Old Testament: Isaiah 54:1-57:14
Isaiah 54:1-57:14 Yahweh’s Wife
Chap. 54 Israel is Yahweh’s wife. She will once again be productive. This will happen during the Millennium when Christ reigns for a thousand years (cf. Rev. 20:4). In Romans 8, even all creation will cry out to be renewed and will be during this time (cf. Rom. 8:20-22).
Chap. 55 You have to love a chapter that starts with “Ho!” (v. 1 NASB). This chapter is rich. Don’t buy junk, get the good stuff from God for free (vv. 1-3). Trust Christ today while you can (v. 6).
Verse 8-9 are wonderful reminders that God is a lot more intelligent than we are. Trust Him for your circumstances. Verse 11 is a promise that when we share God’s Word, it will accomplish what God wants.
Chap. 56 Verse 7 was quoted by Jesus when he tossed the moneychangers out of the Temple the second time (Mark 11:17). The outer court was supposed to be a place of prayer for Gentiles but the moneychangers had usurped that space. Verse 2 and 4 both mention the Sabbath. It is important to take a day off every week for rest. Sunday is best for most but pastors need a day off, too. Who says so? My six bypasses say so.
Have you ever heard the phrase, “That dog won’t hunt”? It may come from verse 10 but maybe not. It referred to those who should have been watching out for Israel, the Watchmen, but they weren’t paying any attention. The leaders were using the nation for their own gain and gratification. How different than today! (Sarcasm.)
Chap. 57:1-14 People usually desire the leadership that they have (vv. 1-13), especially in a democracy (my comment). Yahweh even gets a little insulting. In verse 3 He calls them sons of witches, adulterers and prostitutes. They were evil from evil parentage. How unlike the day in which we live. (More sarcasm.)
New Testament: Ephesians 6:1-24
Ephesians 6:1-24 Armor-all
There is an order to the universe. Children are to obey their parents and honor their father and mother as it says in the Ten Commandments. It will prolong a person’s life since most parents try to teach principles that are good for kids (vv. 1-3). Fathers are not supposed to use their strength or authority to irritate their children but they are supposed to raise them to be good Christians (v. 4).
Slaves were to obey their masters as if they were serving the Lord directly. This is not a condonation of slavery. Paul was working with the customs of his day. Further, slavery in that period was different than in antebellum times in our country. In New Testament times even teachers and lawyers could be “slaves.” It was the state of work in that day.
In the Old Testament, a person might enjoy working for his “master” so much he could have an “awl” driven through his ear to indicate ownership and commitment to his master for life (cf. Exod. 21:6 ; Deut. 15:17, it was his way of saying, “take awl of me”). We should be so committed to Christ (vv. 5-8, cf. use of bond-servant, Romans 1:1 for example, and slave in the NASB, and the entire book of Philemon).
Masters should treat their servants properly knowing that some day they will have to give an account to the Lord (v. 9).
The next section of the great passage on spiritual warfare in the New Testament. If you are a believer, did you know you are in the middle of a war in the heavens between God and Satan? You are. All believers need to know how to put on their “armor” as taught in vv. 10-17. Most of the armor pieces are ethical characteristics. Satan tries to ruin our morals. Putting on the armor is similar to putting on the “new self” (cf. Eph. 4:25). We can stand when we stand in Christ’s character.
Paul exhorts all Christians to be strong in the Lord. The way to do that is to don the armor of God. The key word in verses 10-17 is “stand (cf. vv. 11, 13, 14 and the word “resist” in v. 13 has the same root as “stand,” cf. James 4:7; 1 Pet. 5:9). Christ has won the ground already. All we have to do is “stand” and hold it.
We are not fighting humans, we are fighting spirit beings, demons (v. 12). Our weapons are “truth” (v. 14b, cf. 2 Cor. 10:6), “righteousness” (v. 14c), “steadfastness” (v. 15a, cf. original 1973 NIV, “your feet fitted with the gospel of peace as a firm footing”), “faith” (v. 16), “salvation” (v. 17a, past, present, future), and the Word (v. 17b). If we grow in all these characteristics, we will be able to “stand.”
We are to pray at all times and be alert, supplicating for our brothers and sisters (v. 18). Can you believe that Paul had a problem with boldness? We know that sometimes it is hard for us to witness without fear of embarrassment but Paul actually asks for prayer for “boldness” in witnessing (v. 19-20).
I realized recently that there are two better terms for what I do other than pastor or minister. They are both found in this chapter. They are “servant,” (v. “bondservant” NASB and slave both translate doulos) and “ambassador.” In fact, these words are descriptive of all Christians, not just pastors. Paul was an ambassador for Christ and so are you, whether you like it or not. We can be good ambassadors or bad ones if people know we are believers.
Here’s a name that isn’t used very often any more, Tychicus (v. 21). Paul was sending his friend to check in on the Ephesians to see how they were doing and to “comfort” them (v. 22).
Paul ends with his characteristic “peace,” “love” and “grace”(v. 23).