Awww...today is special. It's the 9th anniversary of my first reading in the One Year Bible, when I began going through it every year. I purchased my OYB at a Women of Faith Event after hearing Becky Tirabassi's testimony and how it had so inspired her journey. My Bible is quite dog-eared and worn out from reading, marking, traveling, and maybe being wrestled with by my cats. It looks terrible and is missing the first 20 pages, but that's okay. I'm ready to graduate to the NASB next year, I hope (I hope it makes sense).
"Comfort, comfort my people," says your God. "Speak tenderly to
Jerusalem. Tell her that her sad days are gone and her sins are
pardoned. Yes, the Lord has punished her twice over for all her sins."
Again, we see the theme of Isaiah, restoring comfort to Israel. After
she is punished twice over for all her sins, her sad
days will be over. Just this week we (my husband and I) were discussing
Thomas Talbott's book, "The Inescapable Love of God." In this book,
Thomas expresses his belief that that reconciliation is the full atonement for sin,
not punishment. That would be both reconciliation between man and God,
and reconciliation between people. Intriguing thought.
Listen! It's the voice of someone shouting, "Clear the way through the
wilderness for the Lord! Make a straight highway through the wasteland
for our God! Fill in the valleys, and level the mountains and hills.
Straighten the curves, and smooth out the rough places. Then the glory
of the Lord will be revealed, and all people will see it together. The Lord has spoken!"
Basically, I think this passage is all about removing lies, blindness,
and unbelief from the people so they can SEE the glory of the Lord
together! It will happen in layers and stages.
40:10 Yes, the Sovereign Lord is coming in power. He will rule with a powerful arm. See, he brings his reward with him as he comes. Jesus cross-referenced this in Rev. 22:12: "Behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to render to every man according to what he has done. I have heard that a better translation for "quickly" is "suddenly." What is His "reward"? You know by now...MK! What will He do for those He rewards? Next verse...
40:11 He will feed his flock like a shepherd. He will carry the lambs in his arms, holding them close to his heart. He will gently lead the mother sheep with their young. I believe that spiritual Israel (chosen) are His true flock, and these are His people He is leading so tenderly and gently. Ahhh...I can't wait!
40:15 No, for all the nations of the world are but a drop in the bucket. They are nothing more than dust on the scales. That is comforting when it comes to battle! He is so unfathomable. Can you imagine the first time we lay eyes on Yahweh? Jesus is the mediator, approachable and human form. But Yahweh...oh wow. I don't know if our little hearts and minds can grasp the immensity of emotion and power we will experience every moment in His presence!
40:25-26 "To whom will you compare me? Who is my equal?" asks the Holy One. Look up into the heavens. Who created all the stars? He brings them out like an army, one after another, calling each by its name. Because of his great power and incomparable strength, not a single one is missing. What a great reminder. Nothing will ever come up missing with God. All will be found and safely accounted for. Not only does He know the names of the stars (trillions), but He knows the names of each of His children, and every detail of their lives.
41:4 Who has done such mighty deeds, summoning each new generation from the beginning of time? It is I, the Lord, the First and the Last. I alone am he." I do wonder if this is Jesus speaking, but the word for LORD is "Yahweh." This is a mystery to me.
41:8-10 "But as for you, Israel my servant Jacob my chosen one, descended from Abraham my friend, I have called you back from the ends of the earth, saying, ‘You are my servant.' For I have chosen you and will not throw you away (NASB: "not rejected"). Don't be afraid, for I am with you. Don't be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand." I have been wondering lately if this OT chosen status is only a spiritual calling or both a spiritual and a physical calling (separately). Is there physically still an Israel today that will be called back from the ends of the earth (it appears so) or is this only about a spiritual calling for the true believers? If there is a physical Israel, are they believers in Yeshua or not yet? So many questions...
41:11 See, all your angry enemies lie there, confused and humiliated. Anyone who opposes you will die and come to nothing. Is this a promise of physical deliverance of our physical enemies at some point (before their time)? Saul died before his time, leaving David in peace. I know that Papa (India) has had most of his worst opponents suddenly and strangely die through the years. One was even attacked by monkeys on his veranda! I wonder about this, but clearly our enemies are a great way for God to work on our character.
41:14-16 (selected) Though you are a lowly worm, O Jacob, don't be afraid, people of Israel, for I will help you. I am the Lord, your Redeemer. I am the Holy One of Israel.' You will be a new threshing instrument with many sharp teeth. You will tear your enemies apart, making chaff of mountains. Then you will rejoice in the Lord. You will glory in the Holy One of Israel. Again, this is probably a prophecy for spiritual Israel—true believers. It appears to talk about their place in judging the enemies of God and His children. Note the reference to "threshing" which speaks of the harvest!
Today's reading is a veritable smorgasbord for the new stuff we've learned in recent months!
1:1 Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God... Love
it already. BY THE WILL OF GOD, not by his own will or choice.
1:1b To the saints who are at Ephesus and who are faithful in Christ Jesus. We establish our audience: the faithful saints of God, not marginal.
1:3-4 ...who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him. Some of those blessings we experience now, some will come later. Jesus often talked about our blessings/rewards being kept safe in heaven where moth and rust will not destroy. Only heaven knows what is in store for us. But how exciting that we were chosen before the foundation of the world (I believe by casting lots, as we have studied before in the Hebrew/Greek) to be holy and blameless. Do you ever wonder why you're different than others--if you have an intensity about your faith that you don't see in others? This is why. It's not from you.
1:5 In love He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will...
1:9-10 He made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His kind intention which He purposed in Him with a view to an administration suitable to the fullness of the times, that is, the summing up of all things in Christ, things in the heavens and things on the earth. For Pete's sake. You don't get much clearer than this in hearing the intentions and will of God.
1:11-12 In Him also we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to His purpose who works all things after the counsel of His will, to the end that we who were the first to hope in Christ would be to the praise of His glory. Glory be! He is sovereign, He has some who are the first to hope in Him for His glory. Can you imagine being considered "His glory"?
1:13-14 In Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the Gospel of your salvation--having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is given as a pledge of our inheritance, with a view to the redemption of God's own possession, to the praise of His glory. Wow, I can't stop including text here. It is awesome!
1:17-18 ...that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of Him. I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you will know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints... This is definitely a place where we all need prayer to understand the hope of His calling and to have their eyes of our hearts enlightened.
1:19 and what is the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe. It appears we who believe are given a surpassing power from Him. Halleluiah! I can use that this next weekend.
1:21-23 [Jesus is] far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. And He put all things in subjection under His feet, and gave Him as head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all. Makes me want to sing! There truly is no "plan b" or "damage control." Jesus is fully in charge of everything that is happening in the spiritual realm around us. This has never made so much sense as through our new glasses! What joy.
66:5-6 Come and see the works of God, who is awesome in His deeds toward the sons of men. He turned the sea into dry land; they passed through the river on foot; there let us rejoice in Him! If you think about it, all the Israelites were delivered from Egypt, regardless of obedience or belief. Only two got in the Promised Land the first time around for belief. But after a period of correction (40 years in the wilderness), everyone got into the Promised Land!
66:11-12 You brought us into the net; You laid an oppressive burden upon our loins (the Law). You made men ride over our heads; we went through fire and through water, yet You brought us out into a place of abundance. See what I mean? This is exactly what I'm talking about...