Lessons from Isaiah 53 v 3

3 He was despised and rejected by mankind,
a man of suffering, and familiar with pain.
Like one from whom people hide their faces
he was despised, and we held him in low esteem.

I love the way John Gill puts this:

The Vulgate Latin version renders it, “the last of men”, the most abject and contemptible of mankind; despised, because of the meanness of his birth, and parentage, and education, and of his outward appearance in public life; because of his apostles and audience; because of his doctrines, not agreeably to carnal reason, and his works, some of them being done on the sabbath day, and, as they maliciously suggested, by the help of Satan; and especially because of his ignominious sufferings and death.

It is quite amazing that Jesus, the son of the living God would become know as the most abject and contemptible of mankind. Jesus came to a nation that rejected him, a human race that rejected him and finally His father rejected him. In death, Jesus was hated, and apart from his disciples and followers, many see him as a fake. But we know that He is the risen Lord, full of the power that raised people from the dead. Gill continues:

He was known by his troubles, notorious for them; these were his constant companions, his familiar acquaintance, with whom he was always conversant; his life was one continued series of sorrow, from the cradle to the cross; in his infancy his life was sought for by Herod, and he was obliged to be taken by his parents, and flee into Egypt; he ate his bread in sorrow, and with the sweat of his brow; he met with much sorrow from the hardness and unbelief of men’s hearts, and from the contradiction of sinners against himself, and even much from the frowardness of his own disciples; much from the temptations of Satan, and more from the wrath and justice of God, as the surety of his people; he was exceeding sorrowful in the garden, when his sweat was as it were great drops of blood; and when on the cross, under the hidings of his Father’s face, under a sense of divine displeasure for the sins of his people, and enduring the pains and agonies of a shameful and an accursed death; he was made up of sorrows, and grief was familiar to him.

Then he ends his commentary on this verse as follows:

he was despised, and we esteemed him not;
which is repeated to show the great contempt cast upon him, and the disesteem he was had in by all sorts of persons; professors and profane, high and low, rich poor, rulers and common people, priests, Scribes, and Pharisees; no set or order of men had any value for him; and all this disgrace and dishonour he was to undergo, to repair the loss of honour the Lord sustained by the sin of man, whose surety Christ became.

We do not often see Christ in this way. We usually think of him as the Messiah, triumphant and entering to the cheering crowds, as a master of the universe, blessing food and feeding thousands, turning water into wine and doing a host of miracles. This same Jesus was despised, and continues to be despised. The word says that when we side with Him, we too will be despised by the world. We will endure persecution – there is no avoiding it. Perhaps persecution is a sign that God is with us and in us. For if there is never any persecution in our lives for the sake of Christ, we must be diluting the message of the gospel in our lives. We do not expect to walk in total and constant persecution, but a complete lack of it, should ring some warning bells.

So how persecuted are you?

Lessons from Isaiah 53 v 2

He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him.

I am continuing to look at God’s love and mercy for us, and why we should not blame God for tragedy and sickness in our lives. Jesus is portrayed in this prophecy as coming to the world with no beauty and no majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him. Jesus was the embodiment of the principles that he taught us while on earth. he taught us that we do not walk by sight, but rather by faith. That we need to look at the things which are not seen, rather than the things which we can see.

This idea is a tough one for many Christians. We are naturally conditioned through our western world, and through generations of teaching that we respond to that which we see. One of the things I have been dealing with in the last two days, is the subject of healing. Now this subject is the perfect example of where we have vastly conflicting ideas about whether or not God heals today. I heard Andrew Wommack say that when someone says “I believe God can heal” then that is hope. When you say I know that God will heal, that is faith. Jesus came into the world in a very subdued manner – born in a manger with no pomp and ceremony. Surely for the Son of God no-one would have minded if he had been born in the King’s palace. But God’s way is gentle and unassuming. So Jesus came in a way that did not impress us as people. He was Born as any child would be born and there was nothing special that would have attracted us to him physically. But the star that shone from the east was announcing that this was no ordinary child. Even the stars shone over him.

Jesus told us through his life, that God does not look at the outward – God looks at the heart and the motives. God is not impressed by the things that impress humans. We are told to walk by faith and not by sight. So we need to then act on that. When we know that God wants someone to be healed, then we can pray confidently. We know that Jesus has already healed us by his stripes. So I hear you saying that “not everyone gets healed.” That is true. I believe that healing is a tricky subject. We are subject to the curse of the ground on this earth, and Satan rules this earth. As believers we have in us the power of the living God and we are no longer under the power of Satan. So we are told to resist the devil and he will flee from us. Death and disease is a curse that came upon mankind by sin. So we live in a fallen world which subjects us to death and to other laws (like gravity) which we cannot escape from. Within this world, God wants us to be healthy. We can make oursleves sick by eating badly, behaving badly, by holding grduges, getting angry, through unforgiveness and bitterness and more.

Jesus said that the kingdom of God is near. When Jesus was living on this earth, he healed all who were oppressed by the devil. That was a glimpse of the kingdom of God. The kingdom og God is coming. Jesus told us to pray for the kingdom of God to come (you remember from the Lord’s prayer). When the kingdom of God comes, it restores the order and balance back to God’s original intention.

Some people when they pray for the sick, will pray “if it be your will”. There is no prayer in the Bible which tells us to pray like this. Jesus did not say “if it be thy will” when he was in Gethsemane. Jesus knew the will of the father and he said “nevertheless, thy will be done”. The prayer that says “if it is your will” destroys faith. Because then we are praying without power. God wants us to find out his will (which he reveals by his word) and then to walk in faith and do his will, even if we cannot see the immediate evidence. Sometimes we pray and when the person is not immediately and miraculously healed, we think God never heard us. But we will allow antibiotics to take a weke or two to work, so why does all healing have to be instant.

And yet not everyone is healed. I believe when people are not healed it is because of our lack of faith and because of our lack of closeness to God. Jesus never failed to heal anyone. he healed every time. EVERY TIME. And Jesus said we will do at least what he did, and even greater things. But to do that we have toi wakk with him, closer and closer every day, so that we learn the rythms of his grace.

 

Lessons from Isaiah 53 v 2

2 He grew up before him like a tender shoot,
and like a root out of dry ground.

Jesus is described here as one who grew up as a tender shoot. The word tender indicates a caringness, and a gentleness of spirit. Jesus said on his sermon on the mount “blessed is the poor in spirit”for he shall inherit the earth. Poor in spirit means meek – it means gentle and humble. The sense that Jesus the Messiah was born and grew up as a tender shoot before God indicates He was gentle and tender. This is not what you would expect of  God who is always angry with us, who lays sickness and tragedy on his children for reasons we are not expected to understand. Why would Jesus do that? I tell you why – it is because he would not! The tragedy and sickness and devastation in  people’s lives comes from us living in a fallen world, where we are victims of circumstance. Other people who may be under the control of Satan, may drink too much, get behind the wheel of a car and then drive into us, maiming or killing us.

The rain falls on the just and the unjust alike. It is because when God gave control of the earth to man, it was all set up to work for us – to be a place of blessing. Instead, man fell and God cursed the ground. Evil came into the world via Satan, who was the super slick deceiver – the master musician and seductive creature. The word tells us in the book of James that every good and perfect gift comes from our father in heaven. Sickness and disease is not a good and perfect gift. On the other hand we read that Satan goes around like a roaring lion, seeking those he may devour. We read that Satan comes to kill, steal and destroy. So when you look at those two things side by side, who do you think brings sickness and tragedy? Certainly not God!

So many people say, whilst God does not do these things – he allows them to happen to us, for a reason. When we try to understand what reason a loving father could want to allow one of his children to be injured and become a quadriplegic, then we say it is to teach us a lesson maybe. Or perhaps we use the good old line – His ways are higher than our ways – it is not for us to understand! Well I disagree . God’s ways are higher than our ways – but he is always consistent with hos character, and that is to bring goodness and life.

Here’s my final thought for today. If Jesus allows us to get sick, because it is his will for us to learn something through it, why does he tell us to heal the sick? I mean if God is allowing you by His will (for reasons we can’t understand) to become sick, then if I am to pray that you be healed, like the word tells me to (actually the word says heal the sick, it does not say pray for the sick), then I would be praying against God’s will. So since I never know if the sickness is allowed by God as part of His will or not, it is pointless for me to pray for healing, because how could we pray to God to ask him to change his will?
Makes you think, I hope.

Lessons from Isaiah 53 v 1

1 Who has believed our message
and to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed?

The arm of the Lord speaks of the way that God reaches out and touches people. I have been really looking into and studying the impact and the role God has in tragedy, sickness etc. Let me nail my colours and beliefs to the wall right here:

I strongly believe that God is NOT responsible for any of the tragedy, sickness and bad things that happen to us in our daily lives. God gets blamed for a lot of things, and mostly he gets blamed by Christians. I believe this is totally wrong. Here is the common belief by many people in the church:

  • God controls everything
  • Nothing can happen unless God allows it

Well I believe both of the above statements are totally wrong. God gave control and rule of the world to Adam –

 28 God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.”
29 Then God said, “I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food. 30 And to all the beasts of the earth and all the birds in the sky and all the creatures that move along the ground—everything that has the breath of life in it—I give every green plant for food.” And it was so.

God gave the authority over this earth to Adam (man), and said that man must rule the world. Once God gave the rule of the world to man, he could not take it back, because God does not go back on his word.

Man gave rule of the world to the devil when he disobeyed God and sinned.We see this is so here:

1 John 5:19 We know that we are children of God, and that the whole world is under the control of the evil one.

The bad things that happen are not due to God, but are due to the devil. I will continue with this study over the next week.

Lessons from Genesis 2:15

15 The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it

Before God put man into the garden of Eden, He first prepared everything for man. He made sure there was fruit trees, and every type of tree and plant that was pleasing to man.

9 The Lord God made all kinds of trees grow out of the ground—trees that were pleasing to the eye and good for food.

The trees were not only good to look at but also good for food. God laid it all on for us – there was no need to go and produce food. Food was there in abundance and in variety. And when God had made everything just right, he instructed Adam to then look after the garden and to care for it. God made it so that if Adam worked it and cared for it, the ground would yield everything the man could want.

In the same way God prepares evertyhign that is good for us as people – he is the giver of every good and perfect gift (James 1) – and we have to just take care of what God has given us. We each have been given talents and abilities, and we must look after them and care for them. If you want to know the nature of God, just look at these verses above – God did everything to make life good for us. His intention was for us to have a great life on earth, filled with success and pleasure.

Jesus the Messiah is born

Isaiah prophesied that Jesus would be born in Bethlehem. The first thing we see is that Joseph and Mary travel to Bethlehem at the time of the census. God was seeing the fulfilment of His word. But as always God works through events and people. The reason for traveling to Bethlehem was for the census. So God takes advantage of human decisions and events to interweave his plans for us into our choices.

Matthew 2: 1 After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem2 and asked, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.”

Even as his mother was in labour, the word got out that the Messiah was about to be born. The magi knew it, Herod knew it. All of history pointed to this moment. This was the very moment that heaven and earth intersected. Jesus who was and is God, came and lived on earth as a man among men.This was the game changer. Ever since the fall of Adam, this was the only solution to solve the eternal and ongoing problem of man’s sin, and inability to live according to the law.

Jesus solicited worship before he was even a day old. And worship came from the source of the wisest amongst men.

11 On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh.

The wise men gave gifts and bowed down to Jesus. We should love him and worship him and bring him the gift of our affection and devotion.

Jesus before he was born on earth – Part Three

Matthew 1:18 This is how the birth of Jesus the Messiah came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be pregnant through the Holy Spirit.19 Because Joseph her husband was faithful to the law, and yet did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly. 20 But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit.21 She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.” 22 All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet:23 “The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” (which means “God with us”). 24 When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife.25 But he did not consummate their marriage until she gave birth to a son. And he gave him the name Jesus.

We must remember that Joseph had no way of knowing it was the Holy Spirit who had made Mary pregnant. Mary had received a message from the Lord, via an angel before she fell pregnant with Jesus (see Luke 1:28). So she anticipated the pregnancy. However, how do you explain to your husband to be that you will soon be pregnant with God’s baby? It is not something someone is going to believe. So perhaps she said nothing, or perhaps she told Joseph and he thought she was using this to cover up some other activity. But look at Joseph’s reaction – he was faithful to the law and did not want to publicly disgrace her. Joseph was a religious man – a man of integrity and goodness. He did not understand initially that Mary was expecting a child by the Holy Spirit. How can anyone understand that? It may sound easy when you read it now in  hindsight, but if this was happening to you in real time, you would never believe it!

From the time of his conception, Jesus already caused controversy. Joseph was thinking about divorcing Mary, when the angel appears to him in a dream. The greatest act of human history was busy playing out in the lives of two young Jewish people. A young Mary (some people estimate she was about 14) and a young man Joseph, parents to the Son of God. They were entrusted with the physical upbringing of Jesus, but we have been entrusted with the spiritual force that lives within us by the Holy Spirit. Let us also do what is right in the sight of the Lord.

 

Jesus before he was born on earth – Part Two

Luke 1:26 In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, 27 to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. 28The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.” 29 Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. 30 But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God. 31 You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. 32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, 33 and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.” 34 “How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?” 35 The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God. 36 Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be unable to conceive is in her sixth month. 37 For no word from God will ever fail.” 38 “I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May your word to me be fulfilled.” Then the angel left her.

When the Father was choosing a mother for Mary, he looked for someone who honoured Him. He looked for someone who pleased him. The angel said to Mary, that she was highly favoured of the Lord. Imagine what that must be like – to be highly favoured by God? What an amazing privilege. Mary was troubled by this greeting. She must have been taken aback. Who wouldn’t be when an angel appears and tells you God favours you highly.

The angel tells  Mary that Jesus “will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end”. Jesus was announced as the Messiah. What an amazing thing to happen to anyone – to be told you are going to be mother to the promised Messiah, the Holy one of Israel.

I love the way that Mary response to the bombshell – she basically says “OK, well I am serving the Lord, so if that’s what he wants, it is fine by me”. The lesson here is that no matter how strange the word is that God speaks to us sometimes, we need to be willing and ready to obey. I am your servant Lord, so let the word you have spoken come true. That is basically the way the Lord works. he speaks to us and prompts us by His word. God seldom appears in the form of an angel, but now that we have the Holy Spirit, he helps us hear God through our spirit within. God speaks through His word. If we want to hear from God, we must be reading the Bible. I am finding that 20 to 30 minutes  day is nowhere near enough time to read the Bible. There is so much that is written there, and God speaks so clearly, that I need plenty of time.

Jesus before he was born on earth – Part One

John 1:1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was with God in the beginning. 3 Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. 4 In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. …  14 The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.

The book of John echoes the book of Genesis. It starts with the same words, “in the beginning”. John establishes that before God did anything at the start of creation, he existed. The Word here refers to Jesus Christ. John establishes Jesus as being God and also being with God. if you take this verse together with the verse in Genesis 1:1 then you xan see that God is three parts – father, son and holy spirit. Jesus was with God in the beginning according to verse 2 above. John declares that when God created, it was Jesus who was creating. In fact, John says that Jesus made everything and that without Jesus, nothing would have been made. Jesus had life in him, and as I wrote yesterday, God breathed into man’s nostrils and then man came alive.

John said that “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us” – referring to the borth of Jesus.

Before Jesus was born, his mother Mary became pregnant by the holy spirit.

Matthew 1:18 This is how the birth of Jesus the Messiah came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be pregnant through the Holy Spirit.

Mary was engaged to Joseph, but Jesus was implanted into Mary by the Holy Spirit. This was an answer and fulfilment of the prophecy Isaiah 7:14: “Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel”.

God took great care over us Genesis 2:7

Then the Lord God formed a Man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.

Everything that was created was spoken into being. God spoke and it was so. But when it came to making man, God formed us from the ground. To say He formed us, shows that he crafted us with great care. When you form something, you work at making it just right. It can take a while. Speaking takes a second – but forming takes time. So we see that God took extra care over making man.

Then we see that God breathed into his nostrils. God did not just add breath, or give him breath, but he breathed into him. That is like mouth to mouth resuscitation. It is the act of giving life and breath from one perosn to another. God breathed into mans nostrils. And then he became a living being.

I know God cares for me. Not just because I can see the care he took when he made man at the start, but because of how he has continued to show that he cares about the things I love – my home, my family, my work, my church. God has been kind to me over the years. I have been truly blessed.