What does it mean to live in this world as part of the church. We know that we are sinful and that the church has its faults. At times it seems that the church is weak, half asleep, luke-warm. Do we really have anything to say to unbelievers? But then we can look at a world if wickedness and wonder why people seem to get away with it. Doesn’t God care?
Today, we are going to look at a big stretch of Scripture. If you have got the time now, then read through the whole section. If you are reading quickly before heading out to work, you might want to focus on chapter 10 now and return to read the rest in your own time. We’ll also be returning to chapter 11 tomorrow and highlighting the detail of some of the other chapters later.
Read Isaiah 10 -23
Throughout this section of the prophecy, God turns his attention to the surrounding nations including Assyria, Tyre, Cush, Egypt and Babylon. Some of these nations have been used by God as instruments of his judgement but this has led to false pride. This is what happens with Assyria. God’s intention is that the nation will be used to discipline Israel (10:1-4) but the rulers of Assyria have a bloodlust to destroy all their neighbours and to build up their own wealth and power (10:10-11). However, once God has completed his work in disciplining Israel, he will bring judgement on Assyria 10:12).
Notice the difference with regards to Israel. God’s people are being disciplined, not destroyed. They will not be subjugated by Assyria for ever (10:20-24). So, the people are not to fear Assyria, confusing the implement of discipline with the one doing the discipline. They are to fear God, knowing that his intention for them is good.
In Hebrews 10, we are told not to despise the Lord’s discipline and Isaiah 10-23 helps us to think more about this. We live in a fallen world and sometimes this means that Christians suffer at the hands of unbelievers. It is helpful for us to remember that whilst they may be doing this to cause us harm, God uses our suffering for good.
By pronouncing judgement on the surrounding nations, Isaiah does two things. First, he is highlighting that sinful pride is true of all people. God’s people should realise that if God takes these flaws seriously in those who don’t know him, then how much more serious is it when he finds them in us?
However, these prophesies also offer hope to God’s people by giving them a different perspective on what us happening. Their discipline is temporary and God is not blind to the actions of the people around them. Nor is God powerless and helpless to stop them. He chooses to use them for his good ends.
Meditate on this little phrase
“See the Lord almighty” (10:33).
It’s an invitation to look again and see what God is really doing and focus on his purposes instead of those of the world.
- What can you see that God is doing in your situation?
Help me not to despise your discipline Lord. Help me to trust you even when this means going through pain and suffering. Help me not to lose sight of who you are and what you are doing.