Isaiah 64-66

Isaiah 64-66…Worship

Today we come to the end of the book of Isaiah. This prophet of the eighth century BC focused first on Judah, highlighting the nation’s failure to trust and obey God. Such evil, Isaiah foresaw, would lead finally to exile for Judah, just as the failure of the northern kingdom led to its exile (Isa. 1–5; 7–39). To solve this problem, there would have to be a cleansing of the people so that they would trust the Lord, as evidenced in Isaiah’s own experience (chap. 6). Isaiah predicted that this cleansing would occur after the exile through the atoning work of the Suffering Servant, the Messiah (40–55).

Yet this cleansing and salvation of the children of Jacob would not benefit them alone. It would have consequences for the whole world, as the nations would be directed via the light of God’s glory reflected in His redeemed people to worship and serve the one true Lord of all (56–65). This would culminate in new heavens and a new earth, a teaching Isaiah reiterates in today’s passage. However, this new world will not be for all human beings without exception, as we read in Isaiah 66:15–16, 24. Some people are not going to enjoy the blessings of a name that remains before the Lord forever—eternal life—but will suffer eternal death. These people are those who “have rebelled against [God] (v. 24), including both ethnic Jews who do not look for God’s grace and Gentile pagans. We see this in verse 17, where “those who sanctify and purify themselves” seems to refer to individuals who rely on their own efforts for salvation and cleansing, not the grace of God. The others who are mentioned in the verse as “eating pig’s flesh and the abomination and mice” are Gentile idolators, as such practices were associated with idolatry.

Ethnic Jews and Gentiles inherit the new heavens and earth—if they do not deny God’s grace or practice idolatry but trust in Yahweh alone for salvation. Isaiah lists the many lands from which the redeemed will come, referring to the far reaches of the known world of his day—Asia Minor (Javan); Spain or the extreme west of the Mediterranean region (Tarshish); Africa (Pul and Lud); the Caucasus area, including modern Russia, Georgia, and Armenia (Tubal)—and to the ends of the earth yet unknown to the prophet—“the coastlands far away” (vv. 18–19). John echoes Isaiah: “a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages” will worship the triune Creator through the Lamb (Rev. 7:9—12).

Joshua 7-9

Joshua 7-9…The sin of Achan, and Joshua renews the covenant.

Achan took some of the spoil of Jericho. In doing so, he clearly showed his love for the world was greater than his love for God. We grow bitter when we worship worldly gain, because it will never satisfy us. As Christians, we should know this because the Bible is clear that we were made to worship God, not idols. However, we are quick to become like the world, especially if we don’t have other believers around us, speaking truth into our lives. Discontent hearts don’t produce fruit, and are evidenced by isolation and bitterness. Sin is deceptive, and idol worship will own you unless you are transparent about your life with other believers in your church. Ever wonder why you don’t produce the kind of spiritual fruit that other Christians do? Maybe worship of the world is keeping you from loving God and others.

Joshua renews the covenant of the Lord with His people. As soon as he got to the mountains of Ebal and Gerizim, without delay, and without caring for the unsettled state of Israel, he confirmed the covenant of the Lord. We also should not wait to covenant with God. We don’t need to clean ourselves up before running to Him. In fact, our recognition that we aren’t OK, is what should drive us to Him. We need Him daily, and must see our utter dependence on Christ. It’s OK to know that you’re not OK, as long as you don’t stay there. This is what Christian maturity looks like.

Leviticus 10-12

Leviticus 10-12…The death of Nadab and Abihu, and outlining things unclean.

Many biblical texts clearly teach that our holy Creator takes His worship very seriously. In these chapters, for example, we read of the occasion in which God struck Nadab and Abihu dead for worshiping Him in a way that was strange (Leviticus 10:1–3). Commentators are not sure about the exact nature of their error, but they do agree that the seriousness of the offense is related to their worshiping God in a manner that He had not commanded. They sought to be innovators in worship, and they paid the price for it. The Lord does have some lines within which we’re to color, especially when we consider 1 Corinthians 11:27–30. Many of the Corinthian Christians were taking part in the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper inappropriately, and some of them died for their unworthy partaking. These passages, and many others, make it clear that it is a very serious matter to worship God according to his command.