Archive for August 11th, 2017

Isaiah addresses, here, the two major failings of the people of Israel which spoiled and hampered their relationship with God.  Firstly, they adopted the lifestyles and religious attitudes of their neighbouring nations; they repeatedly forgot about their uniqueness and identity as the people of God.  Secondly, they forgot that God had given them a special mission to fulfil.

In v.1-8, Isaiah reminded the Israelites about maintaining justice and obeying God’s laws, in particular his fourth commandment: “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy” (Exodus 20:8). The keeping of the Sabbath was a special sign between God and the Jews, not the Gentiles.  Throughout their history, the Israelites were rebuked for their careless attitude to their Sabbath day (see Ezra, Nehemiah, Haggai and Malachi).  At this time, the Sabbath commemorated the seventh day of the week when God rested after completing his creation.

Post-New Testament times, Sunday became the Lord’s Day, commemorating the resurrection of Jesus. It speaks of God’s grace.  God’s dispensation of grace, in which we stand if we are true believing disciples of Jesus Christ, offers to all, forgiveness, freedom, peace and security. Sadly, in Isaiah’s time, God’s laws were not obeyed; justice was not maintained; the people forgot God’s goodness to them and they returned to their disobedient habits.

Isaiah also speaks specifically to the leaders of Israel (56:9ff). The officials and leaders of the people with responsibility had obviously turned away from God and had followed their own desires, demonstrating no understanding or desire to follow God’s ways.  Instead of fulfilling God’s plans for the Israelites to be an example to other nations, the people had become just like their pagan neighbours.

Disciples need to be disciplined.  We need to maintain the discipline of following Jesus, furthering our understanding and practice of his words and actions in every area of life.  Forgetting about their Sabbath became the downfall of the Israelites.  Do we need to reappraise how we spend Sundays?  Taking the time to worship God once a week enables us to discover and fulfil his purposes for us.  May we not forget and fail in our mission as the Israelites did, but be consistent in our walk and witness for the glory of Jesus.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Father God, thank you for your great grace and for your Holy Spirit who continually helps me to follow you.  Please help me to be a true disciple, and to be ready to speak and act your great love to all those in my family and among my friends who need you in their lives.  In the name of Jesus, I pray, Amen.

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