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

Friday, July 26, 2013

July 26 - Isaiah 40-43: God's Lighthouses to the Nations

Today’s Reading: Isaiah 40-43

The Message

English Standard Version

Thought to Guide Your Reading

God wants Judah to compare gods, not blindly follow the one they have known from birth.

Summary in 100 Words or Less

God speaks, "Your punishment is finished."
Spread the good news—"God is near!"
There is no god like God. Judah, you know He cares for us.
"You are My Chosen People, descendents of Abraham. Through My Spirit you will set everything right—a lighthouse to the nations."
Sing to God! Echo His praise from coast to coast!
Pay attention! You are my Messengers! I depend on you. Will anyone pay attention?
"You're mine. I am your Savior. I am, have always been, and will always be God.
"But you give me nothing in return. Therefore, you are rejected."

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

At last, God wants to remove Judah's punishment.

God punished Israel and Judah to remove those who were bad influences. Now their punishment is over and God looks forward to reconciliation. God wants to remove our punishment as quickly as possible.

God is much greater than any other so-called god.

God muscles His way into Judah and reminds them of two essential truths: 1) God is the Creator, Director, and Judge over all earth; and 2) other gods may look nice, decorated with gold and other precious items, but they are manufactured by people not the other way around. Judah has heard these stories all their lives and yet they struggle to believe it. God is greater than any and all other things that vie for our love and respect.

God calls Judah to spread the Good News to the entire world.

Once God removes their punishment, He calls them to spread the Good News of His Reign to the world. In the clearest version of this call yet, God tells Israel:
I am God. I have called you to live right and well.
   I have taken responsibility for you, kept you safe.
I have set you among my people to bind them to me,
   and provided you as a lighthouse to the nations,
To make a start at bringing people into the open, into light:
   opening blind eyes,
   releasing prisoners from dungeons,
   emptying the dark prisons. (42:6-7, The Message)
God's greatness is not easily seen by those who are not His Chosen People. That is why they must present the good news to the world—God is near, setting all things right. God calls His Chosen People to shine for the world to see Him.

No matter how much God tells Israel of His greatness and how other gods are unworthy, they will not listen.

The end of the reading is depressing. God has removed Judah's punishment, reminded them of His Greatness, called them to be His Ambassadors to the nations, and they still will not listen. Instead, they worship their manufactured gods and oppress the poor. God brings down the standard—just offer sacrifices. They won't bother with that. God had a great role for them to play and they botched it. Therefore, the only response God has is to remove them as His Chosen People. When we are unwilling to do even the bare minimum to obey God, He will remove us.
How does this translate to today? The Church is God's lighthouse to the nations. We get to be the ambassadors to the world for the Creator! However, many churches have difficulty getting their members to do the bare minimum—offer sacrifices of money and time to God. What has God done? God has removed the Church as His central Ambassadors to the world because we cannot be bothered to do the bare minimum to obey Him. Is this universal? Absolutely not! That being said, Christianity is losing its place in our culture not because the world has rejected God but because God had a massive, awesome plan for Christians to help set things right in the world but could not get us to fulfill the basic minimum—setting things right within ourselves.

Are you setting things right in the world or trying to see how little you can do for God and still remain His Chosen Person?

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