Friday, January 14, 2011

An international Sunday school lesson commentary
For Sunday January 16, 2011

(GOD, WHO is our FATHER, knows best)
(Isaiah 48)

In Isaiah 48 verses 1-11, the LORD speaks through HIS prophet Isaiah of a future time when Judah would be held in captivity in Babylon. It is something that would not occur for another 150 years. Yet, the Almighty GOD uses these prophecies to glorify HIMSELF, by telling HIS people ahead of time, just what HE would make happen in the not too distant future, because HE didn’t want HIS work to be accredited to idols. In making these predictions, GOD sought to separate HIMSELF from all of the idol gods that had, and would in the future, successfully penetrate the minds of HIS people.
Here, GOD tells Judah that her blatant hypocritical lifestyle, of wanting to serve, both HE, and their worthless idols, would not change, even after HE turns them over to Nebuchadnezzar to serve a 70-year punishment in captivity in Babylon in the year 586 B.C. GOD knew how stubborn and obstinate the Israelites were, and HE knows how stubborn and obstinate Christians are today. HE knows that our necks are unbending and that our heads are as hard as bronze. We have been rebels since the dawn of creation, and most of us will rebel against GOD all the way to the grave.
However, in verse 9 of this passage GOD says that, for HIS OWN sake, not ours, and for the honor of HIS name, HE will hold back HIS anger and not wipe us out completely. Instead, HE has chosen to refine us through suffering, and also, to rescue us from ourselves. And at that time, we will not be able to give credit for our salvation to anyone or anything, but HIM.
In the ancient times, as well as today, spiritual blindness was, and is, prevalent in the world among all peoples. Most people credit gracious, distinctive acts of GOD in their lives to “luck”, “our own genius”, or, “our own hard work”. We have no sense of GOD’s hand in our lives, and we are not responsive to HIS favor, nor, do we acknowledge the works of HIS hand in the world around us.
Verses 1-11 serve as a contrasting backdrop for the “grace” of GOD that is exhibited in the remainder of this chapter (and particularly in verse 17). We see in verses 12-22 a dramatic shift takes place, as GOD, once again, reassures HIS rebellious people of HIS intent to always be available to redeem us from our iniquities when we repent, no matter how hard we try over and over again, to destroy ourselves.
G.K. Chesterton once wrote, “For whatever is or is not true, this one thing is certain, we are not what we were meant to be”. We are that which was created, and, we are the benefactors of the brilliance and largesse of the CREATOR. Men and women were made by GOD to exercise dominion over the works of HIS hands, here on earth. But instead, we have become creatures who are frustrated by our own self-imposed circumstances, who are defeated by our temptations, and, who are surrounded by our own weaknesses.
And so, it is into this seemingly hopeless situation that GOD sent us HIS only begotten SON, so that whosoever believes in HIM, will not perish, but rather, will have everlasting life. And then, HE makes it possible for us to overcome an otherwise, saddened and doomed state of existence, and at the same time, help us to understand and become what we ought to be.
GOD’s divine moral laws were not given to us by HIM just to frustrate our “natural” human desires, and it is ridiculous for us to think such a thing. GOD set certain divine standards for us, in order to show us, just how far we are from what HE intended for us to be. HE wants to show us that, because we share HIS nature, we can be both good, and happy too. What we can’t be is bad and happy, and that’s something that we have already proven to ourselves long ago. When we let GOD’s word direct us in the way that we should go, we can experience a peace that goes well beyond our own understanding. And, we can experience that peace, not just in the millennial kingdom to come, GOD says (verse 18), that we can experience it right here, and right now, in this day, here on earth.

A Sunday school lesson by,
Larry D. Alexander

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