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God is Setting All Things Right. So I am Blogging Through the Bible in a Year.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

July 22 - Isaiah 31-34: God's Way vs. the Way of Punishment

Today’s Reading: Isaiah 31-34

The Message

English Standard Version

Thought to Guide Your Reading

Nothing can protect Israel from God's punishment.

Summary in 100 Words or Less

Large armies can't outmuscle God. Only repentance ensures protection.
Listen! In one year the righteous and the wicked will be separated.
God, protect us from our enemies! You are our greatest treasure!
God reassures Israel, "See how mighty I am? Sinners quake in their boots."
How can our nation survive? Set things right. When God runs this place, we are safe and guilt-free!
Everyone, hear this: God will soon punish the wicked. No one is exempt. Their land will be polluted with their remains. Chaos will rule and the earth will clean up the mess. Get ready—it's coming.

How Today’s Reading Contributes to the Gospel: God is Setting All Things Right

Only repentance can protect against God's wrath.

When God is angry there is nothing we can do to buy our freedom or a pardon apart from humbling ourselves to ask for forgiveness and a clean heart. No army, political structure, or business can protect you from God's punishment. When you make mistakes, repent. That is the easiest and only way to return God's blessings.

Isaiah gives the easiest answer to how we should live.

The answer’s simple:
   Live right,
   speak the truth,
   despise exploitation,
   refuse bribes,
   reject violence,
   avoid evil amusements.
This is how you raise your standard of living!
   A safe and stable way to live.
   A nourishing, satisfying way to live. (33:15-16, The Message)
Many people are discussing how to grow the middle class. We hear government programs, schemes, and taxes that will grow jobs and help the middle class. No one mentions the obvious, when people set things right, everyone benefits. Then, mistakes made by others will stand out and people can either correct, remove, or punish the person for making them. Last—the best reason—when we set things right, we live guilt-free. No one complains of mental anguish due to their sin when they set things right. We have inner peace.

No one escapes God's punishment.

The last chapter is difficult to read. Mass executions, desecration of corpses, and animals bringing God's punishment on the wicked are never things we enjoy hearing (well, maybe it's tolerable when our enemies are the victims). However, if you remember yesterday's reading, along with the story of Nineveh, God's threats of punishment are not meant to come true. They are meant to help anyone reading understand there are two options—one easy (repentance, no matter how humbling it may be), and one hard (punishment through the ways God mentioned). Today's reading would shock a person living in Edom. They have seen the acts happen before but not to this extent. God's punishment is meant to show how easy repentance can be. Why would anyone not do what God has asked?

Do you see the difference in God's way of living and the way that leads to punishment?

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