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Wednesday: Hope in Advance — 13 Comments

  1. In the USA, the motto, "In God We Trust" appears on the currency and on many government buildings. There is quite a lot of legal hassling about the use of the motto considering that in our modern society, "God" is seen as Christian and is an affront to those of other religions. Further, many folk are atheist and do not believe in any God at all. Whether it should be used on coins of not is another question altogether, but the fact remains that at the time this phrase was cast in the brass of specie, or carved into the marble of our buildings, it reflected some national perception that God was the ultimate authority.

    The main problem with the use of this phrase is that there is a significant difference between placing it on coins and buildings and having a dynamic personal trust in God.

    It is a bit like some of the mission statements that are placed on the walls of our churches and institutions. We sometimes look at these statements and wonder what they really mean. I have been through a number of "mission statement" exercises in my lifetime, and I reckon that the whole point of the exercise is not the end statement in itself, but rather the interaction the participants have with one another in the process. In the cut and thrust of discussion and argument, we forge an understanding of what our mission is and how we should achieve it. Ultimately the change in us is more important than the pithy little statement that gets carved into the wall of the institution.

    "In God, We Trust" is a great statement, but if we have not been through the exercise of trusting God in real life, it is just a collection of words. It defines a dynamic for living.

    When we look at the history of the Hebrew nation as told in the Bible and supported by secular accounts, we can see how this trust in God has been forged through the somewhat tortured course of history. It is like a great river, starting in the mountains, trickling through creeks and brooks, fighting its way through canyons and gorges, racing over rapids and waterfalls, dammed by the artefacts of man, meandering and flooding the plains, changing its characteristics over time, but never losing its identity.

    Paul describes the result of dynamic trust like this:

    You show that you are a letter from Christ, the result of our ministry, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts. 2 Cor 3:3 NIV

    Amen!(56)
  2. Today's lesson goes deeper into the history so I decided to research a little more too....

    The Encyclopedia Britannica account of Cyrus's beginning is interesting:

    "The story of the childhood of Cyrus, as told by Herodotus... Astyages, the king of the Medes and overlord of the Persians, gave his daughter in marriage to his vassal in Persis, a prince called Cambyses. From this marriage Cyrus was born. Astyages, having had a dream that the baby would grow up to overthrow him, ordered Cyrus slain. His chief adviser, however, instead gave the baby to a shepherd to raise. When he was 10 years old, Cyrus, because of his outstanding qualities, was discovered by Astyages, who, in spite of the dream, was persuaded to allow the boy to live. Cyrus, when he reached manhood in Persis, revolted against his maternal grandfather and overlord. Astyages marched against the rebel, but his army deserted him and surrendered to Cyrus in 550 BCE."

    How symbolic that Cyrus was raised by a shepherd! We know his life was in the hands of the Great Shepherd. And here we see God sending a dream to King Astyages. We can note other times God sent dreams to leaders in Bible history: Abimelech in Abraham's day, Pharoah in Joseph's day, a Midianite dreamer in Gideon's day, Solomon receiving God's favor to ask Him for anything, Nebuchadnezzar's 2 dreams in Daniel's day, the dream to Jesus' father, Joseph, in Herod's day and also to the Magi, and Pontius Pilate's wife's nightmare during Jesus' trial. We're told that in the last days God will again use dreams to communicate (Joel 2:28; Acts 2:17; Jer 23:25-32; 1 John 4:1).

    Another quote from the Encyclopedia Britannica article, "Next Cyrus turned to Babylonia, where the dissatisfaction of the people with the ruler Nabonidus gave him a pretext for invading the lowlands. The conquest was quick, for even the priests of Marduk, the national deity of the great metropolis of Babylon, had become estranged from Nabonidus. In October 539 BCE, the greatest city of the ancient world fell to the Persians."

    Providential, again, that the conquest of the greatest city of the ancient world would be quick. This protected lives, as well as Jewish lives.

    An artifact called the Cyrus Cylinder commemorates "Cyrus's restoration of the city of Babylon and the worship of Marduk previously neglected by Nabonidus...The Cylinder indicates that Cyrus sought to acquire the loyalty of the ravaged regions by funding reconstruction, the return of temple properties and the repatriation of the displaced populations "(Wikipedia).

    If so, this may mean that other captive nations and peoples, not only the Jewish nation, were aided by Cyrus in restoring and keeping cultural and religious practices? And as I read more references, it also sounds as though Cyrus attributed his conquering power to the doings of the god Marduk. As I mentioned in my post yesterday, I find it encouraging that God fulfills His purposes even through leaders who don't know Him or who deny His supremacy. Here God prompted Cyrus, who possibly worshipped Marduk, to restore His chosen people to their homeland. Cyrus gave the wrong god the credit, but God's purpose was still completed.

    Last observation, I think God must have inspired Cyrus's ruling policy because it sounds so much like the laws He gave Israel in the OT. Here is a statement from former Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad who opened the Cyrus Cylinder exhibition at the National Museum of Iran in September 2010: "The Cylinder reads that everyone is entitled to freedom of thought and choice and all individuals should pay respect to one another. This historical charter also underscores the necessity of fighting oppression, defending the oppressed, respecting human dignity, and recognizing human rights..." (Wikipedia)

    Amen!(37)
    • Wow, the story of Cyrus' childhood sounds rather similar to Moses' and Jesus' stories. Set apart for God's purpose, attempts on his life as an infant, sent away to grow up among strangers, and eventually becoming a powerful leader... although Cyrus did not recognize God, God still used Cyrus for His glory, even at the same time as Cyrus also glorified other gods. Just imagine what we may do for God's glory when we are obedient to His leading and glorify Him alone!

      Amen!(12)
  3. Why do some critics want to cut up the book of Isaiah? Their theories raised some questions in my mind however when I turn to the New Testament and see how often Jesus, the apostles and Paul quoted from the book of Isaiah it restored my confidence in the book and encouraged me to continue mining its pages for gems of eternal truth.
    This list of all the verses quoted is rather long but it shows why we are studying Isaiah and how it is part of the foundation of the Gospel.

    Isaiah 1:9 As Sodom and Gomorrah (Romans 9:29)
    Isaiah 6:9 Closed eyes and ears (Matthew 13:14, Mark 4:12, Luke 8:10, John 12:39, Acts 28:25)
    Isaiah 7:14 Virgin with child (Matthew 1:23)
    Isaiah 8:12 Do not be in fear (1Peter 3:14)
    Isaiah 8:14 Stone of stumbling (1Peter 2:8, Romans 9:33)
    Isaiah 8:17-18 The children God has given me (Hebrews 2:13)
    Isaiah 9:1 A light in darkness (Matthew 4:15)
    Isaiah 9:6 A child shall be born (Matthew 1:23)
    Isaiah 10:22 Remnant shall be saved (Romans 9:27)
    Isaiah 11:5 A belt girding the loins (Ephesians 6:14)
    Isaiah 11:10 The Root of Jesse (Romans 15:12)
    Isaiah 22:13 Tomorrow we may die (1Corinthians 15:32)
    Isaiah 22:22 The key of David (Revelation 3:7)
    Isaiah 25:8 Death swallowed up (1Corinthians 15:54)
    Isaiah 27:9 When I forgive their sins (Romans 11:26)
    Isaiah 28:11 Speak in strange tongues (1Corinthians 14:21)
    Isaiah 28:16 Precious corner stone (1Peter 2:6, Romans 9:33)
    Isaiah 28:16 Believers not disappointed (Romans 9:33, 10:11)
    Isaiah 29:10 A spirit of stupor (Romans 11:8)
    Isaiah 29:13 They worship in vain (Matthew 15:7, Mark 7:6)
    Isaiah 29:14 The wisdom of the wise (1Corinthians 1:19)
    Isaiah 29:16 Potter and the clay (Romans 9:19-21)
    Isaiah 40:3 Voice in wilderness (Matthew 3:3, Mark 1:2, Luke 3:4, John 1:23)
    Isaiah 40:6 God's word abides forever (1Peter 1:25)
    Isaiah 40:13 The mind of the LORD (Romans 11:34)
    Isaiah 42:1 Behold My Servant (Matthew 12:18)
    Isaiah 42:4 Hope for Gentiles (Romans 15:12)
    Isaiah 42:6 A light for the Gentiles (Luke 2:32)
    Isaiah 45:23 Every knee shall bow (Romans 14:11)
    Isaiah 49:6 A light for the Gentiles (Luke 2:32, Acts 13:47)
    Isaiah 49:8 Acceptable time, day of salvation (2Corinthians 6:2)
    Isaiah 52:5 Blasphemy among Gentiles (Romans 2:24)
    Isaiah 52:7 How beautiful the feet (Romans 10:15)
    Isaiah 52:11 Come out from among them (2Corinthians 6:17)
    Isaiah 52:15 They shall understand (Romans 15:21)
    Isaiah 53:1 Who has believed our report? (John 12:38, Romans 10:16)
    Isaiah 53:4 Carried our diseases (Matthew 8:17)
    Isaiah 53:5 By his stripes you were healed (1Peter 2:24)
    Isaiah 53:7 A lamb to the slaughter (Acts 8:32)
    Isaiah 53:9 He committed no sin (1Peter 2:22)
    Isaiah 53:12 Numbered with transgressors (Mark 15:28, Luke 22:37)
    Isaiah 54:1 Rejoice barren woman (Galatians 4:27)
    Isaiah 54:13 All be taught of God (John 6:45)
    Isaiah 55:3 The sure mercies of David (Acts 13:34)
    Isaiah 56:7 A house of prayer (Matthew 21:13, Mark 11:17, Luke 19:46)
    Isaiah 59:7-8 Feet swift to shed blood (Romans 3:15-17)
    Isaiah 59:17 Breastplate and helmet (Ephesians 6:14-17)
    Isaiah 59:20 Deliverer from Zion (Romans 11:26)
    Isaiah 61:1 He anointed me to preach (Luke 4:17)
    Isaiah 64:4 Eye has not seen (1Corinthians 2:9)
    Isaiah 65:1 Found by those who sought me not (Romans 10:20)
    Isaiah 65:2 Disobedient and obstinate people (Romans 10:21)
    Isaiah 66:1 Heaven is my throne (Acts 7:48)
    Isaiah 66:24 Fire is not quenched (Mark 9:48)

    Amen!(37)
    • Just read that Isaiah is sometimes referred to as a "miniature Bible" because it has 66 chapters divided into two major divisions of 39 and 27 chapters....just like the Bible contains 66 books divided into OT with 39 books and NT with 27 books. Fascinating. And that Isaiah is the OT book most referenced in the NT apart from the Psalms.

      Amen!(10)
  4. The land shall not be sold forever: for the land is mine; for ye are strangers and sojourners with me. Lev 25:23.

    Hope in Advance
    While the people were living in a specific land with specific leaders chosen by Jesus, they were supposed to do and observe what were given to them in the writing of the prophets. Because of disobedience by the people who supposed to be light bearers of the world and watchmen, the Lord wrath reached out to them.
    The promised hope in Jesus who was promised to them would have come at a specific time. It was hope in advance.

    The same Jesus who was promised to us to come again will so come in like manner. But can I say the same things are playing out again to us as it did to the Israelites of old but in a different way? Disobey and die. Obey and live. Lev 26:40-45. Starts with If they shall confess their iniquities- aren't we called to confess our sins to Jesus? Do we have uncircumcised hearts? Do we remember the sabbath belong to Jesus- both the seventh day sabbath and even the sabbath of the land, (the land we are not called to celebrate) but we can acknowledge that the land belong to Jesus. How we treat it, it will show.
    It is said from scientist and others that the earth looked so clean and different since last year after one year of rest from pollution as seen from space.

    Amen!(2)
  5. There are many arguments against scripture that we need not try to argue with or work to change in those who promote them. We are simply called to be witnesses through faith. We know that the vast majority of all who dwell on the earth will reject Truth, and our time/effort is best spent in seeking those searching for the Truth. Our faith and obedience to the truth will be our witness, more than our knowledge. Without personal faith and obedience, our efforts will be without the power from above, and actually be a disadvantage.

    For today's final question, Ps 119:165 is a great verse to ponder. Also, a study of the lives of men like Joseph and Daniel will encourage all who trust in the Lord.

    Amen!(6)
    • Yes, very true. Now on the flip side of the coin, what about the ones who are not seeking the truth until you take you light out from under a bushel basket. We are the light of the world, let our lights so shine that all may see, that God dwells in us. Matthew 5:16.

      Amen!(2)
      • Yes John, that's what I meant when saying "our faith and obedience to the truth will be our witness...". Our task is actually very simple, and well defined in Ps 37:4,5.

        Amen!(1)
  6. I believe that the record of the Prophet Isaiah, as all God’s Prophets referred to in the Scriptures, are the Lord's Words. The prophet is given the message either directly to speak God’s Word, being the mouth of God, or his speech is inspired by the Holy Spirit and so speaks indirectly the thoughts of warning, admonition and comfort from the Lord’s heart.
    It appears that man does not want to miss an opportunity to analyze and dissect, using his own mind to reason with the wisdom and omniscience of God and ending up 'majoring in the minors'. Man gets hung up on using ‘facts to exercise his reason’ instead of striving to understand what the Spirit reveals in His message.

    As I see it, everything the prophets have been given to speak to the people about is originating from GOD. For example: ”Then came ‘the word of the LORD’ to Isaiah, saying, go, and say to Hezekiah, thus saith the LORD …”; or ”… hear the word of the LORD of hosts:”, or even “comfort ye, comfort ye my people, saith your God. Speak ye comfortably to Jerusalem, and cry unto her that her warfare is accomplished, ...”. Every word spoken by the prophet's mouth and recorded in our Scriptures as the ‘Word of God’ is either direct speech or indirect, inspired speech from the Lord.

    I just cannot accept the word ‘prediction’ to describe God’s omniscient and omnipresent Authority and Sovereignty when speaking to man. I am disappointed to read the lesson writer saying: “Isaiah accurately predicted Cyrus by name, or, the prophetic Word of the Lord to be a ‘prediction’ - it cheapens the Power of His Word. I relate to God's Word as the DECLARED Word of God! Yes, His 'Word' includes revealed future events, but it is always meant in the context of warning, admonition, encouragement, reminder, comfort etc.; the 'Word' expresses the Lord's Spirit of loving justice and righteousness and undergirds all His communication with mankind; it is meant for inspiration, to cause us to turn to Him wherein is Hope!

    Should we encourage people to place hope in a 'God of accurate predictions'? Do we believe Him because He is 100% right instead of just 75%? Would it not be better to point to Him as the God of Hope, the Lord that does not change, the LORD that guides the affairs of man, the One who offers us to trust Him because He says He loves us, letting us know that He is the ONLY ONE who can guide us into life everlasting?

    I hold that many of the believers see God as too ‘little' a god, the little god of their fears and trepedations who still needs to prove Himself to do right by them. We have to declare Him to be the all-powerful, sovereign God and Lord of man and all Creation, the God who’s living Word does not fail, in whom man can put his trust unreservedly.

    We attempt to ‘predict’ the outcome of a wager, or the stock market, or the weather etc., but we should not use this word when speaking about the Prophecies of our Lord. His Word is the Declaration of Truth, shared by the LORD residing in Heaven, in whose living Word we put our Faith and Trust – Isa.41:13KJV - "For I the LORD thy God will hold thy right hand, saying unto thee, Fear not; I will help thee."

    Amen!(7)
    • God informing us of the future of things to come to help to live, is an expression of His love for us, giving us hope, and evidence to base our faith on. Jeremiah chapter 27 and 28 give us many insights of prophecies, told to God's prophets by God, giving us evidence of the omniscience of God, a faith builder.

      Amen!(2)
  7. Yes, I can see that God as God of creation and salvation history is declaring his salvatory will to the church and to the world. Yet I would not go so far as to exclude or diminish the predictive element of his proclamation, which in this case contains the remarkable exact name prediction of Cyrus being even called to be a Messiah in his God given purpose of redeeming his people out of the babylonian captivity. God`s declaration, including the predictive element, gives future hope to his hopeles people so they can see where salvation history is aiming at, leaving far behind all the idols that are impotent to predict such predicive declarations. Saying this,I have in mind Isaiah 41:21-24; Isaiah 44:24-28; 45:1-3.

    Winfried Stolpmann

    Amen!(1)

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