Wednesday, May 15, 2024

2024.05.15 Hopewell @Home ▫ Isaiah 56:9–57:21

Read Isaiah 56:9–57:21

Questions from the Scripture text: Whom does Isaiah 56:9 invite? To do what? What has left their prey/meal vulnerable (Isaiah 56:10)? What are these watchmen doing instead of watching (Isaiah 56:11-12)? What happens to the righteous and the merciful (Isaiah 57:1)? Who care? But what is the outcome for him (Isaiah 57:2)? Whom does Isaiah 57:3 address? What have they apparently been doing to the righteous (Isaiah 57:4)? But where/what have they worshiped (Isaiah 57:5-7)? To what do Isaiah 57:8-9 compare such idolatry? In what did they hope instead of the Lord (Isaiah 57:10)? What else did they do to another, instead of the Lord (Isaiah 57:11)? What will the Lord do to all these competitors (Isaiah 57:12-13)? What will the Lord do to these stumbling blocks (Isaiah 57:14)? What does the Lord call Himself in Isaiah 57:15a–c? Whom will He make to dwell with Him (verse 15d)? To do what to them (verse 15e–f)? Why would the Lord respond this way (Isaiah 57:16)? What did He do to His people when (Isaiah 57:17)? But what will He do to them (Isaiah 57:18)? How (Isaiah 57:19)? What are the wicked like by contrast (Isaiah 57:20)? And what will they receive (Isaiah 57:21)? 

How can the sinner find peace? Isaiah 56:9–57:21 prepares us for the first serial reading in public worship on the Lord’s Day. In these twenty-five verses of Holy Scripture, the Holy Spirit teaches us that the only sinners who find peace are those whom the Lord heals and brings from the family of idolatry into His own family. 

The peril of having false prophetsIsaiah 56:9-12. When the watch dogs are mute, the beasts will devour (Isaiah 56:9). Prophets who cannot bark their warnings leave their hearers as easy prey (Isaiah 56:10). But when prophets act out of greed and self-indulgence, they become just such bark-less dogs.

The righteous dies into peace, Isaiah 57:1–2. The genuinely righteous are disregarded (Isaiah 57:1) and mocked (Isaiah 57:4a–c). But they need not take to heart that no one takes them to heart (Isaiah 57:1b). The Lord Who is their righteousness, and Who made them righteous, brings them into peace by their death (Isaiah 57:2). 

The family of the harlotIsaiah 57:3-13d, Isaiah 57:20-21. The rest of this passage centers around two families. The first family is that of the sorceress, adulterer, and harlot (Isaiah 57:3)—the children of transgression and offspring of falsehood (Isaiah 57:4). Idolatry (Isaiah 57:5-7Isaiah 57:10-11) is the worst sort of adultery (Isaiah 57:8-9): adultery not merely against a good husband, but against the good and glorious God. This idolatry includes worshiping according to man’s pleasure rather than according to God’s prescription (Isaiah 57:5-7), finding false hope in one’s own hand (Isaiah 57:10), and fearing other fears rather than fearing God (Isaiah 57:11). But this false religion will be exposed by God, Who will judge idolater and idol. They have no peace in themselves (Isaiah 57:20) and can get no peace from their false gods (Isaiah 57:21). Oh, dear reader, forsake all other worship and worship only as the Lord says to do. Forsake all other hopes, and hope only in Him! And let yourself fear nothing else, but rather give all awe and reverence to the one, true, and living God.

The family of GodIsaiah 57:14-19. How will the Lord’s chosen, “My people,” be delivered from such a stumbling block as wickedness and idolatry that are inherent to their original nature (Isaiah 57:14d)? By the Lord’s own great power. Though He is the “High and lofty One” (Isaiah 57:15a), Whose ‘house’ is “eternity” (verse 15b), and Whose household Name is “Holy” (verse 15c)—He takes as His family the least likely from among men: the humble and the contrite (verse 15d–f).

How does He bring sinners to be His family? Motivated by His own desire to forgive and save (Isaiah 57:16), the Lord chastens them (Isaiah 57:17), and brings them to contrition (Isaiah 57:15d), in order to revive them in Himself (verse 15e–f). Have you been brought low for your sin and found reviving in the Lord? It is because He desires to forgive and to save and to make His dwelling with you.

God brings His people to comfort (Isaiah 57:18), giving the comforters precisely that fruit of the lips (Isaiah 57:19a) that is necessary to bring them into the peace (verse 19b) and salvation (verse 19d) of the Lord (verse 19c). True preaching, unto true peace, is given by the true God!

How do you define “good worship”? What is your hope in life? What is your hope in death? What are you tempted to fear? How does proper trembling before God displace such fear?

Sample prayer:  Lord, forgive us for listening to dogs who don’t bark, to those who speak peace to us when there is none. And forgive us for caring more to enjoy ourselves than to enjoy You and Your covenant love. Forgive us, for we have even judged worship by what we feel is worshipful. Forgive us, for we have trusted in our own hand rather than Yours. Forgive us, for there is much that we have feared instead of You. But, Lord, You give the fruit of the lips to speak comfort to us. Give us that humility of spirit by which You give repentance and faith, so that we may dwell with You in Your house forever, for we ask it all through Christ, Himself the Lord, AMEN!

Suggested songs: ARP32AB “What Blessedness” or TPH433 “Amazing Grace”

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