google-site-verification: google3e8cc4742c5fd8a2.html 2012 April

Archive for April 2012

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Messiah's Invitation

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Isaiah 55:1 - 56:8

55:1 “Come, everyone who thirsts, to the waters! Come, he who has no money, buy, and eat! Yes, come; buy wine and milk without money and without price. 55:2 Why do you spend money for that which is not bread? And your labor for that which doesn’t satisfy? Listen diligently to me, and eat you that which is good, and let your soul delight itself in fatness. 55:3 Turn your ear, and come to me; hear, and your soul shall live: and I will make an everlasting covenant with you, even the sure mercies of David. 55:4 Behold, I have given him for a witness to the peoples, a leader and commander to the peoples. 55:5 Behold, you shall call a nation that you don’t know; and a nation that didn’t know you shall run to you, because of Yahweh your God, and for the Holy One of Israel; for he has glorified you.”

55:6 Seek Yahweh while he may be found; call you on him while he is near: 55:7 let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; and let him return to Yahweh, and he will have mercy on him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon. 55:8 “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” says Yahweh. 55:9 “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts. 55:10 For as the rain comes down and the snow from the sky, and doesn’t return there, but waters the earth, and makes it bring forth and bud, and gives seed to the sower and bread to the eater; 55:11 so shall my word be that goes forth out of my mouth: it shall not return to me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing I sent it to do. 55:12 For you shall go out with joy, and be led forth with peace: the mountains and the hills shall break forth before you into singing; and all the trees of the fields shall clap their hands. 55:13 Instead of the thorn shall come up the fir tree; and instead of the brier shall come up the myrtle tree: and it shall be to Yahweh for a name, for an everlasting sign that shall not be cut off.” 56:1 Thus says Yahweh, “Keep justice, and do righteousness; for my salvation is near to come, and my righteousness to be revealed. 56:2 Blessed is the man who does this, and the son of man who holds it fast; who keeps the Sabbath from profaning it, and keeps his hand from doing any evil.” 56:3 Neither let the foreigner, who has joined himself to Yahweh, speak, saying, “Yahweh will surely separate me from his people”; neither let the eunuch say, “Behold, I am a dry tree.” 56:4 For thus says Yahweh, “To the eunuchs who keep my Sabbaths, and choose the things that please me, and hold fast my covenant: 56:5 to them I will give in my house and within my walls a memorial and a name better than of sons and of daughters; I will give them an everlasting name, that shall not be cut off. 56:6 Also the foreigners who join themselves to Yahweh, to minister to him, and to love the name of Yahweh, to be his servants, everyone who keeps the Sabbath from profaning it, and holds fast my covenant; 56:7 even them will I bring to my holy mountain, and make them joyful in my house of prayer: their burnt offerings and their sacrifices shall be accepted on my altar; for my house shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples.” 56:8 The Lord Yahweh, who gathers the outcasts of Israel, says, “Yet will I gather others to him, besides his own who are gathered.”

Remember from Day 8, that we talked about the City of God to come, where all those who believe will live and worship the Lord God Almighty for ever! Who is this invitation for? This invitation to join is to all people of all races and nationalities!   But they have to respond to the call!

Come, see and taste

READ verse 1"Come", cries Almighty God through the prophet Isaiah.  Come!  The gates to my City are open to all who believe!   There is no entry charge, its free!  This food is free for all!  What is this food? It is mercy and pardon. Mercy from God and pardon for sin for all those who respond to the call God has put out.

Everlasting Covenant Disclosed

This is the everlasting Covenant (Isaiah 55:5-6) or the new Covenant we have talked about and was proclaimed by other prophets such as Jeremiah and Ezekiel.   Just as each of the previous covenants had a symbol to authenticate the agreement, so does this!  Noah's covenant had the rainbow, Abraham had circumcision and Moses had the sprinkling of blood.  This new and everlasting Covenant will also have a sign! The sign is disclosed in 55:13 as a everlastingly transformed universe! Amazing!  This is the climax of Isaiah so far!  This is why the Messiah Servant must suffer in Isaiah 53!  This new everlasting covenant does not cancel the other covenants, but rather fulfills them.  The final result of the Messiah Servant's work will be everything that Almighty God has promised and all promises of God will find their Amen in the Servant.

Everlasting Covenant Result

Because of this New Covenant, even though Israel will go into exile, they will return from it stronger.  As in Isaiah 55:4-5, David was made a witness to the covenant and leader of people, so too will Israel.  Once restored to the land, this Messiah Servant will come from Israel, and Israel will be used to conquer people spiritually for the Lord.

And this is no dream, hallucination or fantasy as some of the people of Israel would be thinking.  But the thoughts and mind of God is so much higher than mere mortal humanity.  For as Isaiah 55:8-9 states "For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways," says Yahweh. "For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts."

Just as plants grow when rained upon, so too will Almighty God's plans.  His word has gone out and it will not return with nothing (Isaiah 55:11).  His word has power to speak the universe into existence.  His word will bring a restoration from exile, a redeemed creation and a renewed world (Isaiah 55:12-13).   It will be a place of joy and excitement!

Come Quickly Everybody!

It is with a sense of urgency that Isaiah speaks these words of God.  Decisions must be made but guest must come!  The spiritual food of mercy and pardon is available to all, but the offer must be taken up!   If the offer is rejected, then the consequences are disastrous for the person who does not believe.  That is why the command to seek while God can be found, for there will come a time when the gates will be closed and no more admittance allowed.

Everlasting Covenant Features

What are the hallmarks of this Covenant?  Two of the characteristics are justice and openness

Justice: Isaiah 5:7 tells us that God had looked for justice but found only injustice and suffering.  Those who respond to this Everlasting Covenant will need to administer justice and live obedient lives.  They are to do this, because God's righteousness is about be disclosed (Isaiah 56:1).  They are to live an obedient life to God, not to earn salvation, but rather as a hallmark of having agreed the New Covenant with God, to symbolize that they are God's people.

Openness: This offer is open to all!   Just as the nation of Israel was always meant to be a light of God to the nations, so too are the people of the New Covenant.  They are to be a light to every nation of God's goodness and glory, extending an invitation to all to join in this life of the New Covenant.  They were to accept all those who chose to accept the offer of being bound to God Almighty through this New Covenant (Isaiah 56:3, 6).  An obvious example is that of the Ethiopian Eunuch in Acts 8:26-40.  This man was a eunuch from a foreign land, and according to Isaiah 56:4-7, he was to be welcomed by other acceptors of this New Covenant.  All of this resulting from the Messiah Servant's work.

Jesus as this Messiah

Lets see again from his own life and words how Jesus is this Messiah Servant.

This Jesus welcomes the burdened: Matthew 11:28-30"Come to me, all you who labor and are heavily burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart; and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light."  Are you burdened down with cares, stresses and strains?  Come to Jesus today and let him take them..

Are you hungering and thirsting after righteousness? Then come to Jesus who offers Living Water and is the Bread of Life.  John 7:37-38 Now on the last and greatest day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, "If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink! He who believes in me, as the Scripture has said, from within him will flow rivers of living water." Or John 6:35 "Then Jesus declared, "I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty."

Are you seeking God! Then seek! Ask! You will find!  Matthew 7:8 "For everyone who asks receives. He who seeks finds. To him who knocks it will be opened."

This is Jesus who said in John 12:46 "I have come as a light into the world, that whoever believes in me may not remain in the darkness"!  What's more, He said that all those who follow Him are lights to the world as well Matthew 5:14 "You are the light of the world."  That's why Jesus gave the command in Matthew 28:18-20 for His followers to go into all the world to tell about Him.

Fulfilling the Covenants

Frequently, this Jesus said that He was to fulfill what was written. One example of this is Luke 18:31-33 He took the twelve aside, and said to them, "Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem, and all the things that are written through the prophets concerning the Son of Man will be completed. For he will be delivered up to the Gentiles, will be mocked, treated shamefully, and spit on. They will scourge and kill him. On the third day, he will rise again."

Primarily though is Jesus' Words in Luke 22 whereby Jesus instituted the sacrament of Holy Communion.  Luke 22:19-20 He took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it, and gave to them, saying, "This is my body which is given for you. Do this in memory of me."  Likewise, he took the cup after supper, saying, "This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you.

Christians do this regularly as a remembrance of Jesus until He comes again (1 Corinthians 11v26)!  The bread symbolizes His body broken on the cross and the wine symbolizes His blood shed on the cross.  Further more it has other symbolic meanings, all of which symbolize the New Everlasting Covenant - a Covenant guaranteeing salvation! Amongst these meanings are that it

  • Symbolizes fellowship with other believers in the worldwide church in openness and integrity
  • Symbolizes our dependence on Christ for spiritual life and spiritual food.
  • We receive the benefits of His sacrifice as the Suffering Servant.

It signifies in the New Covenant for Christians to tell all others of this offer to come and join.  It is also for Christians to live an obedient life to God Almighty, to love justice and be welcoming to all!

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Messiah's Promise

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Isaiah 54:1 - 17

54:1 "Sing, barren, you who didn't bear; break forth into singing, and cry aloud, you who did not travail with child: for more are the children of the desolate than the children of the married wife," says Yahweh.

54:2 "Enlarge the place of your tent, and let them stretch forth the curtains of your habitations; don't spare: lengthen your cords, and strengthen your stakes.

54:3 For you shall spread out on the right hand and on the left; and your seed shall possess the nations, and make the desolate cities to be inhabited.

54:4 "Don't be afraid; for you shall not be ashamed: neither be confounded; for you shall not be disappointed: for you shall forget the shame of your youth; and the reproach of your widowhood you shall remember no more.

54:5 For your Maker is your husband; Yahweh of Armies is his name: and the Holy One of Israel is your Redeemer; the God of the whole earth shall he be called.

54:6 For Yahweh has called you as a wife forsaken and grieved in spirit, even a wife of youth, when she is cast off," says your God.

54:7 "For a small moment have I forsaken you; but with great mercies will I gather you.

54:8 In overflowing wrath I hid my face from you for a moment; but with everlasting loving kindness will I have mercy on you," says Yahweh your Redeemer.

54:9 "For this is like the waters of Noah to me; for as I have sworn that the waters of Noah shall no more go over the earth, so have I sworn that I will not be angry with you, nor rebuke you.

54:10 For the mountains may depart, and the hills be removed; but my loving kindness shall not depart from you, neither shall my covenant of peace be removed," says Yahweh who has mercy on you.

54:11 "You afflicted, tossed with storms, and not comforted, behold, I will set your stones in beautiful colors, and lay your foundations with sapphires. 54:12 I will make your pinnacles of rubies, and your gates of sparkling jewels, and all your walls of precious stones. 54:13 All your children shall be taught of Yahweh; and great shall be the peace of your children.

54:14 In righteousness you shall be established: you shall be far from oppression, for you shall not be afraid; and from terror, for it shall not come near you.

54:15 Behold, they may gather together, but not by me: whoever shall gather together against you shall fall because of you.

54:16 "Behold, I have created the smith who blows the fire of coals, and brings forth a weapon for his work; and I have created the waster to destroy.

54:17 No weapon that is formed against you will prevail; and you will condemn every tongue that rises against you in judgment. This is the heritage of the servants of Yahweh, and their righteousness which is of me," says Yahweh.

God fulfils every promise made!

You may recall back on Day 4 in Isaiah 52, Isaiah started talking about a great homecoming for all those who believed.  Then on our Day 5, Isaiah gave a picture regarding the sacrificial suffering of the Messiah Servant.  Now in Isaiah 54, we see the reason for the suffering.  We see that because of this coming Messah's suffering and subsequent exultation and vindication, that God will make a New Covenant with all the peoples of the world!

God has always kept the promises He made with people!  Promises to Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses and David were also kept by God!  God is ever faithful and always true to His word!  And here God reminds them through Isaiah of three promises or covenants He has made: Abraham, Moses and Noah.

Past - Covenant with Abraham

Here in Isaiah 54:1-3 God reminds the people through Isaiah, that God has always kept His promises to His people!  If they looked back at the covenant promises made to Abraham, they would see this!  When they go into exile, keep hold of the promises of God and be obedient to Him!  God is always faithful and wants their total obedience to Him!

How are these verses of Isaiah 54:1-3, are meant to be a reminder of the covenant with Abraham?  The mention of the barren woman (1), tent (2) and descendants (3) would all bring to mind God's promises to Abraham... The barren woman, would be a reminder that Abraham and Sarah were aged and childless.  The tent would act as a reminder that Abraham was a tent-dweller in an alien land.  The descendants would remember that they themselves are descendants from Abraham!  And God has promised in 54:3 that they will return to the land of Abraham and populate there once more.

The Abrahamic covenant is a link to all of God's activities and programs until the end of time, when Jesus returns to gather His people to Himself.  That is how important it was, particularly to Israel!  The covenant had aspects for Abraham personally, as well as aspects that applied to all nations.

Past - Covenant with Moses

Now in Isaiah 54:4-8, God moves to the covenant He made with Moses (Exodus 19v5-8).  When as a young nation, Israel was in exile and slavery in Egypt - it was an embarrassment to her.  Now as a nation she was like an aged widow, she was due to be in exile again, but in Babylon this time. But just as God made the covenant with Israel on Mount Sinai after escaping from Egypt, so too would God restore her to Himself once again and be her husband and Redeemer.

The covenant with Moses begins with a stipulation "Now if you will obey me and keep my covenant, you will be my own special treasure from among all the peoples on earth; for all the earth belongs to me." (Exodus 19v5).  This covenant was to Israel in order that those who believed God's promise to Abraham would know how to live righteously and obediently.

Past - Covenant with Noah

Next God talks about his promise to Noah (Genesis 9v1-19)! Now instead of just a covenant with Israel, this is a covenant with the whole world!   After the flood, Noah and his descendants spread throughout the world, bringing new life and God's blessing to all parts.  The flood is symbolic of the coming period that Israel will spend in exile, and all of the people of Israel are likened to the family of Noah and their descendants.  God will protect them in exile, just as He did Noah and his family through the flood.

God has always kept his promises to Israel!  But Israel has not always been faithful!

New Covenant of Peace - the promised New Covenant

Future - Promised New City

Now the Lord talks about the future - the now but not yet.  A great city is built to house all those who are God's people as a reward for their obedient faithfulness despite trials, sufferings and persecution!  Here Isaiah links also to the coming Messiah!  Remember the Messiah was also a Disciple taught by God (Isaiah 50:4), then so were they (54:13)! Just has He had suffered (Isaiah 53:4), so have they (Isaiah 54:11)!  Just as He was justified (Isaiah 50:8), so would they be (Isaiah 54:17).  Those who serve God Almighty with faithful obedience will share in the sufferings of the Messiah King but also participate in His glory, because they are His children.  Because of the Messiah Servant's sacrificial suffering they will be able to live in the city of God forever! God is going to make a new Covenant with people - and He can be trusted to keep His promises!

How is Jesus this Messiah?

Starts the New Covenant

Both the prophets Jeremiah and Ezekiel talk about the promise of this New Covenant that God will have with all of humanity.  What is this New Covenant that God is making?

Four features of this covenant are:

  • Regeneration -God will write His law on the hearts of people. (Jeremiah 31v33)
  • Restoration - God will be their God, and they will be God's people. (Jeremiah 31v33)
  • Promised Holy Spirit - God will indwell people and they will be led by Him (Jeremiah 31v 34)
  • Justification - Sins will be forgiven and removed eternally (Jeremiah 31v34)

What does all this have to do with Jesus?  This New Covenant is sealed only through the perfect sacrifice of the God-Man Jesus on the cross as spoken of in Isaiah 53:1-12.  His blood ensures the truth of this New Covenant.  His death pays the penalty for the sins of all people who say yes to God and His New Covenant. This New Covenant is contrasted with the Old Covenant or the Mosaic covenant (Jeremiah 31v32; Hebrews 8v6-13) because this New Covenant finalizes what the Mosaic Covenant could only point to: the follower of God living in a righteous life conforming to God's holy character.  In this way, Jesus is also the redeemer of the Church and the redeemer mentioned in Isaiah 54:5 & Isaiah 54:7!  He is the redeemer spoken about by Job (Job 19:25)!

Husband of the bride - the church

Jesus Christ is the head of the church!  The church is married to Jesus Christ and is frequently described as a bride! Just as the people of Israel were in Isaiah 54!  How are the church linked to Jesus Christ?

The Church is the Body of Christ and is a living organism and not merely an organization (Ephesians 1v22, 23; 4v15-16).  We are all baptized into one body (1 Corinthians 12v13) and this body is made up of many parts or believers. Each believer has a vitally necessary and important function (Ephesians 4v15; 1 Corinthians 12v13).

The Church is the Bride of Christ, which suggests the purity, holiness and faithfulness of God's people. Furthermore it suggests the great love that Jesus Christ has for His Church, the Bride (Ephesians 5v25-32; 2 Corinthians 11v2; Rev 19v7.22v17)

The Church is the Temple of Christ - Christ is building a spiritual temple with Himself as the Cornerstone or foundation. As Christian Disciples we are living stones and God dwells within the temple, filling it with all His fullness (Ephesians 2v22; 1 Peter 2v5)

God keeps His promises - Jesus is proof of that!

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Messiah's Leadership

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Zechariah 10:1 - 5

10:1 Ask of Yahweh rain in the spring time, Yahweh who makes storm clouds, and he gives rain showers to everyone for the plants in the field. 10:2 For the teraphim have spoken vanity, and the diviners have seen a lie; and they have told false dreams. They comfort in vain. Therefore they go their way like sheep. They are oppressed, because there is no shepherd. 10:3 My anger is kindled against the shepherds, and I will punish the male goats; For Yahweh of Armies has visited his flock, the house of Judah, and will make them as his majestic horse in the battle. 10:4 From him will come forth the cornerstone, from him the nail, from him the battle bow, from him every ruler together. 10:5 They shall be as mighty men, treading down muddy streets in the battle; and they shall fight, because Yahweh is with them; and the riders on horses will be confounded.

During the time of Zechariah, the Temple was being rebuilt.  The Temple was central to Jewish worship.  But who would help give advice and solve the multitude of problems they were facing? Who cared about them?  Well, Zechariah speaks into their situation with wise words.  He has already likened the nation of Israel as being like sheep, and that God is their shepherd (Zechariah 9:16) "Yahweh their God will save them in that day as the flock of his people; for they are like the jewels of a crown, lifted on high over his land. ".  Throughout Chapter 10, it is repeated again and again, that God will care for and bless them.  But in order to receive the blessing and care, the nation of Israelites must seek, turn and follow.

Seek God

If the people need advice and help in times of trouble and need, the first place they should look, is to the Lord their God.  They must seek and ask of Him! (10:1)! God can provide all things! He can control the weather, but these people need to stop being so independent, self-sufficient and start to rely on God and His infinite wisdom and resources.

Turn to God

In 10:2, Zechariah reminds the people of Israel, that following idols and false gods is foolishness.  These idols are self-seeking, liars and deceivers.  Israel needed to turn back to the One True Almighty God! Instead of following the glory of the Almighty God, they were turning to idols for worship, advice and listening to superstitious nonsense. And of course idols and false gods are mute! They cannot speak or give advice because they are not Gods at all!!  The sin of idolatry particularly broke the second commandment!  The people were to turn away from false gods and return to worship the One True Almighty God.

They were also to listen to the true prophets of God instead of the false prophets who deceived by speaking words they wanted to hear.

Follow Me

These sheep, the nation of Israel were to follow God.  Instead of wandering around aimlessly, they were to follow and obey God Almighty.  The Jewish leaders and teachers were supposed to be leading the nation in worship of Almighty God, but were not doing so.  Hence God in 10:3 being enraged at those who were in positions of trust who were deceivers, liars and only looking out for their own interests.  Ezekiel 34 expounds this out in much further detail!  So who were the people of Israel to follow?  They were to follow the coming Messiah.  Not only was the Messiah a King, Prophet Servant and Disciple but He would also be a Shepherd: the Good Shepherd!  From the lowliest tribe of Judah, will come this Good Shepherd "But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, being small among the clans of Judah, out of you one will come forth to me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth are from of old, from everlasting." (Micah 5:2)

Messiah Cares

This Good Shepherd will be utterly reliable, responsible, faithful and being the sure foundation that the people of Israel need, particularly in a time of crisis. In 10:4 God will send this Good Shepherd to also be a cornerstone, nail or tent peg, battle bow and a source of all ruling authority.

Cornerstone:  all ancient buildings needed a chief cornerstone to ensure a sure foundation so that the building could not fall down easily.  It held two walls together.  The imagery fits in well with the building of the Temple.  If you want to continue worshipping God, then you must get the foundations right.  The chief cornerstone of the building holds the building together.  Not only that, it gives the building shape, strength and all other stones are adjusted by it.

Nail: Another translation is that of tent-peg. Just as the chief cornerstone holds the building together, so does a tent-peg ensure that the tent stays fastened down during storms!  This Good Shepherd would ensure that everything is held together if they stick to Him.

Battle-bow:  Probably referring back to 9:13, Zechariah now likens this Shepherd Messiah to a battle-bow!  This Good Shepherd will fight to keep the wolves from harming His sheep.  He will battle for them.  This Good Shepherd will be brave, courageous and strong as he leads his people to victory!

How is Jesus this Messiah?

Jesus said in Matthew 7:7-8 "Ask, and it will be given you. Seek, and you will find. Knock, and it will be opened for you. For everyone who asks receives. He who seeks finds. To him who knocks it will be opened."  In other words, ask of God your heavenly Father and your needs will be supplied!  That was how Jesus lived and obeyed, by being in constant communication with God the Father.  That is how he could live a life of utter obedience to God, because He always asked, sought and knocked.

And Jesus is the Good Shepherd, hence Him saying in John 10:11 "I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep." Again in John 10:14-17 "I am the good shepherd. I know my own, and I'm known by my own; even as the Father knows me, and I know the Father. I lay down my life for the sheep. I have other sheep, which are not of this fold. I must bring them also, and they will hear my voice. They will become one flock with one shepherd. Therefore the Father loves me, because I lay down my life, that I may take it again."

Jesus is the Good Shepherd only through the sacrifice he must make for His sheep. Here Jesus is looking ahead to the sacrifice He makes on the Cross. His love for all of humanity compels Him to make the ultimate sacrifice. Just as all shepherds will endanger themselves for the safety of their sheep, so too will Jesus endure the pain and suffering of the Cross, so that people can be led into safety of God's kingdom. It is in this role of the Good Shepherd, that Jesus exhibits true leadership, which is self-less and sacrificial. Ezekiel 34v11 tells of God searching out for his sheep among all nations, and this is fulfilled through Jesus. Through His perfect, obedient and voluntary sacrifice on the Cross, not only will salvation be available to the Jews but also to those of other nations.

And Jesus is willing to fight for His people! He gives spiritual armour for all those who follow Him to wear.  Christians are in a spiritual battle reminds Paul in Ephesians 6, and as the Good Shepherd, Jesus will fight and battle for us through His indwelling Holy Spirit!  For as the Bible says in 1 John 4:4 "You are of God, little children, and have overcome them; because greater is he who is in you than he who is in the world."

Jesus Christ is, as Peter reminds us in 1 Peter 2:8, the Cornerstone of faith - referring back to Isaiah 8:14.  Jesus Christ is the dependable, sure foundation that all faith is to be ground upon.  All Christians are living stones, but should be living on the dependability of Jesus Christ the chief cornerstone alone!  It is only Him, who can give direction, assurance and be relied upon.  It is Him that calls all people everywhere to seek for, turn to and follow obediently.

Jesus Christ, Servant King, Servant Prophet, Servant Disciple, Servant Shepherd.  Follow Him as the great leader He is and victory is assured!  Whatever you are struggling with today, turn it over to God and ask for His help!  He has promised to help! Remember that the battle belongs to the Lord!  Amen!  Just as Jesus said to Peter in John 21:19 "Follow Me!", so Jesus calls all those willing to follow Him, to follow Him for life.  Follow and be led by Him and Him alone, regardless of what and where that might be.

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Messiah's Arrival

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Zechariah 9:9 - 12

9:9 Rejoice greatly, daughter of Zion! Shout, daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your King comes to you! He is righteous, and having salvation; lowly, and riding on a donkey, even on a colt, the foal of a donkey.

9:10 I will cut off the chariot from Ephraim, and the horse from Jerusalem; and the battle bow will be cut off; and he will speak peace to the nations: and his dominion will be from sea to sea, and from the River to the ends of the earth.

9:11 As for you also, because of the blood of your covenant, I have set free your prisoners from the pit in which is no water.

9:12 Turn to the stronghold, you prisoners of hope! Even today I declare that I will restore double to you.

The King is Coming!

We have seen in Isaiah that the coming Messiah was a Servant Prophet, a Servant Disciple and a Servant King.  Today we switch over to the Book of Zechariah to look at in more detail about this Servant King Messiah.  Zechariah gives us a picture of how the Messiah will announce His arrival and what sort of qualities that this Servant King will have.  He comes into Jerusalem on a donkey!  The phrases ‘Daughter of Zion' and ‘Daughter of Jerusalem' are terms symbolizing God's people who believe.  It is a scene of exultation, excitement and emotion.  The people recognize this man as their Messiah: their Servant-King.

Royalty: He is recognized as the long waited for king.  He is "Your King" oh nation of Israel.  King is either the Lord God (Isaiah 43:15) or a King from the line of David (2 Samuel 3:17).  This King is both and is the definitive king of Isaiah 9:7!  He is described as "yours" because this King is not a foreigner but an Israelite! But His arrival is not just for their benefit and gain as Zechariah goes on to clarify.

Righteous: In the example of Alexander the Great, we see a ruler who had great vanity, and this vanity caused him to act injudiciously at times.  Alexander the Great could have been the fulfillment of the previous section of Zechariah, particularly with his marauding forces.  This Kingly ruler however will reign with righteousness and justice.  This Messiah King will desire to enact God's Will in all circumstances and at all times - perfect obedience. Throughout the Old Testament, and in Isaiah as we have seen, righteousness is part of the Messiah!

Salvation:  This Servant King comes with salvation and saving power!  The Messiah shows Himself as one who saves and offers salvation to the people.  He has come to help and restore people back into an obedient relationship with God.  Again as we have seen with Isaiah who wrote about 200 years before Zechariah, righteousness and salvation are combined in the Servant King (Isaiah 45:8; 51:4).

Gentle: In this translation, the word lowly is used, but perhaps a better translation is ‘gentle'.  The extended meaning of this word in Hebrew signifies one who has known suffering and sorrow, and lives a simple lifestyle.  Humility is worn by this Servant King, like a crown.  There is no pride in this King, but a gentle and humble spirit.  This is reflected again by Isaiah in Isaiah 53:1-3, where the Servant King would endure rejection and suffering.  Perhaps the greatest symbol of his gentle humility is the transportation he is on.  A donkey.  Donkeys were ridden by every class of people.  This is to signify that this King is one of the people and arriving unassumingly.

What now?

Peace reigns: The Servant King Messiah has bought peace with Him!  By this, He has established the environment in order for total peace to exist! Peace comes through people telling the good news that Isaiah talked about in Isaiah 52:7.  "How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news, who publishes peace, who brings good news of good, who publishes salvation, who says to Zion, "Your God reigns!""  Peace with God comes only through the sacrifice of the Suffering Servant King of Isaiah 53.  A life of obedience to God in all those who follow this Messiah, will bring about peace between people and nations.   This Messiah's reign is not limited to Israel but all nations of the world.  The second coming of the Messiah is hinted at here, but we will save that for a couple of days time.

He releases prisoners:  This Messiah will release those who are enslaved to sin and are prisoners to its power.  He will deliver them because of the covenant that exists between God and Israel.  But this King will have a new Covenant between God and all people of all nations!  Where God will live inside those who place their hope in Him. This covenant means all people can be saved and be set free from the guilt and stain of their sinful ways.  They will be able to live a life of total obedience to God, by submitting themselves to this King!

How is Jesus this King?

This prophecy by Zechariah is seen as being fulfilled when as both Matthew and John recall how Jesus Christ entered Jerusalem on a donkey.

Matthew 21:1-5 - When they drew near to Jerusalem, and came to Bethsphage, to the Mount of Olives, then Jesus sent two disciples, saying to them, "Go into the village that is opposite you, and immediately you will find a donkey tied, and a colt with her. Untie them, and bring them to me. If anyone says anything to you, you shall say, ‘The Lord needs them,' and immediately he will send them."

All this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken through the prophet, saying, "Tell the daughter of Zion, behold, your King comes to you, humble, and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey."

And the scene as recalled by John in John 12:12-15 - 12:12 "On the next day a great multitude had come to the feast. When they heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem, they took the branches of the palm trees, and went out to meet him, and cried out, "Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord, the King of Israel!" Jesus, having found a young donkey, sat on it. As it is written, "Don't be afraid, daughter of Zion. Behold, your King comes, sitting on a donkey's colt."

This is Jesus, the Messiah who was and is a gentle King, reigning righteously, offering salvation and has setup the environment for peace on earth to reign.  This Jesus, who through His sacrifice on the Cross enables all people of every nation to have peace with God and have God Himself live inside them.

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Who is He? Messiah's Sacrifice

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Isaiah 52:13 - 53:12

52:13 Behold, my servant shall deal wisely, he shall be exalted and lifted up, and shall be very high.

52:14 Like as many were astonished at you (his appearance was marred more than any man, and his form more than the sons of men),

52:15 so shall he sprinkle many nations; kings shall shut their mouths at him: for that which had not been told them shall they see; and that which they had not heard shall they understand.

53:1 Who has believed our message? To whom has the arm of Yahweh been revealed?

53:2 For he grew up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of dry ground. He has no good looks or majesty. When we see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him.

53:3 He was despised, and rejected by men; a man of suffering, and acquainted with disease. He was despised as one from whom men hide their face; and we didn’t respect him.

53:4 Surely he has borne our sickness, and carried our suffering; yet we considered him plagued, struck by God, and afflicted.

53:5 But he was pierced for our transgressions. He was crushed for our iniquities. The punishment that brought our peace was on him; and by his wounds we are healed.

53:6 All we like sheep have gone astray. Everyone has turned to his own way; and Yahweh has laid on him the iniquity of us all.

53:7 He was oppressed, yet when he was afflicted he didn’t open his mouth. As a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and as a sheep that before its shearers is mute, so he didn’t open his mouth.

53:8 He was taken away by oppression and judgment; and as for his generation, who considered that he was cut off out of the land of the living and stricken for the disobedience of my people?

53:9 They made his grave with the wicked, and with a rich man in his death; although he had done no violence, neither was any deceit in his mouth.

53:10 Yet it pleased Yahweh to bruise him. He has caused him to suffer. When you make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed. He shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of Yahweh shall prosper in his hand.

53:11 After the suffering of his soul, he will see the light and be satisfied. My righteous servant will justify many by the knowledge of himself; and he will bear their iniquities.

53:12 Therefore will I divide him a portion with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong; because he poured out his soul to death, and was numbered with the transgressors; yet he bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors

In the first Servant Song we saw that the Servant King will provide freedom, self-respect and justice for all.  In the second Servant Song it was revealed that the Servant Prophet will bring comfort to people and have compassion on the afflicted. For the third Song we saw that this Servant Disciple will live a perfect life of discipleship, to show that it is attainable and that a life of total obedience to God and trust in God for all things is possible. Then we saw in the last chapter that there will be a big homecoming for the people of Israel and for all nations.  During the previous Servant Songs we say glimpses of the suffering this Servant who is both a King and Prophet will endure. Now in this section, this Servant Song we get the full picture of suffering and why He must suffer.  This is how people will on the last day be consummated with God and attention is now back on him as 52:13 states "Behold, my servant". Echoing previous passages of where the Servant is God's.  This is, as somebody once wrote, "the jewel in the crown of Isaiah's theology, the focal point of his vision." It is as if we are meant to understand that nothing that has been said before is as important as this passage.  Without this passage of Scripture, none of the rest makes sense.  Let us discover together why that is so.

The Servant Exalted

The beginning is an adoration of the Servant, as is the song's finale.  Sandwiched between them is the description of suffering.  This servant acts and speaks with wisdom.  How could He be faithful and obedient to God, if He were not wise?  Not just any wisdom, but Godly wisdom which flusters and confounds mere human wisdom.  This Servant will be raised up! Here Isaiah uses ecstatic language used of God Himself.  And what attracts people to this Servant? Certainly not his looks, charisma or appearance for He had no outer beauty that would attract anybody. Verse 14 indicates the level of suffering the Servant will endure. Many are flabbergasted by it!  Verse 15 shows the cleansing, the sprinkling indicating a sacrifice.  Sprinkling needed to be done with water, oil or blood in order that people could enter into the presence of God.  This cleansing, is not for Israel alone, but for all nations and people.  He who was considered unclean by many humans (52:14), will be the one to cleanse many other humans from across the world.  Then all accusations, and slander against the Servant will cease.

The Servant Despised

The passage now looks at the Servant through the eyes of the nation of Israel, for it is through their words and actions that others will come to know and understand about the Servant.  Even though Israel is disobedient and rebellious, there are still some who fear the Lord (50:10).  When those people see the full picture of what the Servant has done, then they will go naturally to tell others about it.  Whereas before they would simply be witnesses about God, now they would be witnesses about the saving power of God through the Servant's suffering, death and glorification. What of this Servant?

He had grown up like any other boy, just as a plant grows from a root in soil.  As time goes on, nothing about Him is special and any promise He showed was decidedly unimpressive.  The Servant will be persecuted, despised, rejected, insulted and hideous.  So hideously malformed that people could not look at Him.  These people considered him an implement of God's deserved torment. That was what the witnesses were thinking.

While God ultimately crushed the Servant, it was not because the Servant deserved it.  But rather the witnesses realize that they were the ones who deserved punishment and not the Servant.   Just as the animals when offered as sacrifices were substitution offerings in Israel's worship, so too was this Servant a substitutionary sacrifice.  A sacrifice that through His body being pierced and his being crushed for sin, the Servant has provided a way for others to be comforted and pardoned.  That way being at a cost.  A cost of the Servant's own life.

The Servant Suffers Silently

Now a solitary witness speaks out.  If this is Isaiah, he was cleansed by God back in chapter 6. but what of his countrymen? How will they be cleansed and how as stray sheep will they be gathered back into relationship with God?  The Servant is led to His death, just as a lamb is led to be butchered.  This Servant goes quietly and obediently to certain death, through oppression and judgment.  His death as an innocent Servant, and buried in the grave with the wicked and guilty. Silent.

The Servant Suprises

Now in verse 10 we have the surprise!  Death is not the end of this Servant! Yes God had bruised Him and caused the Servant to suffer. But, the Servant was an offering for sin! That way the Servant will offer righteousness to all the nation.  The Servant's mission will be accomplished!  God will raise this Servant from the dead and the Servant will be exalted!  His sacrifice will surpass any and all previous sacrifices and be the only and final sacrifice needed!  Through His death, the Servant will be able to judge righteously and enable those who follow Him to live righteously.  Righteously in the sense that His knowledge and wisdom will cause many people to live new lives that are pleasing to God. A righteousness that only comes from people being in relationship with God, instead of being enemies of God.

How is Jesus this Servant?

In Acts 8:26-40, the Ethiopian asked the question of Philip "who does the prophet speak about?" Philip replied that it was about Jesus.

Jesus Christ who grew up as Luke said "increasing in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and men." (Luke 2:52). This Jesus who people called the son of a Nazarene carpenter and who people said "Can anything good come from Nazareh?"  This Jesus who did not have anything attractive about him, but the way in which He spoke, the wisdom He imparted and the life that He lived.  Jesus Christ who was betrayed by one of his closest friends.  This Jesus, who was the Lamb of God, who died on a Roman Cross, after a trial where he was falsely accused, tortured and oppressed. This Jesus, who was rejected by even those closest to Him when He died. This Jesus who cried out "My God! My God! Why have you abandoned me? This Jesus who even though without sin, was buried in a grave for the wicked.

This Jesus who rose victoriously from the dead 3 days later, in order to conquer death, sin and the devil.  This Jesus, who ascended to the right hand of the throne of God, in the beauty of exaltation and glorification.  This Jesus, who alone is the only way that people can one day enter into God's presence when all of history is consummated.  This Jesus, the suffering Servant who was a Servant King, Servant Prophet and Servant Disciple.  This Jesus, who is the Lord and Saviour of the universe. This Jesus who as fully God and fully human simultaneously, is the only one who could be the full sacrifice demanded of God for the everlasting payment for sin.  The Jesus who will judge with righteousness and wisdom, give all people a choice to make - be His disciple and be in a dynamic relationship with God, or go your own way and be astray from God forever.

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Who is He?- Messiah's Encouragement

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Isaiah 51:9-52:12

51:9 Awake, awake, put on strength, arm of Yahweh; awake, as in the days of old, the generations of ancient times. Isn't it you who cut Rahab in pieces, who pierced the monster? 51:10 Isn't it you who dried up the sea, the waters of the great deep; who made the depths of the sea a way for the redeemed to pass over? 51:11 The ransomed of Yahweh shall return, and come with singing to Zion; and everlasting joy shall be on their heads. They shall obtain gladness and joy. Sorrow and sighing shall flee away. 51:12 "I, even I, am he who comforts you: who are you, that you are afraid of man who shall die, and of the son of man who shall be made as grass; 51:13 and have forgotten Yahweh your Maker, who stretched forth the heavens, and laid the foundations of the earth; and fear continually all the day because of the fury of the oppressor, when he makes ready to destroy? and where is the fury of the oppressor? 51:14 The captive exile shall speedily be freed; and he shall not die and go down into the pit, neither shall his bread fail. 51:15 For I am Yahweh your God, who stirs up the sea, so that its waves roar: Yahweh of Armies is his name. 51:16 I have put my words in your mouth, and have covered you in the shadow of my hand, that I may plant the heavens, and lay the foundations of the earth, and tell Zion, ‘You are my people.'"

51:17 Awake, awake, stand up, Jerusalem, that have drunk at the hand of Yahweh the cup of his wrath; you have drunken the bowl of the cup of staggering, and drained it. 51:18 There is none to guide her among all the sons whom she has brought forth; neither is there any who takes her by the hand among all the sons who she has brought up. 51:19 These two things have happened to you. Who will bemoan you? Desolation and destruction, and the famine and the sword; how shall I comfort you? 51:20 Your sons have fainted, they lie at the head of all the streets, as an antelope in a net; they are full of the wrath of Yahweh, the rebuke of your God. 51:21 Therefore hear now this, you afflicted, and drunken, but not with wine: 51:22 Thus says your Lord Yahweh, and your God who pleads the cause of his people, "Behold, I have taken out of your hand the cup of staggering, even the bowl of the cup of my wrath; you shall no more drink it again: 51:23 and I will put it into the hand of those who afflict you, who have said to your soul, ‘Bow down, that we may walk over you;' and you have laid your back as the ground, and as the street, to those who walk over." 52:1 Awake, awake, put on your strength, Zion; put on your beautiful garments, Jerusalem, the holy city: for henceforth there shall no more come into you the uncircumcised and the unclean. 52:2 Shake yourself from the dust! Arise, sit up, Jerusalem! Release yourself from the bonds of your neck, captive daughter of Zion! 52:3 For thus says Yahweh, "You were sold for nothing; and you shall be redeemed without money." 52:4 For thus says the Lord Yahweh, "My people went down at the first into Egypt to live there: and the Assyrian has oppressed them without cause. 52:5 "Now therefore, what do I do here," says Yahweh, "seeing that my people are taken away for nothing? Those who rule over them mock," says Yahweh, "and my name continually all the day is blasphemed. 52:6 Therefore my people shall know my name. Therefore they shall know in that day that I am he who speaks; behold, it is I."

52:7 How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news, who publishes peace, who brings good news of good, who publishes salvation, who says to Zion, "Your God reigns!" 52:8 The voice of your watchmen! they lift up the voice, together do they sing; for they shall see eye to eye, when Yahweh returns to Zion. 52:9 Break forth into joy, sing together, you waste places of Jerusalem; for Yahweh has comforted his people, he has redeemed Jerusalem. 52:10 Yahweh has made bare his holy arm in the eyes of all the nations; and all the ends of the earth have seen the salvation of our God.

52:11 Depart, depart, go out from there, touch no unclean thing! Go out of the midst of her! Cleanse yourselves, you who bear the vessels of Yahweh. 52:12 For you shall not go out in haste, neither shall you go by flight: for Yahweh will go before you; and the God of Israel will be your rear guard.

Be Encouraged People of God!

In the first few verses of chapter 51 that I didn't read, we see that faith is nurtured by listening and hearing.  People are encouraged to look back and see what God has done with just one man, Abraham! How from him came an entire nation!  This bodes well for the future when all history is consummated - have faith in your God who will lead you into the next world! But for now, don't be afraid of what other people will do - stay close to God, have faith in Him, trust Him patiently and live obedient and righteous lives. For as verse 6 states "my salvation shall be forever, and my righteousness shall not be abolished."

Then we come to a mounting anticipation with baited breath.  Quickly the phrase "awake awake" is repeated, as if to give a sense of urgency.  The exodus from Egypt, an event remembered well by the nation of Israel and alluded to in verses 9 & 10 of chapter 51, will be surpassed by a new age of righteousness at the end of time.  All those "ransomed by the Lord", those set free by God will enter the city of God with joyous singing which will be their crown! Sorrow and sadness will no longer exist! Gladness and joy will be triumphant! Alleluia! Despite many obstacles in the way, the Lord God will reign triumphant. His Messiah, His Servant will deliver you.  His Servant will be triumphant.

Wake up!

Note that the people themselves are to wake up, not the Lord God or His Servant!  All that will be fulfilled is not waiting for God, but waiting for people and their spiritual inertia!  It's their unwillingness to be obedient to God that is stopping the fulfillment of history! While Isaiah is clearly eager, it seems the nation of Israel is not - they have forgotten about their awesome and Almighty God who created the heavens and the earth! So Isaiah shouts out "Wake up!!"  I am your God and you are my people is to remind Israel of the covenant that exists between themselves and God!  It is a covenant that signifies relationship, care and commitment! Israel may have forgotten this, but God had not!  God is in the relationship, He is trustworthy and faithful, so therefore there is no need to fear!  God's commitment is faultless and worthy of obedience! This commitment deserves active obedience on the part of the people of Israel and not their overwhelming spiritual laziness.  While overwhelming fear inhibits and destructs, the love of God frees.  Isaiah urges them to live an active and obedient life worthy of their freedom and not a life of spiritual inertia and rebellion.

One last time, Isaiah urges action when crying "Awake! Awake!" in 52:1.  Salvation is nearing and coming quickly, are you ready?  Be alert, people of Israel and live as if you are the freed people of God and not as if you are rebellious captors. Be ready, just as your ancestors were the night before the Exodus from Egypt commenced. Be expectant and ready.  One difference to note.  With the exodus, the Israelites took what they could from the Egyptians - gold, silver, jewelry and clothing.  This time, everything will be left behind.

All this bears in the mind the Servant.  The Servant, who as a King dispenses justice and as a Prophet speaks for God, will usher in this new period.  When Isaiah writes in 52:11 "Depart, depart, go out from there", he must be urging people to respond to the Servant. Respond by living a holy and righteous life of obedience to God as one who is on a lifelong pilgrimage. Stop rebelling against Him and love Him who first loved them.

Where is Jesus in this?

Jesus during his earthly ministry always urged people to be active in obedience to God.  Jesus comforted the lonely, oppressed, the weak and the poor.  He urged people to come back into relationship with God.  With a sense of urgency, He told people to be ready and alert for the day when history will end.  Jesus urged his listeners to be spiritually awake. Jesus said in Matthew 11:30 "For my yoke is easy and my burden is light."  Jesus who remarkably stated in John 8:34-36 "Jesus replied, "I tell you the truth, everyone who sins is a slave to sin. Now a slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it forever. So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.". When Jesus Christ the Servant King comes back, He will come back like a thief in the night - with surprise!  But for those who love and trust in Him, it will be a day of gladness and joy because their King will have returned to gather them.  This Jesus who in Mark1:15 issued these words ""The time has come," he said. "The kingdom of God is near. Repent and believe the good news!"  Truly we concur with Isaiah when he wrote in Isaiah 52:7 "How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news, who publishes peace, who brings good news of good, who publishes salvation, who says to Zion, "Your God reigns!""  Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace, through whom is salvation alone.

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3. Messiah's Obedience

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Isaiah 50:4 The Lord Yahweh has given me the tongue of those who are taught, that I may know how to sustain with words him who is weary: he wakens morning by morning, he wakens my ear to hear as those who are taught. 50:5 The Lord Yahweh has opened my ear, and I was not rebellious, neither turned away backward. 50:6 I gave my back to the strikers, and my cheeks to those who plucked off the hair; I didn't hide my face from shame and spitting. 50:7 For the Lord Yahweh will help me; therefore I have not been confounded: therefore have I set my face like a flint, and I know that I shall not be disappointed. 50:8 He is near who justifies me; who will bring charges against me? Let us stand up together: who is my adversary? Let him come near to me. 50:9 Behold, the Lord Yahweh will help me; who is he who shall condemn me? Behold, all they shall wax old as a garment, the moth shall eat them up. 50:10 Who is among you who fears Yahweh, who obeys the voice of his servant? He who walks in darkness, and has no light, let him trust in the name of Yahweh, and rely on his God. 50:11 Behold, all you who kindle a fire, who adorn yourselves with torches around yourselves; walk in the flame of your fire, and among the brands that you have kindled. You shall have this of my hand; you shall lie down in sorrow.

After discovering some of the things that will identity the Servant in the first Servant song and finding the Servant's mission in the second Servant song, we now see obedience in this the third Servant song.  It is obedience of God and trust in God regardless of spite, evil, malice and bitterness.  From verse 4 we see that the Servant is willing to learn.  This willingness to learn is a lifelong learning as indicated in the phrase "morning by morning".  Each morning the Servant awakes and is ready to be fully obedient to God throughout the day.  On top of that his words have power. He is able to give comfort and counsel as He consoles the weary, despised and rejected.  Those people who like Him are undergoing trials, temptations and having to endure. This Servant in no way rebels against God, and this Servant is sinless and offers faultless obedience to God (v5).  Nothing will stop Him from living a life of obedience to God, hence not retreating or hiding (v6).  The nation of Israel had forgotten to listen to God and was rebellious, disobedient and wearisome.

The Servant is also willingly suffering by giving Himself over to His tormentors, and offering His body to be beaten, scarred, shamed and spat upon.  This Servant is the ultimate Prophet and willing to give His all in obedience to God Almighty.  The full details of the suffering of this Servant are at this point in Isaiah still not given.  But we do know at this point in Isaiah, that He is willing to obey in both his mind and his body, so that all glory will go to God.  This Servant sets his face like stone towards His goal, because He knows that God will help Him to achieve.  The Servant's confidence to achieve is not in His own strength to endure but rather a reliance on God's help to overcome all that would cause Him to stumble and give up.  This Servant is not on a pedestal above every other human, but is rather on the same level as each person.  He is not so detached from other people that He is untouchable.  Rather, this Servant lives a perfect life of discipleship, to show that it is achievable and a life of total obedience to God and trust in God for all things is possible.

And what is the response of the people of God, Israel, to his Servant (v10-11)?  Some of the people of Israel fear and obey the Lord as the Servant does, but most do not.  The Servant has shown people that what God desires is not hollow words but obedience regardless of the personal cost.  This Servant has shown this in His life of total abandonment to God and obedience to, and trust of, the Almighty God.   Others are rebellious and will be destroyed by their own rebellion (v11)  This Servant challenges everybody to make a choice.  Life a life of total obedience to God, or be destroyed by your own rebellion.  There is a choice to be made between righteousness and wickedness - a choice between obedience to God and rebellion against God.

Jesus as the Servant

We see here a first glimpse of what would come about when Jesus would be crucified.  Did not Jesus set his face like stone towards Jerusalem and to the cross He would bear?   Were not Jesus' words comforting to the tired, weak and oppressed - such as the Samaritan woman at the well?  Jesus was sinless as He lived a life of total obedience to God.  Was Jesus' beard not plucked out in handfuls? Was his face beaten beyond recognition by His captors?  His back reduced to hamburger mince by the flagellating whips that contained metal and bone.  His face was spat upon and cursed.  Jesus Christ lived a life of total obedience and sacrifice to God.  As we read and study the Gospels, we discover that Jesus endured and lived a life of obedient discipleship par excellence.  Look to Jesus Christ, "the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising its shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.  For consider him who has endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, that you don't grow weary, fainting in your souls." (Hebrews 12v2-3)

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2. Messiah's Mission

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Isaiah 49:1 Listen, islands, to me; and listen, you peoples, from far: Yahweh has called me from the womb; from the bowels of my mother has he made mention of my name: 49:2 and he has made my mouth like a sharp sword; in the shadow of his hand, he has hidden me: and he has made me a polished shaft; in his quiver has he kept me close: 49:3 and he said to me, "You are my servant; Israel, in whom I will be glorified." 49:4 But I said, "I have labored in vain, I have spent my strength for nothing and vanity; yet surely the justice due to me is with Yahweh, and my reward with my God."

49:5 Now says Yahweh who formed me from the womb to be his servant, to bring Jacob again to him, and that Israel be gathered to him (for I am honorable in the eyes of Yahweh, and my God has become my strength); 49:6 yes, he says, "It is too light a thing that you should be my servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob, and to restore the preserved of Israel: I will also give you for a light to the nations, that you may be my salvation to the end of the earth."

49:7 Thus says Yahweh, the Redeemer of Israel, and his Holy One, to him whom man despises, to him whom the nation abhors, to a servant of rulers: "Kings shall see and arise; princes, and they shall worship; because of Yahweh who is faithful, even the Holy One of Israel, who has chosen you."

49:8 Thus says Yahweh, "In an acceptable time have I answered you, and in a day of salvation have I helped you; and I will preserve you, and give you for a covenant of the people, to raise up the land, to make them inherit the desolate heritage: 49:9 saying to those who are bound, ‘Come out!'; to those who are in darkness, ‘Show yourselves!'

"They shall feed in the ways, and on all bare heights shall be their pasture. 49:10 They shall not hunger nor thirst; neither shall the heat nor sun strike them: for he who has mercy on them will lead them, even by springs of water he will guide them. 49:11 I will make all my mountains a way, and my highways shall be exalted. 49:12 Behold, these shall come from far; and behold, these from the north and from the west; and these from the land of Sinim."

49:13 Sing, heavens; and be joyful, earth; and break forth into singing, mountains: for Yahweh has comforted his people, and will have compassion on his afflicted.

The Servant

This is the second Servant song, and here the Servant Himself is speaking!  We have no idea of his actual name but He does have a name (Isaiah 49:1)!  In the first Servant song, with the dispensing of justice as part of His identity, the Servant is a King! But not just a King, something more as well!  In this song, the Servant appears as if He is a prophet by the things He is saying.  He was called Isaiah 49v1) just as Jeremiah was.  The words he speak are as if a double-edged sword (Isaiah 49v2).  Despite the opposition (Isaiah 49v4), He perseveres to gain the reward and to glorify God (Isaiah 49v3).  And while we find His name is Israel!  Not the nation of Israel itself, but as a person who embodies all that Israel was meant to be and do.  This Servant would glorify God in all His ways.  This servant is a Prophet who is also a King.  This Servant is a perfect incarnation of God's light, covenant and salvation.

The Servants Mission!

In verse 5, the Servants mission is clear.  Firstly the Servant will be a light to the nation of Israel and then to be a light to the nations.  Isaiah 49:4 & 7 intimates the Servant will suffer for being who He is - despised and abhorred in slavish servitude.  This Servant will be despised by the very people He has been sent to. But He will eventually be worshipped and honoured by rulers and kings. The Servant is on a mission to bring all people back into relationship with God who is "the Redeemer of Israel, and his Holy One".  The exiled people will be restored to the land (Isaiah 49v8).  People are described as being freed from captivity and have all manner of needs met (Isaiah 49v9-10)! The Servant will gather people back to God just as a Shepherd gathers his flock of sheep. And it wont just be a restored Israel, but all peoples from all lands and nations, hence Isaiah 49:12 "Behold, these shall come from far; and behold, these from the north and from the west;"  This Servant King and Servant Prophet will shepherd people back into relationship with God and dispense God's justice throughout the whole world.  That is all part of the Messiah's mission - to bring comfort to people and compassion on the afflicted (Isaiah 49:13).

Then as if bursting from the seams with praise, we read "Sing, heavens; and be joyful, earth; and break forth into singing, mountains: for Yahweh has comforted his people, and will have compassion on his afflicted."

Jesus as the Servant

Paul quotes Isaiah 49:8 in 2 Corinthians 6:1-2 "As God's fellow workers we urge you not to receive God's grace in vain. For he says, "In the time of my favor I heard you, and in the day of salvation I helped you." I tell you, now is the time of God's favor, now is the day of salvation." Paul here is saying to the Corinthians to grasp hold of God's offer of salvation, right now! Right now, because it is a time acceptable to God! But who is Paul talking about? Paul is talking about Jesus Christ "All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men's sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation." 2 Corinthians 5:18-19.

Jesus Christ said of himself that he was the Good Shepherd (John 10) and the Light of the World rescuing those in darkness (John 8:12) - all images portrayed in this Servant Song of Isaiah 49v1-13..  Jesus came to save the lost (John 12:47) and to gather all people from all places back into relationship with God.  Jesus Christ, the man who was despised, abhorred and rejected by his own people just as the Servant of Isaiah 49 was to be.  Jesus Christ, who is honoured and worshipped, just as Isaiah 49 tells us the Servant would be.  Jesus Christ, the Servant King and Prophet, who had as His mission statement Mark 10v45 - "For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many."

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1. Messiah's Identity

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42:1 "Behold, my servant, whom I uphold; my chosen, in whom my soul delights- I have put my Spirit on him. He will bring justice to the nations.

42:2 He will not shout, nor raise his voice, nor cause it to be heard in the street.

42:3 He won't break a bruised reed. He won't quench a dimly burning wick. He will faithfully bring justice.

42:4 He will not fail nor be discouraged, until he has set justice in the earth, and the islands will wait for his law."

42:5 Thus says God Yahweh, he who created the heavens and stretched them out, he who spread out the earth and that which comes out of it, he who gives breath to its people and spirit to those who walk in it.

42:6 "I, Yahweh, have called you in righteousness, and will hold your hand, and will keep you, and make you a covenant for the people, as a light for the nations;

42:7 to open the blind eyes, to bring the prisoners out of the dungeon, and those who sit in darkness out of the prison.

42:8 "I am Yahweh. That is my name. I will not give my glory to another, nor my praise to engraved images.

42:9 Behold, the former things have happened, and I declare new things. I tell you about them before they come up."

In this chapter we have what is almost universally called "The 1st Servant Song".  In this book of Isaiah, one of the key words is "Servant". In the previous chapter, Isaiah 41, the nation of Israel is also called a servant of God.  Isaiah himself has been called a servant of God (Isaiah 20v3).  However, here in chapter 42, it is as if the phrase "Servant of God" has taken on a new meaning - someone who is unique, special. God Himself is speaking, and announcing "my Servant".  By looking further into what God says, we know it cannot be Israel. If anything, Israel is the bruised reed or dimly burning wick.  Remember Israel was to be a light to the nations and reflect God to the whole world. In chapter 41, Israel is described as always complaining resentfully, fearful, discouraged and embittered.  Later on in chapter 42, Israel is seen as blind, deaf and disobedient.  So this is not an ideal that Israel was to aspire to, but rather one person who would be God's response to Israel's failure and weakness.  So what does the rest of this passage tell of the identity of the Servant, the Messiah whom God would send?

We get a clue in verses 1-4.  This Servant will bring God great delight!  This servant will be gentle, quiet, faithful, and encouraged.  This Servant will have God's Spirit upon him, and this shows that the Servant will not do anything in his own strength, but rather rely on God's strength to persevere.  All the things Israel were to be and do, but had not.  Therefore this Servant was the opposite of Israel.

The key word for this Servant, is justice.  He will bring God's justice to the nations (Isaiah 42v1); faithfully bring God's justice (Isaiah 42v3) and set in place upon all the earth, God's justice. (42v4). Justice, in this context, is God restoring order to the whole world against the ravages of sin and decay.

Additionally, this Servant will be a covenant and a light as he is called out in righteousness.  This covenant implies that God will provide welfare for all people and by the light of this Servant shall all the spiritually blind see, the spiritually dead made alive, those captive under the power of sin will be freed and those in spiritual darkness will see the light.  Through this Servant, God will reverse all damaging effects that sin has caused the world since it entered into existence way back in Genesis 3.  This servant will provide freedom, self-respect and justice for all.  Firstly for Israel itself and then to the whole world.

Identifying Jesus Christ as this Servant?

Perhaps the best example to use, looking back with New Testament eyes, is when Jesus was baptized.  Jesus went to John the Baptist, and presented Himself for baptism. John at first refuses to do it (Matthew 3v13-15). He knew that Jesus of Nazareth was the perfect Son of God who had no need to repent of sin.

Through His baptism, Jesus identified with all sinners that He came to save. why did Jesus get baptized? In replying to John's initial refusal to baptize him, Jesus said "...it is proper for us to do this to fulfill all righteousness" (Mt.3v15). This looks forward to the cross, because it is only through the baptism of suffering that Jesus endured on the cross, that God is able to fulfill all righteousness. The "us" referred to means the Father Son and Spirit. When Jesus came up from the water, the Father spoke from heaven and identified Him as the beloved Son of God, and the Spirit visibly came upon Jesus in the form of a dove. The voice from God the Father ratified Jesus as the Son of God. Not a son of God as some may claim, but the one and only Son of God.  This harks back to Isaiah 42, where God called the Servant a delight and the Spirit coming upon Him.

Tomorrow, we will skip forward to Isaiah 49:1-26 and discuss the mission of this Servant Messiah.  You may like to read this passage beforehand.

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Who is he? Introduction

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Who is He?- Introduction

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Welcome to Who is He?.  We will be discussing who the historical figure Jesus Christ was and is, based on the 2 Old Testament books of Zechariah and Isaiah. They will be, by necessity, just brief introductions to the themes contained within them.

The birth of Jesus Christ is the most celebrated around the world.  The celebrations transcend cultures, peoples, and languages.  The celebrations are also just as diverse.  Of course most people stop with Jesus being a baby and continue no further with Him.  Jesus Christ is the most unique person in history. Jesus Christ is also the most divisive person to be found at any time and anywhere.  Almost everyone has an opinion about Him, even if that opinion is based on ignorance, silence or misinformation.

Christians believe that Jesus’ birth was the culmination of thousands of years of God telling the world that He was coming. From the time of the Fall when people showed active rebellion and disobedience towards God in Genesis 3, God was planning the time when He would step into history as a saviour or messiah. Christians believe that Jesus Christ is this messiah. Throughout the Old Testament, we see that the birth, life and mission of this messiah is the aim and focus of attention. We see it in the stories of people like Abraham and Moses. We see it in the nation of Israel, which was to be God’s light to all the nations. We see it in the Israelite sacrificial system and law. We see it during the time of the Judges and the Kings. We especially see it through the prophets.

The whole Old Testament is joined together, because it all speaks about this messiah baby, Jesus Christ. This baby, who was both 100% human and 100% divine, grew in wisdom and stature.  This baby was born in order that He would die on a cross some 33 years later.  He did not die for his own sins, but for the sins of the entire world - all past, present and future sins. This baby was born to die so that the entire world may have life and life everlasting, if each individual chooses to accept it.

Let us discover together what two people had to say about him.  These twelve studies will based in the book of Isaiah and the book of Zechariah.  Firstly, let me introduce these two books to you.

Isaiah

The author is self-identified as Isaiah, and his name means "The Lord Saves". Isaiah wrote around the same time as Amos, Hosea and Micah.  He started about 740BC and it was during this time, that Israel was declining and the Assyrian Empire rapidly expanding.

In his writings, Isaiah reveals a great deal regarding God's judgment on sin and salvation from sin.  These studies will primarily focus on the later chapters.

Key verses are:

Isaiah 9:6-7 - For to us a child is born. To us a son is given; and the government will be on his shoulders. His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and of peace there shall be no end, on the throne of David, and on his kingdom, to establish it, and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from that time on, even forever. The zeal of Yahweh of Armies will perform this.

Isaiah 53:5-6 - But he was pierced for our transgressions. He was crushed for our iniquities.  The punishment that brought our peace was on him;  and by his wounds we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray. Everyone has turned to his own way;  and Yahweh has laid on him the iniquity of us all.

Zechariah

The author, again, is self-identified, in this case Zechariah.  Zechariah, a young man, was not only a prophet, but also a member of a priestly family.  He was born in Babylon and had returned to Jerusalem under Zerubbabel's leadership.  Zechariah was active around the same time as the prophet Haggai.

This period of time, 520BC to 480BC, occurred in the postexilic period after Israel was restored from Babylonian captivity.

Key verses are

Zechariah 8:3 - Thus says Yahweh: "I have returned to Zion, and will dwell in the midst of Jerusalem. Jerusalem shall be called ‘The City of Truth;' and the mountain of Yahweh of Armies, ‘The Holy Mountain.'"

Zechariah 9:9 - Rejoice greatly, daughter of Zion! Shout, daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your King comes to you!  He is righteous, and having salvation; lowly, and riding on a donkey, even on a colt, the foal of a donkey.

So there we have a very brief introduction to the book of Isaiah and the book of Zechariah.

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Prayer for Turkey Day

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Letter from the Turkish Churches to

Church Leaders and Christians Worldwide

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From the body of Christ in Turkey, to our holy and faithful brothers and sisters in Christ around the world, grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

We are writing to you from Turkey - from the land of Noah, of Abraham, of Paul, of Mt. Ararat and Harran, of Antioch, Ephesus, Galatia and the Seven Churches of Revelation......

Yet today in our land of 72 million, which is 99.8% Muslim, the size of Christ's flock is only a handful. We are writing to ask, indeed to plead for your prayers.

As Turkish Christians we love our country very much. Pray for God's will to be done, and for His Kingdom to come!

Pray that the Lord's hand will be with us and a great number of people will believe and turn to the Lord.

We, the church in Turkey, have invited the worldwide church to pray for the land and the church of Turkey this day, April 18. We ask you at your church to pray for us, joining the prayers of millions around the globe. April 18 is when back in 2007 three of brothers were murdered brutally for their faith, the first martyrs of the modern Turkish church.

We are praying for you, and asking God to fill you with the knowledge of His will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding and we beg you brothers .

Pray for us! The God of peace be with you all. Amen.

2 Corinthians 1: 11 "You also must help us by prayer, so that many will give thanks on our behalf for the blessing granted us through the prayers of many..

On behalf of the body of Christ in Turkey Alliance of Protestan Churches (Turkey)

These are a few points to help direct your prayers for Turkey. Please feel free to pray for any other points you feel led to pray for.

1- Please pray for the blessing and peace of Turkey in general, as the Lord desires us to bless and be a blessing to all.

"By the blessing of the upright the city is exalted...." Proverbs 11:11

2- Pray the Lord will display His love and mercy to the people of Turkey by pouring out His Holy Spirit upon our land, revealing His glory through healings, signs and wonders.

3- Pray the Lord breaks down the lies and the endless disinformation about Christ, the Bible and Christians that has blinded and hardened hearts in our land. Pray that God redeems the negative memories of history.

"Of course, we are living in the flesh, but we do not fight in a fleshly way. For the weapons of our warfare are not those of the flesh. Instead, they have the power of God to demolish fortresses. We tear down arguments and every proud obstacle that is raised against the knowledge of God, taking every thought captive in order to obey Christ.." 2 Co. 10:3-5

4- Pray that hearts and eyes are opened to see Jesus as the way, the truth and the life.

5- Pray for the Turkish believers who are always on the frontline to walk close to the Lord. Pray for refreshing, emboldening, strengthening, protection and encouragement.

6- Pray for more servant hearted leaders. For good role models. For faithful laborers.

7- Pray for the ongoing unity amongst the churches and for its increase and deepening.

"May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accordance with Christ Jesus that together you may, with one voice, glorify the God and Father of our Lord JesusChrist." Romans 15:5,6

Thank you for your prayers. May the Lord's hand be upon you always.

On behalf of the Body of Christ in Turkey Alliance of Protestant Churches (Turkey)

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Durrington 8 April 2012

Service - Part 5

How are we to respond to this Jesus, His cross and his resurrection?

Dave G Roberts

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1. We have a God who is not immune to suffering

The Christian God - the awesome and Almighty God, who was outside of time and space, entered time and space, to intimately know what suffering and death was, because of the suffering and death endured by Jesus on the Cross. Jesus, the innocent King who suffered and died, is the reason why we who call ourselves Christian, have a hope. Because the God we serve, personally knows suffering and has endured suffering just as we do.

2. We are to reflect this love

As Christians, we are to show a love, which is sacrificial. We all know John 3:16 " For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.", probably off by heart most of! Our active response to that love of God can be found in 1 John 3:16, which states: “This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters.

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