Isaiah: An Oracle of Judgment.

“The oracle concerning Babylon which Isaiah the son of Amoz saw” (Isaiah 13:1)

The Old Testament prophet, much like today’s New Testament pastor, was to be a herald of God’s truth. The prophet was never at liberty to minimize God’s blessings of judgments. He was to announce, in the God sourced and directed oracle, what it was that the LORD wanted the people to know. Whether they be sinners or saints, God has always chosen to reveal Himself and His will to people.

Such is the case with Isaiah 13. It is an oracle or a pronouncement. It concerns the ancient Kingdom of Babylon. The title Babylon not only refers to the ancient city but also the E. Mediterranean Empire, which was located in present day Iraq. It is an oracle concerning Babylon which the Prophet Isaiah received information about from God. The chapter is filled with imagery and apocryphal language.

Dr. R. C. Sproul comments that, “Isaiah 13 uses astronomical imagery (v. 10) to predict Babylon’s fall to the Medes (v. 17), who were later conquered by the Persians. These were no small events, it was a crisis of great proportions when one empire fell to another in the ancient world. One’s whole way of life might change: a new religion might be imposed on the conquered nation; the tax system would be different; no one knew how the new empire would treat its new citizens. The changing of empires was epoch-making; consequently, it might feel as if the very universe itself was out of whack at such times, and the people living in these circumstances used vivid images, like those in Isaiah, to convey this reality”. 

The Old Testament clearly presents the startling revelation that God chose to use the pagan nation of Babylon to bring judgment upon the southern kingdom of Judah in the 7th century B.C. (2 Chronicles 36; Habakkuk 1-3; Daniel 1). However, Isaiah 13 also reveals that as God chose Babylon to punish Judah for its sin, He would also use the Medes and the Persians to punish Babylon for their own sin (Isaiah 45:1-2l; Daniel 5).

The LORD’s judgment upon Babylon was not only prophesied by Isaiah, but also by the Prophets Jeremiah (50-51) and Habakkuk (2:6-17). However, the fulfillment of this prophecy in history foreshadows a greater fulfillment yet future when God will conquer the final pagan nation known as Babylon (Revelation 18) by the personal invasion by the Messiah, Jesus Christ.

Dr. Don Carson writes, “The Medes (Isaiah 13:17), as the major partner in Cyrus’s Medo-Persian kingdom, were destined to conquer Babylon under Cyrus in 539 bc. Their military prowess (17–18), which overthrew the Babylonian Empire, was not needed against the city itself, taken without a struggle. This was, however the beginning of the end for Babylon. Vs 19–22 telescope a decline which became irreversible when Seleucus Nicator abandoned the city in the late fourth century bc to build his new capital Seleucia, 40 miles (64 km) away. Even so, its desertion was not total until the second century ad. The creatures of vs 21–22 (cf. 14:23; 34:11–15; but 35:7) are not all identifiable, but are evidently sinister and ceremonially unclean. Hence, ‘satyrs’ (a kind of demon; cf. Lv. 17:7) is a more likely translation in v 21 than wild goats, since goats were ritually clean. The contrast between the jewel of kingdoms (19) and this ‘haunt for every evil spirit, … every unclean and detestable bird’ (Rev. 18:2) reappears in the final overthrow of the ungodly world in Rev. 18, pictured as Babylon—the world whose glory Satan offered to Jesus in Mt. 4:8–9.”

Isaiah 13 is a terrifying chapter depicting the inevitable judgment upon sin by the one, true holy God of the universe. Even more terrifying is that what occurred in a local region in history, prefigures a future judgment which will be worldwide. Take time today to praise the LORD for saving your soul from His judgment. Pray that He will use you today to share the glorious truth of the Gospel to those who are in need of His mercy and grace.

Soli deo Gloria!

 

The Belgic Confession: LORD’S DAY 28, 2020.

On each Lord’s Day this year, we will reproduce devotional articles taken from The Belgic Confession. The Belgic Confession, written in 1561, owes its origin to the need for a clear and comprehensive statement of Reformed Theology during the time of the Spanish inquisition in the Lowlands. Guido de Brès, its primary author, was pleading for understanding and toleration from King Philip II of Spain who was determined to root out all Protestant factions in his jurisdiction. Hence, this confession takes pains to point out the continuity of Reformed Theology with that of the ancient Christian creeds.

The oldest of the doctrinal standards of the Christian Reformed Church and the Reformed Church in America is the Confession of Faith, popularly known as the Belgic Confession, following the seventeenth-century Latin designation “Confessio Belgica.” “Belgica” referred to the whole of the Netherlands, both north and south, which today is divided into the Netherlands and Belgium. The confession’s chief author was Guido de Brès, a preacher of the Reformed churches of the Netherlands, who died a martyr to the faith in the year 1567.

During the sixteenth century the churches in this country were exposed to terrible persecution by the Roman Catholic government. To protest against this cruel oppression, and to prove to the persecutors that the adherents of the Reformed faith were not rebels, as was laid to their charge, but law-abiding citizens who professed the true Christian doctrine according to the Holy Scriptures, de Brès prepared this confession in the year 1561. In the following year a copy was sent to King Philip II, together with an address in which the petitioners declared that they were ready to obey the government in all lawful things, but that they would “offer their backs to stripes, their tongues to knives, their mouths to gags, and their whole bodies to the fire,” rather than deny the truth expressed in this confession.

Along with The Heidelberg Catechism and the Canons of Dort, The Belgic Confession comprise what is collectively referred to as the Thee Forms of Unity. Article #34 of the Belgic Confession is as follows.

Article #34: The Sacrament of Baptism.

We believe and confess that Jesus Christ, in whom the law is fulfilled, has by his shed blood put an end to every other shedding of blood, which anyone might do or wish to do in order to atone or satisfy for sins.

Having abolished circumcision, which was done with blood, Christ established in its place the sacrament of baptism. By it we are received into God’s church and set apart from all other people and alien religions, that we may wholly belong to him whose mark and sign we bear.

Baptism also witnesses to us that God, being our gracious Father, will be our God forever. Therefore Christ has commanded that all those who belong to him be baptized with pure water “in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.”77 In this way God signifies to us that just as water washes away the dirt of the body when it is poured on us and also is seen on the bodies of those who are baptized when it is sprinkled on them, so too the blood of Christ does the same thing internally, in the soul, by the Holy Spirit.

It washes and cleanses it from its sins and transforms us from being the children of wrath into the children of God. This does not happen by the physical water
but by the sprinkling of the precious blood of the Son of God, who is our Red Sea,
through which we must pass to escape the tyranny of Pharaoh, who is the devil, and to enter the spiritual land of Canaan.

So ministers, as far as their work is concerned, give us the sacrament and what is visible, but our Lord gives what the sacrament signifies—namely the invisible gifts and graces; washing, purifying, and cleansing our souls of all filth and unrighteousness; renewing our hearts and filling them with all comfort; giving us true assurance of his fatherly goodness; clothing us with the “new self” and stripping off the “old self with its practices.”78

For this reason we believe that anyone who aspires to reach eternal life ought to be baptized only once without ever repeating it—for we cannot be born twice. Yet this baptism is profitable not only when the water is on us and when we receive it
but throughout our entire lives. For that reason we reject the error of the Anabaptists who are not content with a single baptism once received and also condemn the baptism of the children of believers.

We believe our children ought to be baptized and sealed with the sign of the covenant, as little children were circumcised in Israel on the basis of the same promises made to our children. And truly, Christ has shed his blood no less
for washing the little children of believers than he did for adults. Therefore they ought to receive the sign and sacrament of what Christ has done for them, just as the Lord commanded in the law that by offering a lamb for them
the sacrament of the suffering and death of Christ would be granted them shortly after their birth. This was the sacrament of Jesus Christ.

Furthermore, baptism does for our children what circumcision did for the Jewish people. That is why Paul calls baptism the “circumcision of Christ.”79

77Matt. 28:19
78Col. 3:9-10
79Col. 2:11

 

Soli deo Gloria!

 

Isaiah: The LORD is My Strength and My Song.

“You will say in that day: “I will give thanks to you, O Lord, for though you were angry with me, your anger turned away, that you might comfort me. “Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust and will not be afraid; for the Lord God is my strength and my song, and he has become my salvation.” With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation. And you will say in that day: “Give thanks to the Lord, call upon his name, make known his deeds among the peoples, proclaim that his name is exalted. “Sing praises to the Lord, for he has done gloriously; let this be made known in all the earth. Shout, and sing for joy, O inhabitant of Zion, for great in your midst is the Holy One of Israel.” (Isaiah 12:1-6)

Isaiah 12:1-6 is another song by the prophet. I’m coming to the realization that Isaiah was a prolific songwriter and musician along with being a great prophet.

In actuality, Isaiah 12 contains two songs of praise (vs. 1-3 and vs. 4-6). Both songs are earthly counterparts to the heavenly doxologies found in Revelation 4, 5 and 19:6-8. Vs. 1-3 contain indicatives or realities concerning our covenant relationship with God. Vs. 4-6 contain imperatives or our responsibilities of praising and giving thanks to God.

The song in Isaiah 12:1-3 begins in vs. 1 with a profession of praise because God has withdrawn His anger away from His people. This is ultimately because of the substitutionary atonement of Jesus Christ who bore the wrath of God on behalf of sinners while on the cross (Romans 3:21-26; 2 Corinthians 5:31; I John 2:1-2; 4:7-11). This is applied to the sinner’s behalf by grace alone, through faith alone, and in the person and work of Jesus Christ alone. Otherwise, God’s anger remains.

Isaiah 12:2 says that not only does God provide salvation from the penalty, power and eventual presence of sin, but He is personally our salvation. He is the LORD God: Yahweh Elohim. This double name emphasizes His covenant keeping faithfulness. It is because God is trustworthy, dependable and worthy of our worship that each believer in Christ can continually trust in, depend upon, commit to and worship this one, true, covenant keeping God.

Isaiah 12:3 draws upon a familiar image of salvation: water from the well. Isaiah’s readers would have understood the importance of wells filled with life sustaining water. They could also recall how God provided water for their ancestors in the Wilderness (Exodus 17:1-7). This image is properly applied to the satisfaction of an individual’s spiritual thirst of soul. This could very well be the passage Jesus was thinking of when He spoke to the Samaritan woman at the well in John 4.

Isaiah 12:4 emphasizes the importance of giving thanks. In fact, God commands the giving of thanks by each believer. Additionally, the believer is to call or proclaim the name of the LORD among the people so that He will be exalted.

Isaiah 12:5 stresses the importance of singing praises to the LORD and making known all which He has done. Concerning the command to sing to, and about, the LORD, hymn writer Keith Getty explains that. “We do not sing because we have to. We sing because we love to.”

Isaiah 12:6 places great importance regarding the command of making a loud noise and singing with great joy or a loud and ringing cry about our LORD. This is because God is great. He is the Holy One of Israel. Believers are to sing with loud voices about the greatness of God.

Let me encourage you to memorize Isaiah 12, or at least to meditate upon it daily. May this chapter resound within your being about the importance of filling your mind, emotions and will with the thoughts of God and expressing these thoughts by singing praises to Him and about Him.

Soli deo Gloria!

 

 

 

 

 

Isaiah: The Near and the Far.

10 In that day the root of Jesse, who shall stand as a signal for the peoples—of him shall the nations inquire, and his resting place shall be glorious. 11 In that day the Lord will extend his hand yet a second time to recover the remnant that remains of his people, from Assyria, from Egypt, from Pathros, from Cush, from Elam, from Shinar, from Hamath, and from the coastlands of the sea” (Isaiah 11:10-11).

Within biblical prophecy, there is a concept known as near fulfillment and ultimate fulfillment. This concept refers to events which not only are initially fulfilled in the past, but which also have a greater fulfillment in the prophetic future. Such is the case with Isaiah 11:10-16.

The near fulfillment of which the Prophet Isaiah speaks is in two stages. First, the prophet refers to Judah’s return to the Promised Land following its exodus from their 490 year Egyptian captivity (Exodus 14:26-29). Second, he refers to Judah’s return of Jerusalem after its 70 year captivity to the Babylonians (2 Chronicles 36:1-21; Isaiah 11:12-16). The ultimate fulfillment will be when the LORD gathers true Israel from its worldwide dispersion (Isaiah 51:1-11) during the Millennial Kingdom (Revelation 20:1-6).

Dr. Walvoord explains that, “Israel will have a special place in the kingdom because of the Abrahamic Covenant (Gen. 15:18–21; 17:7–8; 22:17–18), the Davidic Covenant (2 Sam. 7:16), and the New Covenant (Jer. 31:33–34). But people in other nations will also benefit from the kingdom. The Messiah, the Root of Jesse (cf. “stump of Jesse,” Isa. 11:1), will be a means of rallying for the nations (cf. v. 12; Zech. 14:9, 16). Jesus Himself made the same point that many people from outside Israel will have a part in God’s kingdom (Luke 13:29). God had promised Abraham that through his line all peoples on the earth would be blessed (Gen. 12:3).”

 The LORD not only controls the events in the past, but also events which are occurring in the present as well as in the future. The LORD is sovereign over all things, including the destiny of His people. Take comfort today in knowing that everything is in the LORD’s hands. This includes not only the near, but also the far.

Soli deo Gloria!

 

 

Isaiah: The Messiah’s Millennial Reign.

The wolf shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the young goat, and the calf and the lion and the fattened calf together; and a little child shall lead them. The cow and the bear shall graze; their young shall lie down together; and the lion shall eat straw like the ox. The nursing child shall play over the hole of the cobra, and the weaned child shall put his hand on the adder’s den. They shall not hurt or destroy in all my holy mountain; for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea.” (Isaiah 11:6-9)

When Jesus Christ rules and reign on earth during the Millennium, all enmity among men, among animals, ravenous or otherwise, including the enmity between animals and humans will cease. This is why Jesus Christ is the Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6).

The Millennium is a Biblical term (taken from the Latin word meaning “a thousand”) referring to the thousand- year reign of Christ. The primary biblical context for the doctrine of the millennium is found in Revelation 20:1–6 (where the Greek word for thousand is used five times). The idea of a thousand-year reign may also be supported by passages such as Acts 3:19–21 and 1 Corinthians 15:23–26, which speak of a future restoration and reign of Christ.

Isaiah specifically describes the Lord’s reign on earth as a time in which the wolf will dwell with the lamb, the leopard will lie down with the young goat, and the lion will be with the calf. Wild animals will dwell with domesticated animals. All will do so in perfect harmony and tranquility. The reason for this peace and harmony is because God will lift the curse He placed upon the earth following Adam’s sin (Genesis 3:1-19).

Isaiah continued by saying that a little child shall lead them, referring to the previously mentioned animals. A small and seemingly insignificant adolescent will, in contrast, guide these powerful beasts.

The prophet continues by further describing the character of the Millennium as follows: “The cow and the bear shall graze; their young shall lie down together; and the lion shall eat straw like the ox. The nursing child shall play over the hole of the cobra, and the weaned child shall put his hand on the adder’s den” (Isaiah 11:7-8).

Dr. John Walvoord explains that, “Many Bible students interpret these verses nonliterally, because they suppose such changes in the animal world are not possible. However, because the Messiah is “God [is] with us” (7:14) and He will be dwelling with His people, it need not be difficult to envision these changes in nature. Though the curse of sin will be removed to some extent it will not be totally removed until the end of the millennial kingdom when finally death will be abolished (Rev. 20:14).”

Why does this harmony in creation occur? It is because “They shall not hurt or destroy in all my holy mountain; for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea” (Isaiah 11:9). At the beginning of the Millennium, everyone will know the Lord when He fulfills the New Covenant.

Dr. Walvoord further explains that, “The reason such tranquility is possible is that all the earth will be full of the knowledge of the Lord (Isa. 11:9; cf. Jer. 31:34; Hab. 2:14). This means more than people knowing intellectually about the Lord. The idea is that people everywhere will live according to God’s principles and Word. Animals will be affected, as well. This will occur in the Millennium when the Messiah will be reigning (Isa. 9:6–7), Jerusalem will have prominence in the world (2:2), and Judah and Israel will be regathered to the land in belief and will be living according to the New Covenant. The Millennium can hardly be in existence now since these factors do not characterize the present age.”

Dr. Walvoord concludes by saying, “Israel will have a special place in the kingdom because of the Abrahamic Covenant (Gen. 15:18–21; 17:7–8; 22:17–18), the Davidic Covenant (2 Sam. 7:16), and the New Covenant (Jer. 31:33–34). But people in other nations will also benefit from the kingdom. The Messiah, the Root of Jesse (cf. “stump of Jesse,” Isa. 11:1), will be a means of rallying for the nations (cf. v. 12; Zech. 14:9, 16). Jesus Himself made the same point that many people from outside Israel will have a part in God’s kingdom (Luke 13:29). God had promised Abraham that through his line all peoples on the earth would be blessed (Gen. 12:3).”

Is Jesus Christ your King? The kingdom is not only the not yet, but also the now. He must rule and reign over your soul because He is both Savior and Lord.

Soli deo Gloria!

Isaiah: The Behavior of the Messiah.

“There shall come forth a shoot from the stump of Jesse, and a branch from his roots shall bear fruit. And the Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him, the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and might, the Spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord. And his delight shall be in the fear of the Lord. He shall not judge by what his eyes see, or decide disputes by what his ears hear, but with righteousness he shall judge the poor, and decide with equity for the meek of the earth; and he shall strike the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips he shall kill the wicked. Righteousness shall be the belt of his waist, and faithfulness the belt of his loins.” (Isaiah 11:1-5)

Isaiah 1:1-2 reveals the character of the Messiah who was promised to come in the flesh. What about His behavior? What will He do when He comes? Will His behavior be in unity with His character? Isaiah 11:3-5 provides the student of the Scripture with the answers to these questions.

To begin with, Isaiah says, regarding the Messiah, “And his delight shall be in the fear of the Lord.” The Hebrew word for “delight” refers to the sensation of smelling a wonderful aroma. It might be a perfume or the scent of a freshly cut lawn. One of my favorite aromas is walking into my home when homemade spaghetti sauce is being cooked. Wonderful! This takes me back to childhood.

Much like a pleasing aroma, the Messiah’s pleasure, and our pleasure in Him, will be in the reverence and worship of Yahweh. Within the context, Yahweh refers to God the Father. The Messiah’s fear and reverence of the Father is evidenced by His perfect obedience to God’s commandments.

Secondly, “He shall not judge by what his eyes see, or decide disputes by what his ears hear, but with righteousness he shall judge the poor, and decide with equity for the meek of the earth; and he shall strike the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips he shall kill the wicked.” (Isaiah 11:3b-4). The Messiah’s rule and reign on earth will not be centered strictly by His senses. He will govern with a righteousness that will be complete harmony and obedience to God’s Word. This will be a delight to the poor and the meek and a terror to the wicked.

Dr. John MacArthur writes, “The Messiah will reverse Israel’s earlier dealings with the underprivileged (3:14–15; 10:2).  The Branch’s rule over the nations will be forceful. The NT uses equivalent terminology to describe the Warrior-King at his triumphant return to earth (Rev. 19:15; cf. Isa. 49:2Ps. 2:9).”

Righteousness shall be the belt of his waist, and faithfulness the belt of his loins” (Isaiah 11:5). The Messiah will always do what is right, honest and proper. Faithfulness, the character and behavior of trustworthiness, dependability and honor, will be His. These attributes will be like the integral parts of clothing for the people of the ancient world.

 As disciples of Jesus Christ, are you prepared to be following, and displaying, the Lord’s character and behavior as outlined in Isaiah 11:1-5? This is an example of Christlikeness.

Have a blessed day in the Lord.

Soli deo Gloria!  

 

 

Isaiah: The Character of the Messiah.

“There shall come forth a shoot from the stump of Jesse, and a branch from his roots shall bear fruit. And the Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him, the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and might, the Spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord. And his delight shall be in the fear of the Lord. He shall not judge by what his eyes see, or decide disputes by what his ears hear, but with righteousness he shall judge the poor, and decide with equity for the meek of the earth; and he shall strike the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips he shall kill the wicked. Righteousness shall be the belt of his waist, and faithfulness the belt of his loins.” (Isaiah 11:1-5)

What are the characteristics the Prophet Isaiah gives in order to describe the one who will come forth from the family of Jesse, King David’s father, and who is also known as the Messiah?  Isaiah gives us seven.

First, the Spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him. The word Spirit (Heb. Ruah) can refer to breath, wind or even an intellectual frame of mind. Within the context of Isaiah 11, the word refers to the Holy Spirit. The translators indicate this understanding by capitalizing the noun Spirit in the English. The phrase also indicates the presence of Yahweh. The Spirit originates from and is the One, True God.

The Holy Spirit will rest upon this One who is the Messiah. To rest (Heb. Hahah) means to settle upon and to remain. This means that the Holy Spirit would empower the Messiah. This empowerment occurred at Jesus’ baptism (Matthew 3:16; Mark 1:10; Luke 3:22).

Second, the Spirit would give the Messiah wisdom. Wisdom is not only the capacity to not only understand God’s Word and will, but also to apply it in one’s life. Jesus Christ would do so perfectly.

Third, the Spirit would give the Messiah understanding. This refers to discernment and insight into God’s Word.

Fourth, the Spirit would give the Messiah advice, guidance and instruction.

Fifth, the Spirit would give the Messiah strength, might and power.

Sixth, the Spirit would give the Messiah knowledge in possessing moral qualities which would glorify God.

Seventh, the Spirit would give the Messiah a reverence for God the Father.

Dr. John Walvoord explains that, “The attributes of the Holy Spirit would characterize the Messiah. Because of His wisdom, understanding, counsel, and knowledge He is the Wonderful Counselor (Isa. 9:6). Isaiah referred to the Holy Spirit more than did any other Old Testament prophet (11:2 [four times]; 30:1; 32:15; 34:16; 40:13; 42:1; 44:3; 48:16; 59:21; 61:1; 63:10–11, 14).”

Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord, is the Messiah who not only saves, but who also rules, now and forever, His kingdom justly and effectively.

Soli deo Gloria!

 

Isaiah: A Shoot from a Stump.

“There shall come forth a shoot from the stump of Jesse, and a branch from his roots shall bear fruit. And the Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him, the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and might, the Spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord. And his delight shall be in the fear of the Lord. He shall not judge by what his eyes see, or decide disputes by what his ears hear, but with righteousness he shall judge the poor, and decide with equity for the meek of the earth; and he shall strike the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips he shall kill the wicked. Righteousness shall be the belt of his waist, and faithfulness the belt of his loins.” (Isaiah 11:1-5)

The judgment which the LORD brought upon Israel in the 8th century B.C., and then upon Judah in the 7th century B.C., illustrates the everlasting judgment He will bring upon all unrepentant sinners. However, as God preserved a believing remnant then, He will do so today. The believing remnant are those who are in Christ Jesus and who have received His imputed righteousness (Romans 3:21-26; 4:1-25; Philippians 3:1-9) by grace alone through faith alone.

The persona and work of the Messiah, Jesus Christ, is again prophesied in Isaiah 11. We have thus far seen in Isaiah that the Messiah will be virgin born (Isaiah 7:14) and that He will be a Son (Isaiah 9:6). He will also possess several compound names which reflect His holy character. He will be known as Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father and Prince of Peace.

Isaiah 11:1-5 continued the LORD’s cumulative revelation regarding the Messiah. He revealed through the prophet that, “There shall come forth a shoot from the stump of Jesse, and a branch from his roots shall bear fruit” (Isaiah 11:1).

Have you ever seen a tree which has been cut down and only a stump or trunk is left remaining? I have. It is interesting that often from this remaining stump a new shoot will begin to grow and appear. This is the image and illustration Isaiah declared to God’s people.

The text says that there shall proceed from the root or stock belonging to Jesse, the father of King David, a shoot. A shoot is new growth sprouting from a root-stock stump. This is a figurative expression of the Messiah originating from the family of Jesse implying a renewal or resumption of a David’s kingly rule and reign (Matthew 1:1-7; Luke 1:26-38). David ruled a great kingdom but the greater David (Ezekiel 34:23-25; Zechariah 12:1-10), now only a tender plant in this Old Testament context (Isaiah 53:1-2), will eventually and eternally rule a greater kingdom.

Dr. R. C. Sproul comments that, “All that will be left of the Davidic dynasty after God’s judgment is a stump. The privileged sons of David, no less than Assyria, will be like trees that have been chopped down (10:33-34; Jeremiah 22:30). But in spite of this judgment on Judah, the Lord will raise up new leadership from David’s dynasty (Jeremiah 23:1-6; Matthew 1:1). The remaining stump will be living, and it will send forth a shoot, a branch that will bear fruit,”

Praise the Lord that He has not deserted sinners when He could righteously do so. He has chosen a believing remnant to be His people. These are they who are joined and in union with the shoot from the stump of Jesse: Jesus Christ.

Soli deo Gloria!

   

 

 

The Belgic Confession: LORD’S DAY 27, 2020.

On each Lord’s Day this year, we will reproduce devotional articles taken from The Belgic Confession. The Belgic Confession, written in 1561, owes its origin to the need for a clear and comprehensive statement of Reformed Theology during the time of the Spanish inquisition in the Lowlands. Guido de Brès, its primary author, was pleading for understanding and toleration from King Philip II of Spain who was determined to root out all Protestant factions in his jurisdiction. Hence, this confession takes pains to point out the continuity of Reformed Theology with that of the ancient Christian creeds.

The oldest of the doctrinal standards of the Christian Reformed Church and the Reformed Church in America is the Confession of Faith, popularly known as the Belgic Confession, following the seventeenth-century Latin designation “Confessio Belgica.” “Belgica” referred to the whole of the Netherlands, both north and south, which today is divided into the Netherlands and Belgium. The confession’s chief author was Guido de Brès, a preacher of the Reformed churches of the Netherlands, who died a martyr to the faith in the year 1567.

During the sixteenth century the churches in this country were exposed to terrible persecution by the Roman Catholic government. To protest against this cruel oppression, and to prove to the persecutors that the adherents of the Reformed faith were not rebels, as was laid to their charge, but law-abiding citizens who professed the true Christian doctrine according to the Holy Scriptures, de Brès prepared this confession in the year 1561. In the following year a copy was sent to King Philip II, together with an address in which the petitioners declared that they were ready to obey the government in all lawful things, but that they would “offer their backs to stripes, their tongues to knives, their mouths to gags, and their whole bodies to the fire,” rather than deny the truth expressed in this confession.

Along with The Heidelberg Catechism and the Canons of Dort, The Belgic Confession comprise what is collectively referred to as the Thee Forms of Unity. Article #32-33 of the Belgic Confession is as follows.

Article #32: The Order and Discipline of the Church.

We also believe that although it is useful and good for those who govern the churches to establish and set up a certain order among themselves for maintaining the body of the church, they ought always to guard against deviating from what Christ, our only Master, has ordained for us. Therefore we reject all human innovations and all laws imposed on us, in our worship of God, which bind and force our consciences in any way.

So we accept only what is proper to maintain harmony and unity and to keep all in obedience to God. To that end excommunication, with all it involves, according to the Word of God, is required.

Article #33: The Sacraments of the Church.

We believe that our good God, mindful of our crudeness and weakness,
has ordained sacraments for us to seal his promises in us, to pledge good will and grace toward us, and also to nourish and sustain our faith. God has added these to the Word of the gospel to represent better to our external senses both what God enables us to understand by the Word and what he does inwardly in our hearts, confirming in us the salvation he imparts to us.

For they are visible signs and seals of something internal and invisible, by means of which God works in us through the power of the Holy Spirit.

So they are not empty and hollow signs to fool and deceive us, for their truth is Jesus Christ, without whom they would be nothing. Moreover, we are satisfied with the number of sacraments that Christ our Master has ordained for us.
There are only two: the sacrament of baptism and the Holy Supper of Jesus Christ.

Soli deo Gloria!

 

 

 

Isaiah: The LORD’s Liberty.

24 “Therefore thus says the Lord God of hosts: “O my people, who dwell in Zion, be not afraid of the Assyrians when they strike with the rod and lift up their staff against you as the Egyptians did. 25 For in a very little while my fury will come to an end, and my anger will be directed to their destruction. 26 And the Lord of hosts will wield against them a whip, as when he struck Midian at the rock of Oreb. And his staff will be over the sea, and he will lift it as he did in Egypt.” (Isaiah 10:24–26)

Along with the truth that God always preserves and possesses a believing remnant (Isaiah 10:20-23), He also promises that those who are His remnant will also possess liberty. Liberty is possessing freedom, independence, emancipation and liberation. While citizens of the United States of America today celebrate their liberty from England resulting in America’s independence, believers in Jesus Christ celebrate their liberty, freedom, independence and liberation from the penalty, power and eventual presence of sin.

For the Nation of Israel in the 8th century B.C., the liberty God promised was liberty from the presence of, and persecution by, the Nation of Assyria. The LORD was not reticent about informing Israel, and Judah, that Assyria was His instrument of judgment. However, He also revealed that the His instrument of judgment would itself be judged. He revealed that His fury against Israel would end and that His anger would then be directed towards Assyria.

Dr. Don Carson writes that, “This is a double appeal for faith. First, by recalling ‘His love in time past’ (24–27), secondly by depicting an Assyrian threat suddenly brought to nothing (28–34).”

Dr. John Walvoord explains that, “Isaiah then assured his readers that the Assyrian burden would be removed from Judah. They need not be afraid of the Assyrians. After God had used them to accomplish His purpose against Israel, He would turn His anger against Assyria and punish her (cf. 37:36–37). This would be like His destruction of the Midianites by Gideon (Jud. 7:1–24; cf. Isa. 9:4) and the two Midianite leaders at the rock of Oreb (Jud. 7:25). God would destroy Assyria (figuratively called the waters; cf. Isa. 8:7) as He destroyed Egypt. God promised to lift the Assyrian burden and yoke from Judah (cf. 9:4).”  

The ultimate liberty the sinner has is not necessarily liberty from political or military aggression, but rather from the bondage to sin. Romans 8:1-2 says, “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death.

Rejoice today, not only the freedom we have nationally, but also the freedom all who are in Christ possess eternally.

Soli deo Gloria!