Daily Scripture reading for the week is at the end of the page.
Dr. June Normil
As Jesus begun His earthly ministry some 2,000 years ago, He announced His mission in the synagogue of His hometown of Nazareth. There He read from Isaiah 61, including the phase "the year of the Lord's favor". Isaiah could not foresee the time span within Isaiah 61:2. What Jesus read through the first half of the verse would happen before His death, resurrection, and ascension. But "the day of vengeance of our God remains in the future. God will bring judgment that will forever defeat evil and preserve life and blessing for the redeemed. GOD'S PEOPLE WILL BE RESTORED ( Isaiah 61:4-9). Isaiah's prophecies give two clues as its future setting. First, ruin and devastation will be reversed (Isaiah 61: 4). A second clue to the future fulfillment of this passage is that the joy of God's people and His covenant will be "everlasting" Christians experience the joy of serving Him today, but that joy is interwoven with sorrows. The future joy of the righteous will be forever.
[REACT] ? What distinguishes the blessings in Isaiah 61:4-9 from those we enjoy now?
INVITATION ACCEPTED OR REJECTED? (ISAIAH 65:1-7,11-12)
The opening verses of Isaiah 65 show us a God of judgment who simultaneously is a God of mercy. Isaiah is writing about God's desire to bring His own covenant people back into fellowship with himself. The passage also describes God's love for lost people. The apostle Paul explains, "God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us" (Romans 5:8). Jesus as the Messiah, is God the Son, who reveals himself to those who do not ask for Him, and even are intent on seeking their own way. The promise of Judgment is as direct as God's earlier invitation. God will one day enact "full payment" for sin. A sword and slaughter await those who cling to sin. These words remind us of romans 6:23: "The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord." Blessings For Those who Accept (ISAIAH 62:10-12; ISAIAH 65:8-10). The setting of Zion (Jerusalem) is used in Isaiah 62 to direct attention to God's saving work among the redeemed. The source of that blessing is Jesus, the Savior who now comes to Jerusalem in view of the whole world. Jerusalem will be sought after by one and all. Isaiah 65 expands this promise of blessings to the land of Israel. The sinful history of God's people in verses 1-7, reflected in idolatry and disregard for God's Law, verses 8-10 look to the day when divine judgment will be forever in the past and God will again multiply and bless His people. Christians receive a taste of this transformation today. Homes once wracked with discord can experience the daily peace of God's presence. Jobs where tension and stress ruled can be changed when employees reflect the love of Christ.
[REACT] ? How can you maintain your commitment to love as Christ loves in spite of how others treat you?
God's promise to create a new heavens and new earth offers encouragement to Christians regarding their future, but viewing that new creation in light of God's original plan for this creation can help us better understand some of the challenges of today. Much of the pain in life is because of the presence of sin in our world; and the end-times prophecies of Scripture point to the eventual defeat of sin. Verse 17 describes a transformation that all memories of this world's imperfection will fade away. God invites His people to "be glad and rejoice forever." A NEW ORDER WILL COME (ISAIAH 65:20-25). The new heavens and new earth, as described in Revelation 21, will completely remove death. During the millennial reign of Christ, humans will still die but a much greater age than people die today. Verses 20-25 is consistent with God's ultimate plan for His people: It emphasize on life, blessings, and universal peace. In the absence of any conflict, people will never need the fear being oppressed or robbed. Instead they can take joy in their work and with their families, with no concern.
We must view heaven's promise in light of today's responsibilities. God's promise of a future reward can help motivate us to be productive in God's kingdom.
LIVING IT OUT: (1). Talk to someone this week about whether they are prepared to go to heaven. (2). Do your best to reflect the joy of the Lord in your interactions this week. (3) Pray each day for someone who is not a believer.
WHERE WILL YOUR ETERNAL HOME BE?
Copyright Reference: Radiant Life, Volume 102 Number 2 Dec. Jan. Feb. 2020-21 by Gospel Publishing House, 1445 N. Boonville Ave, Springfield, Mo 65802.
Dr. June Normil