Today’s Reading: Isa 9:1–10:19, Luke 3:1–38, Job 3:1–16
Today’s Theme: God’s Instruments (Tools)
Today’ theme is all about the instruments or tools God intends us to be in His hands to accomplish His purposes in the earth. The greatest instrument in the hands of God the Father is His own Son, Jesus.
We have a choice, either we are joyful, submissive, humble and obedient instruments like Jesus or we are either of two negative extremes, which would see us walk in pride like the king of Assyria or self loathing like Job.
We should live in a way to sharpen each other as God’s tools and not grow rusty through lack of use.
Jesus, the light in darkness
The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them has light shone. Isaiah 9:2 (ESV)
Matthew was very clear that when Jesus decided to go and live in Capernaum at the start of His ministry He did so in fulfilment of this prophecy, as we read in Matthew 4:13-17.
Jesus is supremely useful. He is not the light standing aloof from the world far up in the clouds needing special mediation, rituals and insight to receive the benefits of His light, no, Jesus is a light IN darkness.
Jesus came into the world and from there shines the light to those who sit in darkness, Jesus brings the light to us.
Jesus is not a useless instrument He is extremely useful in the Father’s hand because He gets down into the dust and darkness of humanity through the incarnation and shines the light of God’s truth and presence.
As Christians we are called to be incarnational missionaries like Jesus in the hand of God to shine the light right in the middle of darkness and death rather than shining upon it from a distance.
Engage with the dark world around you by shining the light of the truth found in the gospel message and life.
Jesus, The God-Man King
For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Isaiah 9:6 (ESV)
This is such a clear prophecy of the coming of the Messiah Jesus the Christ, the Son of the Living God.
Jewish commentators say that this is just a prophecy about king Hezekiah while some commentators claim the amazing titles given to this king are akin to titles given to kings in Egypt. So titles like mighty God just mean a great warrior.
All the attempts to rationalise this are foolish. The text is quite straight to the point and has clear implications for those who reject the doctrine of the incarnation of the son of God.
We must continue to pray for Jewish people who reject this as a prophecy about Jesus and for the unbeliever who also tries to rationalise it away.
It is clear from this verse that the Messiah will be human because he will be born, however His birth will not be normal because He will be born to a virgin which points to the other point, the Messiah King’s origin will be divine.
The divine attributes of Jesus are seen clearly in the four titles given to Him.
(1) As wonderful counsellor Jesus would teach with the sort of wisdom the world had never heard before.
(2) As Mighty God Jesus would remain divine while a man.
(3) Jesus is a father to those who follow Him, taking care of them as a loving king and not like the kings of earth, He is eternal.
(4) Jesus as the prince of peace has brought peace between God and man and will bring ultimate peace in the end.
Jesus, the God-Man, God’s greatest instrument.
Jesus, King, Now and Not Yet
Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end, on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time forth and forevermore. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will do this. Isaiah 9:7 (ESV)
One of the areas that cause frustration for Jewish and secular commentators is that they have not been enlightend by the Holy Spirit and so miss the dual nature of the prophecies about the Messiah. These show that He will come as a suffering servant and then return as an eternal conquering king.
This cannot be a king among other kings in the middle of the historical royal line like Hezekiah. This is a final king, the ultimate king with a kingdom that never ends, this is David’s greatest son, Jesus the Christ.
The promise of God to David known as the Davidic covenant finds it’s fulfilment in Jesus, as do all the covenants, prophecies and scriptures.
We have an understanding of messianic prophecy in the church which is sometimes called the “now and not yet”. For example the kingdom of God has come but not fully realised in the world as yet. In the same regard, Jesus is king right now but will fully realise and consummate his kingship and kingdom when He returns as the king at the 2nd coming.
God actively and passionately brings prophecy to pass.
Jesus, the now and future king, God’s final instrument.
Humble tools in God’s hand
For he says: “By the strength of my hand I have done it, and by my wisdom, for I have understanding; I remove the boundaries of peoples, and plunder their treasures; like a bull I bring down those who sit on thrones. Isaiah 10:13 (ESV)
The proud talk of the Assyrian king is the opposite to the humble and selfless service of king Jesus.
God is sovereign even over war, governments and peoples. God uses us as instruments in His hands so it is foolish for us to walk in pride when we have been effectively used by God.
Pastor Dennis gives a great analogy of the donkey Jesus rode on taking a bow, that would be absurd.
As vessels, tools and instruments in the masters use we must remain humble and keep perspective like King Jesus and not like the king of Assyria.
After God has used us let’s agree with Jesus’ teaching in Luke 17:10 “So you also, when you have done all that you were commanded, say, ‘We are unworthy servants; we have only done what was our duty.’”
The Boasting Axe
Shall the axe boast over him who hews with it, or the saw magnify itself against him who wields it? As if a rod should wield him who lifts it, or as if a staff should lift him who is not wood! Isaiah 10:15 (ESV)
Just drumming our point home that there is no place for pride. We are tools in God’s hand to accomplish His purposes.
Paul makes the point clear in Romans 9:20–23 “But who are you, O man, to answer back to God? Will what is molded say to its molder, “Why have you made me like this?” Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for dishonorable use?…”
Recognise yourself today as an axe, rod and vessel designed to accomplish a task for God’s great purpose and glory, not your own.
Ask the Holy Spirit to help you to be a sharp, accurate, sturdy, trustworthy tool to get the job done.
Stay sharp, show your repentance
Bear fruits in keeping with repentance. And do not begin to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ For I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children for Abraham. Luke 3:8 (ESV)
If we do not show the clear evidence of repentance it at best means we will dull our edge as God’s tools. As we compromise in sin our effectiveness as tools will erode, at worst we will show evidence that we are not God’s children.
John was being used as a powerful instrument in God’s hands and he did not shirk back from speaking the truth.
Repentance is an active thing, effort and deliberate focus is needed. It is not just an act of the heart but of the mind and will too
We cannot rely on our Christian heritage as the people of Israel in John’s day relied on just being Hebrews.
The people ask the question what then shall we do and John gives them some very practical answers. Ask the Holy Spirit today to also give you practical answers, to help you to be an effective tool for God today.
A day of wrath is coming, so pick up your feet and run from it.
Please God, like Jesus
and the Holy Spirit descended on him in bodily form, like a dove; and a voice came from heaven, “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.” Luke 3:22 (ESV)
God declared from heaven that He was well pleased with Jesus. We want God to say the same of us.
As believers we have been baptised by Jesus with God the Holy Spirit. Now we need to use our faith to be effective tools in God’s hands and bring God pleasure (Hebrews 11:6).
Notice the entire trinity is present here so the modalists are wrong. Modalists, like oneness Pentecostals, say there is no trinity and that the one God just takes on different forms. This is opposed to orthodox doctrine and the testimony of the scriptures which reveals that God is one being with three distinct persons, namely Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
God testifies that Jesus is His Son. Like our Old Testament reading said, Jesus is God the God-Man (100% God while 100% Man, known as the hypostatic union).
Why are you here
Or why was I not as a hidden stillborn child, as infants who never see the light? Job 3:16 (ESV)
God has a purpose for your life. You are one of His instruments, He seeks to use you for His purpose to bring glory to His name.
If you are going through depression like Job, then look up to God. He has a purpose for you in the same way a carpenter has a use for a hammer, drill or screwdriver.
Many children die at birth or in the womb and are with God now. You did not die in the womb, if you are reading this today then God allowed you to live, this means He has a purpose for you even in the middle of difficulty and suffering.
Most of the above post is a copy of the original notes from the same date in 2014.
The Gospel Coalition on Luke 3