Chapter-a-Day Isaiah 54

Guilty as charged. Any accuser who takes you to court will be dismissed as a liar. Isaiah 54:17b (MSG)

Wendy and I had a quiet evening last night. As we puttered at mindless tasks we got caught up on a few of our favorite television shows which we had recorded. We watched Saving Grace, a show about a flawed and broken cop who is visited by her "last chance angel," Earl (Warning: this show is for mature audiences only; it reveals Grace's sin in graphic and uncensored manner).

In the episode we watched last night, Grace dreams (is it a dream?) and finds herself in a courtroom. She discovers that she is the one on trial. She is accused by the prosecution of her promiscuous, violent, drunken behavior. Friends and family are called to the stand to testify about their experiences with Grace.

As I watched. I put myself in Grace's shoes. How scary to think of standing in a courtroom with my friends, family and enemies lining up to testify to all the stupid, hurtful, sinful, disobedient things I've done. Believe me, the Accuser has no problem making a strong case against me.

Then I thought of yesterday's chapter and was reminded why Jesus came. That's why Jesus gave himself up to be beaten and bloodied. That's why Jesus died. He paid the penalty for all of my wrong doing. When the Accuser lays out the charges against me (they are many, and I am guilty) the Judge sees that the penalty has already been paid. THAT is "saving grace."

He took on his own shoulders the sin of the many,
   he took up the cause of all the black sheep.

Creative Commons photo courtesy of Flickr and ixquick

Chapter-a-Day Isaiah 53

Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world. Who believes what we've heard and seen? Who would have thought God's saving power would look like this?

The servant grew up before God—a scrawny seedling,
   a scrubby plant in a parched field.
There was nothing attractive about him,
   nothing to cause us to take a second look.
He was looked down on and passed over,
   a man who suffered, who knew pain firsthand.
One look at him and people turned away.
   We looked down on him, thought he was scum.
But the fact is, it was our pains he carried—
   our disfigurements, all the things wrong with us.
We thought he brought it on himself,
   that God was punishing him for his own failures.
But it was our sins that did that to him,
   that ripped and tore and crushed him—our sins!
He took the punishment, and that made us whole.
   Through his bruises we get healed.
We're all like sheep who've wandered off and gotten lost.
   We've all done our own thing, gone our own way.
And God has piled all our sins, everything we've done wrong,
   on him, on him.

He was beaten, he was tortured,
   but he didn't say a word.
Like a lamb taken to be slaughtered
   and like a sheep being sheared,
   he took it all in silence.
Justice miscarried, and he was led off—
   and did anyone really know what was happening?
He died without a thought for his own welfare,
   beaten bloody for the sins of my people.
They buried him with the wicked,
   threw him in a grave with a rich man,
Even though he'd never hurt a soul
   or said one word that wasn't true.

Still, it's what God had in mind all along,
   to crush him with pain.
The plan was that he give himself as an offering for sin
   so that he'd see life come from it—life, life, and more life.
   And God's plan will deeply prosper through him.

Out of that terrible travail of soul,
   he'll see that it's worth it and be glad he did it.
Through what he experienced, my righteous one, my servant,
   will make many "righteous ones,"
   as he himself carries the burden of their sins.
Therefore I'll reward him extravagantly—
   the best of everything, the highest honors—
Because he looked death in the face and didn't flinch,
   because he embraced the company of the lowest.
He took on his own shoulders the sin of the many,
   he took up the cause of all the black sheep.
Isaiah 53

This beautiful, breathtaking prophecy was written by Isaiah some 600 years before Jesus took up our sins on the cross. After reading it this morning, I genuinely felt it would be silly, even wrong, of me to try and add any of my own feeble commentary.

Creative Commons photo courtesy of Flickr and coltrane

Chapter-a-Day Isaiah 52

How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of the messenger bringing good news, Breaking the news that all's well, proclaiming good times, announcing salvation, telling Zion, "Your God reigns!" Isaiah 52:7 (MSG)

Children are sometimes overrun with fear and anxiety. I can remember both of my daughters, as little girls, becoming overwrought with intense feelings of angst. The mental picture of those puffy cheeks and red eyes are indelibly etched in my brain. Tears flowed like rain as they would become almost paralyzed by their feelings. In those moments I would stop what I was doing, wrap my arms around them and comfort them with the affirmation that everything was going to be alright. Daddy was there.

Even as adults we can encounter times of paralyzing anxiety. Like grown up children, we are stymied by intense, negative emotions. 

It is a worthwhile endeavor to encourage others with the news that our Heavenly Father is there. God is in control.

It's okay. Everything is going to be alright. Our God reigns.

Chapter-a-Day Isaiah 51

Critic. "Listen now, you who know right from wrong,
   you who hold my teaching inside you:
Pay no attention to insults, and when mocked
   don't let it get you down."
Isaiah 51:7 (MSG)

Take a stand, and someone will inevitably crawl into position 180 degrees away.
Speak truth, and voices will always whisper in mockery.
Do the right thing, and those who did nothing will mercilessly critique your performance.

Were it not for individuals who persevered on lonesome paths against long odds in the face of tireless opposition, the world would be a much darker place.

Creative Commons photo courtesy of Flickr and doyle saylor