+ 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.
Reading: Isaiah 45-50 (NLT)
Cyrus, the Lord’s Chosen One
Isaiah 45 (NLT)
This is what the Lord says to Cyrus, his anointed one, whose right hand he will empower. Before him, mighty kings will be paralyzed with fear. Their fortress gates will be opened, never to shut again. This is what the Lord says:
+ I am the Lord, the God of Israel – “I will go before you, Cyrus, and level the mountains. I will smash down gates of bronze and cut through bars of iron. And I will give you treasures hidden in the darkness—secret riches. I will do this so you may know that I am the Lord, the God of Israel, the one who calls you by name.
+ I am the Lord, and there is no other – “And why have I called you for this work? Why did I call you by name when you did not know me? It is for the sake of Jacob my servant, Israel my chosen one. I am the Lord; there is no other God. I have equipped you for battle, though you don’t even know me, so all the world from east to west will know there is no other God. I am the Lord, and there is no other. I create the light and make the darkness. I send good times and bad times. I, the Lord, am the one who does these things.
“What sorrow awaits those who argue with their Creator. Does a clay pot argue with its maker? Does the clay dispute with the one who shapes it, saying, ‘Stop, you’re doing it wrong!’ Does the pot exclaim, ‘How clumsy can you be?’ How terrible it would be if a newborn baby said to its father, ‘Why was I born?’ or if it said to its mother, ‘Why did you make me this way?’”
+ I will fulfill my purpose through Cyrus – This is what the Lord says—the Holy One of Israel and your Creator: “Do you question what I do for my children? Do you give me orders about the work of my hands? I am the one who made the earth and created people to live on it. With my hands I stretched out the heavens. All the stars are at my command. I will raise up Cyrus to fulfill my righteous purpose, and I will guide his actions. He will restore my city and free my captive people—without seeking a reward! I, the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, have spoken!”
Future Conversion of Gentiles
This is what the Lord says:
“You will rule the Egyptians, the Ethiopians, and the Sabeans. They will come to you with all their merchandise, and it will all be yours. They will follow you as prisoners in chains. They will fall to their knees in front of you and say, ‘God is with you, and he is the only God. There is no other.’”
+ I will save the people of Israel – Truly, O God of Israel, our Savior, you work in mysterious ways. All craftsmen who make idols will be humiliated. They will all be disgraced together. But the Lord will save the people of Israel with eternal salvation. Throughout everlasting ages, they will never again be humiliated and disgraced. For the Lord is God, and he created the heavens and earth and put everything in place. He made the world to be lived in, not to be a place of empty chaos.
+ I speak only what’s true and right – “I am the Lord,” he says, “and there is no other. I publicly proclaim bold promises. I do not whisper obscurities in some dark corner. I would not have told the people of Israel to seek me if I could not be found. I, the Lord, speak only what is true and declare only what is right.
+ I am God; there is no other – “Gather together and come, you fugitives from surrounding nations. What fools they are who carry around their wooden idols and pray to gods that cannot save! Consult together, argue your case. Get together and decide what to say. Who made these things known so long ago? What idol ever told you they would happen? Was it not I, the Lord? For there is no other God but me, a righteous God and Savior. There is none but me. Let all the world look to me for salvation! For I am God; there is no other. I have sworn by my own name; I have spoken the truth, and I will never go back on my word: Every knee will bend to me, and every tongue will declare allegiance to me.”
The people will declare, “The Lord is the source of all my righteousness and strength.” And all who were angry with him will come to him and be ashamed. In the Lord all the generations of Israel will be justified, and in him they will boast.
Babylon’s False Gods
Isaiah 46 (NLT)
Bel and Nebo, the gods of Babylon, bow as they are lowered to the ground. They are being hauled away on ox carts. The poor beasts stagger under the weight. Both the idols and their owners are bowed down. The gods cannot protect the people, and the people cannot protect the gods. They go off into captivity together.
+ I will carry you and save you – “Listen to me, descendants of Jacob, all you who remain in Israel. I have cared for you since you were born. Yes, I carried you before you were born. I will be your God throughout your lifetime—until your hair is white with age. I made you, and I will care for you. I will carry you along and save you.
+ I have no equal – “To whom will you compare me? Who is my equal? Some people pour out their silver and gold and hire a craftsman to make a god from it. Then they bow down and worship it! They carry it around on their shoulders, and when they set it down, it stays there. It can’t even move! And when someone prays to it, there is no answer. It can’t rescue anyone from trouble.
+ I alone am God – “Do not forget this! Keep it in mind! Remember this, you guilty ones. Remember the things I have done in the past. For I alone am God! I am God, and there is none like me. Only I can tell you the future before it even happens. Everything I plan will come to pass, for I do whatever I wish. I will call a swift bird of prey from the east—a leader from a distant land to come and do my bidding. I have said what I would do, and I will do it.
+ I am ready to show my glory – “Listen to me, you stubborn people who are so far from doing right. For I am ready to set things right, not in the distant future, but right now! I am ready to save Jerusalem and show my glory to Israel.
Prediction of Babylon’s Fall
Isaiah 47 (NLT)
+ I will take vengeance – “Come down, virgin daughter of Babylon, and sit in the dust. For your days of sitting on a throne have ended. O daughter of Babylonia, never again will you be the lovely princess, tender and delicate. Take heavy millstones and grind flour. Remove your veil, and strip off your robe. Expose yourself to public view. You will be naked and burdened with shame. I will take vengeance against you without pity.”
Our Redeemer, whose name is the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, is the Holy One of Israel.
+ You showed no mercy – “O beautiful Babylon, sit now in darkness and silence. Never again will you be known as the queen of kingdoms. For I was angry with my chosen people and punished them by letting them fall into your hands. But you, Babylon, showed them no mercy. You oppressed even the elderly. You said, ‘I will reign forever as queen of the world!’ You did not reflect on your actions or think about their consequences.
“Listen to this, you pleasure-loving kingdom, living at ease and feeling secure. You say, ‘I am the only one, and there is no other. I will never be a widow or lose my children.’ Well, both these things will come upon you in a moment: widowhood and the loss of your children. Yes, these calamities will come upon you, despite all your witchcraft and magic.
+ You are unprepared for catastrophe – “You felt secure in your wickedness. ‘No one sees me,’ you said. But your ‘wisdom’ and ‘knowledge’ have led you astray, and you said, ‘I am the only one, and there is no other.’ So disaster will overtake you, and you won’t be able to charm it away. Calamity will fall upon you, and you won’t be able to buy your way out. A catastrophe will strike you suddenly, one for which you are not prepared.
+ Your seers can’t save you – “Now use your magical charms! Use the spells you have worked at all these years! Maybe they will do you some good. Maybe they can make someone afraid of you. All the advice you receive has made you tired. Where are all your astrologers, those stargazers who make predictions each month? Let them stand up and save you from what the future holds. But they are like straw burning in a fire; they cannot save themselves from the flame. You will get no help from them at all; their hearth is no place to sit for warmth. And all your friends, those with whom you’ve done business since childhood, will go their own ways, turning a deaf ear to your cries.
God’s Stubborn People
Isaiah 48 (NLT)
+ I told you so – “Listen to me, O family of Jacob, you who are called by the name of Israel and born into the family of Judah. Listen, you who take oaths in the name of the Lord and call on the God of Israel. You don’t keep your promises, even though you call yourself the holy city and talk about depending on the God of Israel, whose name is the Lord of Heaven’s Armies. Long ago I told you what was going to happen. Then suddenly I took action, and all my predictions came true. For I know how stubborn and obstinate you are. Your necks are as unbending as iron. Your heads are as hard as bronze. 5 That is why I told you what would happen; I told you beforehand what I was going to do. Then you could never say, ‘My idols did it. My wooden image and metal god commanded it to happen!’ You have heard my predictions and seen them fulfilled, but you refuse to admit it. Now I will tell you new things, secrets you have not yet heard. They are brand new, not things from the past. So you cannot say, ‘We knew that all the time!’
+ I have refined you through suffering – “Yes, I will tell you of things that are entirely new, things you never heard of before. For I know so well what traitors you are. You have been rebels from birth. Yet for my own sake and for the honor of my name, I will hold back my anger and not wipe you out. I have refined you, but not as silver is refined. Rather, I have refined you in the furnace of suffering. I will rescue you for my sake—yes, for my own sake! I will not let my reputation be tarnished, and I will not share my glory with idols!
Freedom from Babylon
“Listen to me, O family of Jacob, Israel my chosen one! I alone am God, the First and the Last. It was my hand that laid the foundations of the earth, my right hand that spread out the heavens above. When I call out the stars, they all appear in order.”
+ Cyrus will free you from Babylon – Have any of your idols ever told you this? Come, all of you, and listen: The Lord has chosen Cyrus as his ally. He will use him to put an end to the empire of Babylon and to destroy the Babylonian armies.
“I have said it: I am calling Cyrus! I will send him on this errand and will help him succeed. Come closer, and listen to this. From the beginning I have told you plainly what would happen.”
And now the Sovereign Lord and his Spirit have sent me with this message. This is what the Lord says—your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel:
+ Oh, that you had listened – “I am the Lord your God, who teaches you what is good for you and leads you along the paths you should follow. Oh, that you had listened to my commands! Then you would have had peace flowing like a gentle river and righteousness rolling over you like waves in the sea. Your descendants would have been like the sands along the seashore—too many to count! There would have been no need for your destruction, or for cutting off your family name.”
+ God has redeemed us – Yet even now, be free from your captivity! Leave Babylon and the Babylonians. Sing out this message! Shout it to the ends of the earth! The Lord has redeemed his servants, the people of Israel. They were not thirsty when he led them through the desert. He divided the rock, and water gushed out for them to drink. “But there is no peace for the wicked,” says the Lord.
The Lord’s Servant Commissioned
Isaiah 49 (NLT)
Listen to me, all you in distant lands! Pay attention, you who are far away! The Lord called me before my birth; from within the womb he called me by name. He made my words of judgment as sharp as a sword. He has hidden me in the shadow of his hand. I am like a sharp arrow in his quiver.
He said to me, “You are my servant, Israel, and you will bring me glory.”
I replied, “But my work seems so useless! I have spent my strength for nothing and to no purpose. Yet I leave it all in the Lord’s hand; I will trust God for my reward.”
+ A light to the Gentiles – And now the Lord speaks—the one who formed me in my mother’s womb to be his servant, who commissioned me to bring Israel back to him. The Lord has honored me, and my God has given me strength. He says, “You will do more than restore the people of Israel to me. I will make you a light to the Gentiles, and you will bring my salvation to the ends of the earth.”
The Lord, the Redeemer and Holy One of Israel, says to the one who is despised and rejected by the nations, to the one who is the servant of rulers: “Kings will stand at attention when you pass by. Princes will also bow low because of the Lord, the faithful one, the Holy One of Israel, who has chosen you.”
Promises of Israel’s Restoration
This is what the Lord says:
+ The Lord in his mercy will lead them – “At just the right time, I will respond to you. On the day of salvation I will help you. I will protect you and give you to the people as my covenant with them. Through you I will reestablish the land of Israel and assign it to its own people again. I will say to the prisoners, ‘Come out in freedom,’ and to those in darkness, ‘Come into the light.’ They will be my sheep, grazing in green pastures and on hills that were previously bare. They will neither hunger nor thirst. The searing sun will not reach them anymore. For the Lord in his mercy will lead them; he will lead them beside cool waters. And I will make my mountains into level paths for them. The highways will be raised above the valleys. See, my people will return from far away, from lands to the north and west, and from as far south as Egypt.”
Sing for joy, O heavens! Rejoice, O earth! Burst into song, O mountains! For the Lord has comforted his people and will have compassion on them in their suffering.
+ The Lord has not forgotten you – Yet Jerusalem says, “The Lord has deserted us; the Lord has forgotten us.”
“Never! Can a mother forget her nursing child? Can she feel no love for the child she has borne? But even if that were possible, I would not forget you! See, I have written your name on the palms of my hands. Always in my mind is a picture of Jerusalem’s walls in ruins. Soon your descendants will come back, and all who are trying to destroy you will go away. Look around you and see, for all your children will come back to you. As surely as I live,” says the Lord, “they will be like jewels or bridal ornaments for you to display.
+ The Lord will bring back your children – “Even the most desolate parts of your abandoned land will soon be crowded with your people. Your enemies who enslaved you will be far away. The generations born in exile will return and say, ‘We need more room! It’s crowded here!’ Then you will think to yourself, ‘Who has given me all these descendants? For most of my children were killed, and the rest were carried away into exile. I was left here all alone. Where did all these people come from? Who bore these children? Who raised them for me?’”
This is what the Sovereign Lord says:
“See, I will give a signal to the godless nations. They will carry your little sons back to you in their arms; they will bring your daughters on their shoulders. Kings and queens will serve you and care for all your needs. They will bow to the earth before you and lick the dust from your feet. Then you will know that I am the Lord. Those who trust in me will never be put to shame.”
+ The Lord will fight for you – Who can snatch the plunder of war from the hands of a warrior? Who can demand that a tyrant let his captives go? But the Lord says, “The captives of warriors will be released, and the plunder of tyrants will be retrieved. For I will fight those who fight you, and I will save your children. I will feed your enemies with their own flesh. They will be drunk with rivers of their own blood. All the world will know that I, the Lord, am your Savior and your Redeemer, the Mighty One of Israel.”
Isaiah 50 (NLT)
This is what the Lord says:
+ You were sold because of your sins – “Was your mother sent away because I divorced her? Did I sell you as slaves to my creditors? No, you were sold because of your sins. And your mother, too, was taken because of your sins. Why was no one there when I came? Why didn’t anyone answer when I called? Is it because I have no power to rescue? No, that is not the reason! For I can speak to the sea and make it dry up! I can turn rivers into deserts covered with dying fish. I dress the skies in darkness, covering them with clothes of mourning.”
The Lord’s Obedient Servant
The Sovereign Lord has given me his words of wisdom, so that I know how to comfort the weary. Morning by morning he wakens me and opens my understanding to his will. The Sovereign Lord has spoken to me, and I have listened. I have not rebelled or turned away. I offered my back to those who beat me and my cheeks to those who pulled out my beard. I did not hide my face from mockery and spitting.
+ I have set my face like a stone – Because the Sovereign Lord helps me, I will not be disgraced. Therefore, I have set my face like a stone, determined to do his will. And I know that I will not be put to shame. He who gives me justice is near. Who will dare to bring charges against me now? Where are my accusers? Let them appear! See, the Sovereign Lord is on my side! Who will declare me guilty? All my enemies will be destroyed like old clothes that have been eaten by moths!
+ Trust in the Lord – Who among you fears the Lord and obeys his servant? If you are walking in darkness, without a ray of light, trust in the Lord and rely on your God. But watch out, you who live in your own light and warm yourselves by your own fires. This is the reward you will receive from me: You will soon fall down in great torment.
“Just As I Am” – Michael Neale (Intro By Billy Graham)
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