Concerning Babylon: Isaiah 46-48 (6)
Pray Psalm 46.1.
God isour refuge and strength,
A very present help in trouble.
Read Isaiah 48.17-22.
1. These are some of the most passionate verses we have encountered thus far in the book of Isaiah. How do you see that?
2. This passage breaks down into two parts, which we might label “If Only” and “Now Therefore.” Where is the dividing point?
Many pastors today seem to think that teaching God’s people to keep His commandments is not something they should do. The Law of God in general is not held in high regard by Christians. We seem to fear that if we insist on the Law, we’re recommending a salvation by works. Did Jesus (Matt. 5.17-19)? Or Paul (Rom. 3.31)? Or John (1 Jn. 5.1-3)?
The commandments of God were given to a saved people, so that they might fully enjoy the benefits of their saved condition, as God intended. If only Israel had obeyed the Law, and kept it as God commanded, how many blessings would He have poured out on them! The Law was given to profit God’s people, not to oppress them (v. 17). It shows them the way they should go, not the way to be saved (v. 17). Keeping the commandments yields peace like a river and righteousness like the waves of the sea (v. 18). By obeying the commandments of God, His people would have ensured offspring like the sand, like the grains of sand (v. 19), and their name would not have been cut off from the Presence of God (v. 19).
If only God’s people, who had come to know His saving mercy and grace, had kept His commandments! If only we who are His saved people today would do so.
Verses 20-22 become especially urgent, as the Lord commands His people to go from Babylon as His redeemed people, His chosen servant (v. 20). They have not yet been carried away there, where they will experience 70 years of captivity. But already God wants them to be thinking about the day of His deliverance at the hands of His anointed one, Cyrus. God will meet their needs, as He did in the wilderness (v. 21). But all those who reject His counsel and fail to obey Him will die in their sins without peace (v. 22). God has spoken; now therefore, people of God, be about His work!
God has spoken to us; now therefore, let us be diligent to obey.
1. Why should we expect keeping the commandments of God to lead to abundant blessing?
2. We’re not saved by keeping the Law (Eph. 2.8, 9); but we’re not saved without keeping it (Rom. 8.5-9). Explain.
3. Do you think God is as urgent about our keeping His commandments today as He was in Isaiah’s day? Explain.
The Spirit is called a river, too, just as the Father said, “Behold, I come down on you like a river of peace, and like a stream overflowing the glory of the Gentiles.” And who can doubt that the Son of God is the river of life from whom the streams of eternal life flowed forth? Ambrose of Milan (333-397 AD),On the Holy Spirit 1.16.180-81
Let Your Spirit fill me and overflow from me today, O Lord, so that I…
Pray Psalm 46.
Use this psalm to lead you into the Lord as your place of shelter and refreshment. Seek the filling of His Spirit (Jn. 7.37-39) so that you might be able to refresh the people you will meet today. Ask the Lord to give you many opportunities to exalt Him today.
Sing to the Lord.
Psalm 46 (St. Chrysostom: We Have Not Known Thee As We Ought)
God is our refuge and our strength; He is our help in times of need.
Thus though the earth beneath us should change, the sea consume the mountain range;
Waters may roar with raging speed; yet God will rescue us at length.
God’s everlasting, joyous grace gladdens the city where He dwells.
Safely in Him, we will not be moved; when morning dawns, His love will be proved.
Fears and distresses Jesus dispels for His beloved, chosen race.
Kingdoms arise and rage and roar, threat’ning the earth with sore distress;
Nations may fall, earth melt away, His Word is yet our hope and stay.
God is among us, ever to bless; He is our stronghold evermore.
Come see the works of God’s Right Hand! He breaks the nations of the earth,
Shatters their foolish weapons and pride, sets all their sinful strength aside;
Them He will show His infinite worth as they before His judgment stand.
Rest in the Lord and be at peace, all who are mired in sore travail:
Lift up our God, praise Jesus our Lord; proclaim to all the earth His Word!
God is our stronghold, never to fail: thus may our hope and joy increase!
T. M. Moore
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Forward today’s lesson to some friends, and challenge them to study with you through this series on Isaiah. Each week’s lessons will be available as a free PDF download at the end of the week. Get a copy for yourself and send the link for the download to your friends. Plan to meet weekly to study Isaiah’s important message.
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Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. All psalms for singing adapted from The Ailbe Psalter. All quotations from Church Fathers from Ancient Christian Commentary Series, General Editor Thomas C. Oden (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2006).All psalms for singing are from The Ailbe Psalter (available by clicking here).