- Read the Bible in 2023 ◊ Week 12: Friday
With garments of glowing colors from Bozrah,
This One who is majestic in His clothing,
Marching in the greatness of His power?
“It is I who speak in righteousness, mighty to save.”
Friday’s Bible reading of Isaiah 62–66, is the last group of chapters in Isaiah. This has been a rapid reading through this wonderful book of prophecy, and I regret that there has not been more time to slowly dwell here. However, I hope that reading through it helps give you an overview of Isaiah and a beginning familiarity with some of the many Messianic prophecies it contains.
Alec Motyer titles Isaiah 55–66, The Book of the Conqueror,1 and writes:
“There is still one great achievement of the Servant’s saving work which has to be put into effect: his taking of the strong as his spoil (53:12), the consummation of his victory over all his foes. This work of conquest will be performed by the anointed Conqueror whom we meet in 59:14–63:6.
“Like the Servant, the coming Conqueror is revealed in four special passages, starting in 59:20 and cluminating in the spine-tingling climax of 63:1–6.”2
Last week we read the first (Isaiah 59:20–21), the second (61:1–3 ), and began the third poem (Isaiah 61:10-62:7) about the Conqueror, the Anointed One.3 Motyer writes,
“The last of the poems of the Anointed One brings together the themes of salvation and vengeance with awesomeness and clarity. This is what Yahweh clothed himself to achieve (59:17); it is what the covenant Agent of 59:20–21 was anointed for (61:1–2). The salvation/righteousness theme dominated the third poem (61:10; 52:1), and now the warrior figure, ‘mighty to save’ (63:1), acting in the ‘year of my redeemed’ (63:4), himself alone exacts Yahweh’s vengeance (63:3–4, 6). Now, at last, the whole work is done. The counterpart of the New Testament is the wrath of the Lamb (Revelation 6:16), and the treading of the winepress of the wrath of God. (Rev. 14:17–20…
“Chapters 65 and 66 can be considered as the ‘tail-piece’ following the final poem of the Anointed Conqueror (63:1–6). In 62:6, the Anointed One appointed intercessors who would keep Jerusalem’s future before the Lord. Isaiah 63:7–64:12 records just such a prayer, and 65:1–66:24 is Yahweh’s response: the promise of the New Jerusalem.”4
When we lived in New Jersey, the women in our church studied Paul’s first letter to the Thessalonians in the New Testament. On the title page of our study notebook, our pastor’s wife put these verses from the last chapter in Isaiah:
“Heaven is My throne, and the earth is the footstool of My feet.
Where then is a house you could build for Me?
And where is a place that I may rest?
For My hand made all these things,
Thus all these things came into being,” declares Yahweh.
“But to this one I will look,
To him who is humble and contrite of spirit, and who trembles at My word.”
The contrast in these verses is vivid. The Lord is a God of might and power, the Ruler and Creator of all things—yet who does He regard and consider?—the one who is humble and contrite of spirit, who trembles at His word. The Hebrew word for spirit in verse 2 is rûah. J. Barton Payne writes that it also “depicts disposition of mind or attitude.”5
Trembling means exactly what you think it would mean, “afraid, trembling.” Andrew Bowling explains:
“Four passages speak of trembling before God’s word or commandment. In Is. 66:2, 5, these are the penitent and faithful; in Ezr (9:4, 10:3) it refers, perhaps as a technical term, to those leaders who perceive God’s word of judgment and support Ezra’s reforms. In all four passages a meaning of “awe” or reverence is indicated.”6
These words in Isaiah have stayed with me, as I consider my thinking and attitude towards the Word of God. I think of them and I remember, this is who I am to be—humble and contrite. This is how I am to regard His Word—with trembling, with awe.
We have in the Bible the very words of God. He has revealed to us His mind and His heart in order to bring us to Him, to know Him and love Him, to understand ourselves and to understand how He wants us to live. What is your attitude to God’s Word? Do you tremble at it? Are you in awe of it? Do you read it and meditate on it, in order to be careful to do it, as God commanded Joshua?
How do we keep His Word before us to do it? How do we have it with us and not forget it when we turn from quiet moments with God reading the Bible and then are plunged into the whirlwind of life?
In addition to reading the Bible and studying it, one way of keeping His Word with you is to hide it in your heart!—through memorizing Scripture. No, it’s not just for kids! My dear friend, Lisa, by her example and encouragement led me back to memorizing the Bible. She has had numerous tragic circumstances in her life, the worst of which was the suicide of her son. Her anger at God was immense. That first Mother’s Day was horrible, but on that day she finally decided she didn’t want to sin against God anymore, and she remembered the words of Psalm 119:11: “Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee.” (KJV) She decided to start memorizing Psalms. She began with Psalm 27 and went on to Psalm 13—and she kept on going, until she has now memorized dozens of psalms. Her beloved psalms have been her comfort and her joy and God has used them to restore her. Do you think she trembles at His Word?
The concentration and time spent thinking over the words in memorization, God can powerfully use to write His Word on your heart and light the fire of His truth into your life. If there are areas in your life that are very difficult or impossible to overcome, spend time alone with God in prayer and in time of Scripture memory going over portions of His Word that directly address those situations, and ask God to powerfully rewrite your heart according to His ways. His Word can erase what seems indelible, and write God’s truth deep into your heart.
That I may not sin against You.
The Legacy Standard Bible translates the word hid in Psalm 119:11, as treasured. The word “means to conceal something for a definite purpose…for protection,” and it “also connotes storing or treasuring things on account of their value.”7
Alec Motyer comments that in Isaiah’s day people didn’t believe what Yahweh was about to do in bringing a New Heaven and New Earth; some 700 years later in his second letter, Peter warned about those who would mock the idea of Christ’s Return; and today even in churches there are those who don’t believe Jesus is coming again. He urges:
“Let us be insistent on recovering, teaching, and rejoicing in the great truth of the Lord’s return…But behind this contrast between those who accept and those who reject biblical eschatology lies a fundamental difference: there are those who ‘tremble’ at the Lord’s Word (vv. 2, 5) and those who do not hear when the Lord speaks (v. 4). To face up this distinction, firmly to choose to live under the authority of the Bible, and to seek to hear, every day, what the Lord our God will say to us (Isa. 50:4) is as central a response to Isaiah’s sixty-six chapters as he would have wished!”8
When Motyer writes of seeking to hear what God will say to us, he does not mean listening for an audible voice or a thought, feeling, or impression to run through our head; he is speaking of going to the Bible and reading it to learn what God says.9 As J. I. Packer succinctly states, “There are no words of God spoken to us at all today except the words of Scripture.”10
When we tremble at God’s Word, we live under the God’s Word. By that I mean we understand that “when Scripture speaks, God speaks,” and we seek to obey God, not argue with Him. Our culture, our opinions, and our experiences do not trump the Bible.
Tremble at His Word. Treasure His Word. The Living God, the Creator of the Universe, will look to all who are humble, contrite, and who tremble at His Word.
Silvesterzug Laterne: Bk muc. (CC BY-SA 4.0).
Open Bible: Aaron Burden aaronburden. 2016-01-25 (Unsplash fgmf2Eyrwm4). (CC0 1.0).
1,2,3,4,8Alec Motyer, Isaiah By The Day: A New Devotional Translation (Christian Focus Publications Ltd, Scotland, U.K.: 2011) 271; 272, 6; 289, 294; 299, 300; 317.
5J. Barton Payne, “2131a רוּחַ (rûah), wind, breath, mind,” vol. II, Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament, R. Laird Harris, Gleason L. Archer, Jr., Bruce K. Waltke, eds. (The Moody Bible Institute, Chicago IL: 1980) 836.
6Andrew Bowling, “735a חָרֵד (ḥārēḏ), afraid, trembling,” vol. I, Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament, R. Laird Harris, Gleason L. Archer, Jr., Bruce K. Waltke, eds. (The Moody Bible Institute, Chicago IL: 1980) 321–322.
7John E. Hartley, “1953 צָפַן (ṣāpan), hide, treasure, store up,” vol. II, Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament, R. Laird Harris, Gleason L. Archer, Jr., Bruce K. Waltke, eds. (The Moody Bible Institute, Chicago IL: 1980) 774.
9The Westminster Confession of Faith states:
“The whole counsel of God concerning all things necessary for His own glory, man’s salvation, faith and life, is either expressly set down in Scripture, or by good and necessary consequence may be deduced from Scripture: unto which nothing at any time is to be added, whether by new revelations of the Spirit or traditions of men, (2 Tim 3:15-17; Gal 1:8-9; 2 Thess 2:2). Nevertheless, we acknowledge the inward illumination of the Spirit of God to be necessary for the saving understanding of such things as are revealed in the Word, (John 6:45; 1 Cor 2:9-12): and that there are some circumstances concerning the worship of God, and government of the Church, common to human actions and societies, which are to be ordered by the light of nature, and Christian prudence, according to the general rules of the Word, which are always to be observed, (1 Cor 11:13-14; 14:26, 40).” Matthew Barrett, God’s Word Alone: The Authority of Scripture (Zondervan, Grand Rapids MI: 2016) 335.
Matthew Barrett, “The Sufficiency of Scripture.”
Kevin DeYoung, “The Sufficiency of Christ and the Sufficiency of Scripture,” October 29, 2013.
10J. I. Packer, “Fundamentalism” and the Word of God (Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co, Grand Rapids MI: 1958) 119.
I’m using Michael Coley’s Bible reading plan (one page PDF to print) to read through the Bible in 2023. Each day my posts are on different books because he divides Bible readings into seven categories, one for each day of the week: Epistles, The Law, History, Psalms, Poetry, Prophecy and Gospels. There’s more information on his plan and other ones at Read the Bible in 2023.
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