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Sing On

Isaiah 12:4-6
And you will say in that day:
"Give thanks to the Lord,
    call upon his name,
make known his deeds among the peoples,
    proclaim that his name is exalted.

"Sing praises to the Lord, for he has done gloriously;
    let this be made known in all the earth.
Shout and sing for joy, O inhabitant of Zion,
    for great in your midst is the Holy One of Israel."

When Isaiah prophesied these words to a lost and fearful people, God's promises struck like a stone through thin ice, shattering their terrified expectation that nothing could be good ever again.

God called them to be strong and courageous to face the times they endured, and he gave them a reason to be strong and courageous: he is in their midst.

They have two tasks, two divine assignments: to make known God's deeds among the peoples, and to shout and sing for joy in praise of the Lord.

Make known God's deeds among people who don't believe and among those who do:
God made the …
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Well of Salvation

Isaiah 12:1-3
You will say in that day:
"I will give thanks to you, O Lord,
   for though you were angry with me,
your anger turned away,
   that you might comfort me.

"Behold, God is my salvation;
   I will trust, and will not be afraid;
for the Lord God is my strength and my song,
   and he has become my salvation."

With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation.

When there is so much stress, what could make me joyful?
When there is so much fear, who can I put my trust in?
When I am so helpless, who will be strong for me?
When there is so much danger, what will save me?

I would be lost, I would be anxious, except that the Lord is for me.

He has every right to be angry with me, for the ways I've turned away from him and rejected him. But on the day that I need it, he sets his anger aside so he can comfort me.

Wells are filled with water from underground, and when you draw a bucket out, more water comes in. It keeps supplying water for years, dec…

God Above, Bring Me Home

Isaiah 11:12-16
He will raise a signal for the nations
and will assemble the banished of Israel,
and gather the dispersed of Judah
   from the four corners of the earth.

The jealousy of Ephraim shall depart,
   and those who harass Judah shall be cut off;
Ephraim shall not be jealous of Judah,
   and Judah shall not harass Ephraim.

But they shall swoop down on the
   shoulder of the Philistines in the west
and together they shall plunder
   the people of the east.
They shall put out their hand
   against Edom and Moab,
and the Ammonites shall obey them.

And the Lord will utterly destroy
   the tongue of the Sea of Egypt,
and will wave his hand over the Rived
   with his scorching breath,
and strike it into seven channels,
   and he will lead people across in sandals.
And there will be a highway from Assyria
   for the remnant that remains of his people,
as there was for Israel
   when they came up from the land of Egypt.

It seems like everyone is always trying to get home. Do…


In that day the root of Jesse, who shall stand as a signal for the peoples - of him shall the nations inquire, and his resting place shall be glorious.
In that day the Lord will extend his hand yet a second time to recover the remnant that remains of his people, from Assyria, from Egypt, from Pathros, from Cush, from Elam, from Shinar, from Hamath, and from the coastlands of the sea.

Being disbursed is a familiar feeling now. We're been spread out, quarantined, socially distanced, and we can't gather together.

Hundreds of years before Christ, God's people, the Jews were disbursed into the surrounding nations. Some lived in exile in Assyria, some in Egypt, some elsewhere. They were spread out and kept from gathering together.

Since Christ too, God's people are spread out to all the corners of the globe. Our citizenship is in the kingdom of God, but we live in all the countries of the earth.

But God promises that, as he extended his hand to bring…

The Holy Mountain

Isaiah 11:6-9
The wolf shall dwell with the lamb,
and the leopard shall lie down with the young goat,
and the calf and the lion and the fattened calf together;
and a little child shall lead them.

The cow and the bear shall graze;
their young shall lie down together;
and the lion shall eat straw like the ox.

The nursing child shall play over the hole of the cobra,
and the weaned child shall put his hand on the adder's den.

They shall not hurt or destroy in all my holy mountain;
for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord
as the waters cover the sea.

Yesterday we saw how Christ is a faithful and strong judge. Today we see the fruits of his judgment.

God doesn't judge wickedness to make people unhappy. He does it for the same reason that punishments are always supposed to be done: to make a better future and change people for the better.

I don't know what God will do to cobras and adders (and recall how dangerous a snake once was to humanity back in Ede…

A Strong Judge

Isaiah 11:3-5
And his delight shall be in the fear of the Lord.
He shall not judge by what his eyes see,
or decide disputes by what his ears hear,
but with righteousness he shall judge the poor,
and decide with equity for the meek of the earth;
and he shall strike the earth with the rod of his mouth,
and with the breath of his lips he will kill the wicked.
Righteousness shall be the belt of his waist,
and faithfulness the belt of his loins.

I once attended a conference where the speaker put up a slide with a painting of Jesus softly petting a sheep and asked, "Is this what Jesus is like?", before shouting, "No! Jesus is like this!" and going to the next slide filled with pictures movie action heroes and the main character of the Halo video game series.

Jesus is stronger than Satan. That was the speaker's point. Jesus is strong and ready to rumble against sin in your life. He's going to conquer it, beat it, knock it down and throw it out because he…

New Shoot on an Old Stump

Isaiah 11:1-2
There shall come forth a shoot from the stump of Jesse,
and a branch from his roots shall bear fruit.
And the Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him,
the Spirit of wisdom and understanding,
the Spirit of counsel and might,
the Spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord.

I feel like I've always been encouraged to reminisce about the past, even about events that happened long before I was born. History class practically celebrated it, encouraging debates over who was the best president: Lincoln or Washington. Even my heroes on Star Wars lived a long time ago in a galaxy far far away.

Looking to our past heroes isn't something new.

In ancient Judah and Israel, people remembered King David longingly. He was the legendary son of Jesse. He presided over a golden age of military and spiritual victories. Someone might quip to her neighbor, "I wish we had a king like David again."

People knew that he hadn't been perfect - they could see it right there in…