Today’s Reading: Isa 1:1–2:5, Luke 1:1–38, Job 1:1–12
Today’s Theme: Rebellion, Repentance and Restoration
Today it’s all about change. We are starting three new books, and it is the first day of the 8th month – new beginnings.
Today’s themes are rebellion, repentance and restoration. We look at the foolishness and danger of rebellion, the required response of repentance in consciously turning from rebellion and the resulting restoration.
The pattern is Rebellion > Repentance > Restoration
Rebellion, biting the hand that feeds you
Hear, O heavens, and give ear, O earth; for the LORD has spoken: “Children have I reared and brought up, but they have rebelled against me. The ox knows its owner, and the donkey its master’s crib, but Israel does not know, my people do not understand.” Isaiah 1:2–3 (ESV)
God addresses Israel as His own child and declares that they have rebelled against Him, their Father. This was true of the nation at the time.
When the Hebrews refer to God as Father, they are pointing to His nurturing and rearing of them, this makes rebellion against their caring Father, even more striking and unnatural.
The reference to the dumb ox and donkey knowing the master that feeds them, puts this all into context. Rebellion is sin’s unnatural response to the one who cares for us.
We need to examine our hearts today, God provides for us so much and it is madness that we turn against Him in rebellion.
James 1:17 reads “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.”
Ask the Lord today, to help your eyes to be open to all that He does and provides for us, so that we will not walk in the madness of rebellion.
If the LORD of hosts had not left us a few survivors, we should have been like Sodom, and become like Gomorrah. Isaiah 1:9 (ESV)
In the midst of rebellion and apostasy, God has always had a people. This was true in Israel. Just being Hebrew did not mean someone was saved. The remnant who do not walk in rebellion, but repent of their shortcomings and wholly follow the Lord, are the ones that are saved.
The remnant are not just better people, they are God’s elect people, set aside for His purposes. If God does not keep a remnant of people in the earth, we would all go the way of Sodom and Gomorra in rebellious sin.
Ephesians 5:8 reminds us “for at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light”.
Thank God that He has made you a part of His remnant in the earth, not just a church goer. However be mindful that you have work to do and need to take responsibility, as we will see later in the chapter.
There is no profit in religiousness
Bring no more vain offerings; incense is an abomination to me. New moon and Sabbath and the calling of convocations— I cannot endure iniquity and solemn assembly. Isaiah 1:13 (ESV)
God was fed up with empty religion and hypocritical prayers.
Some teach that if godly principles are followed, an unsaved man can benefit, but this is not true. It is a type of Karma teaching, found in new age movements like “The Secret”, which talks about the law of attraction.
For example, a wicked, wilfully sinful, unsaved man who pays tithes, should not expect to “be blessed” because he “followed the principle”.
Religion aside from a living relationship with God is of NO profit. God is not obligated by so called spiritual laws. God is a person and must be related to as a person, not a thing or force.
God is relational and created us to enjoy relationship with Him, so religious observance, no matter how strict, is of NO profit, aside from a relationship with God through His Son Jesus.
Religious observance cannot and will not save you. Going to church, reading the bible, praying, fasting, tithing, going on a pilgrimage, keeping feasts and having communion, will not save you or commend you to God.
We must repent of our wickedness and pursue a living relationship with God our Father, then the religious works all find their proper place and context.
Be honest, argue it out
“Come now, let us reason together, says the LORD: though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool. Isaiah 1:18 (ESV)
In the preceding verse, the children of Israel are called upon by God, to actively repent of their sin, to consciously turn from doing evil to doing good.
The call to repentance is the same for us today, God cannot repent for you, only you can repent (turn away) from your sin, so repent.
Here we see God’s appeal to His people, He calls them to come and reason with Him, with the aim that their sins will be covered and they will be restored.
The word ‘reason’ here, has the sense of arguing it out in the original Hebrew. God calls us to be honest with where we are, come before His word openly to argue it out, say what we feel, listen to what God says in His word, listen to the consequences of each position, and make a decision.
We need to come and talk with, relate to and reason with God’s revealed word, to cultivate a good and honest relationship with Him. As a result, we are delivered from sin and its consequences and are restored.
So come, honestly talk to God about it and allow His word to talk back to you.
The ultimate restoration
He shall judge between the nations, and shall decide disputes for many peoples; and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore. Isaiah 2:4 (ESV)
The restoration that comes through repentance finds its ultimate consummation in the restoration of all things, which will happen at the second coming of the Messiah, Jesus.
This is a great prophetic hope that one day, Jesus will judge and rule over all people and war will be no more.
Until all people come and learn of God and submit to His ways, as mentioned in the previous verses, there can be no lasting peace.
We look forward as we walk in repentance daily, to the peace and restoration that will come in the Kingdom of God, under Jesus as the King.
You can be certain
that you may have certainty concerning the things you have been taught. Luke 1:4 (ESV)
God’s word is certain, reliable and trustworthy. We will be reading Luke’s account until the end of the month. It is worth noting that Luke was a skilled historian who was able to compile accounts from eyewitnesses and record them in one coherent story.
Luke was led by the Holy Spirit, to make his account of the events of the life of Jesus and the early church, so we could be sure about what happened and was said, so our faith would be firm.
You can be certain about the biblical record today and can look into its message to find life.
John the restorer
And he will turn many of the children of Israel to the Lord their God, and he will go before him in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, to make ready for the Lord a people prepared.” Luke 1:16–17 (ESV)
John was prophesied about in the old testament (Malachi 3:1), and now Gabriel tells his father that John will lead Israel in repentance to God, resulting in restoration, in preparation for Jesus.
Our call is similar to John’s, we should also call people to repentance, that they would turn to God. We often think of this for the world, but repentance in context, is really for God’s own people. An unsaved man has nothing to turn back to.
We should spur one another on to walk in repentance, to keep realigning ourselves with God.
When we call brothers in the church or a sinner in the world to repentance, it will lead to restoration of the relationship God intends us to have with Him and each other.
Jesus, the Son of God
And the angel answered her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy—the Son of God. Luke 1:35 (ESV)
Meditate on this breathtaking truth today!
This is the cornerstone of our faith, Jesus was incarnated, He came into the world through a chosen virgin from the house of David, named Mary. Jesus is the Son of God.
If we do not believe in the virgin birth, we are not Christians.
It is worth noting that the first imperative of Jesus’ public ministry was ‘repent’.
It is also worth noting Mary’s response. She was humble and submissive to the will of God, so should we be. We do not worship Mary but we do acknowledge that God specially chose her, as a Jewish virgin, to bring the incarnated Messiah, Jesus, the God-Man into the world.
Job, one who repents
There was a man in the land of Uz whose name was Job, and that man was blameless and upright, one who feared God and turned away from evil. Job 1:1 (ESV)
Job was one who turned away from evil and walked in repentance. We should be like him, we should hate sin and turn away from it.
God, Sovereign over the enemy
And the LORD said to Satan, “Behold, all that he has is in your hand. Only against him do not stretch out your hand.” So Satan went out from the presence of the LORD. Job 1:12 (ESV)
We see that God is sovereign even over Satan.
Most of the above post is a copy of the original notes from the same date in 2014.
The Gospel Coalition on Luke 1