International Sunday School Lesson
For Week Ending January 16, 2011
Purpose: To embrace God's faithfulness and offer of reconciliation
Scripture Text: Isaiah 48:14-22 (NRSV)
Isaiah 48:14-22 NRSV
(14)Assemble, all of you, and hear! Who among them has declared these things? The LORD loves him; he shall perform his purpose on Babylon, and his arm shall be against the Chaldeans. (15)I, even I, have spoken and called him, I have brought him, and he will prosper in his way. (16)Draw near to me, hear this! From the beginning I have not spoken in secret, from the time it came to be I have been there. And now the Lord GOD has sent me and his spirit. (17)Thus says the LORD, your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel: I am the LORD your God, who teaches you for your own good, who leads you in the way you should go. (18)O that you had paid attention to my commandments! Then your prosperity would have been like a river, and your success like the waves of the sea ;( 19) your offspring would have been like the sand, and your descendants like its grains; their name would never be cut off or destroyed from before me. (20)Go out from Babylon, flee from Chaldea, declare this with a shout of joy, proclaim it, send it forth to the end of the earth; say, “redeemed his servant Jacob!” (21)They did not thirst when he led them through the deserts; he made water flow for them from the rock; he split open the rock and the water gushed out. (22)“There is no peace,” says the LORD, “for the wicked.”
My Thoughts by Burgess Walter
This week's lesson offers some interesting ideas, and I think it goes beyond, just speaking to those in captivity in Babylon, but speaks to today's world as well. Even the salutation of verse 14, in my view speaks to us today, we are part of the, “all of you.” What other religion or god has given us this truth? God can and does use men that are strangers to Him, but God loves them even though they show no signs of knowing Him. While our text may be referring to Cyrus II the King of Persia that would release the captives to return to Judea and Jerusalem, it is possible that it could also apply to some modern day ruler that God is using or has used to accomplish His will for our world and His people. God has, from the beginning, been trying to become known through His laws and grace as a God of love and compassion, but also a God that expects men to follow those laws, and also have compassion on their fellow man. God's law of love, which is “Love the Lord with all of your heart and do unto others”, has always been a lesson for us to learn. The entire united nation of Israel had failed on all fronts to obey God and to show the love for others that God had commanded.
I find verse 16 very interesting because I think it introduces the Trinity for our Church Age; remember this was written by the prophet Isaiah as dictated by God, 2700 years ago and 700 years before the birth of the Messiah, and 1000 years before the Church even adopts the doctrine of the Trinity. The “Me” reference, seems to point to the pre-incarnate Son of God, there is also referenced the “Lord God” and “His Spirit.” Clearly a reference to all of those entities we include in, our understanding, of the Trinity Doctrine.
I think verse 17 speaks to us as a parent would try to instruct a child, it is for our own good that God tries to teach us, and like a lot of parents God is disappointed when we fail to “pay attention” to His commandments, not that we won't survive, but how good it could have been if we only listened and learned. It goes beyond our own prosperity; it goes to all of those that follow us. Ever wonder how things would have been different for you and your offspring if you had only listened and followed all of the advice you were given by your parents and others. Theologians call this aspect of God, “anthropomorphic” which simply means “possessing human qualities.” Sometimes we lose that picture of God, God the parent, it is the picture of God Jesus used when He called God “Abba Father, (see Mark 14:36) which means “daddy” when translated.
Through 6000 years of recorded history God has remained faithful to His promise, but still we doubt. As long as we doubt God's faithfulness, and ignore His commandments we will remain a restless wicked people.
What can you do to provide assurance, peace, and prosperity to the next generation? Our disobedience hurts God; Do you care?