We had a little narrative break when it came to Isaiah Chs 38 and 39
THAT whole thing
We revisit the Assyrians coming in
Here is Hezekiah
Here is Isaiah
This whole kind of RIGMAROLE (For our international brothers and sisters, RIGMAROLE means “a lengthy and complicated procedure” 😁)
Hezekiah hears the word of Sennacherib through the Rabshakeh
Hezekiah presents himself before the Lord and he has a GREAT PRAYER in Isaiah Ch 38
AND NOW…in Isaiah Ch 39...
The Lord has already delivered the People of Israel from Assyria and the Babylonians come for a visit
Hezekiah unwisely shows all the storehouses, armory, and EVERYTHING HE HAS to the envoys from Babylon (Does this sound familiar? Go and read Day 186: Struggles with Self-Interest in the Bible in a Year Study Guide for a refresher 😁)
Isaiah says, “That’s not a good thing”
Remember, we pointed this out in 2 Chronicles and 2 Kings
When Isaiah said this to Hezekiah, that the Babylonians are going to come and take EVERYTHING
Hezekiah, who in is old age is becoming less and less the great man that he WAS
Isaiah 39:8, “Then Hezekiah said to Isaiah, ‘The word of the Lord which you have spoken is good.’ For he thought, ‘There will be peace and security in my days.’”
Basically, Hezekiah didn’t care about the days AFTER HIM
He only had concern for HIS OWN DAYS
In Isaiah Ch 40, we have his declaration of the Word of God and that ushers in the Book of Consolation
Isaiah has 66 Chapters
Chapters 1-39 are the Book of Woe, even though there was SOME consolation in those chapters
Chapters 40-66 is the Book of Consolation
So how does this begin?
Isaiah 40:1, “Comfort, comfort my people, says your God.”
COMFORT is another word for CONSOLATION
If you are familiar with the Season of Advent, leading up to Christmas, you recognize that A LOT of today’s Isaiah Ch 40 is proclaimed during Advent
IT IS REMARKABLE!
It has the TRUTH proclaimed
Isaiah 40:3, “A voice cries: ‘In the wilderness prepare the way of the Lord, make straight in the desert a highway for our God.”
That sound like something St. John the Baptist said!!
YOU ARE COMPLETELY CORRECT!!
St. John the Baptist knew that the Day of the Lord was going to come in Christ Jesus, the Lamb of God Who Takes Away the Sins of the World
St. John the Baptist was PREPARING people for Jesus by telling them to turn away from their sins and crying out in the wilderness to PREPARE THE WAY OF THE LORD!
MAKE STRAIGHT IN THE DESERT A HIGHWAY FOR OUR GOD!
This is ALL ABOUT that GOD WILL COME
GOD WILL BRING HIS JUSTICE
GOD WILL BRING THIS KINGDOM OF PEACE
GOD WILL BRING THIS KINGDOM OF JUSTICE
GOD WILL BRING THIS KINGDOM OF HIS OWN PRESENCE
WHICH IS PHENOMENAL!!
Isaiah 40:11, “He will feed his flock like a shepherd, he will gather the lambs in his arms, he will carry them in his bosom, and gently lead those that are with young.”
THIS IS POWERFUL AND SO GOOD!
There is so much to be said about Isaiah Ch 40 so go back and listen/read it AGAIN!
At the end of Isaiah Ch 40 there is something that is one of Fr. Mike’s FAVORITE Scripture passages
Chariots of Fire is the TRUE story about a man named Eric Liddell who ran the 400 meter race
He ran for Great Britain and he was Scottish
He was a devoted Christian
One of the things that happened was that He was ranked #1 in the 100 meter dash
But the heats for the 100m dash was on a Sunday and he refused to race on a Sunday, the Lord’s Day as a committed Christian
So they moved him to the 400 m dash
Fr. Mike doesn’t want to give the ending away, but he does
HE WINS THE 400 M DASH!
At one point, when he was supposed to be racing in the heats, instead he was preaching in one of the local churches
He quotes Isaiah 40:29, “He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might he increases strength. Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted; but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength, they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.”
Eric Liddell went on to become a missionary in China where he gave his life for the Lord as a MARTYR
We are so GRATEFUL for the example of ALL MARTYRS who got their strength from Lord Jesus
Including CURRENT MODERN DAY MARTYRS
Even MORE people have given their lives for Jesus Christ in the last century than in ALL THE OTHER CENTURIES COMBINED
We also get introduced to the Book of Ezekiel
Ezekiel was a priest and not just a prophet
He was of the Tribe of Levi and the household of Aaron since he was a priest
He was taken into EXILE
There were THREE STAGES of Exile
First stage was in 605 BC...this is when DANIEL went into EXILE into Babylon
Second wave was in 598 BC...this is when EZEKIEL when into EXILE into Babylon
The book begins in his thirtieth year
He’s been exiled and away from the Temple
Being a priest of the Lord God, he would have begun his Temple worship at 30 years old
Instead, he is by this river Chebar in Babylon, the land of the Chaldeans
Here is this man who had so much HOPE
He had so much PROMISE
He was lived under the time of King Josiah, where there was all this REFORM
We had this reinstitution of the PRIESTHOOD
We had this reinstitution of TRUE AND PROPER WORSHIP IN THE TEMPLE
Here is Ezekiel who has prepared for this his whole life
And then the Babylonians come and take the people of Israel into EXILE in 605 BC
Ezekiel and his wife are brought into EXILE in 597 BC
He is among the captive and it is IN THIS PLACE that he sees something REMARKABLE
We have the description of the FOUR FIGURES
Above them, seated on the THRONE, is someone who looks like he is containing FIRE ITSELF
The BIG TAKEAWAY is this…
Ezekiel was brought from Jerusalem, from the Temple, where the PRESENCE OF GOD WAS
Ezekiel was brought to a land that is FOREIGN
Where he is a CAPTIVE
Where he is NOT HOME
Where God DOES NOT ABIDE (although God is everywhere)
What does God reveal to Ezekiel?
God reveals to Ezekiel that He has gone with His People into EXILE
THIS IS SO INCREDIBLE!
THIS IS SO REMARKABLE!
GOD HAS NOT ABANDONED HIS PEOPLE!
This EXILE is because THEY HAVE BEEN UNFAITHFUL
This EXILE is for their REMEDY
This EXILE is for their HEALING
This EXILE is for BRINGING THEIR HEARTS BACK
What is revealed in the beginning of The Book of Ezekiel is that as God’s people are BROUGHT INTO EXILE, God Himself allows Himself to GO INTO EXILE WITH THEM!
If that doesn’t touch your heart….
IT IS INCREDIBLE!!
There are these four living creatures and they have four faces
FACE OF A MAN
FACE OF A LION
FACE OF AN OX
FACE OF AN EAGLE
We will see these kinds of images in other places like Daniel and Revelation
The Church Fathers have ALWAYS interpreted that these faces have an allusion to the GOSPEL WRITERS
Matthew is the FACE OF THE MAN
Mark is the FACE OF THE LION
Luke is the FACE OF THE OX
John is the FACE OF THE EAGLE
John is the EAGLE because His Gospel stars with Jesus’ DIVINITY, a very LOFTY and SOARING description
Luke is the OX because Luke is talking about SACRIFICES and the sacrificial rites, the priestly nature of Jesus Christ’s sacrifice of Himself
Mark is the LION because Mark talks about Jesus being the LION OF JUDAH
Matthew is the MAN because he traces Jesus’ genealogy all the way back to Abraham and begins there with the unfolding of God’s plan in the fullness of time to bring about Jesus, who became MAN and DWELT AMONG US
So we have a long way to go
Ezekiel is one of the longer books of The Bible
NOT AS LONG AS ISAIAH!
We have a long time to spend with the Prophet Ezekiel which is a great thing
In a number of days we will start Jeremiah
We will get these three MAJOR PROPHETS over the next couple of weeks
IT IS SUCH A GIFT TO WALK WITH EACH OTHER AND BE PART OF THIS COMMUNITY!
Fr. Mike is praying for YOU!!
PRAY FOR EACH OTHER
PRAY FOR FR. MIKE