and again that flood will come, morning after morning, day and night, until you are carried away.”
+ A terrible punishment – This message will bring terror to your people. The bed you have made is too short to lie on. The blankets are too narrow to cover you. The Lord will come as he did against the Philistines at Mount Perazim and against the Amorites at Gibeon. He will come to do a strange thing; he will come to do an unusual deed: For the Lord, the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, has plainly said that he is determined to crush the whole land. So scoff no more, or your punishment will be even greater.
Listen to me; listen, and pay close attention.
Does a farmer always plow and never sow? Is he forever cultivating the soil and never planting? Does he not finally plant his seeds—black cumin, cumin, wheat, barley, and emmer wheat—each in its proper way, and each in its proper place? The farmer knows just what to do, for God has given him understanding. A heavy sledge is never used to thresh black cumin; rather, it is beaten with a light stick. A threshing wheel is never rolled on cumin; instead, it is beaten lightly with a flail. Grain for bread is easily crushed, so he doesn’t keep on pounding it. He threshes it under the wheels of a cart, but he doesn’t pulverize it.
The Lord of Heaven’s Armies is a wonderful teacher, and he gives the farmer great wisdom.
Jerusalem’s Sorrow and Hope
Isaiah 29 (NLT)
What sorrow awaits Ariel, the City of David. Year after year you celebrate your feasts. Yet I will bring disaster upon you, and there will be much weeping and sorrow. For Jerusalem will become what her name Ariel means—an altar covered with blood. I will be your enemy, surrounding Jerusalem and attacking its walls. I will build siege towers and destroy it. Then deep from the earth you will speak; from low in the dust your words will come. Your voice will whisper from the ground like a ghost conjured up from the grave.
+ God’s sudden intervention – “But suddenly, your ruthless enemies will be crushed like the finest of dust. Your many attackers will be driven away like chaff before the wind. Suddenly, in an instant, I, the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, will act for you with thunder and earthquake and great noise, with whirlwind and storm and consuming fire. All the nations fighting against Jerusalem will vanish like a dream! Those who are attacking her walls will vanish like a vision in the night. A hungry person dreams of eating but wakes up still hungry. A thirsty person dreams of drinking but is still faint from thirst when morning comes. So it will be with your enemies, with those who attack Mount Zion.”
+ Israel’s blindness – Are you amazed and incredulous? Don’t you believe it? Then go ahead and be blind. You are stupid, but not from wine! You stagger, but not from liquor! For the Lord has poured out on you a spirit of deep sleep. He has closed the eyes of your prophets and visionaries. All the future events in this vision are like a sealed book to them. When you give it to those who can read, they will say, “We can’t read it because it is sealed.” When you give it to those who cannot read, they will say, “We don’t know how to read.”
And so the Lord says, “These people say they are mine. They honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. And their worship of me is nothing but man-made rules learned by rote. Because of this, I will once again astound these hypocrites with amazing wonders. The wisdom of the wise will pass away, and the intelligence of the intelligent will disappear.”
+ The foolishness of secrecy – What sorrow awaits those who try to hide their plans from the Lord, who do their evil deeds in the dark! “The Lord can’t see us,” they say. “He doesn’t know what’s going on!” How foolish can you be? He is the Potter, and he is certainly greater than you, the clay! Should the created thing say of the one who made it, “He didn’t make me”? Does a jar ever say, “The potter who made me is stupid”?
Soon—and it will not be very long—the forests of Lebanon will become a fertile field, and the fertile field will yield bountiful crops.
+ Filled with joy and justice – In that day the deaf will hear words read from a book, and the blind will see through the gloom and darkness. The humble will be filled with fresh joy from the Lord. The poor will rejoice in the Holy One of Israel. The scoffer will be gone, the arrogant will disappear, and those who plot evil will be killed. Those who convict the innocent by their false testimony will disappear. A similar fate awaits those who use trickery to pervert justice and who tell lies to destroy the innocent.
That is why the Lord, who redeemed Abraham, says to the people of Israel, “My people will no longer be ashamed or turn pale with fear. For when they see their many children and all the blessings I have given them, they will recognize the holiness of the Holy One of Jacob. They will stand in awe of the God of Israel. Then the wayward will gain understanding, and complainers will accept instruction.
Judah’s Worthless Treaty with Egypt
Isaiah 30 (NLT)
+ Pharaoh will disgrace you – “What sorrow awaits my rebellious children,” says the Lord. “You make plans that are contrary to mine. You make alliances not directed by my Spirit, thus piling up your sins. For without consulting me, you have gone down to Egypt for help. You have put your trust in Pharaoh’s protection. You have tried to hide in his shade. But by trusting Pharaoh, you will be humiliated, and by depending on him, you will be disgraced. For though his power extends to Zoan and his officials have arrived in Hanes, all who trust in him will be ashamed. He will not help you. Instead, he will disgrace you.”
+ Egypt’s promises are worthless – This message came to me concerning the animals in the Negev: The caravan moves slowly across the terrible desert to Egypt—donkeys weighed down with riches and camels loaded with treasure—all to pay for Egypt’s protection. They travel through the wilderness, a place of lionesses and lions, a place where vipers and poisonous snakes live. All this, and Egypt will give you nothing in return. Egypt’s promises are worthless! Therefore, I call her Rahab—the Harmless Dragon.
Rebellious Judah’s Reckoning
+ Tell us lies – Now go and write down these words. Write them in a book. They will stand until the end of time as a witness that these people are stubborn rebels who refuse to pay attention to the Lord’s instructions. They tell the seers, “Stop seeing visions!” They tell the prophets, “Don’t tell us what is right. Tell us nice things. Tell us lies. Forget all this gloom. Get off your narrow path. Stop telling us about your ‘Holy One of Israel.’”
+ Sudden Calamity – This is the reply of the Holy One of Israel: “Because you despise what I tell you and trust instead in oppression and lies, calamity will come upon you suddenly—like a bulging wall that bursts and falls. In an instant it will collapse and come crashing down. You will be smashed like a piece of pottery—shattered so completely that there won’t be a piece big enough to carry coals from a fireplace or a little water from the well.”
+ Return and rest in me – This is what the Sovereign Lord, the Holy One of Israel, says: “Only in returning to me and resting in me will you be saved. In quietness and confidence is your strength. But you would have none of it.
+ A tattered banner – You said, ‘No, we will get our help from Egypt. They will give us swift horses for riding into battle.’ But the only swiftness you are going to see is the swiftness of your enemies chasing you! One of them will chase a thousand of you. Five of them will make all of you flee. You will be left like a lonely flagpole on a hill or a tattered banner on a distant mountaintop.”
Blessings for Those who Come to God
So the Lord must wait for you to come to him so he can show you his love and compassion. For the Lord is a faithful God. Blessed are those who wait for his help.
+ God will be gracious to you – O people of Zion, who live in Jerusalem, you will weep no more. He will be gracious if you ask for help. He will surely respond to the sound of your cries. Though the Lord gave you adversity for food and suffering for drink, he will still be with you to teach you.
+ God will guide you – You will see your teacher with your own eyes. Your own ears will hear him. Right behind you a voice will say, “This is the way you should go,” whether to the right or to the left. Then you will destroy all your silver idols and your precious gold images. You will throw them out like filthy rags, saying to them, “Good riddance!”
+ God will bless you – Then the Lord will bless you with rain at planting time. There will be wonderful harvests and plenty of pastureland for your livestock. The oxen and donkeys that till the ground will eat good grain, its chaff blown away by the wind. In that day, when your enemies are slaughtered and the towers fall, there will be streams of water flowing down every mountain and hill. The moon will be as bright as the sun, and the sun will be seven times brighter—like the light of seven days in one! So it will be when the Lord begins to heal his people and cure the wounds he gave them.
+ God will fight for you – Look! The Lord is coming from far away, burning with anger, surrounded by thick, rising smoke. His lips are filled with fury; his words consume like fire. His hot breath pours out like a flood up to the neck of his enemies. He will sift out the proud nations for destruction. He will bridle them and lead them away to ruin.
+ You will sing for joy – But the people of God will sing a song of joy, like the songs at the holy festivals. You will be filled with joy, as when a flutist leads a group of pilgrims to Jerusalem, the mountain of the Lord—to the Rock of Israel. And the Lord will make his majestic voice heard. He will display the strength of his mighty arm. It will descend with devouring flames, with cloudbursts, thunderstorms, and huge hailstones.
Awake O Israel – Zeal of God – I Lay in Zion
At the Lord’s command, the Assyrians will be shattered. He will strike them down with his royal scepter. And as the Lord strikes them with his rod of punishment, his people will celebrate with tambourines and harps. Lifting his mighty arm, he will fight the Assyrians.
Topheth—the place of burning—has long been ready for the Assyrian king; the pyre is piled high with wood. The breath of the Lord, like fire from a volcano, will set it ablaze.
The Futility of Relying on Egypt
Isaiah 31 (NLT)
What sorrow awaits those who look to Egypt for help, trusting their horses, chariots, and charioteers and depending on the strength of human armies instead of looking to the Lord, the Holy One of Israel. In his wisdom, the Lord will send great disaster; he will not change his mind. He will rise against the wicked and against their helpers.
+ Egyptians are only humans – For these Egyptians are mere humans, not God! Their horses are puny flesh, not mighty spirits! When the Lord raises his fist against them, those who help will stumble, and those being helped will fall. They will all fall down and die together.
+ God is like a growling lion -But this is what the Lord has told me: “When a strong young lion stands growling over a sheep it has killed, it is not frightened by the shouts and noise of a whole crowd of shepherds. In the same way, the Lord of Heaven’s Armies will come down and fight on Mount Zion. The Lord of Heaven’s Armies will hover over Jerusalem and protect it like a bird protecting its nest. He will defend and save the city; he will pass over it and rescue it.”
+ Come and return to me – Though you are such wicked rebels, my people, come and return to the Lord. I know the glorious day will come when each of you will throw away the gold idols and silver images your sinful hands have made.
“The Assyrians will be destroyed, but not by the swords of men. The sword of God will strike them, and they will panic and flee. The strong young Assyrians will be taken away as captives. Even the strongest will quake with terror, and princes will flee when they see your battle flags,” says the Lord, whose fire burns in Zion, whose flame blazes from Jerusalem.
Israel’s Ultimate Deliverance
Isaiah 32 (NLT)
Look, a righteous king is coming! And honest princes will rule under him.
+ A shelter and refuge – Each one will be like a shelter from the wind and a refuge from the storm, like streams of water in the desert and the shadow of a great rock in a parched land. Then everyone who has eyes will be able to see the truth, and everyone who has ears will be able to hear it. Even the hotheads will be full of sense and understanding. Those who stammer will speak out plainly.
+ Ungodly fools debunked– In that day ungodly fools will not be heroes. Scoundrels will not be respected. For fools speak foolishness and make evil plans. They practice ungodliness and spread false teachings about the Lord. They deprive the hungry of food and give no water to the thirsty. The smooth tricks of scoundrels are evil. They plot crooked schemes. They lie to convict the poor, even when the cause of the poor is just. But generous people plan to do what is generous, and they stand firm in their generosity.
+ Tremble women of ease – Listen, you women who lie around in ease. Listen to me, you who are so smug. In a short time—just a little more than a year—you careless ones will suddenly begin to care. For your fruit crops will fail, and the harvest will never take place. Tremble, you women of ease; throw off your complacency. Strip off your pretty clothes, and put on burlap to show your grief. Beat your breasts in sorrow for your bountiful farms and your fruitful grapevines. For your land will be overgrown with thorns and briers. Your joyful homes and happy towns will be gone. The palace and the city will be deserted, and busy towns will be empty. Wild donkeys will frolic and flocks will graze in the empty forts and watchtowers until at last the Spirit is poured out on us from heaven. Then the wilderness will become a fertile field, and the fertile field will yield bountiful crops.
+ Reign of justice, righteousness and peace – Justice will rule in the wilderness and righteousness in the fertile field. And this righteousness will bring peace. Yes, it will bring quietness and confidence forever. My people will live in safety, quietly at home. They will be at rest. Even if the forest should be destroyed and the city torn down, the Lord will greatly bless his people. Wherever they plant seed, bountiful crops will spring up. Their cattle and donkeys will graze freely.
Assyria’s Destruction and Betrayal
Isaiah 33 (NLT)
What sorrow awaits you Assyrians, who have destroyed others but have never been destroyed yourselves. You betray others, but you have never been betrayed. When you are done destroying, you will be destroyed. When you are done betraying, you will be betrayed.
+ Jerusalem: to be home of justice and righteousness – But Lord, be merciful to us, for we have waited for you. Be our strong arm each day and our salvation in times of trouble. The enemy runs at the sound of your voice. When you stand up, the nations flee! Just as caterpillars and locusts strip the fields and vines, so the fallen army of Assyria will be stripped! Though the Lord is very great and lives in heaven, he will make Jerusalem his home of justice and righteousness. In that day he will be your sure foundation, providing a rich store of salvation, wisdom, and knowledge. The fear of the Lord will be your treasure.
+ Assyrians show no respect – But now your brave warriors weep in public. Your ambassadors of peace cry in bitter disappointment. Your roads are deserted; no one travels them anymore. The Assyrians have broken their peace treaty and care nothing for the promises they made before witnesses. They have no respect for anyone. The land of Israel wilts in mourning. Lebanon withers with shame. The plain of Sharon is now a wilderness. Bashan and Carmel have been plundered.
+ God: I will show my power and might – But the Lord says: “Now I will stand up. Now I will show my power and might. You Assyrians produce nothing but dry grass and stubble. Your own breath will turn to fire and consume you. Your people will be burned up completely, like thornbushes cut down and tossed in a fire. Listen to what I have done, you nations far away! And you that are near, acknowledge my might!”
+ Sinners shake with fear – The sinners in Jerusalem shake with fear. Terror seizes the godless. “Who can live with this devouring fire?” they cry. “Who can survive this all-consuming fire?”
+ Righteous will see the king – Those who are honest and fair, who refuse to profit by fraud, who stay far away from bribes, who refuse to listen to those who plot murder, who shut their eyes to all enticement to do wrong—these are the ones who will dwell on high. The rocks of the mountains will be their fortress. Food will be supplied to them, and they will have water in abundance.
Your eyes will see the king in all his splendor, and you will see a land that stretches into the distance. You will think back to this time of terror, asking, “Where are the Assyrian officers who counted our towers? Where are the bookkeepers who recorded the plunder taken from our fallen city?” You will no longer see these fierce, violent people with their strange, unknown language.
+ Righteous will see peace and security– Instead, you will see Zion as a place of holy festivals. You will see Jerusalem, a city quiet and secure. It will be like a tent whose ropes are taut and whose stakes are firmly fixed. The Lord will be our Mighty One. He will be like a wide river of protection that no enemy can cross, that no enemy ship can sail upon.
+ God will forgive you – For the Lord is our judge, our lawgiver, and our king. He will care for us and save us. The enemies’ sails hang loose on broken masts with useless tackle. Their treasure will be divided by the people of God. Even the lame will take their share! The people of Israel will no longer say, “We are sick and helpless,” for the Lord will forgive their sins.
“The Mighty One of Israel” – Bekki Smith
Blessing – (Northumbrian Community)
May the peace of the Lord Christ go with you, wherever He may send you. May He guide you through the wilderness, protect you through the storm. May He bring you home rejoicing at the wonders He has shown you. May He bring you home rejoicing once again into our doors.
+ In the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen!
Categories: Life in Christ