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Isaiah 41-47, Matthew 11-15, Proverbs 17-18
Isaiah 41 41:1-4 In this section, God speaks to the coastlands or the other nations (v1). The main theme is that since the Lord controls history, these nations really have little control over their own future. 41:8-17 Now the message turns to Israel. Notice the contrast with the message to the nations. These verses are so encouraging to Israel. After reading 39 chapters carrying a theme of judgment, we can‟t help but notice a total shift in the tenor of this book. God is uplifting His people through Isaiah. Isaiah 42 42:1-4 God begins speaking about “My Servant” which would be the Lord Jesus (52:13, 53:11). Other times He refers to the nation of Israel as “My Servant” (41:8-9, 44:1-2, 21, 45:4), but Isaiah 42, 52, and 53 clearly refer to a chosen Man who will bring forth justice with the Spirit of God upon Him. 42:9-10 Isaiah declares something new. He also commands Judah to sing a new song unto the Lord. We will see that the following chapters are filled with a focus on the greatness of the L ORD. Isaiah 43 43:1-3 This section of Isaiah focuses on three great aspects of the L ORD: He is Creator (v1), He is Redeemer (v2), and He is the Holy One (v3). These themes are continued in surrounding chapters: Creator (41:20, 42:5, 43:15, 45:7, 9, 12, 18), Redeemer (41:14, 43:14, 44:6, 22-24, 47:4, 48:17-20, 49:26), and Holy One (41:14-16, 20, 43:14-15, 45:11, 47:4, 48:17, 49:7). The message is clear: The Holy God who created the world is Himself the Redeemer. 43:7 This is the main verse where we understand the biblical principle that everyone was created for one main purpose: to bring glory to God. 43:10-11 In your Bible, when you see LORD capitalized, it is the Hebrew name “Jehovah”. The name “Jehovah” is translated as “I AM”, “the One who is the Self-existent One.” These verses emphasize the fact that there is only One God (Jehovah) and there is no other. We are told that “there is no savior besides Me (Jehovah)”, and yet the New Testament declares Jesus to be Israel‟s Savior (Acts 13:23). Unto you is born this day in the city of David, a Savior, who is Christ the Lord (Luke 2:11). Jehovah God took on human flesh. Even the name “Jesus” means “Jehovah is salvation” or “Jehovah saves”. Jesus is the Holy One, the Creator, who became our Redeemer. Jesus is Jehovah God in human flesh! 43:25 Again, the LORD (Jehovah) tells us that He alone is the One who wipes out our transgressions (44:22), yet the New Testament tells us that it is Jesus (Acts 3:18-19). Jesus is Jehovah God in human flesh! Isaiah 44 44:6-8 Jehovah God again says, “I am the first and the last. There is none besides Me”, yet in Revelation 22:13-16, Jesus calls Himself „The first and the last”. Jesus is Jehovah God in human flesh! 44:9-20 God speaks to Judah concerning the foolishness of idolatry. All idols are the creation of weak men (v11) who themselves rely upon creation for sustenance (v12). They cut down a tree and use half of it to burn in the fire for heat, and the other half for an idol (v14-16). Then they worship the thing that was created by their own hands (v17), literally worshipping a block of wood (v19)! In our culture, surely we don‟t worship a block of wood…or do we? We do exalt the things that humans make with their own hands: Hummers, mansions, 60-inch plasma televisions, and more. Covetousness is idolatry (Colossians 3:5, Ephesians 5:5). 44:24 Jehovah God says, “I am the Redeemer, and the maker of all things”. Yet Jesus is called the Redeemer (Titus 2:14) and the maker of all things (Colossians 1:16). Jesus is Jehovah God in human flesh! Isaiah 45 45:1-4 The Cyrus that is mentioned in these first few verses and the last verse of the previous chapter is the same king of Persia who is mentioned in Ezra (1:1-2, 7-8, 3:7, 4:3-5, 5:13-17), Daniel (1:21, 6:28, 10:1) and 2 Chronicles. The amazing thing is that Isaiah wrote this prophecy about 150 years before Cyrus was even born! God calls Cyrus by name, even though he didn‟t know the Lord (v3-4). Cyrus would be used by the Lord to help the people of exile return to Jerusalem and rebuild the house of the Lord (2 Chronicles 36:22-23). 45:18 Some Bible teachers hold to a “gap theory” in the creation of the world. This theory is built on an idea that a long period of time exists between Genesis 1:1 (“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth”) and Genesis 1:2 (“And the earth was formless and void and darkness covered the surface of the deep and the Spirit of God was moving over the surface of the waters”). They use this to help explain the dinosaurs and modern dating techniques, which claim the earth to be millions of years old. The idea is that

Satan entered the world between the first two verses and the world was a waste place for millions of years. These same teachers also do not believe that God created the world in six literal 24-hour days. As you can guess, I do not agree with this idea. I think the Lord added this verse in Scripture to refute the idea of the “gap theory”. 45:21-23 Verse 21 declares this to be the Jehovah God. He says, “Turn to Me and be saved” and “To Me every knee shall bow and every tongue confess”. However, in the New Testament we are told to turn to Jesus and be saved (Acts 26:18), and that every knee will bow and every tongue confess the Jesus Christ is Lord (Philippians 2:9-11). Jesus is Jehovah God in human flesh! (Am I repeating myself?) Isaiah 46 The next two chapters focus on a message to Babylon concerning the Lord‟s judgment against its idols, and a general message of the fall of the nation. 46:1-4 Bel is the shortened form of Baal. God contrasts the helplessness of the idol, which is a burden to carry (v2), with the fact that He has carried Israel from the womb (v3-4). Are you carrying your religion, or is your religion carrying you? False religion is built on human strength and the self-effort of carrying the burden for your salvation. True religion is a relationship with Christ (John 17:3) in which He carries us and we are not burdened (Matthew 11:28-30). 46:5 This is the reason it is so difficult to explain God; who is like Him? He is infinite and we are finite beings living in a finite world. He cannot be reduced to our terminology without losing all meaning. 46:9 The doctrine of the Triune God is revealed in the New Testament, but is built on a solid foundation that there is only One God (Deuteronomy 6:4). Isaiah has been emphasizing this truth in the last few chapters (43:10-11, 44:6, 8, 45:21). There are not three Gods, but One – and somehow He is also Three. Yes…He is difficult to explain in words! Isaiah 47 47:1, 7 This prophecy is to Babylon (v1). The first false religion began at the tower of “Babel” (Genesis 11:1-9) and the final false religion in the world will be called “Babylon” (Revelation 17:5), who also sits as a queen (Revelation 18:7). 47:8-15 This sounds like the “New Age” religion: the idea of psychics, astrology and horoscopes, and spells. There is also an underlying theme in this religion that “I am god” (v8, 10 – “I am and there is no one besides me”). Notice God‟s declaration against these things. I think it is wise to stay away from horoscopes (v13) even if just for fun. There is a great spiritual power behind this form of spiritualism (v9) and the power doesn‟t come from God.

Matthew 11 11:2-3 Remember that John the Baptist was commissioned by God to be the forerunner to the Messiah. He had told his own disciples concerning Jesus that He was the Lamb of God (John 1:29). He was an eyewitness to the Spirit descending on Jesus as a Dove and had personally heard the voice of God from heaven saying that Jesus was His Son (Mathew 3:16-17), but now he has doubts. What changed? His circumstances: he is now in prison. Be encouraged: even the strongest Christian goes through periods of doubt. We can‟t let our current circumstances shake what we already know to be true. In the midst of adversity, take God at His word. 11:5 Notice that in each one of these instances, the greatest need is met: the blind…receive sight, the lame…walk, the lepers…are cleansed, the deaf…hear, and the dead…are raised - but what about the last one? I would expect it to say “The poor are given great riches”. However, Jesus says here that the greatest need of the poor is to have the gospel preached to them. Truly the gospel is the greatest riches of all, and God clearly calls the church to reach out to the downcast, emphasizing the sharing of the gospel with those who are poorer in the things of the world (James 2:5, Galatians 2:10). 11:14 John the Baptist is not Elijah reincarnated (John 1:21). He is the forerunner to the Messiah in the spirit and power of Elijah (Malachi 4:5-6). He is the friend of the Bridegroom (John 3:28-30) and by Jesus‟ own testimony, truly is the “best” man (v11). 11:16-19 People will always want you to fit into their own expectations (v17). No matter what choices you make, someone is going to criticize you (v18-19). Real wisdom is vindicated, or justified, by her children…meaning this: wise choices are truly shown over time by what they produce (children or offspring). In other words, “time will tell” whether or not you have used wisdom in your life. The proof is in the pudding! 11:28-30 God is Holy. At Mount Sinai when He gave the law, He made it clear: “Don‟t come to Me. Don‟t even touch this mountain” (Exodus 19:12). He is so Holy that He dwells in the light which no man can approach (1 Timothy 6:16). In Jesus we have the invitation to “Come Unto Me…” The veil was torn in the

temple after the cross, opening the way for all to “come”! Also, note that there are two types of rest mentioned here: One is a gift (v28 – “I will give you rest”) and the other is something to be found (v29 – “you will find rest for your souls”). I believe this speaks of eternal life and abundant life. One is justification; the other is sanctification. One is symbolized in baptism; the other in the Lord‟s Supper. When we accept Christ, we receive the “gift” of rest, eternal life, and justification, whereas the abundant Christian life of sanctification is something to be sought after and “found” (Hebrews 4:1-4). Matthew 12 This chapter is the pivotal point in Matthew. Jesus has come to the Jews but they have continually rejected Him. Up to this point, the gospel has been sent primarily to the Jews (10:6). In this chapter the leaders of the Jews will reject the Messiah once again. As a result of their rejection, everything will change after this chapter. Jesus now mentions His death and resurrection for the first time (12:40) and the gospel going to the Gentiles for the first time (12:18, 21). He begins to talk about the “spirit” Kingdom, not the physical one. He replaces His physical family with a spiritual one, symbolizing that the Jews will be replaced with the Church (12:48-50). In chapter 13 Jesus will begin speaking in parables regarding the Kingdom of God. 12:1-2 Jesus used His power to feed 5000 when they were hungry, but did not use His power on Himself or His disciples in this case. 12:4 The consecrated bread of the tabernacle was called the “showbread” or in the Hebrew “The bread of the face”. The true bread from Heaven is the Word of God. It shows in your countenance whether or not you are in the Word! 12:7 Look at Matthew 9:13 where Jesus tells the Pharisees to go find out what this means; “I desire compassion and not a sacrifice”. They did not go and learn. 12:30-32 The idea of the unpardonable sin has brought about some bad theology. The only time this sin is mentioned in Scripture is when the Pharisees had just attributed Jesus‟ works to the works of the devil (v2429, Mark 3:22-29, Luke 11:17-12:10). I think these circumstances only existed while Jesus was on earth. This was the Jews “official” rejection of Jesus as their Messiah. The only unpardonable sin (looking at Scripture as a whole) is to reject Jesus as God‟s Messiah, the atoning sacrifice for our sins. Matthew 13 This chapter contains the greatest number of parables about the kingdom of heaven. The kingdom begins with the Word of God planted in the heart of good soil (v1-23). The church will always have sin in it as the weeds (tares) are mixed in among the wheat (v24-30). The kingdom starts small like a mustard seed and grows extremely large (v31-32). The parables of the leaven, the treasure, the pearl of great price and the dragnet all have similar spiritual meanings. 13:1 The significance of this verse ties into what I was saying in chapter 12. Jesus left the Jews (went out of the house) and went by the sea (Revelation 17:15 - symbolizing the Gentile nations). The Jews have rejected Him, so the kingdom is now going to be offered to the Gentiles. 13:55-56 Some teachings have Mary never having children with Joseph, yet this Scripture (and Mark 6:3) clearly teach that Joseph and Mary had other children after Jesus was born. Matthew 14 14:13-14 Jesus tried to get alone to grieve the loss of John (v1-12), but had His plans interrupted by seeing the needs of others and then ministering to them. 14:22-33 There are many great principles in this passage. Jesus walking on the water shows that the Lord is “on top” of whatever storms may be battering us in life. We too can rise to “overcome and walk on top” of our storms in His strength. Peter did fine until he took his eyes off Jesus and put them on the struggle (v30). Although Peter had “little faith” (v31) he was the only one who got out of the boat! Most of us stay in the safety of the boat rather than trying to step out on faith. Someone has said that Peter did not walk on the water…He was walking on the Word of God as Jesus commanded him to “come” (v29). Matthew 15 15:1-4 Not all tradition is bad, as some Scriptures show tradition in a positive light (1 Corinthians 11:2, 2 Thessalonians 2:15). However, most Scriptures like this one refer to traditions as being something that we hold to instead of allowing the Word of God to guide us and the Spirit of God to control us (Mark 7:1-13, Colossians 2:8). 15:4-6 There is a clear responsibility here to make sure that as adults we take care of our parents (1 Timothy 5:4). We cannot use our “church” commitments to neglect our families. 15:11-20 The mouth is the opening that reveals what is in our hearts (v18). What truly needs to be dealt with is not the outer “defilement”, but the inner issues of sinful thoughts and desires (v19-20). God is much more concerned about the inner man (1 Samuel 16:7) than He is about the outer man.

15:26 When children reject food and throw it on the floor, then the dogs get it. When the Jews rejected the gospel and the Messiah, then the Gentiles were given the blessing of being grafted into the family (Ephesians 2:11-22).

Proverbs 17 17:1 It is better to be poor in wealth and have peace in your home. Today, most “wealthy” families are falling apart and have little or no peace. 17:9 Love seeks to forget about an offense, but selfishness will continually use another person‟s wrongdoings for advantage. True love keeps no record of wrong (1 Corinthians 13:5). 17:14 A great verse for holding back our temper. Stop it at the beginning, because once the dam breaks it is too late. We give the devil an opportunity in our anger (Ephesians 4:26-27). 17:27-28 I like the idea of having a “cool spirit” rather than a hot temper (14:29, 15:28). Also, the proverb that says, “it is better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to open your mouth and remove all doubt” has been attributed to Mark Twain. In truth, Twain plagiarized God (10:19, 21:23)! Proverbs 18 18:2 I have noticed many “fools” in past church life, who come to Bible studies not to learn, but only to show everyone how much they know. 18:8 This verse is repeated exactly in Proverbs 26:22. We must guard our ears from gossip even though it is tempting like a dainty morsel. We must realize that listening to it will impact the depths of our souls. 18:13 I don‟t know how many times I have failed to heed the advice of this verse by opening my mouth before I heard the whole story (29:20). 18:21 Our tongues have so much power (James 3:4-6). We can use our tongues to bring forth life (blessings, teaching truth, encouragement, praise) or to bring forth death (cursing, criticism, anger, gossip).

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