Kefa (Peter) ~ the Rock

In my last post, we completed our journey through 140 posts in the series on Yesha’yahu, which we started on January 20, 2019. In this post, we will begin to examine the character and writings of Kefa (Peter).

I have been in prayer for several months of where to go next with this blog. I knew I would like to get back to the Brit Hadashah (New Covenant). You may recall that I did a character study about Eliyahu and Elisha in the last couple of years, and I wanted to do a character study on one of the Emissaries (Apostles).

Why Kefa?

Kefa has always amazed me since I first learned about him. As we will see, he is quite the character. But he influenced me to make a decision that I had been praying on for several years. If you have read my About page, you know I was raised in the Episcopal Church, and through Faith Alive and Cursillo weekends, I came into a saving knowledge of Yeshua on a whole new level. We liked our church family, our priest, and even after we moved to an adjacent city continued to attend. However, our priest was called to a church in Michigan, and we did not care for his replacement. What to do?

Well, during my first Cursillo weekend, I was assigned to sit at the “St. Peter’s” table. Well, I knew that Kefa had authored to short letters, and so during a couple of breaks, I read both. Initially, I thought 1 Kefa was practical, while 2 Kefa, not so much. I was reminded of this experience when I learned that there was a mission church in the city we lived in. Its name was St. Peter’s Episcopal Church. We gave it a try and settled in until the next move. Hunches, no, it’s a God-thing.

So, What Do We Know About Kefa?

 Image courtesy of The Ultimate Bible Character Guide. Click on image to enlarge.

Some years ago, my mother bought us a coffee-table book entitled “The Chosen Twelve Plus One.” [1] It is a beautiful book of Mr. Hollett’s depiction of the original twelve Emissaries and Sha’ul. He photographed thirteen real men who he thought depicted the character traits of the Apostles they represented. This is his Kefa.


Note: the dirty fingernails.

Macartney was a gifted writer and minister in the first half of the 20th century. I would like to share just a few initial quotes from his bio-sketch of Kefa.

“They were all human men whom Jesus called to follow Him, but Peter reveals more of himself than any of the others, and to self, he shows is so remarkably like the self that followers of Jesus today see in themselves that I venture to name Peter the most human of the Apostles.” I am guilty!

“Not only is Peter the speaker and the actor whom we know best, but when he does speak and act, he does so in a manner that is peculiarly self-revelatory … Peter is one of those whole-hearted men who do whatever they do, in good or in evil, with their whole might, leaving no slightest doubt as to the kind of person who is speaking or acting … He was a non-deliberative, warm-hearted, impulsive, quick-acting soul who was mastered by the motive of the moment, whether it was good or bad.”

With this thumbnail sketch, let’s walk through the Gospels and the Book of Acts to form our own opinion of this remarkable Saint.

My plan for this series is to follow Kefa through the Gospels and the Book of Acts to learn more about him as a person and then finish off with a verse-by-verse examination of 1 & 2 Kefa.

Click here for the PDF version.

[1] “The Chosen Twelve Plus One,” illustrated by Harry Hollett with text by Clarence E. Macartney, Multnomah Press, Portland, Oregon © 1980.

Final Judgment and Glory of Adonai ~ Yesha’yahu 66:15-25

In my last post, we continued to examine the last chapter in the prophecy of Yesha’yahu, learning about Rejoice with Yerushalayim in Yesha’yahu 66:7-14. In this post, we conclude our long journey through to the prophecy of Yesha’yahu, learning about Final Judgment and Glory of Adonai in Yesha’yahu 66:15-25.

15 For – look! – Adonai will come in fire, and His chariots will be like the whirlwind, to render His anger furiously, His rebuke with blazing fire.16 For Adonai will judge all humanity with fire and with the sword, and those slain by Adonai will be many. 17 “Those who consecrate and purify themselves in order to enter the gardens, then follow the one who was already there, eating pig meat, reptiles, and mice, will all be destroyed together,” says Adonai.

Eating pig meat, reptiles and mice is another description of foreign rites, probably of Canaanite origin. There is no extrabiblical evidence illuminating this custom. [1] The wicked who receive the punishment described are those who entered illegitimate worship sites. They ate the most unclean food, defiantly rejecting Adonai’s law for Isra’el.

18 “For I [know] their deeds and their thoughts. “[The time] is coming when I will gather together all nations and languages. They will come and see my glory,

Adonai was never interested in Isra’el alone. His promise to Avraham extended to the nations (Genesis 12:3). Yesha’yahu looked forward to the day when the nations would recognize Adonai’s glory. When Yeshua returns to rule the earth, people in the farthest corners of the world will know of His salvation.

19 and I will give them a sign. I will send some of their survivors to the nations of Tarshish, Pul, Lud (these are archers), Tuval, Greece, and more distant coasts, where they have neither heard of my fame nor seen my glory. They will proclaim my glory in these nations;

The survivors, the remnant of Adonai’s people who survive the judgment, will go out to the nations to speak of Adonai’s glory. Among the representative nations named are those at great distance. Tarshish is modern-day Spain; Pul (ancient Put) is equivalent to modern Somaliland (though some think a part of Libya); and, Tuval is an area near the Black Sea. The distant coasts represent all the nations of the world. [2]

20 and they will bring all your kinsmen out of all the nations as an offering to Adonai — on horses, in chariots, in wagons, on mules, on camels — to My holy mountain Yerushalayim,” says Adonai, “just as the people of Isra’el themselves bring their offerings in clean vessels to the house of Adonai.

Again, this describes the great gathering that will take place in the Kingdom Age, resulting in the Jews’ return to Yerushalayim.

21 I will also take cohanim and L’vi’im (Levities) from them,” says Adonai.

Yesha’yahu presented a remarkable picture of the nations producing people set apart for service to the Lord like cohanim and L’vi’im.

22 “For just as the new heavens and the new earth that I am making will continue in my presence,” says Adonai, “so will your descendants and your name continue. 23 “Every month on Rosh-Hodesh and every week on Shabbat, everyone living will come to worship in my presence,” says Adonai.

In this future day, no one will neglect the regular worship of the Adonai. Rosh-Hodesh (the New Moon festival) was a monthly sacred observance. What a great day it will be when the Jews join all people in converging upon Yerushalayim to worship. Sometimes I think we get a little taste of this in times of intense worship and fellowship even now.

24 “As they leave, they will look on the corpses of the people who rebelled against me. For their worm will never die, and their fire will never be quenched, but they will be abhorrent to all humanity.” ~ Yesha’yahu ~ 66:15-24 (CJB)

Sadly, while the Kingdom is celebrating, there will be incredible suffering as those who reject the King will be left to the consequences of their own will.

For those of you who have been on this journey through Yesha’yahu from the beginning, we started on January 20, 2019. This last post is the 140th post in the series. I hope and pray that you have enjoyed this as much as I have enjoyed digging into the Word as proclaimed by Yesha’yahu.

In my next post, we will begin to examine the character and writings of Kefa (Peter).

Click here for the PDF version.

[1] Bible Background Commentary – Old Testament.

[2] HCSB Study Bible.

Rejoice with Yerushalayim ~ Yesha’yahu 66:7-14

In my last post, we learned about The Humble and Contrite Spirit in Yesha’yahu 66:1-6. In this post, we continue to examine the last chapter in the prophecy of Yesha’yahu, learning about Rejoice with Yerushalayim in Yesha’yahu 66:7-14.

7 Before going into labor, she gave birth; before her pains came, she delivered a male child.

The fate of the wicked will not spoil the rejoicing of those who enter Yeshua’s kingdom. Isra’el’s restoration in the Kingdom Age will be accomplished so quickly it will be like a woman delivering her baby before going into labor.

8 Whoever heard of such a thing? Who has ever seen such things? Is a country born in one day? Is a nation brought forth all at once? For as soon as Tziyon went into labor, she brought forth her children.

Tziyon (Yerushalayim) has been described as Isra’el’s mother before. Here the return to Y’hudah after the exile is described as Tziyon giving birth painlessly to many children.

9 “Would I let the baby breakthrough and not be born?” asks Adonai. “Would I, who cause the birth, shut the womb?” asks your God.

In previous passages, God is imagined to be the husband of Tziyon. That idea might also be operative here, but He is pictured as the doctor who delivered Tziyon’s babies. Isra’el’s rebirth is inevitable because God never begins what he doesn’t finish.

10 Rejoice with Yerushalayim! Be glad with her, all you who love her! Rejoice, rejoice with her, all of you who mourned for her; 11 so that you nurse and are satisfied by her comforting breast, drinking deeply and delighting in the overflow of her glory.

Yerushalayim, the mother of the returned exiles, will not only give them birth but will nurse them and give them life.

12 For Adonai says, “I will spread shalom over her like a river, and the wealth of nations like a flooding stream; you will nurse and be carried in her arm and cuddled in her lap.

Yerushalayim will be a place of abundant peace (like a river) and overflowing wealth (like a flood). Adonai, the mother, will care for and play with her children, the returned inhabitants of Yerushalayim.

13 Like someYerushalayim, you will be comforted.”one comforted by his mother, I will comfort you; in 

Likening Himself to a mother, Adonai says, “I’m going to bounce you upon My knee.” He identifies Himself not only as a strong Father but as a tender, nourishing Mother.

14 Your heart will rejoice at the sight; your bodies will flourish like newly sprouted grass. It will be known that the hand of Adonai is with His servants, but with His enemies, His fury. ~ Isaiah 66:7-14 (CJB)

Adonai’s people will flourish, but his enemies will receive His fury.

In my next post, we conclude our study of Yesha’yahu, learning about Final Judgment and Glory of Adonai in Yesha’yahu 66:15-25.

Click here for the PDF version.

The Humble and Contrite Spirit ~ Yesha’yahu 66:1-6

In my last post, we learned about The New Heavens and A New Earth in Yesha’yahu 65:17-25. In this post, we learn about The Humble and Contrite Spirit in Yesha’yahu 66:1-6.

1 “Heaven is My throne,” says Adonai, “and the earth is My footstool. What kind of house could you build for Me? What sort of place could you devise for My rest?

One of the presumptions of the pre-exilic people of Adonai was that the Temple was the place where Adonai lived. This attitude had no justification, especially considering the speech King Solomon gave when he dedicated the Temple (1Kings 8:27). Thus, Adonai began the final prophesy in the book of Yesha’yahu by reminding His people that His presence fills heaven (My throne) and earth (My footstool).

The house spoken of here refers to the Temple. Before the Tribulation, Antichrist will work out a compromise between the Muslims and the Jews, allowing the Temple to be rebuilt on the Temple Mount. This will give him even greater power in the geopolitical, political arena.

2 Didn’t I Myself make all these things? This is how they all came to be,” says Adonai. “The kind of person on whom I look with favor is one with a poor and humble spirit, who trembles at My Word.

Adonai made everything. This means that people should honor and fear Adonai, which will result in humility, submissiveness to Adonai, and total obedience to His commands.

3 Those others might as well kill a person as an ox, as well break a dog’s neck as sacrifice a lamb, as well offer pig’s blood as offer a grain offering, as well bless an idol as burn incense. Just as these have chosen their ways and enjoy their disgusting practices,

The dog was not a sacrificial animal in Isra’el, although it was used in this manner in Hittite Anatolia. Pigs and dogs figured prominently in the rituals of the Hittites in Anatolia in the Late Bronze Age. When confronted with a ritual impurity, the Hittites often slaughtered a pig (usually by cutting it in half). Pigs and dogs were particularly prominent in worship of chthonic deities (those having to do with the netherworld. Some have suggested that the treatment of the pig in this type of ritual may have been one reason why the pig was considered unclean. [1]

Here, the Lord says, “I’m not impressed by your structures or your sacrifices. After all, you can’t offer Me anything I don’t already own. What I want is for you to humble yourselves before Me and be obedient to Me.”

4 so I will enjoy making fools of them, and bring on them the very things they fear. For when I called, no one answered; when I spoke, they did not hear. Instead, they did what was evil in My sight and chose what did not please Me.”

Adonai would choose also; He would choose their punishment.

5 Hear the word of Adonai, you who tremble at His Word: “Your brothers, who hate you and reject you because of My name, have said: ‘Let Adonai be glorified, so we can see your joy.’ But they will be put to shame.” 6 That uproar in the city, that sound from the Temple, is the sound of Adonai repaying His foes what they deserve. ~ Isaiah 66:1-6 (CJB)

Trembling at Adonai’s Word indicates the kind of submission to Adonai that leads to obedience. The brothers (fellow Israelites) mocked the faithful by saying, let Adonai be glorified because they did not think that would happen. Adonai will see that the mockers get what they deserve.

There will come a time when the grace of Adonai will end, and those who reject Him will be confirmed in their choices. With Adonai repaying His foes what they deserve, no one will stand, no one will escape.

In my next post, we continue to examine the last chapter in the prophecy of Yesha’yahu, learning about Rejoice with Yerushalayim in Yesha’yahu 66:7-14.

Click here for the PDF version.

[1] Bible Background Commentary – Old Testament. As I have stated in the past, there is no passage in Scripture that specifically explains why God considered pigs as unclean and therefore not to be eaten.

The New Heavens and A New Earth ~ Yesha’yahu 65:17-25

In my last post, we explored Adonai’s Judgement and Salvation in Yesha’yahu 65:1-16. In this post, we learn about The New Heavens and A New Earth in Yesha’yahu 65:17-25.

17 “For, look! I create New Heavens and a New Earth; past things will not be remembered; they will no more come to mind.

The Hebrew word translated create is bara and means to create from nothing. When we read in Genesis 1:1 that Adonai created the heavens and the earth, the term used is also bara. In other words, Adonai did not use preexisting materials to create the universe. He simply spoke the word, and it became. I must admit that when I first learned the definition of bara, I was stunned. We all know that Adonai gave us the ability to create things. But we don’t have the power to create something out of nothing. We need existing materials to create.

The use of bara here in Yesha’yahu means that Adonai is going to create something entirely new. It won’t be a matter of merely remodeling the earth and the heavens, for, in 2 Kefa, we read that this earth and heavens will be done away with entirely. However, the Day of the Lord will come “like a thief.” On that Day, the heavens will disappear with a roar, the elements will melt and disintegrate, and the earth and everything in it will be burned up. ~ 2 Peter 3:10 (CJB)

18 So be glad and rejoice forever in what I am creating; for look! I am making Yerushalayim a joy, and her people a delight. 19 I will rejoice in Yerushalayim and take joy in My people. The sound of weeping will no longer be heard in it, no longer the sound of crying.

What a message of hope for the people of Yerushalayim today, where there is so much weeping and crying seemingly without a solution or an end. But in the day of the New Heaven and the New Earth, weeping and wailing will be replaced by joy and rejoicing.

20 No more will babies die in infancy; no more will an old man die short of his days – he who dies at a hundred will be thought young, and at less than a hundred thought cursed. 21 They will build houses and live in them; they will plant vineyards and eat their fruit.

The future blessing of Yerushalayim includes long life for its inhabitants. Infant mortality rates will disappear, and older people will survive even longer. If someone dies at age 100, it will be considered tragic because he was just a youth compared to others. A further blessing will come in the form of shelter and agricultural abundance.

As we have seen in earlier posts in the Book of Revelation, some believe that in the Kingdom Age, there will be health, peace, and rightness to such a degree that most people will live through the Millennium. We who are Believers won’t have physical bodies at that time. We’ll be ruling and reigning with Yeshua in the Millennial Kingdom. But we’ll have already been caught up to heaven and will have received our glorified bodies. Therefore, this doesn’t apply to us, but rather to those who come to the Lord during the Tribulation.

22 They will not build, and others live there; they will not plant, and others eat; for the days of My people will be like the days of a tree, and My chosen will themselves enjoy the use of what they make.

Jon Courson’s opines:

“In the kingdom age, the houses and vineyards people build and plant will be for their own blessing. This solves the problem of the corruption of capitalism. Communism and Socialism came to answer the corruption of capitalism—only for man to discover that they were even more corrupt systems. In the Kingdom, however, there will be a perfect blend of capitalism and communism in the best sense of the word.” [1]


23 They will not toil in vain or raise children to be destroyed, for they are the seed blessed by Adonai; and their offspring with them.

In the past, the labor of Adonai’s people had been enjoyed by others as He allowed foreign nations to take them over. Their children had been born to disaster since the enemy would either kill them or deport them. But this will change in Adonai’s New Heaven and New Earth. The blessing of work and childbearing was first troubled at the time of the fall into sin. The language of this verse suggests a reversal of these curses in Genesis 3:16-19.

24 Before they call, I will answer; while they are still speaking, I will hear.

The presence of the Lord will be so real in the Kingdom Age that there will be no need for fasting, praying through, or pleading with Adonaifor before we even call, He’ll answer.

25 The wolf and the lamb will feed together, and the lion eats straw like an ox (but the serpent – its food will be dust). They will not hurt or destroy anywhere on My holy mountain,” says Adonai. ~ Isaiah 65:17-25 (CJB)

In the Kingdom, harmony will replace ferocity, and humility will be the order of the day.

In my next post, we begin to examine the last chapter in the prophecy of Yesha’yahu, learning about The Humble and Contrite Spirit in Yesha’yahu 66:1-6.

Click here for the PDF version.

[1] Jon Courson’s Application Commentary Old Testament Volume 2

Adonai’s Judgement and Salvation ~ Yesha’yahu 65:1-16

In my last post, we concluded the examination of The Lord’s Day of Vengeance ~ Part 2 in Yesha’yahu 64:1-12. In this post, explore Adonai’s Judgement and Salvation in Yesha’yahu 65:1-16.

1 “I made Myself accessible to those who didn’t ask for Me; I let Myself be found by those who didn’t seek Me. I said, ‘Here I am! Here I am!’ to a nation not called by My name.

Sha’ul quotes this verse in Romans 10:20 as a reference to Gentiles. Because the Jews were not interested in Him, Adonai sovereignly reached out to those who were not seeking Him at all. Aren’t you glad He did?

2 I spread out My hands all day long to a rebellious people who live in a way that is not good, who follow their own inclinations;

In the previous and the following verses, Adonai responded to the people’s prayer uttered by Yesha’yahu in Chapter 64. Adonai first described His total openness and accessibility to the people. Even more, He sought them out, though they should be the ones who were seeking Him. Adonai would spread out His hands in welcome to people who had passed by Him.

3 a people who provoke Me to My face all the time, sacrificing in gardens and burning incense on bricks.

Gardens in the ancient Near East were often parks of fruit and shade trees, arboretums serving as outdoor shrines or providing comfortable surroundings for sacred enclosures. Sacred trees played a significant role in the popular religion of the day. Most incense altars were made of limestone. These were standard features in the high places where illegitimate worship took place. [1]

4 They sit among the graves and spend the night in caverns; they eat pig meat, and their pots hold soup made from disgusting things.

Many individuals who practiced necromancy (contacting the spirits of the dead in the ancient Near East spent the night in the graveyards, waiting for communication from the dead. Assyrian wisdom literature calls the pig unholy, unfit for the temple, and an abomination to the gods. The attitude toward the pig in Israel is apparent here in Yesha’yahu, showing close connection to worship of the dead. It is very possible then that sacrificing a pig was synonymous with sacrificing to demons or the dead. [2] As we know from Leviticus 11:7, Adonai had declared that pigs were unclean food and were not to be eaten. Even today in Isra’el, anyone who raises pigs has to keep them on one-foot platforms, so they do not touch the land.

5 They say, ‘Keep your distance, don’t come near me, because I am holier than You.’ These are smoke in My nose, a fire that burns all day!

Ironically, these sinful people claimed to be holy, which Adonai considered extremely irritating.

6 See, it is written before Me; I will not be silent until I repay them; I will repay them to the full, 7 your own crimes and those of your ancestors together,” says Adonai. “They offered incense on the mountains and insulted Me on the hills. First, I will measure out their wages and then repay them in full.”

Adonai accused His people of reproaching Him on the mountains and hills. False worship in such places was condemned in the Tanakh (see Duet. 12:2 as an example).

I will measure out their wages and then repay them in full. Our actions are determined by our thinking. If you want to experience spiritual victory, you need to be kingdom-minded. You need to adopt Adonai’s thinking about the issues of life. As Rabbi Sha’ul writes, we must be “transformed by the renewing of your mind” (Rom 12:2). By tending to the soil of our minds and sowing our thoughts with the Word of Adonai, we will make it possible to bear good fruit in what we say and in what we do.

8 Here is what Adonai says: “As when juice is found in a cluster of grapes, and people say, ‘Don’t destroy it, there is still some good in it,’ so I will do likewise for the sake of My servants, and not destroy them all.

Using the analogy of a bunch of grapes, Adonai announced that He would not destroy the good grapes out of the bunch but would use them to make new wine. The analogy presents the idea that Adonai will preserve a faithful remnant of His people after the judgment. Remember the issue of Avraham questioning the Adonai if He found 5 faithful believers in Sodom? Just as there are good grapes in bad clusters, so there are good people in a nation that wasn’t doing very well at all. Spiritually, Isra’el was rotten. But there were individuals who loved the Adonai. It was because of them that He didn’t destroy the entire cluster.

9 I will bring forth descendants from Ya’akov, heirs of My mountains from Y’hudah; My chosen ones will possess them, and My servants will live there. 10 The Sharon will be a pasture for flocks, the Akhor Valley, a place for cattle to rest, for My people who have sought Me.

Sharon was a coastal plain verging on the Judean hill country in the east and the Mediterranean Sea on the west. The valley was known for its beauty, desolation, and pastureland. It was about thirty-two miles in length and was, on average, eleven miles in width. The Valley of Akhor was probably located on Judah’s northern border and is identified with the modern El Buqe’ah, a small plain in the northern Judean wilderness in the vicinity of Jericho. [3] Even during judgment, though, Adonai promised to spare His righteous remnant, those who were faithful to Him amid the perverse generations.

11 “But as for you who abandon Adonai, who forget my holy mountain, who prepare a table for Gad, a god of luck, and fill bowls of mixed wine for Meni, a god of destiny – 12 I will destine you to the sword, you will all bow down to be slaughtered; because when I called, you did not answer; when I spoke, you did not hear, but did what was evil from My point of view and chose what did not please Me.”

Gad (fortune) and Meni (destiny) are personified as objects of false worship. While Adonai had good things in store for the faithful remnant, those among His people who continued to worship false deities would meet a horrible end.

In the following verses, God continues the distinction between those who followed Him and were His servants and those who rejected Him. The former will enjoy life; the latter will suffer.

13 Therefore this is what Adonai Elohim says: “My servants will eat, while you go hungry; My servants will drink, while you go thirsty. My servants will rejoice, while you will be ashamed. 14 Yes, My servants will sing for joy from their hearts, but you will cry out from the pain in your heart and howl from an anguished spirit. 15 My chosen will use your name as a curse – ‘May Adonai Elohim strike you dead!’ But to His servants, He will give another name.

Those who forsook the Adonai and chased after other gods would be slain, and God’s servants would be called by another name. What would that name be? It was in Antioch that believers were called Christians for the first time (Acts 11:26). It is a name we who know Him should wear with great humility and responsibility. Adonai helps us to live up to it by behaving like Yeshua, by showing the love and grace He showed.

16 Thus someone on earth who blesses himself will bless himself by the God of truth, and someone on earth who swears an oath will swear by the God of truth; for past troubles will be forgotten, hidden from My eyes. ~ Isaiah 65:1-16 (CJB)

Regardless of the hardships, one may face in life by following the Adonai; the result is worth it: for past troubles will be forgotten, hidden from My eyes.

In my next post, we learn about The New Heavens and A New Earth in Yesha’yahu 65:17-25.

Click here for the PDF version.

 

[1] Bible Background Commentary – Old Testament.

[2] Ibid.

[3] Ibid.

The Lord’s Day of Vengeance ~ Part 2 ~ Yesha’yahu 64:1-12

In my last post, we began to learn about The Lord’s Day of Vengeance ~ Part 1 in Yesha’yahu 63:1-19. In this post, we conclude the examination of The Lord’s Day of Vengeance ~ Part 2 in Yesha’yahu 64:1-12. Our passage is a prayer to Adonai for deliverance.

1 We wish You would tear open heaven and come down, so the mountains would shake at Your presence! 2 It would be like fire kindling the brush, and the fire then makes the water boil. Then Your enemies would know Your name; the nations would tremble before You!

Because God’s people were either heading for or in exile when they read the book of Yesha’yahu, they cried out for Him to tear open heaven like a piece of cloth and come down to rescue them. They asked the Lord to act as He had acted before. They wanted mountains to quake at His presence (see 64:1) just as the mountains quaked when He performed His awesome works in the past (see 64:3).

This is one of the keys for God’s people even today. We need to remember how God has come through in our past circumstances so that we can have faith to call on him in our time of need.

3 When You did tremendous things that we were not expecting, we wished that You would come down so that the mountains would shake at your presence! 4 No one has ever heard, no ear perceived, no eye seen, any God but You. You work for him who waits for You.

Adonai was distinct from other gods in the ancient Near East in many ways. Most fundamentally, Adonai was transcendent, meaning that He was not subject to or locked within the material universe. This is in stark contrast to the gods of Mesopotamia, who inhabited the material world. He was an only God, unlike the gods of other nations, who shared in a multiplicity of power. The specific issue in this verse is the willingness of God to act on behalf of His faithful followers. The key here is that which motivates Adonai to action. He does not have to be bribed or coerced into action. The prophet’s request was based on God’s actions in the past.

If you’re living for your job, your bank account, your possessions, or even your family, you’ll miss out on the life God has for you both now and eternally. But if like Yesha’yahu and Sha’ul, you set your heart on heaven, you’ll have abundant life on earth thrown in! If, like Yesha’yahu, we would just say, “Lord, we are looking and waiting for that which You have in store for us in heaven,” you’ll not only end up there, but you’ll enjoy life as well.

5 You favored those who were glad to do justice, those who remembered You in Your ways. When You were angry, we kept sinning; but if we keep Your ancient ways, we will be saved. 6 All of us are like someone unclean, all our righteous deeds like menstrual rags; we wither, all of us, like leaves, and our misdeeds blow us away like the wind. 7 No one calls on Your name or bestirs himself to take hold of You, for You have hidden Your face from us and caused our misdeeds to destroy us.

The people acknowledged the reason for God’s apparent lack of intervention to prevent His land from being destroyed: You were angry; we kept sinning. No amount of worship and prayers for deliverance will help if we continue to live by our agenda and for our own glory. Therefore, the people had to say, All of us are like someone unclean, all our righteous deeds like menstrual rags. As the old saying goes, confession is good for the soul.

8 But now, Adonai, You are our Father; we are the clay, You are our Potter, and we are all the work of Your hands.

Yirmeyahu (Jeremiah) and Sha’ul would both use the analogy of clay to illustrate the sovereignty of God. God is the Master Potter. He can make us whatever He wishes. How can we trust He will do what’s best? By looking at His hands as He shapes us and at His feet as He turns the wheel; for therein we see the scars of the nails that pierced them when He died for us.

9 Do not be so very angry, Adonai! Don’t remember crime forever. Look, please, we are all Your people. 10 Your holy cities have become a desert, Tziyon a desert, Yerushalayim a ruin. 11 Our holy, beautiful house, where our ancestors used to praise You, has been burned to the ground; all we cherished has been ruined. 12 Adonai, after all this, will You still hold back? Will You still stay silent and punish us past endurance? ~ Isaiah 64:2-12 (CJB)

Yesha’yahu foresaw the time when the Babylonians would destroy the city of Yerushalayim and burn the Temple in 586 BCE. Yesha’yahu appealed to God to turn things around and restore the city and its Temple.

God’s people would indeed return to their homeland, but they would find the wall, the city, and, above all, the Temple significantly in need of repair (see the story in Ezra and Nehemiah). God would answer this prayer of His people and provide both the means and the will to rebuild that which was lost. Isn’t that always the way of our God?

In my next post, we continue to explore Adonai’s Judgement and Salvation in Yesha’yahu 65:1-16.

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The Lord’s Day of Vengeance ~ Part 1 ~ Yesha’yahu 63:1-19

In my last post, we examined Tziyon’s Restoration in Yesha’hayu 62:1-12. In this post, we learn about The Lord’s Day of Vengeance in Yesha’yahu 63:1-19.

Before the restoration of the kingdom, as seen in chapters 61 and 62 takes place, there must first come tribulation as seen here in chapter 63.

1 Who is this, coming from Edom, from Botzrah with clothing stained crimson, so magnificently dressed, so stately in his great strength? “It is I, who speak victoriously, I, well able to save.”

The verse opens with a question from the watchman, and God responds. The vengeance God will wreak on His enemies at Yeshua’s second coming is terrifying. Edom serves as an example of what will happen to the nations that reject Yeshua (Botzrah was one of its capital cities). The Edomites were the descendants of Esau, which means the Israelites were their brothers. Nevertheless, the Edomites were exceptionally cruel to the Israelites on their journey from Egypt to the promised land (see Num 20:14-21).

2 Why is your apparel red, your clothes like someone treading a winepress? 3 “I have trodden the winepress alone; from the peoples, not one was with me. So I trod them in my anger, trampled them in my fury; so their lifeblood spurted out on my clothing, and I have stained all my garments;

God responded to the watchman’s second question by describing His work of anger against the foes (identified in v. 6). He described His judgment as trampling the enemy underfoot as a winemaker tramples on grapes. Yeshua comes with glory and brightness, mighty to save. This speaks of His Second Coming. Revelation 19:11-13 describes this event very vividly. As seen there, as well as in the passage before us, blood will be on His garments. The question is, will you allow it to be His that was shed in love for you – or will it be yours as a result of His judgment upon you for your failure to accept the work He did on the Cross to set you free?

4 for the day of vengeance that was in My heart and My year of redemption have come. 5 I looked, but there was no one to help, and I was appalled that no one upheld Me. Therefore, My own arm brought Me salvation, and My own fury upheld Me. 6 In my anger, I trod down the peoples, made them drunk with My fury, then poured out their lifeblood on the earth.”

Finally, the object of God’s warring anger is explicitly identified as the peoples who have failed to trust and obey. The description of the peoples as drunk with God’s wrath invokes the metaphor of the cup of God’s anger.

7 I will recall the grace of Adonai and the praises of Adonai, because of all that Adonai has granted us and His great goodness toward the house of Isra’el, which He bestowed on them in keeping with his mercy, in keeping with the greatness of His grace. 8 For He said, “They are indeed My people, children who are not disloyal.” So, He became their Savior. 9 In all their troubles, He was troubled; then the Angel of His Presence saved them; in His love and pity, He redeemed them. He had lifted them up and carried them throughout the days of old. 10 However, they rebelled, they grieved His Holy Spirit; so, He became their enemy and Himself fought against them.

Yesha’yahu looked to the distant past of Israel’s history and remembered God’s grace and compassion. These verses speak in general terms of God’s praiseworthy acts and Israel’s suffering. The Angel of His Presence saved them, most notably in the Exodus under Moshe. But since that was true, the exiles in Babylon might ask, “Why are we in this mess in Babylon?” Yesha’yahu answers on God’s behalf: they rebelled, they grieved His Holy Spirit. Therefore, God fought against them.

11 But then His people remembered the days of old, the days of Moshe: “Where is He who brought them up from the sea with the shepherds of his flock? Where is He who put His Holy Spirit right there among them,12 who caused His glorious arm to go at Moshe’s right hand? He divided the water ahead of them, to make Himself an eternal name; 13 He led them through the deep like a sure-footed horse through the desert; 14 like cattle going down into a valley the Spirit of Adonai had them rest. This is how you led your people, to make yourself a glorious name.”

Even in this sizeable prophetic picture of judgment, Yesha’yahu remembers the mercies, the goodness, the kindness of God. If you can’t think of anything to be thankful for, be grateful that you’re not destroyed – for that’s what we all deserve.

Yesha’yahu remembers how God had shown mercy to his people in the past when he delivered them from the Egyptians and brought them to the promised land. He put His Holy Spirit right there among them, divided the water, and gave them rest. The faithful ones knew their history. He had done it before; he would do it again.

15 Look down from heaven, and see from Your holy, glorious dwelling. Where are Your zeal and Your mighty deeds, Your inner concern and compassion? Don’t hold back, 16 for You are our Father. Even if Avraham were not to know us, and Isra’el were not to acknowledge us, You, Adonai, are our Father, Our Redeemer of Old is Your name. 17 Adonai, why do You let us wander from Your ways and harden our hearts so that we do not fear You? Return, for the sake of Your servants, the tribes who are Your possession. 18 Your holy people held Your sanctuary such a short time before our adversaries trampled it down. 19 For so long we have been like those You never ruled, like those who were not called by Your name! ~ Isaiah 63:1-19 (CJB)

The people asked for this deliverance even though they had to admit with embarrassment that they were so sinful that their ancestors Avraham and Isra’el (Yaakov, not the nation) would not acknowledge them. That is quite a statement considering what a deceiver Yaakov was until God straightened out his act. God’s people had gotten so bad that they had hardened their hearts, as Pharaoh had hardened his. No matter how many times God urged them through His prophets to repent, they pressed on in their idolatry.

In my next post, we continue to explore The Lord’s Day of Vengeance ~ Part 2 in Yesha’yahu 64.

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Tziyon’s Restoration ~ Yesha’yahu 62:1-12

In my last post, we learned about God’s Announcement of Good News in Yesha’hayu 61:1-11. In this post, we examine Tziyon’s Restoration in Yesha’hayu 62:1-12. In this post, we will see more Hebrew words (with English translations) than we usually do.

The theme of the transformation of God’s people continues in this chapter. Pastor Tony Evans opines that: “This chapter is one of the crown jewels of prophecy in terms of the glorious future awaiting Isra’el when Jesus Christ returns and establishes his kingdom.” [1]

1 For Tziyon’s sake, I will not be silent; for Yerushalayim’s sake, I will not rest until her vindication shines out brightly and her salvation like a blazing torch.

The first-person speaker (I) is either the Yeshua or the prophet Yesha’hayu. He will speak until Yerushalayim’s spiritual transformation is complete. Since the entire prophecy has as yet to be fulfilled entirely, I tend to think it represents Yeshua.

2 The nations will see your vindication and all kings your glory. Then you will be called by a new name which Adonai himself will pronounce. 3 You will be a glorious crown in the hand of Adonai, a royal diadem held by your God. 4 You will no longer be spoken of as ‘Azuvah [Abandoned] or your land be spoken of as ‘Sh’mamah [Desolate]; rather, you will be called Heftzi-Vah [My-Delight-Is-In-Her] and your land Be’ulah [Married]. For Adonai delights in you, and your land will be married – 5 as a young man marries a young woman, your sons will marry you; as a bridegroom rejoices over the bride, your God will rejoice over you.

Names and their meaning often related to a person’s character or reputation. Name changes were not uncommon. For instance, Naomi (“pleasant”) changed her name to Mara (“bitter”) when her fortunes turned bad (Ru 1:20). Isra’el’s new divinely given name indicates a change of condition for the people of God ( see vv. 4,12).

Isra’el’s names are changed from ones that indicated her loneliness (Deserted and Desolate) to those that show the intimate relationship (My Delight is in Her and Married). The metaphor of God married to His people as a husband is to his bride communicates the intimacy and exclusivity of the relationship. As a bride can have only one husband, so Isra’el can have only one God.

6 I have posted watchmen on your walls, Yerushalayim; they will never fall silent, neither by day nor by night. You who call on Adonai, give yourselves no rest; 7 and give Him no rest till He restores Yerushalayim and makes it a praise on earth.

The watchmen on the walls were those who kept an eye out to alert the inhabitants of the city about news or danger. The leaders of God’s people are compared to watchmen whose responsibilities included the encouragement of the people’s relationship with God. Yesha’hayu urged them to keep after God to maintain His efforts at restoring Yerushalayim until it was indeed the city of our God, His holy mountain. ~ Psalm 48:1 (CJB)

8 Adonai has sworn by His right hand and by His mighty arm: “Never again will I give your grain to your enemies as food; nor will strangers drink your wine, for which you worked so hard; 9 but those who harvest the grain will eat it with praises to Adonai; those who gathered the wine will drink it in the courtyards of my sanctuary.”

Attacking armies would steal the crops of people they conquered. God had allowed a succession of foreign powers to invade His people because of their sin (Assyria, Babylon, and Roman, most notably). Still, their plundering will be brought to an end.

10 Go on through, go on through the gates, clear the way for the people! Build up a highway, build it up! Clear away the stones! Raise a banner for the peoples!

A highway is a frequent image in Yesha’hayu for the removal of barriers between God and His people (see 11:16; 19:23; 33:8; 35:8; 40:3; 49:11). Banners in ancient Isra’el were used for marking tribes. They appear to have been used most often in military contexts, either to rally troops together or to identify regiments of troops.

11 Adonai has proclaimed to the end of the earth, “Say to the daughter of Tziyon, ‘Here, your Salvation is coming! Here, His reward is with Him, and His recompense is before Him.'” 12 They will call them The Holy People, The Redeemed of Adonai. You will be called D’rushah [Sought-After], ‘Ir Lo Ne’ezvah [City-No-Longer-Abandoned]. [2] ~ Isaiah 62:1-12 (CJB)

The Lord will answer the prayers of His people, in this case, for Yerushalayim and all of Isra’el to be restored and thrive in the kingdom age. Because this is true, the Lord can make this announcement: Say to the daughter of Tziyon, ‘Here, your Salvation is coming! Here, His reward is with Him, and His recompense is before Him. The new names God gave to his people (vv. 4-5) are not enough. He has a few more: D’rushah [Sought-After], ‘Ir Lo Ne’ezvah [City-No-Longer-Abandoned]. Those are names that guarantee a glorious future.

In my next post, we will explore The Lord’s Day of Vengeance in Yesha’yahu 63.

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[1] Tony Evans Bible Commentary, The: Advancing God’s Kingdom Agenda.

[2] I thought it might be more convenient to provide a modern English translation for the entire verse. They will be called the Holy People, the Redeemed of the LORD, and you will be called Sought After, the City No Longer Deserted. ~ Isaiah 62:12 (NIV)

God’s Announcement of Good News ~ Yesha’hayu 61:1-11

In my last post, we concluded our examination of the Glory of Tziyon ~ Part 2 in Yesha’yahu 60:13-22. In this post, we learn of God’s Announcement of Good News in Yesha’hayu 61:1-11.

1 The Spirit of Adonai Elohim is upon me because Adonai has anointed me to announce good news to the poor. He has sent me to heal the brokenhearted; to proclaim freedom to the captives, to let out into light those bound in the dark; 2 to proclaim the year of the favor of Adonai and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn,

Many of us are probably familiar with the opening verses of Yesha’hayu 61. Let me set the stage by looking at the Gospel of Luke.

16 Now when he went to Natzeret, where he had been brought up, on Shabbat, he went to the synagogue as usual. He stood up to read, 17, and he was given the scroll of the prophet Yesha’yahu. Unrolling the scroll, he found the place where it was written, 18 “The Spirit of Adonai is upon me because he has anointed me to announce Good News to the poor; he has sent me to proclaim freedom for the imprisoned and renewed sight for the blind, to release those who have been crushed, 19 to proclaim a year of the favor of Adonai.” 20 After closing the scroll and returning it to the shammash, he sat down; and the eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fixed on him. 21 He started to speak to them: “Today, as you heard it read, this passage of the Tanakh was fulfilled! ~ Luke 4:16-21 (CJB)

When Yeshua read the appointed passage from Isaiah 61 in the synagogue in Natzeret and proclaimed, Today, as you heard it read, this passage of the Tanakh was fulfilled the people knew He was claiming to be the Messiah. His earthly ministry did fulfill this messianic prophecy – at least part of it. He came to announce Good News, to heal, and to proclaim freedom. He came to proclaim the year of the favor of Adonai. But that’s where Yeshua stopped when he read from Isaiah in Luke. At His first advent, He brought salvation. At His second advent, He will bring proclaim…the day of vengeance of our God. God’s judgment awaits His second coming when He will crush His enemies and restore Isra’el to the ultimate place of glory.

3 yes, provide for those in Tziyon who mourn, giving them garlands instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, a cloak of praise instead of a heavy spirit, so that they will be called oaks of righteousness planted by Adonai, in which he takes pride.

Following the vengeance of the Tribulation, God will comfort. He will give beauty for ashes, the oil of gladness for mourning, the cloak of praise for the heavy spirit. This speaks of the Millennium to be sure, but also of our present situation. You see, a garment is something you can put on and take off. That is the way praise is. You can decide to slip it on or cast it off. It is a decision we make every day. When your spirit gets heavy, start praising and worshiping. Speak praise out loud. Sing songs of praise. Worship the Lord. The cloak of praise or the heavy spirit? It’s our choice.

4 They will rebuild the ancient ruins, restore sites long destroyed; they will renew the ruined cities, destroyed many generations ago.

Recall from my first post in this series (way back when) that Yesha’yahu wrote this prophecy sometime between 745-686 BCE. The Babylonians devastated Yerushalayim and its surrounding towns and villages in 587 BCE. This prophecy looks to the future when the cities will be restored and rebuilt.

5 Strangers will stand and feed your flocks, foreigners plow your land and tend your vines; 6, but you will be called cohanim of Adonai, spoken of as ministers to our God. You will feed on the wealth of nations, and revel in their riches.

Isra’el will go from being despised among the nations to becoming the head of the nations – a rebuilt and glorious land that will be fitting as the place from which the Messiah will rule. As the Gentiles enrich and serve Isra’el, God’s people will finally be what they were always meant to be – a nation in which all of the people will be called cohanim of Adonai, ministering His grace to all the world. Therefore, they are spoken of as ministers to our God.

In the Millennium, when Yeshua comes back, the Jews again will be ministers of God. God is not through with Isra’el. The prophecies of the Bible will not make sense to you unless you see clearly that the Lord still has a beautiful work to do with her. In Romans 9-11, we see God’s plan and heart for His people, the nation of Isra’el.

7 Because of your shame, which was doubled, and because they cried, “They deserve disgrace,” therefore, in their land, what they own will be doubled, and joy forever will be theirs. 8 “For I, Adonai, love justice; I hate robbery for burnt offerings. So, I will be faithful to reward them and make an eternal covenant with them.”

In other words, the Jews would experience twice as much joy and blessing upon returning to their land as the confusion and shame they felt when they left it as they were carried into captivity.

9 Their descendants will be known among the nations, their offspring among the peoples; all who see them will acknowledge that they are the seed Adonai has blessed.

In the Avrahamic covenant, God promised that Avraham‘s descendants would enjoy a great blessing, which pointed to happiness and prosperity. As Believers, we live under the new covenant. Still, one-day, Isra’el will also rule when Yeshua comes to rule on the throne of David in His millennial kingdom, and Isra’el receives Him as their Messiah. In that day, all people will acknowledge that they are the seed Adonai has blessed.

10 I am so joyful in Adonai! My soul rejoices in my God, for he has clothed me in salvation, dressed me with a robe of triumph, like a bridegroom wearing a festive turban, like a bride adorned with her jewels. 11 For just as the earth brings forth its plants or a garden makes its plants spring up, so Adonai, God, will cause victory and glory to spring up before all nations. ~ Isaiah 61:1-11 (CJB)

This is the song of the ransomed and redeemed. The Jews sang it upon their return from Bavel. It is sung by Believers, covered with the robe of Yeshua’s righteousness. And it will be sung in the kingdom age -all to the glory of God.

Yesha’yahu used the theme of clothing to describe his take on God’s salvation and righteousness. These were not just any clothes but the clothes of a bride. This image implies the metaphor of God as the husband of His people.

In my next post, we will explore Tziyon’s Restoration in Yesha’yahu 62.

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