Isaiah 4:5-6, “Then the LORD will create over the whole site of Mount Zion and over her assemblies a cloud by day, and smoke and the shining of a flaming fire by night; for over all the glory there will be a canopy. 6 There will be a booth for shade by day from the heat, and for a refuge and a shelter from the storm and rain.”
I love walking in the rain…as long as I have an umbrella – a good one. Then, no matter what might be falling from the sky, I’m protected, I’m untouchable. Life is like that for the Christian. God promises here to create over Mount Zion, that is over His Church, a covering – a cloud by day, a fire by night. Does that ring a bell? God led Israel through the wilderness and protected them from Pharoah’s army taking the form of a cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night. Isaiah is foretelling how God will entirely and completely protect His church even from rain, even from the beating sun! And He Himself will dwell with them in His glory.
This has it’s ultimate fulfillment in the eternal and supernally bright day of heaven. There God will dwell with us and there will be no rain, no sorrow, no pain. But this prophecy is not just for then. In Jesus who brings us to that eternal joy, this prophecy is now as well. In this world, pain, sorrow, suffering, guilt rain down from the sky like softball sized hail, great bolts of fear thunder all around you…but you have an umbrella, a good one. It’s Jesus. It’s His love. It’s His wounded hands lifted above you in blessing. It’s Him gathering you safe under His wings. It’s Him holding you in His arms safe from every storm. That certainly does not mean that you won’t experience these difficulties, it doesn’t mean you won’t be a sinner. It just means that you will be forgiven, holy through faith and that you for you, surrounded by His love, all the evils that annoy will be used to bless you, used to draw you onward and upward towards that bright future.
Jesus promised that the gates of hell themselves would never be able to prevail against His Church. There’s a reason for that – Jesus, He’s your umbrella so whatever it is, God’s got you covered.
Today, January 6th is the last day of Christmas. Did you know that the 12 days of Christmas wasn’t just a song? And on this day we remember how the Wise Men came to see Jesus, the newborn King – Matthew 2:1-12 –https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/…
“Epiphany” means to shine forth. And one of the things that shines forth about Jesus is that He has come for the whole world, for gentiles and not just for Jews. That’s clear when we see three “Magi” (a word which undoubtedly refers to an order of people from Persia) come to see Him. They came because the light of the good news of Jesus had shown upon them, not just from a star but undoubtedly also from the Scriptures which had been brought there when God’s people had been brought into captivity there. And the light of God’s Word had apparently revealed to them some remarkable things. Not just that this King of the Jews was for them, gentiles that they were so that they would travel all that way to worship Him. Not just that He was no earthly King, for what use would there be too travel to see him if he was. But what it would mean that he would be King. Their gifts are quite the epiphany.
Gold – a gift for a king. Frankincense – the very incense that the priests offered to God in the temple. Myrh – a perfume for embalming the dead the very ones Nicodemus would bring to anoint this babies dead body one day. See, the wise men knew, they knew that this King was the King of the universe, they knew that He was the King who would die for His people. They knew He was the King who would draw all peoples, all nations to Himself. They knew what this meant and they rejoiced with exceedingly great joy. So should you. For this child, chis king is born for you no matter who you are no matter where you are from. He is born for you, born to die for you, born to forgive you for all your many sins. Therefore, seek Him and rejoice with exceedingly great joy!
Isaiah 4:2-3, “In that day the branch of the LORD shall be beautiful and glorious, and the fruit of the land shall be the pride and honor of the survivors of Israel. 3 And he who is left in Zion and remains in Jerusalem will be called holy, everyone who has been recorded for life in Jerusalem.”
What’s your pride and joy? A fancy car? Your wife? Your children? Something you’ve accomplished in your career? In the previous chapter we saw how the pride and joy of many of the Israelites had been sin and idolatry. Is it ever that way with you?
It won’t be for the who are left in Jerusalem, not for the remnant. God had foretold the destruction he would bring on Jerusalem, how all the things that they wrongly found pride and joy in were taken away. And what was left to them? For the believers – for the remnant of God’s Church, that had always been the same. The branch mentioned in verse two is Jesus. Jeremiah 23:5, “Behold, the days are coming, declares the LORD, when I will raise up for David a righteous Branch, and he shall reign as king and deal wisely, and shall execute justice and righteousness in the land.”
Jesus is the pride and glory of believers because He is the reason their names are written in the book of life. As Jesus reminded His disciples, Luke 10:20, “Nevertheless, do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.”
Don’t take pride or joy in sin, repent of it. Don’t make the things of this world, even the best things, your pride and joy, let that be Jesus, let that be the eternal life He gives, then nothing can take your pride and joy away.
Isaiah 3 – https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/…
As God had foretold (Leviticus 26, Deuteronomy 28), if Israel broke it’s side of the old covenant, then He would discipline them. Chapter 3 prophecies the judgment that God would bring on them when He finally allowed the Babylonians to overrun the city. There would be no more food or water (verse 1), they would lose all the people they trusted in, some filling good offices provided by God (like government officials, and prophets) and others idolatrous (like magicians and charmers) (verses 2-3). God would turn the people over to foolish and inept leaders whom they would choose for incredibly foolish reasons, like who has the best cloak (verse 4-6), but even he won’t want to be leader because of how messed up it was (kind of how you might not want to be coach of the Cleveland Browns!).
God will allow them to be oppressed, to be mistreated, to be shamed. Why? Because they were proud (verse 9) of their sins and refused to repent. They turned away from the glorious, gracious presence of the LORD in the temple (verse 8) and chose to live their lives their own way – oppressing those beneath them. Isaiah gives examples of this oppression in verses 14-23 – they live in unnecessary luxury at the expense of the poor and the needy. He will replace their pride with shame, the oppressors will become the oppressed, the rich would become poor. God was going to turn the tables on them and “remove all support.”
Why? The same reason loving parents might remove an allowance from a child using it for foolish and sinful things – He wanted them to repent. He wanted them to turn to Him and His New Covenant of grace in Jesus Christ for mercy from all their sins, He wanted to give it! He wanted to make them His children by faith and wanted to bring forth in them fruits of righteousness.
It’s what he wants for you too. He wants you to repent of the times that you have oppressed those who were less able or poorer than you in sinful pride. Maybe you think you never have. Think again. He wants you to know that your sins deserve His judgment. And He wants you to know that when the tables are turned on you, when your sins should come upon you and eternal oppression should be your lot, there is mercy and grace in Him. Repent, believe, and live a life of thankfulness to Him! Bear fruits in keeping with repentance.
Isaiah 2:6-22 – https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Isaiah+2%3A6-22
Procrastinating usually isn’t a good idea. If you make a habit of it, you’ll undoubtedly suffer for it eventually. Not all things can be put off. And sometimes, the longer they are, the worse it gets. The dentist is like that. If you have a small cavity, don’t procrastinate about it, it’s only going to get worse, it’s only going to hurt more – both in your mouth and in your wallet.
Don’t procrastinate about God either. Don’t be fooled into thinking, “It doesn’t matter how I live, there’s no God and if there is he doesn’t care, my life is pretty good after all.” Don’t be fooled into making things created by people or people themselves into your gods – the things you love and trust above all others. Don’t procrastinate. When you hear God’s voice calling to you in His Word, listen. When you hear Him expose your sin in His law, repent. When you see Him point you to the cross of Christ, believe. This is not something you can afford to procrastinate about. Because even if it is painful, it’s only the pain of now, it’s only the pain of your sinful flesh screaming at it’s own death. And this pain of the law is replaced with the sweet comfort of the good news of forgiveness in Jesus. If God humbles you in this way, He will also raise you up.
But if you refuse, then a day will come (verses 12-20) when you will be struck down, all that you loved, all that you trusted in will be useless to you, then there will be no hiding, no comfort from the storm of God’s wrath. Don’t procrastinate. Be humbled now by His law and rise in faith through His Good News or be humbled later and you will never rise again.
Isaiah 2:1-5, “The word that Isaiah the son of Amoz saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem. 2 It shall come to pass in the latter days that the mountain of the house of the LORD shall be established as the highest of the mountains, and shall be lifted up above the hills; and all the nations shall flow to it, 3 and many peoples shall come, and say: “Come, let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob, that he may teach us his ways and that we may walk in his paths.” For out of Zion shall go the law, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem. 4 He shall judge between the nations, and shall decide disputes for many peoples; and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore. 5 O house of Jacob, come, let us walk in the light of the LORD.”
The hope is often expressed, especially at Christmastime, that there should be world peace. I suppose there are even many who view this as the real hope of Christmas. The Savior’s birth does bring peace, a peace brought about through teaching. This is what Isaiah is prophesying, that the world will have peace because it will hear the Word of the Lord. And that Word is only found in one place – Mt Zion, Jerusalem. Have you been to Jerusalem lately? It’s not exactly a place of peace. Seldom has it ever been. God is not talking about the earthly Jerusalem, the earthly Mt Zion. He is talking about His Church. The Church to which He gave birth through the birth of His Son. This is where His Word is found.
And that Word is a word of peace. For the teaching of God’s Church is always this – that Christ is born to bring peace for the whole world. And this peace is found in His life, death, and resurrection. It’s a peace in the forgiveness of sins. It’s a peace that is still peace midst the horrors of war in this world. A peace that spreads from one heart to another simply with a Word: a Word of peace: Your sins are forgiven.