Isaiah Highlights

This morning I completed Isaiah, the second largest book in the bible, and it was intense.  I am really enjoying studying each book in its entirety instead of just pulling select scriptures out of context.  I also love to just open the bible and try and see for myself what God is actually trying to teach me, rather than just believing eveything I have ever heard in church.  In doing this, I have changed my point of view on several things that I have been taught over the years.  There are several passages in this book that are really familiar,  but I haven't read everything before and after to really understand the context.

The first thirty-nine chapters, I have to admit, were a bit depressing with all the predicted judgements that were/are to come to all the nations and to God's chosen people.  It was also a little confusing to me because I don't know all about the kings.  I really should have done 1 and 2 Kings first before doing this book.  Anyhoo, there are two main points for all mankind to learn from the first 39 chapters:  God will judge sin and there is hope for those who believe in Him.

One familiar passage is in chaper 6 when Isaiah is called to be a prophet.  The way he felt completely unworthy in the presence of God is moving everytime I read it.  The closer we get to God, the more we realize how unclean we are to even be in His presence.  Isaiah said, "Woe is me, for I am ruined!  Because I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King the Lord of hosts." (Isaiah 6:5) Our flaws are evident when we draw near to the Lord.

One thing that I get confused with sometimes is whether a message is just to Israel or to all believers.  There are some messages that just pertain to Israel, but some also include us because we are grafted in (Romans 11).  "Israel" in the book of Isaiah is the referring to the people of God, not the modern state of Israel, which included non-Jews as citizens.  Also, the modern state doesn't even include all of the Jews.  Only half of the Jews in the world are citizens of the modern state of Israel.

Another hang-up that I have with Israel/Jews that really became more of a question to me during this study is why were their hearts hardened by God and He is the only one who can draw you into a relationship with Him.  Of course, we must choose whether to accept or deny that calling, but if their hearts are hardend, and their eyes are blinded, how do they even have a chance?  Does this mean that all Jews from the time of Christ's death to His return will go to hell because the only way to salvation is through belief in Jesus Christ (Acts 4:2) which they deny? 

I had to consult my mentor, Wanda Newby.  She has been such a blessing and she is an incredible resource.  I am so thankful to have someone to go to that actually will take the time to work through some difficult questions and use tons of scripture to back it up.  Here was her reply...

Romans 11:7-8—“What then?  Israel did not find what it was looking for, but the elect did find it.  The rest were hardened, as it is written:  God gave them a spirit of stupor, eyes that cannot see and ears that cannot hear, to this day.”

Though most Jews have rejected the message of salvation in Jesus, a remnant within the total population—the elect—did obtain salvation (Romans 11:5—“In the same way, then, there is also at the present time a remnant chosen by grace.”)

The rest were “hardened”—a curious term.  Since the entire point of Romans 9:30-10:3 and 10:16-21 is that Israel was responsible for its rejection of God’s salvation despite the prophets’ best efforts to call them to repentance, Paul did not mean that God determined their obstinacy.  If God Himself hardened some Jews’ hearts so they could not believe, it makes no sense for God to say through Isaiah, “I spread out My hands all day long to a rebellious people who walk in the wrong path, following their own thoughts” (Romans 10:21; Isaiah 65:2).  This passage from Isaiah that Paul cited goes on to castigate Israel for provoking God and rejecting His laws.

Other uses of the hardening metaphor (a calcifying or callous-building effect) often make clear that hardening of the heart is a self-induced state (e.g. Matthew 13:15; Mark 6:52, 8:17; 2 Corinthians 3:14-16).  Even the explicit statement that God hardened Pharaoh’s heart follows a series of events showing that Pharaoh was hardening his own heart first (Exodus 8:15, 19, 32; 9:7, 34-35; 1 Samuel 6:6; cp. Exodus 9:12; 10:1; 11:10; 14:8).  Therefore, though God may indeed solidify people’s resolve to reject the truth, apparently He does so because they have first resolved themselves to do so.  God does not harden hearts that would otherwise have been responsive to Him.  Jesus’ quotation of Isaiah 6:9-10 made this very point (Matthew 13:14-15).  (Taken from the Apologetics Study Bible.)

Just like the sun shining down on clay will harden it, the sun shining down on butter will melt it.  The "cause" is the same (i.e. the sun), the effect is different depending on the material acted upon (i.e. clay or butter).  Therefore, the working of God's Holy Spirit and His Word will produce different responses upon the hearts of different people--some harden their hearts, others are compliant to the will of God.

And to answer your question whether all Jewish non-believers will go to hell, the answer is YES.  Messiah Yeshua was the final sacrifice.  Peter told the rulers of the people and elders of Israel in Acts 4:12--"Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved."

There has always been a Jewish remnant throughout the generations who HAVE believed.  2 Corinthians 3:14-16 says:  "But their minds were blinded.  For until this day the same veil remains unlifted in the reading of the Old Testament, because the veil is taken away in Christ.  15  But even to this day, when Moses is read, a veil lies on their heart.  16  Nevertheless when one turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away."

Isn't she wise???  I hope one day I will be as knowledgeable as she is and help others like she has helped me and so many.

Chapter 40 was like a breath of fresh air.  Although Israel will be punished for willful disobedience, God's hand is not too short to save and He will restore His chosen ones.  There is hope for their future through Jesus.  We have the same redemption from slavery to sin, the same inclusion in God's family and the same inheritance of riches as joint heirs with God's only son, Jesus.  We face the same judgement for sin, but we also face the same hope, the comfort, the promise of a new heaven and a new earth where there will be no sin. 

There was this question at the end of my study that has me really pondering...What will I do about it?  Will I just read Isaiah, and be glad for its message or will I take the message of Isaiah and make it my mission?  Billions of souls depend upon watchmen to warn them of danger coming.  Ezekiel teaches that if we sound the warning trumpet and we are ignored, we are not guilty of their blood if they die in their sins.  BUT, if we do not sound the trumpet and they die in their sins, I am guilty of their blood because I did not warn them.  This honestly terrifies me.  I don't know if anyone will actually take the time to read this fully, but in some small way, I am sounding my trumpet to anyone who cares to read.  God is loving and it is not His will for anyone to perish.  However, He must judge sin.  We can either let Christ's sacrifice cover our sin or we can pay for the sin ourselves in a literal place called hell where you will not die and the fire will not be quenched (Isaiah 66:24).  For the faithful ones shall inherit eternal life and an abundance of blessings. 

I could go on much longer, but I will stop for now:)

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