Wednesday, November 22, 2023

2023.11.22 Hopewell @Home ▫ Isaiah 29:15–24

Read Isaiah 29:15–24

Questions from the Scripture text: Upon whom is the third woe pronounced—what do they seek to hide from Whom (Isaiah 29:15)? What have they done to the truth (Isaiah 29:16)? What is it like, for them to speak or think about God this way? In the picture in Isaiah 29:17, what will the Lord transform into what? And how will they come to see their own previous work (verse 17c)? Who will be enabled to observe and enjoy this (Isaiah 29:18-19)? What three types of people will be removed to foster this culture-wide revival of true worship (Isaiah 29:20)? What harm had the “watchers for iniquity” specifically done (Isaiah 29:21)? How does Isaiah 29:22 remind us of how far back the Lord’s commitment to do this goes? What will be the effect upon Jacob (corporately) of seeing this reformation, revival, and redemption (Isaiah 29:23)? What change will this mean for individuals (Isaiah 29:24)?

What transformations will come, in the great work of the Lord? Isaiah 29:15–24 prepares us for the first serial reading in public worship on the Lord’s Day. In these ten verses of Holy Scripture, the Holy Spirit teaches us that in the great work of the Lord, His transformation of the creation will correspond to His transformation of His people. 

Pre-transformation blindness, Isaiah 29:15-16. It is an insanity of blindness for man to attempt to manipulate God. But whenever we are deceptive with others or even with ourselves, we are greatly mistaking just Who it is that we are actually dealing with. YHWH is. He simply is. Therefore, He is everywhere, sees everything, knows everything, and is almighty. When we attempt to appear better than we are, we are the ones asking the questions at the end of Isaiah 29:15: “Who sees us?” and “Who knows us?” But this ignorance turns reality upside down, inside out, and backwards (Isaiah 29:16).

O, dear reader, let us not give in to the desire to appear better before others than we are, or the delusion that appearing so makes it so!

Re-formation, Isaiah 29:17-18. The One Who created and formed all things (Isaiah 29:16) now declares that He will soon re-create and re-form. Lebanon was a great and wild forest, but it is nothing for Him in His power to cultivate it (Isaiah 29:17b). Man’s own carefully cultivated work (“fruitful field,” verse 17c), will itself be considered wild by comparison. 

But, praise God, the re-creation that He is describing here in terms of plant life will be surpassed by what He does in those whose spiritual deafness and blindness were exposed in Isaiah 29:15-16 (cf. Isaiah 29:10-12). Now, the deaf will hear, and the blind shall see—specifically with respect to “the words of the book” (Isaiah 29:18). Those who deserved to be destroyed in God’s wrath will instead be changed by God’s redemptive mercy. 

Has this happened with you? Have you been given eyes to see your bankruptcy of spirit, and the divine riches that are offered you in Christ? Have you come to count as worthless any “good” intentions or works that came from you apart from Christ, and to marvel that He Who is your righteousness before God has begun producing true good in your heart and your life?

Revival, Isaiah 29:19-21Isaiah 29:19a literally says that “the lowly increase/add to joy in YHWH.”  The idea here is that the Lord takes those who are lowly and uses them to create a multitude of worshipers. These may be those who are lowly in the eyes of men (cf. 1 Corinthians 1:26), those who are lowly now before God thanks to the eye-opening in Isaiah 29:18 (or, likely, both). The rejoicing is not only multiplied but purified. It is “in the Holy One of Israel” (Isaiah 29:19c). 

And the Lord is eliminating many who have hindered the purity and unity of His people: bullies (Isaiah 29:20a), mockers (verse 20b), and gossips (verse 20c). Gossips (“watchers for iniquity”) are especially described as doing harm by their words: 

  • They can turn, instantly, non-offenders into offenders (Isaiah 29:21a),
  • They short-circuit due process (verse 21b),
  • Their useless words keep those who would obtain justice from getting it (verse 21c).

Let us seek from the Lord to multiply and purify His church—and particularly that neither we, nor anyone else in her, would be bullies, mockers, or especially gossips!

Completion/consummation, Isaiah 29:22-24. God’s intent to redeem must come to its fulfillment. It began with His redeeming Abraham and His promising Abraham the salvation of all who are in his Seed (Isaiah 29:22a). Despite all of the wickedness and blindness and pride in Jacob, God has committed Himself to saving. Which will win out, between their wickedness and God’s determination to save? God’s determination (verse 22b–c)! Not only will the Lord bring the reformation and revival prophesied in Isaiah 29:17-21, but His gathering other sinners into Israel (Isaiah 29:23a–b) will provoke even Israel to believe (verse 23c–e, cf. Romans 11:11–12). 

All Israel (from the nations and from Jacob) will be saved, not by their works, but by the Lord’s conversion (Isaiah 29:24). God has determined to save, and He will bring His purpose to pass. Let us do whatever He has given us to do in the hope and confidence that He Who has given us the privilege of serving will be sure to employ that service in bringing to pass all of His redeeming will and promise!

What, about yourself, are you afraid others might learn? Who already knows those things? But what are His intentions toward you? Where, in history/Scripture, can you most see these intentions toward you? What are some evidences, in your life, of His bringing you into Christ? Why can you be sure that He will complete what He began there? What role(s) has He given you in your home? What role(s) has He given you in His church? What can you be sure that your small role will ultimately participate in?

Sample prayer:  Lord, we thank You that You do not do to us as we deserve or leave us as we are. But forgive us for how we have thought that we were making a pretty good show of ourselves—as if we could deceive You, along with deceiving others and ourselves. Forgive us for being proud of our fruitful fields that were really just wild forests. Forgive us for being self-impressed. Forgive us for how our desire for reformation and revival do not reflect Yours in the Scripture—if we desire them at all. Forgive us for whatever manipulation, mocking, and gossip we have participated in. We think that a word here, and a word there, are a small thing—but we read in Your Word that Your people must be delivered from such behavior. Forgive us that we have not loved You or Your church enough to devote ourselves to its good. O, forgive us and reform us and revive us, by Your grace, we ask, through Christ, AMEN!

Suggested songs: ARP32AB “What Blessedness” or TPH51C “God, Be Merciful to Me” 

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