Reading through the Bible systematically could be one of the most rewarding new year’s resolutions you make. It has certainly been helpful to me. For one thing, it confirmed for me the reformed Doctrines of Grace. They really became “true for me” as well as “true” as I saw them every where I read. My advice: find a system and try to adapt it to what you’re living through right now. Don’t make it a RULE, but try to be disciplined. For more than ten years, I used M’Cheyne’s Calendar from . It helped me a lot and it would you as well. Read for foundational principles.
Images Help Memory
Isaiah’s use of language is more than amazing. Imagery like nothing I’ve ever heard from a pulpit or from even my long-remembered English lit prof at FSU. Remember, he “preached” in Jerusalem for more than 40 years, and even had his sermons written out and posted. He was not a poet as such, neither was he a historian. But, God spoke through Him in an extraordinary way to show us His characteristics and to hint of Jesus.
The names of his sons speak to us of GRACE…that unmerited favor believers have with God. What a strange name: Hasten the Booty; Speed the Spoil. My class renamed him: Bring it On, Lord. The idea is that whatever God has for us to go through, we can know of His presence and provision. He is with us,so “bring it on!” His care of us is all about grace.
The other son was named A Remnant Shall Return. We saw that it was a continual returning to God, a repenting that was on-going. And the returning is a turning away from sin. There is grace in this as well, since our hearts are inclined to the opposite.
There are other visuals related to this remnant–root, branch, shoots, rods, etc. The reality of some people always returning, of hearing the trumpet call, of climbing up the “mountain” symbolizing God’s presence and place of worship gives us HOPE. Are you discouraged about your church’s growth and finances? Grab on to this hope. A remnant will always be returning to God and are right now.
Then all those historical facts, predicted long years before they occurred, given to us as signposts. Signposts to God’s sovereignty in ruling the nations, in ordering all occurrences, in limiting evil. (Don’t ascribe sin to God. Sin is in man. God uses it and directs it for His purposes.) There is no empire of the Medes, or the Persians, or the Babylonians, or the Phoenicians today. But, they are the signposts to remind us of who is in charge and how true the scriptures are. Look at these signs as ways to remember that God is in control. If you are in Israel or Gaza today, the reassurance from this biblical principle could overwhelm your heart. It did my grandmother’s during World War II.
THE WRATH OF GOD
People hiding under rocks…..being thrown into pits….strong cities made desolate…leaders who were arrogant and drunk being destroyed
…All vivid, colorful images of God’s wrath, (His settled anger against sin) and the Judgment that is coming.
Isaiah seems to spend an undue time on this wrath and judgment theme. He is laying a foundation for the later messages on the hope that is found in the future Savior. This Savior would be righteous in every way. No sin at all–not even a little dab. “The Righteous One.”
Paul was not a poet like Isaiah but he knew his Old Testament. In Romans 3, he speaks clearly and directly, without imagery at all.
“…and are justified (declared righteous) by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith” (Romans 3:24) italics mine.
That wrath of God described so vividly by Isaiah leaves us needing a gift: a perfectly lived life and God’s forgiveness for the so many ways we keep messing up. Without that gift, we’re dead. In dread of what is sure to come. Paul points a finger directly at the man from Galilee, Jesus. He is the One. He lived perfectly, then offered His own blood to make up for the judgment we deserved. That is what “believing in Jesus” or “being saved” or “trusting in Christ alone” is all about. What about you? Will you be standing on the Rock, or crouching under one on that day?
As you read the Bible systematically this year, be sure you are reading in the Old Testament and the Gospels and/or Psalms at the same time. I plan on reading from Isaiah, Romans, and Matthew. It warms the heart toward God to see Jesus and think of Him. The New Testament helps us understand the Old. The Old Testament points to or “gives witness to” Jesus, the Savior of those from any culture or background who cover themselves in His righteousness and believe that covering will save them in the day of God’s wrath. Some of my last words to my father were “Flee to Jesus.” I hope he did. I hope you will too.