1:1-31 – God invites us to ‘come’ to Him and receive salvation – ‘though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow’. He also warns us – there will be judgment ‘if you refuse and rebel’ (18-20). God speaks to us of His great purpose of salvation: ‘God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him’. He tells us that we can be saved through faith in Christ: ‘Whoever believes in Him is not condemned’. He calls us back from the way of unbelief and judgment: ‘Whoever does not believe is condemned already because he does not believe in the Name of the only Son of God’ (John 3:17-18). In Jesus Christ, there is ‘great salvation’. Make sure that you receive God’s salvation. ‘How shall we escape if we neglect or ignore such a great salvation?’ (Hebrews 2:3).
2:1-22 – God calls us to worship Him – ‘Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord…’ – and walk in His ways – ‘Come, let us walk in the light of the Lord’ (3,5). We are moving towards the Day when ‘the pride of men shall be humbled and brought low’, the Day when ‘the Lord alone will be exalted’ (11,12,17). How are we to get ready for the Return of our Lord Jesus Christ? God calls us to keep on worshipping Him. We are to encourage one another to keep on walking with God. ‘Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another – and all the more as you see the Day approaching’ (Hebrews 10:25). Let our pride be humbled and let the Lord be exalted as we await Christ’s Return in ‘faith’, looking to Him alone for our ‘salvation’ (1 Peter 1:7-9).
3:1-26 – God’s Word calls us to make our choice. We must choose between the way of ‘the righteous’ and the way of ‘the wicked’. There is a great difference between the two ways – ‘Tell the righteous it will be well with them… Woe to the wicked! Disaster is upon them!…’ (10-11). We still need to hear the words of Jesus: ‘Enter by the narrow gate… only a few find the narrow gate, the hard way that leads to life’. His words are not popular. Many people dismiss His words as old-fashioned. They don’t like this kind of talk: ‘the gate to hell is wide and the road that leads to it is easy, and there are many who travel it’ (Matthew 7:13-14). They say, ‘ Jesus said such ‘nice’ things about love. Why does He spoil it all by saying things like this?’ When will we start listening to all that Jesus says – and not only the ‘nice’ things we like to hear?
4:1-5:17 – ‘Those who are left… will be called holy’ (4:3). The world speaks of God’s people with contempt – ‘the holy people who need to learn to live in the real world’. When God calls His people ‘holy’, He speaks in a very different way. He speaks with affection. He looks upon us with love. We are special to Him. We are precious in His eyes. God loves us and He calls us to be holy. We are to live as those who have been set apart for God. We are not to live for this world only. There is something else, something greater than this so-called ‘real world’. There is a world that is unseen and eternal, heavenly and glorious. This is our higher calling, our call to holiness. Let us ‘look to the things that are unseen and eternal’. Let us ‘press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus’ (2 Corinthians 4:18; Philippians 3:14).
5:18-6:13 – God reveals His holiness: ‘Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts’ (3). In His holiness, we see our own sinfulness: ‘I am a man of unclean lips’ (5). God is perfectly holy: ‘Your eyes are too pure to look on evil’ (Habakkuk 1:13). When we look at ourselves in the light of God’s perfect holiness, we see the truth concerning ourselves: ‘All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God’ (Romans 3:23). There is no room for excuses. We must confess our sin. We must pray for God’s forgiveness: ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner’ (Luke 18:13). To those who come to Him with a true confession of sin, God speaks His Word of forgiveness: ‘your guilt is taken away, and your sin forgiven’ (7). The Lord has saved us. Let us serve Him. Let us pray, ‘Here am I! Send me’ (8). Let us share the Good News of His forgiveness.
7:1-25 – Isaiah looked ahead to the coming of ‘Immanuel’ – ‘God with us’ (14; Matthew 1:23). We look forward to the Second Coming of Immanuel: ‘Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be His people, and God Himself will be with them and be their God’ (Revelation 21:3). The Second Coming of our Lord Jesus Christ presents us with a challenge: ‘When the Son of man comes, will He find faith on earth?’ (Luke 18:8). He calls us to ‘stand firm in our faith’. We must not ‘shrink back ‘ from Him. We must ‘believe and be saved’ (9; Hebrews 10:37-39). Jesus says, ‘I am coming soon’. Let us pray, ‘Come, Lord Jesus’. Let us pray that our ‘love’ for Him will not ‘grow cold’. Let us pray for strength to ‘stand firm to the end and be saved’ (Revelation 22:7,12,20; Matthew 24:12-13).
8:1-22 – ‘Immanuel… God is with us’ (8,10). Jesus Christ has come to be with us so that we might go to be with Him. He has come from heaven to earth so that we might go from earth to heaven. He died for us that we might live with Him. He does not return to heaven alone. He ‘brings many sons to glory’: ‘Here am I, and the children the Lord has given me’ (18; Hebrews 2:9-10,13). Jesus speaks to us of the glory of the Father’s House’. He shares this glory with us: ‘I go to prepare a place for you… I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also’. He invites us to enter this heavenly glory. He is ‘the Way, the Truth and the Life’. Without Him, we cannot enter heaven: ‘No one comes to the Father except through Me’. Through faith in Him, we receive ‘eternal life’ (John 14:1-3,6; 6:40).
9:1-10:4 – The prophecy has been spoken – ‘To us a Child is born, to us a Son is given…’. The prophecy has been fulfilled – ‘Today in the town of David a Saviour has been born to you: He is Christ the Lord’. Jesus Christ is our great Saviour. He is our ‘Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace’ (9:6: Luke 2:11). Jesus Christ has brought to us a great salvation. Through faith in Him, we enter God’s heavenly and eternal ‘Kingdom’ (9:7: Luke 1:30-33). This is ‘Good News of great joy’ – for ‘all the people’, for ‘all generations’. Let us rejoice in the Lord, as Mary, the mother of Jesus, did – ‘My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour… for the Mighty One has done great things for me…’. Let us join with the angels in saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest…’ (Luke 2:10; 1:46-50; 2:14).
10:5-34 – ‘A few, the remaining few of Jacob, will return to the Mighty God…’ (21). So few people take time to worship the Lord. Are we to become discouraged? No! We must take encouragement from God’s Word: ‘The Light of Israel will become a fire, their Holy One a flame’(17). We must continue to pray for God’s blessing. ‘Let the flame burn brighter in the heart of the darkness, turning night to glorious day. Let the song grow louder as our love grows stronger; let it shine! let it shine!’. ‘Shine, Jesus, shine, fill this land with the Father’s glory; blaze, Spirit, blaze, set our hearts on fire. Flow, river, flow, flood the nations with grace and mercy; send forth Your Word, Lord, and let there be light!’ (Mission Praise, 743,445). May God give us grace to ‘truly rely on’ Him, ‘the Lord, the Holy One of Israel’ (20).
11:1-12:6 – The family tree of ‘Jesse, the father of King David’ has a very special ‘Branch’ – Jesus Christ (11:1; Matthew 1:1,6,16). Jesus Christ has raised ‘a banner for the nations’. He is ‘the Saviour of the world’. He has died ‘for the sins of the whole world’. The ‘Good News’ is to be preached to ‘all the world’. Christ calls ‘all nations’ to ‘turn to Him’. He calls ‘all nations’ to receive the ‘forgiveness of sins’. He calls ‘all nations’ to become His ‘disciples’ (12; John 4:42; 1 John 2:2; Mark 16:15; Luke 24:47; Matthew 28:19). May our personal faith – ‘I will praise You, O Lord… God is my Salvation… The Lord is my Strength and my Song…’ – become our public testimony – making Christ ‘known among the nations’, telling ‘all the world’ what the Lord has done for us (12:1-2,4-5).
13:1-22 – ‘The Day of the Lord is near; it will come like destruction from the Almighty… The Day of the Lord is coming – a cruel Day with wrath and fierce anger…’ (6,9). Christ’s Return will be a Day of salvation – ‘the Day He comes to be glorified in His holy people and to be marvelled at among all those who have believed’. It will also be a Day of judgment – ‘When the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven… He will punish those who do not know God and do not obey the Gospel of our Lord Jesus. They will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord…’ (2 Thessalonians 1:7-10). Don’t let the Day of the Lord ‘surprise you like a thief’. It can be a Day of ‘salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ’. Trust ‘Jesus, who rescues us from the coming wrath’ (1 Thessalonians 5:1-4,9; 1:9-10).
14:1-23 – We look beyond ‘the king of Babylon’ (4). We see Satan, full of pride – ‘I will climb to the highest heavens and be like the Most High’ – , fallen – ‘How you are fallen from heaven, O Lucifer…’ – , and brought to nothing – ‘you will be brought down to the pit of hell…’ (12-15). We look also at ‘the king of Tyre’. Again, we see Satan – ‘you were on the holy mountain of God… you sinned; so I cast you as a profane thing from the mountain of God… your heart was proud… you have come to a dreadful end…’ (Ezekiel 28:12-19). Satan (the devil) wages war against the Lord and His people. The final outcome of this war is certain – defeat for Satan. Christ has won the victory: By ‘the authority of Christ’, Satan ‘has been thrown down’. In Christ, we have the victory: ‘they have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb …’ (Revelation 12:7-12).
14:24-15:9 – ‘My heart cries out for Moab’ (5). Here, we see the loving heart of God. He takes ‘no pleasure in the death of the wicked’. He does ‘not want anyone to perish’. He longs for ‘everyone to come to repentance’ (Ezekiel 33:11; 2 Peter 3:9). We see the loving heart of God in our Saviour, Jesus Christ: ‘O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, killing the prophets and stoning those who are sent to you! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you would not!’. We see the loving heart of God in Paul. He sees the nation of Israel turning away from Israel. He is filled with compassion: ‘I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart’ (Matthew 23:37; Romans 9:2). May God help us to feel for the lost, to look upon them with His love, to long for them to be saved.
16:1-17:3 – ‘In love a throne will be established; in faithfulness a Man will sit on it – One from the house of David…’ (5). This Man is more than ‘a descendant of David’. He is Jesus Christ, ‘the Son of God’ (Romans 1:4). ‘Jesus, the Saviour reigns’. Jesus is ‘the King of Love’. He is ‘our great Redeemer… our God and King’. Let us worship ‘our glorious King’. Let us sing to Him, ‘Alleluia! What a Saviour!’. Let us, with heart and voice, ‘confess Him King of glory now’. He is ‘our King’. Let us ‘bring Him hearts that love Him’. Let us ‘bring Him thankful praise’. He puts His question to us: ‘Who will serve the King?’. Let us give our answer: We will ‘rise up’. We will ‘have done with lesser things’. We will ‘give heart and soul and mind and strength to serve the King of kings’ (Church Hymnary, 296,388,371,380,300,464,479,477).
17:4-18:7 – ‘You have forgotten the God of your salvation, and have not remembered the Rock of your refuge’ (10). How easy it is to forget! The Lord has loved us so much. We should remember to say, ‘Thank You’. Very often, we forget. When Jesus healed ten lepers, only ‘one of them came back’ to say ‘Thank You’. Far too often, we are like ‘the other nine’ (Luke 17:11-19). We forget to thank Him for His love. We take His love for granted. We should be celebrating. We should be letting Him know how much we love Him. Don’t forget ‘your first love’ (Revelation 2:4). Let Jesus be your first love. Let Him be your only love – for the whole of your life. ‘High heaven, that heard the solemn vow, that vow renewed shall daily hear; till in life’s latest hour I bow, and bless in death a bond so dear’ (Mission Praise, 499).
19:1-20:6 – ‘The Lord Almighty will bless them, saying, “Blessed be Egypt My people, Assyria the work of My hands, and Israel my heritage”’ (19:25). ‘There is neither Jew nor Greek… you are all one in Christ Jesus’ (Galatians 3:28). How can people who seem to be opposites be brought together? Jesus Christ brings them together. He breaks down ‘the barrier’. He removes ‘the dividing wall of hostility’. We are brought ‘near’ to one another through ‘the blood of Christ’. We must come to ‘the Cross’ of Christ. There, at ‘the Cross’, we will find each other. We will discover what it means to be ‘one body’ in Christ (Ephesians 2:13-16). When Satan comes, creating misunderstanding, filling our minds with suspicion and undermining our hopes of peace, let’s remind him of God’s Word, ‘You are all one in Christ Jesus’.
21:1-17 – We live in a situation of conflict. We are at war with the enemy. Satan is God’s enemy. Satan is our enemy. Satan is a very determined enemy. Satan is a defeated enemy. The words of verse 9 – ‘Fallen, fallen is Babylon…’ – , repeated again in Revelation 14:8; 18:2, assure us that Satan will not prevail over the Lord and His people. The victory is the Lord’s. He gives His victory to us. When the going gets tough, when Satan seems to have the upper hand, let’s remember this: ‘Fierce may be the conflict, strong may be the foe, but the King’s own army none can overthrow. Round His standard ranging, victory is secure, for His truth unchanging makes the triumph sure’. Let us not hesitate to commit ourselves to Christ: ‘Joyfully enlisting, by Thy grace divine, we are on the Lord’s side; Saviour, we are Thine’ (Church Hymnary, 479).
22:1-25 – Here, we read about ‘the Valley of Vision’ (1,5). The Lord Himself is to be our Vision: ‘Be Thou my Vision, O Lord of my heart; Naught be all else to me, save that Thou art, Thou my best thought, by day or by night, waking or sleeping Thy presence my light’ (Church Hymnary, 87). Down in the valley, the mountain-top experience seems a long way off. What are we to do when everything seems to be hard-going? When there seems to be no way out of the valley, no way back to the mountain-top, we must keep on ‘looking to Jesus’ (Hebrews 12:1-2). In the ‘valley’, we must learn to say, ‘My goal is God Himself, not joy nor peace, nor even blessing, but Himself, my God’. Let your ‘valley’ become your ‘valley of vision’, the place where you are learning to ‘turn your eyes upon Jesus’ (Mission Praise, 470,712).
23:1-18 – ‘Look at the land of the Babylonians, this people that is now of no account!’ (13). To the nation which turns to Him, the Lord speaks His promise of blessing – ‘Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord …’ (Psalm 33:12). To the nation which turns away from Him, God speaks His warning of judgment – ‘For lack of guidance a nation falls’ (Proverbs 11:14). We must choose. Will we choose to listen to the Lord, to submit our lives to Him, to follow the guidance He has given to us in His Word? Or, will we ignore Him and go our own way? The way of the Lord leads to blessing – ‘Righteousness exalts a nation’. The way of self leads to judgment – ‘sin is a disgrace to any people’ (Proverbs 14:34). What will it be? – ‘Look at the Babylonians…!’ or ‘They will see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven’ (Matthew 5:16).
24:1-23 – ‘They raise their voices, they shout for joy; from the west they acclaim the Lord’s majesty. Therefore in the east give glory to the Lord, exalt the Name of the Lord, the God of Israel, in the islands of the sea. From the ends of the earth we hear singing: “Glory to the Righteous One”’ (14-16). What a beautiful picture of a land that is enjoying God’s blessing, praising Him and giving glory to Him! Looking around us, we see a very different picture – ‘The earth is defiled by its people; they have disobeyed the laws… therefore a curse consumes the earth; its people must bear their guilt’ (5-6). Can the dark picture of sin and guilt be turned into the brighter picture of salvation and rejoicing? God ‘is able to do so much more than we can ask for, or even imagine’ (Ephesians 3:20). Be bold. Pray that God will send revival in our time.
25:1-26:9 – ‘O Lord, You are my God; I will exalt You and praise Your Name… You have done marvellous things’ (25:1). We remember what God has done for us. He sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to be our Saviour. We rejoice in Jesus Christ who died for us. We rejoice in Jesus Christ who rose again for us. We look forward to the return of our Lord Jesus Christ. We look forward to the Day when ‘He will swallow up death for ever’. On that Day, ‘the Lord God will wipe away the tears from all faces’. On that Day, we will look back and say, ‘Surely this is our God; we trusted in Him, and He saved us’. On that Day, we will ‘rejoice and be glad in His salvation’ (25:8-9). Here and now, let us learn to ‘trust in the Lord’. We can trust in Him ‘for ever’. He is ‘the everlasting Rock’ – ‘the Rock of our salvation’ (4; Psalm 95:1).
26:10-27:13 – Jesus is our Saviour – ‘Lord, You establish peace for us’; ‘We have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ’. We cannot save ourselves. We can only look away from ourselves to Jesus – and be saved by Him: ‘all that we have accomplished You have done for us’; ‘By grace you have been saved through faith; and this is not your own doing, it is the gift of God’ (26:12; Romans 5:1; Ephesians 2:8). Jesus is our Lord – ‘Lord, our God… You alone are our Lord’. How are we to live once we have received salvation through faith in Jesus Christ? – ‘Just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in Him’. We are not to ‘keep on sinning so that God can keep on showing us more and more kindness and forgiveness’. We are to live a life of ‘good works’ (26:13; Colossians 2:6; Romans 6:1; Ephesians 2:10).
28:1-22 – Jesus Christ is ‘the precious Cornerstone’. He is ‘the sure Foundation’ (16). Jesus is the Name of our salvation – ‘Salvation is found in no-one else… there is no other name… by which we must be saved’ (Acts 4:10-12). There is only one ‘Foundation’ for our faith – ‘Jesus Christ’ (1 Corinthians 3:11). He is the ‘chosen and precious Cornerstone’ – ‘to you who believe, this Stone is precious’ (1 Peter 2:6-7). Build your life on Christ, ‘the solid Rock’ – ‘My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness; no merit of my own I claim, but wholly trust in Jesus’ Name. When weary in this earthly race, I rest on His unchanging grace… When earthly hopes are swept away, He will uphold me on that Day. On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand. All other ground is sinking sand’ (Matthew 7:24-27; Mission Praise, 473).
28:23-29:16 – ‘The wisdom of the wise will perish’ (29:14). There is another ‘wisdom’, a ‘wisdom’ which shall not perish, a ‘wisdom’ which is ‘wiser than man’s wisdom’. Christ is ‘the Wisdom of God’ (1 Corinthians 1:24-25). With Christ as our Saviour, we ‘shall not perish’. Through faith in Him, we receive the ‘wisdom’ which brings ‘salvation’ (John 3:16; 2 Timothy 3:15). Jesus Christ is ‘the Way, the Truth and the Life’ (John14:6). He is the Way to true wisdom. He is the Truth upon which true wisdom is based. He is the Life which is based on true wisdom. He is true Wisdom. We must not seek wisdom apart from faith in Jesus Christ – ‘the world did not know God through wisdom’. There is one true wisdom which does ‘not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God’ – faith in ‘Christ crucified’ (1 Corinthians 1:21-23; 2:1-5).
29:17-30:17 – ‘In returning and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength, but you would have none of it. You said, “No!”’ (15-16). God wants to bless us. He wants to be our ‘salvation’. He wants to be our ‘strength’. How does God bless us? How does He become our ‘salvation’? How does He become our ‘strength’? We must want His blessing. We must want His ‘salvation’. We must want His ‘strength’. We must return to Him and rest in Him. We must quietly listen to His Word, putting our trust in Him. There is no ‘salvation’ without ‘returning and rest’. There is no ‘strength’ without ‘quietness and trust’. God does not force Himself upon us. We can say, ‘No! I will have none of it’. God wants to bless you. Will you say, ‘Yes, Lord! I want You to be my “salvation”. I want You to be my “strength”’?
30:18-31:19 – ‘Woe to those who go down to Egypt for help and rely on horses, who trust in chariots because they are many and in horsemen because they are strong, but do not look to the Holy One of Israel or consult the Lord!’ (1). It is so easy to forget the Lord. We try to go it alone, and we forget to look to Him for help. Even when we forget Him, He does not forget us. When we turn our backs on Him, He calls us to ‘return to Him’ (6). He reminds us that our true help is found in Him: ‘Our help is in the Name of the Lord, who made heaven and earth’ (Psalm 124:8). We need not look around here, there and everywhere for an answer to the question, ‘Where does my help come from?’. There is only one true answer to this question: ‘My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth’ (Psalm 121:1-2).
32:1-20 – ‘Abandoned… deserted… a wasteland…’ (14). Can such a desperate situation be turned around? Yes! When ‘the Spirit is poured upon us from on high… the wilderness becomes a fruitful field’ (15). We must not lose heart. We must keep on calling upon the Lord. We must believe that God is able to turn things around. When the situation seems hopeless, we must put our trust in ‘the God of hope’. We must pray that God will send His blessing: ‘May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope’ (Romans 15:13). ‘Restore, O Lord, the honour of Your Name! In works of sovereign power, come, shake the earth again… Restore, O Lord, in all the earth Your fame, and in our time revive the Church that bears Your Name’ (Mission Praise, 579).
33:1-24 – ‘O Lord…Be our strength every morning, our salvation in the time of trouble’ (2). We are not to pray to the Lord only ‘in the time of trouble’. We are to pray to Him ‘every morning’. We are not to keep God at a distance, calling on Him only when things are going badly. When we keep God at a distance, our life tells its own sad story – ‘O what peace we often forfeit, O what needless pain we bear – all because we do not carry everything to God in prayer’. When we draw near to God, He draws near to us, and everything becomes very different – ‘What a Friend we have in Jesus, all our sins and griefs to bear! What a privilege to carry everything to God in prayer!’ (James 4:8; Mission Praise, 746). Let God’s ‘love’ come to you ‘new every morning’ – ‘fresh as the morning , as sure as the sunrise’ (Lamentations 3:22-23).
34:1-17 – God calls us to ‘draw near’ to Him. He wants us to ‘pay attention’ to Him. We must ‘listen’ to His Word (1). God’s Word is not always what we want to hear. It will always be what we need to hear. ‘The Lord is angry with all nations’ (2). We don’t like to hear about God’s anger. We prefer to be told ‘You’re doing fine’. We need to hear about God’s anger. We need to hear about how far we have wandered away from God – ‘We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us turned to his own way’. We are sinners. We have turned away from the Lord. We have chosen our own way rather than His way. We must hear this ‘bad news’ before we can really appreciate the ‘Good News’ – ‘the Lord has laid all our sins on Jesus’, ‘Christ died for us while we were still sinners’, ‘Christ died for our sins’ (53:6; Romans 5:8; 1 Corinthians 15:3).
35:1-10 – What blessings are given to those who draw near to God – ‘Your God… will come and save you’ (4). The Good News of Christ comes to us as a call to faith – ‘Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved’ (Acts 16:31). We have been saved through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. We cannot remain the same. We are called to live a new life. We must travel on the Lord’s ‘highway’ – ‘the Way of Holiness’ (8). This is ‘the Way’ which leads to ‘everlasting joy’ (10). This ‘Way’ is so different from the world’s way. The world has no time for those who seek to live a holy life. This is what Jesus says about the world’s way of life: ‘the gate is wide and the way is wide that leads to destruction’ (Matthew 7:13). Whatever the world may say, we must never forget this: ‘Without holiness, no-one will see the Lord’ (Hebrews 12:14).
36:1-37:20 – Hezekiah is facing a very powerful enemy – ‘Sennacherib, king of Assyria’ (36:1). Hezekiah prays for deliverance – ‘O Lord our God, deliver us from his hand’. He prays for salvation – ‘O Lord our God, save us…’ (37:20). We face an even more powerful enemy – Satan, ‘the ruler of this world’, ‘the god of this world’. We must pray for deliverance. We must look to the Lord for salvation. We must pray with faith in Jesus Christ. Satan ‘has no power over’ Jesus. When Jesus was ‘lifted up from the earth’ (crucified), He won a mighty victory over Satan. Jesus died for us so that Satan, ‘the ruler of this world’ might be ‘cast out’. Satan’s power is broken when ‘the light of the Gospel of the glory of Christ’ shines ‘in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ’ (John 14:30;12:31-33; 2 Corinthians 4:4-6).
37:21-38:8 – Sennacherib has no power over God’s people. They are protected by a superior power, the power of God – ‘This is what the Lord says concerning the king of Assyria: “He will not enter this city or shoot an arrow here… By the way that he came he will return…”’. This is God’s answer to Hezekiah’s prayer for salvation – ‘I will defend this city to save it’ (33-35). What a great God we have! He is the God of our salvation. He will answer our prayer for salvation. God loves us: ‘God so loved the world that He gave His only Son…’. Christ died for us: ‘God made Him who knew no sin (Christ) to be sin for us, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God’. Christ promises to receive all who come to Him for salvation: ‘I will never turn away anyone who comes to Me’ (John 3:16; 6:37; 2 Corinthians 5:21).
38:9-39:8 – ‘The Lord will save me, and we will sing with stringed instruments all the days of our life in the House of the Lord’ (20). Some people say, ‘I can be a Christian without going to Church’. Here, we have something very different. Believing in the Lord leads to worshipping the Lord. It doesn’t make sense to say, ‘I believe in the Lord but I’m not interested in worshipping Him’. We believe in Christ. We are saved by Him. We receive a new Spirit of worship: ‘God has sent the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying, “Father, my Father!”’ (Galatians 4:4). Let’s have none of this ‘believing without worshipping’ – ‘Abba Father, let me be Yours and Your alone. May my will for ever be evermore Your own. Never let my heart grow cold, never let me go. Abba Father, let me be Yours and Yours alone’ (Mission Praise, 3).
40:1-31 – ‘The Lord is the everlasting God… He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak… those who wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength…’ (28-31). Far too often, we say, ‘I can’t’ when we really mean ‘I won’t’. ‘I can’t’ – This is an insult to the power of God. The Lord calls us to do something special for Him. We say, ‘I can’t’. What are we really saying? This is what we are saying – ‘Lord, I don’t believe Your promise – “Those who wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength”’. Don’t say, ‘I can’t’. Don’t get so busy with other things that you fail to wait upon the Lord and renew your strength. When the Lord calls you to serve Him, say, ‘Yes, Lord, I will wait upon You. I will renew my strength. I will do Your will’.
41:1-29 – ‘Do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God, I will strengthen you and help you… I am the Lord your God who… says to you, Do not fear; I will help you… I Myself will help you, declares the Lord, your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel’ (10-14). When we have something important to say, we repeat ourselves. We want to make sure that our message gets across. We say, ‘Do you get the point? Do you see what I mean?’. This is what God is doing here. Three times, He says, ‘I will help you’. He wants us to get the point. He wants to leave us in no doubt. He wants us to be sure of this: ‘I will help you’. He doesn’t want us to go around thinking, ‘I wonder if God will help me?’. He really does want to help us. He says it once. He says it twice. He says it three times: ‘I will help you’.
42:1-25 – ‘Here is My Servant, whom I uphold, my Chosen One in whom I delight; I will put My Spirit on Him, and He will bring justice to the nations’ (1). These words turn our thoughts towards the Lord Jesus Christ. At His baptism, we hear the voice of the Father – ‘This is My Son, whom I love; with Him I am well pleased’. At His baptism, we see ‘the Spirit of God coming down like a dove and resting on Him’. Jesus is the fulfilment of God’s Word of prophecy: ‘All mankind shall see the Saviour sent from God’. After His resurrection, we hear Jesus Himself speaking. He says, ‘Go and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the Name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit…’ (Matthew 12:15-21; 3:16-17; 28:18-20; Luke 3:6). Let us bring Christ to the nations. Let us serve the Lord in the power of the Spirit.
43:1-28 – ‘I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Saviour… I am the Lord, apart from Me there is no saviour’ (3,11). Isaiah’s words turn our thoughts towards Jesus our Saviour. The Name of Jesus is the Name of our salvation: ‘Salvation is found in no-one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved’ (Acts 4:12). ‘How sweet the Name of Jesus sounds in a believer’s ear’; ‘There is a Name I love to hear… It tells me of a Saviour’s love, who died to set me free; it tells me of His precious blood, the sinner’s perfect plea. O how I love the Saviour’s Name, the sweetest Name on earth’; ‘Name of all majesty… See now what God has done, sending His only Son, Christ the beloved One, Jesus is Lord!’ (Church Hymnary, 376; Mission Praise, 672,481).
44:1-28 – ‘I will pour water on the thirsty land, and streams on the dry ground; I will pour out My Spirit on your offspring, and My blessing on your descendants’ (3). Here, Isaiah is looking forward to the mighty outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost – ‘They were all filled with the Holy Spirit…’ (Acts 2:4). It is ‘the Spirit’ who brings ‘streams of living water’ into our lives. It is ‘the Spirit’ who sends ‘streams of living water’, flowing out from us to others (John 7:37-39). We are to ‘be filled with the Spirit’. ‘Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything in the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ’ – Let your life be full of praise to God: ‘filled with the Spirit’ (Ephesians 5:18-20).
45:1-25 – ‘I am the Lord… I will strengthen you’ (5). How does the Lord strengthen us? He strengthens us with salvation. He comes to us as our ‘God and Saviour’. He calls us to come to Him and receive salvation: ‘Turn to Me and be saved…’. Through faith in Christ, we are ‘saved by the Lord with an everlasting salvation’ (15,17,21-22). We are strengthened with ‘everlasting salvation’. We look ahead to Christ’s Return ‘in power and great glory’ (Matthew 24:30). On that Day, the glory of our Saviour will be fully revealed: ‘At the Name of Jesus every knee shall bow in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue shall confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father’. Jesus is our Saviour. His ‘Name is above every name’. Our ‘strength’ comes from Him (23-24; Philippians 2:10-11).
46:1-47:15 – ‘I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like Me… I am bringing My righteousness near, it is not far away; and my salvation will not be delayed’ (46:9,13). God does not keep His distance from us. He comes near to us – ‘The Word is near you, on your lips and in your heart (that is, the Word of faith which we preach). God does not delay His salvation. He comes to us with His promise: ‘If you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord”, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved’ (Romans 10:8-9). Jesus is the Word of God. He is our Saviour. He is our Lord (John 1:1,14; 20:28,31). Let us worship Jesus. He is ‘the Holy One of Israel’. He is ‘our Redeemer’. ‘The Lord Almighty is His Name’ (47:4). ‘O come, let us adore Him, Christ the Lord’ (Church Hymnary, 191).
48:1-22 – ‘I am the Lord your God, who teaches you what is best for you, who directs you in the way you should go’ (17). God knows what is best for us. He helps us to say, ‘As for God, His way is perfect’ (Job 23:10; 2 Samuel 22:31).How does God help us to see that His way is best? He invites us to consider His love. We are to think about all that He has done for us – ‘the mercies of God’. He calls us to dedicate our lives to Him – ‘present your bodies, as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God’. Dedicating our lives to the Lord – This is ‘our ‘spiritual worship’. We are not to live for this world – ‘Do not be conformed to this world’. We are to live for the Lord – ‘be transformed by the renewal of your mind’. ‘God’s will is good, pleasing and perfect’. Learn this for yourself. Dedicate your life to Him (Romans 12:1-2).
49:1-26 – ‘I, the Lord, am your Saviour, your Redeemer, the Mighty One of Jacob’. We are not to keep this to ourselves. God wants ‘all mankind’ to ‘know’ (26). ‘Jesus, the Name to sinners dear, the Name to sinners given, it scatters all their guilty fear, it turns their hell to heaven’ – This is not something to keep to ourselves. We must make Christ known to others – ‘Oh, that the world might taste and see the riches of His grace! The arms of love that compass me, would all mankind embrace. His only righteousness I show, His saving truth proclaim: ‘tis all my business here below to cry: “Behold the Lamb!”. Happy, if with my latest breath I may but gasp His Name: preach Him to all, and cry in death: “Behold, behold the Lamb!”’ (Mission Praise, 385). ‘Go into all the world and preach the Good News’ (Mark 16:15).
50:1-51:8 – ‘The Lord God has given me the tongue of those who are taught, that I may know how to sustain with a word him that is weary. He wakens me morning by morning, wakens my ear to listen like one being taught’ (50:4). We are to listen to God. We are to speak for God. We cannot speak for God unless we are listening to Him. Before we can speak for God, we must speak to Him. We must pray, ‘Speak, Lord, for Your servant is listening’ (1 Samuel 3:9-10). Listening to God comes before speaking for God. First, we wait on the Lord – ‘I waited patiently for the Lord’. Then, we witness for the Lord – ‘He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God’. Waiting on the Lord and witnessing for Him, we will win others for Him – ‘Many will see and fear and put their trust in the Lord’ (Psalm 40:1-3).
51:9-23 – ‘Awake, awake!… O arm of the Lord; awake, as in days gone by… The ransomed of the Lord will return. They will enter Zion with singing; everlasting joy will crown their heads. Gladness and joy will overtake them… I am the Lord your God… I have put My words in your mouth…’ (9,11,15-16). We must pray for revival in this generation. Pray for a revival of joyful worship. Pray for a revival of powerful preaching. Where will revival come from? It comes from the Lord. God hears the prayers of His people – ‘Awake, awake!… O arm of the Lord; awake, as in days gone by’. God answers the prayers of His people – ‘The ransomed of the Lord will return… Gladness and joy will overtake them’. Revival comes when God sends His Word of power – ‘I am the Lord your God… I have put My words in your mouth’.
52:1-12 – ‘Good News’ – Let us ‘shout for joy’. ‘Good News’ – Let us sing ‘songs of joy’. There is the Good News of God’s reign – ‘Your God reigns’. There is the Good News of our redemption – ‘The Lord has redeemed’ us. We are not to keep the Good News to ourselves. This ‘news of happiness’ is to be shared with everyone. We must let ‘all the ends of the earth see the salvation of our God’. ‘Christ died for our sins’ – This is Good News. Christ was ‘raised on the third day’ – This is Good News. ‘Jesus is Lord’ – This is Good News. This is the Good News we must ‘pass on’ to others. In our world, there is so much bad news. We must not let the Good News be drowned out by the bad news. We must make sure that the people hear the Good News – loud and clear (7-10; 1 Corinthians 15:3-4; Mission Praise, 249).
52:13-53:12 – In this remarkable prophecy,.we see Jesus Christ, crucified for us – ‘the Lord has laid all our sins on Him’ – and risen from the dead – ‘After the suffering of His soul, He will see the light of life’ (6,11). ‘Were you there when they crucified my Lord?’ (Mission Praise, 745). We might put this question to Isaiah. In one sense, he wasn’t there. He lived long before the time of Christ. In another sense, he was there. God opened his eyes. God gave him a glimpse of what was going to happen in the future. ‘Were you there when they crucified my Lord?’. In one sense, we weren’t there. These things happened long before we were even born. In another sense, we were there. It was our sins which Christ took with Him to the Cross. It was our sins which He left behind Him when He rose from the dead (Romans 4:25).
54:1-17 – ‘The Lord’ is not only ‘the Holy One of Israel’. He is ‘the God of the whole earth’ (5). The Gospel is for ‘all nations’. The ministry of Christ’s apostles began in ‘Jerusalem’, but it did not end there. The Gospel was to be taken ‘to the ends of the earth’ (Luke 24:46-47; Acts 1:8). Taking the Gospel out from Jerusalem to the ends of the earth was not easy. The apostles faced much opposition. They stood upon God’s promise: ‘No weapon formed against you shall prosper’ (17). When we face opposition, we must take our stand on the Word of God: ‘If God is for us, who can be against us?’ (Romans 8:31). Even when our words seem to fall on stony ground, we must keep on speaking the Word of God’s love: ‘With everlasting love I will have compassion on you, says the Lord, your Redeemer’ (8).
55:1-13 – The Word of God is spoken – ‘Seek the Lord while He may be found…’ (6-7). No one seems to be listening. What are we to do? We must remember God’s promise: ‘My Word will not return to Me empty’ (11). We do not see all that God is doing. He is doing much more than we realize – ‘My thoughts are not your thoughts…’ (8-9). We may be feeling very despondent – ‘Master, we’ve worked hard all night and haven’t caught anything’ (Luke 5:5). The Lord still comes to us with His Word of encouragement: ‘You shall go out with joy…’ (12). Before there is joy, there may be many tears. When there seems to be nothing but disappointments, we must remember the Lord’s promise: ‘Those who sow in tears will reap with songs of joy…’ (Psalm 126:5-6). We must not ‘judge before the time…’ (1 Corinthians 4:5).
56:1-57:10 – ‘My House will be called a House of prayer for all nations’ (56:7). God is gathering His people together ‘from every tribe and language and people and nation’ (Revelation 5:9). ‘Salvation comes from the Jews’, but it doesn’t end there – ‘The Gospel is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile (the rest of the world)’ (John 4:22; Romans 1:16). We were ‘foreigners’. Now, we are ‘no longer foreigners…’(56:6; Ephesians 2:19). Christ has ‘broken down the dividing wall of hostility’. ‘We are no longer Jews or Gentiles’. ‘We are one in Christ Jesus’. Christ has ‘made the two one’. We ‘have been brought near through the blood of Christ’. We are ‘one body’ – Jews and Gentiles brought together ‘through the Cross’ of Christ (Ephesians 2:13-16; Galatians 3:28).
57:11-58:14 – ‘To the far and to the near’, God speaks His Word of ‘peace’ (57:19). Christ is God’s Word of ‘peace’ (Ephesians 2:13-14). Christ is for ‘the Jews’. Christ is for ‘the Gentiles’. There is one way of salvation. Jesus Christ is our Saviour. We must put our ‘faith’ in Him. Through Him, we have ‘peace with God’ (Romans 3:29-30; 5:1). God’s Word invites us to ‘call upon the Name of the Lord and be saved’ (58:9; Acts 2:21). In Christ, there is true ‘joy’ – ‘I delight greatly in the Lord; my soul rejoices in my God. For He has clothed me with garments of salvation…’ (58:14; 61:10). We rejoice in Jesus Christ. He is ‘the High and Exalted One’. He has come from His ‘high and holy place’. He has become ‘Emmanuel’, ‘God with us’. He is our peace and joy, our Saviour and our God’ (57:15; Matthew 1:21, 23; John 20:28).
59:1-21 – What are we to do ‘when the enemy comes in like a flood’? We must look away from ourselves to Jesus Christ. He has ‘come’ as our ‘Redeemer’. Trusting in Jesus Christ, we must pray that ‘the Spirit of the the Lord will come like a rushing stream’. We must pray that ‘the wind of the Lord’ will come sweeping through us with much blessing (19-20). In ourselves, there is no blessing – ‘salvation… is far from us’. ‘Our sins have separated us from God’. We need to receive ‘salvation’ from the Lord (11,2,17). We must not delude ourselves. Satan is stronger than we are. We have no hope of victory over Satan – until we put our trust in Jesus Christ. Without Christ, we are helpless and hopeless. With Him, we shall be victorious. He is ‘the Rock of our salvation’ (Matthew 7:24-27; 2 Samuel 22:47; 1 Corinthians 10:4).
60:1-22 – ‘Arise, shine; for your Light has come… the Lord will be your everlasting Light’ (1,19-20). Jesus Christ is ‘the Light of the world’. When we ‘follow Him’, we ‘will not walk in darkness’. We ‘will have the light of life’ (John 8:12). We are living in difficult times. We are surrounded by much darkness. We must not be discouraged – ‘the lamp of God has not yet gone out’ (1 Samuel 3:3). When the darkness threatens to overcome the Light, we must take encouragement from God’s Word – ‘The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it’ (John 1:5). When the darkness seems to be everywhere, put your trust in the Lord – The Lord is my light and my salvation – whom shall I fear?’ – and let ‘His Word’ be ‘a lamp to your feet and a light to your path’ (Psalms 27:1; 119:105).
61:1-11 – ‘The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me… to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour’ (1-2). Jesus has fulfilled these words (Luke 4:18-21). Jesus has come, ‘proclaiming the Good News of God’. He tells us that ‘the time has come’. This is the time of opportunity, the time for making our response to Jesus Christ. He calls for our response – ‘Repent and believe the Good News!’. He calls us to make our response now – ‘now is the acceptable time… now is the day of salvation’ (Mark 1:14-15; 2 Corinthians 6:2). There will come a time when the time of opportunity comes to an end. When Christ returns ‘with power and great glory’, it will be ‘the Day of vengeance of our God’. We do not know when Christ will return. Get ‘ready’ for His Return. Put your ‘faith’ in Him (2; Matthew 24:30,36,44; 25:13; Luke 18:8).
62:1-12 – God has given us ‘a new Name’. It is ‘the Name which is above every name’, the Name of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ (2; Philippians 2:9-11). Christ loves us. He has given Himself for us. He calls us His ‘Bride’ (Ephesians 5:25-27; 2 Corinthians 11:2; Revelation 21:2,9). Through faith in Christ, we have become ‘the Holy People’. Through Him, we are ‘the Redeemed of the Lord’. We have been ‘Sought After’ by the Lord. In Him, we are ‘the City No Longer Deserted’ (12; 1 Peter 2:9-9-10; 1:18-19; Luke 19:10; John 14:18). ‘There is a Name I love to hear… It tells me of a Saviour’s love, who died to set me free. It tells me of His precious blood, the sinner’s perfect plea… Jesus, the Name I love so well, the Name I love to hear!… O how I love the Saviour’s Name, the sweetest Name on earth!’ (Mission Praise, 672).
63:1-19 – The Lord our God is ‘mighty to save’. He has shown His ‘steadfast love’ to us. He has become our ‘Saviour’. ‘In His love’, He has ‘redeemed’ us (1,7-9). We read here about the power of God – He is ‘mighty to save’ – and the love of God – ‘In His love’, He has ‘redeemed’ us. What love the Lord has for us – ‘God so loved the world that He gave His only Son…’ (John 3:16)! What power there is in the Gospel of love – ‘The Gospel is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes’ (Romans 1:16)! What a ‘Saviour’ we have – Our Lord Jesus Christ is ‘able to save to the uttermost all who come to God through Him’ (Hebrews 7:25)! Think of Jesus Christ. Think of His love, His power, His salvation. Thank Him for all He has done for you – ‘Alleluia! What a Saviour!’ (Church Hymnary, 380)
64:1-65:12 – We confess our sins to God – ‘We sinned… All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags’. We look to God for forgiveness – ‘Do not remember our sins for ever’ (64:5-6,9). We know that God hears and answers our prayer. Jesus Christ is God’s Answer to our prayer. He has ‘come down’ from heaven to earth. ‘The Son of the Most High’ has been ‘born’ into our world. Jesus Christ is God’s way of saying ‘Here am I! Here am I!’. He is ‘God with us’ (64:1; 65:1; Luke 1:32,35; Matthew 1:23). ‘The blood of Jesus, God’s Son, cleanses us from all sin’. Let us ‘confess our sins’. ‘The blood of Jesus, God’s Son, cleanses us from all sin’ – Let us come to God with faith, believing that He ‘will forgive our sins’. (1 John 1:7,9). Let us rejoice in Jesus, our Saviour!
65:13-66:4 – What a contrast there is between those who belong to Christ – ‘My servants will sing out of the joy of their hearts’ – and those who have refused to come to Christ for salvation – ‘You will cry out from anguish of heart and wail in brokenness of spirit’ (14)! God is preparing a great future ‘for those who love Him’ – ‘I will create a new heaven and a new earth’. He is calling us away from our sins – ‘Past things will not be remembered. They will not come to mind’. He is calling us to His ‘holy mountain’. How can we enter into our full enjoyment of God’s eternal salvation? God’s Word tells us: ‘I will pay attention to those who are humble and sorry for their sins and who tremble at My Word’ (65:17,25; 66:2; 1 Corinthians 2:9). Make sure that you belong to Christ. Put your faith in Him (John 3:18,36).
66:5-24 – ‘Hear the Word of the Lord’. How are we to listen to God’s Word? We are to ‘tremble at His Word’. We are to ‘drink deeply with delight’ (5,10-11). There is to be the fear of the Lord. There is to be joy in the Lord. These are not opposites. They belong together – ‘Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling… Rejoice in the Lord’ (Philippians 2:12; 3:1). We hear God’s warning, and we ‘tremble’. To those who ‘sin deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth’, God says this: ‘It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God’ (Hebrews 10:26,31). We hear God’s promise, and we ‘rejoice’: ‘The eternal God is your dwelling place, and underneath are the everlasting arms’ (Deuteronomy 33:27). Let us ‘hear the Word of the Lord’ – the warning as well as the promise!
1:1-19 – To understand Jeremiah’s story, we must look ‘behind the scenes’: ‘The Word of the Lord came to me, saying, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations”’ (4-5). To understand our own story, we must go even further back – ‘The God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ… chose us in Christ before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in His sight’. We must never forget the words of Jesus: ‘You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit – fruit that will last’ (Ephesians 1:3-4; John 15:16). We’re not to be ‘on the surface’ people. We’re to be people who have seen ‘behind the scenes’, people who have caught a glimpse of the eternal God and His eternal purpose for our lives.
2:1-19 – Jeremiah’s message was not popular. He spoke to the people about their ‘sins’. They had turned away from the Lord. They had chosen to go their own way (13). He invited them to think about what their wrong choices were doing to them: ‘Have you not brought this on yourselves by forsaking the Lord your God when He led you in the way?’ (17). Jeremiah left the people in no doubt about where their wrong choices were leading them – ‘“Your own evil will punish you, and your turning from Me will condemn you. You will learn how bitter and wrong it is to abandon Me, the Lord your God, and no longer to remain faithful to Me”, I, the Sovereign Lord Almighty, have spoken’ (19). This was not what the people wanted to hear. It was what they needed to hear. It’s still what we need to hear today!
2:20-37 – ‘Where then are the gods you made for yourselves? Let them come if they can save you when you are in trouble!’ (28). The man-made ‘gods’ cannot ‘save’. They cannot even begin to compare with ‘the Lord’ – ‘the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth’ (Isaiah 40:28). There is no comparison between God and the gods – ‘I am God, and there is no other’. The outcome of the conflict between God and the gods is never in doubt. For ‘all the makers of idols’, the future holds nothing but ‘shame’ and ‘disgrace’. God calls us to a much better and brighter future. ‘Saved by the Lord with an everlasting salvation’ – This is the great and glorious future which awaits all who obey God’s call to salvation: ‘Turn to Me and be saved, all you ends of the earth’ (Isaiah 45:15-17,22).
3:1-25 – God calls us to ‘return’ to Him (14,22). He calls us to make our response to Him. He invites us to say, ‘Yes, we will come to You, for You are the Lord our God’ (22). How are we to come to the Lord? We are to come to Him, confessing our sins – ‘We have sinned against the Lord our God’ (25). We are to come to Him, trusting Him to save us – ‘Surely in the Lord our God is the salvation of Israel’ (23). ‘Return’ to the Lord – There is nothing more than important than this. Think of the blessings the Lord gives to those who return to Him – (a) He is ‘merciful’ to us – ‘He does not treat us as our sins deserve’ (12, Psalm 103:10); (b) We become His children, calling Him ‘Father’ (19; Galatians 4:6); (c) He ‘cures us of our backsliding’ – ‘In Christ’, we become ‘a new creation’ (22; 2 Corinthians 5:17).
4:1-18 – ‘If you will return, O Israel,… then the nations will be blessed…’ (1-2). We are not only to seek blessing for ourselves. We are to pray that others will be blessed also. The blessing of God is not to be kept to ourselves. It is to be shared. We are not to be small-minded people – ‘What will I get out of it?’. Jesus said to His first disciples, ‘Go and make disciples of all nations’. This is still His Word to us today. We cannot rest content with being an inward-looking Church. Christ has given us a worldwide mission: ‘You will be My witnesses… to the ends of the earth’. We are not left to face this great task on our own. Christ says, ‘I am with you always’. We do not take up this great challenge in our own strength. Christ says to us, ‘You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you’ (Matthew 28:19-20; Acts 1:8).
4:19-5:9 – ‘One disaster follows another. The whole land is ruined… My people are fools. They don’t know Me… They are experts in doing wrong, and they don’t know how to do good’ (20,22). We read the daily news. We wonder, ‘What’s going to happen next?’. We ask, ‘Where will it all end?’. Are we to give up hope? No! We must learn to look beyond the things that are happening in our world today. We must learn to look to the Lord – ‘the God of hope’. He says to us, ‘There is hope for your future’. Do you feel like things are just going from bad to worse? Remember God’s Word: ‘I know the plans I have for you… to give you a future and a hope’. ‘May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit’ (29:11; 31:17; Romans 15:13).
5:10-6:8 – ‘A horrible and shocking thing has happened in the land: The prophets prophesy lies, the priests rule by their own authority, and My people love it this way’ (31)! The people were happy to listen to the ‘prophets’ – so long as their preaching wasn’t too challenging. They were happy to attend the services conducted by the ‘priests’ – so long as nobody expected them to change their way of life. The last thing they wanted was ‘prophets’ and ‘priests’ who took God’s Word seriously. Jeremiah was exactly what they didn’t want! He was serious about preaching the Word of God. He was serious about living in obedience to God’s Word. He wasn’t popular. He didn’t give the people what they wanted. Jeremiah was exactly what the people needed – a prophet who would keep on challenging them to ‘get real’ with God.
6:9-30 – ‘Their ears are closed… The Word of the Lord is offensive to them; they find no pleasure in it’ (10). Jeremiah must have felt like he was ‘hitting his head off a brick wall’. So few people showed any real interest in hearing and obeying the Word of the Lord. It seemed like God’s Word was ‘going in one ear and out the other’. It would have been so easy for Jeremiah just to ‘settle down’, to start ‘taking it easy’. This was what so many of the ‘prophets’ and ‘priests’ had done: ‘They dress the wound of My people as though it were not serious. “Peace, peace”, they say, when there is no peace’ (13-14). This was what Jeremiah refused to do. Jeremiah made his choice. We must make our choice. Will we choose to be faithful to God or will we settle for being popular with those whom ‘the Lord has rejected’ (30)?
7:1-8:3 – ‘Stop believing these deceitful words, “We are safe! This is the temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord!”’ (4). For many, the place of worship has become more important than the Person we worship. They talk a lot about ‘the Church’ – but they never speak of Christ! They love to see ‘the Church’ looking good – but they’re not so concerned about what ‘the Lord sees’ when He ‘looks at the heart’ (1 Samuel 16:7)! Their talk is so self-centred – ‘I love my Church. I never miss my Church. I always support my Church’. There is a great deal of ‘I’ in this kind of talk – but Christ is conspicuous by His absence! ‘Look at what I have done for my Church’ – ‘Stop believing these deceitful words’. Let Christ take the place of ‘I’: ‘It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me’ (Galatians 2:20).
8:4-22 – ‘Wise people are put to shame, confused, trapped. They have rejected the Word of the Lord. They don’t really have any wisdom’ (9). Some people think they’re smart. They’re wise in their own eyes. They ‘know it all’ – so they think! They’ve an answer for everything – except the most important question, the question of salvation: ‘What must I do to be saved?’. They know so much – yet they know so little that really matters! ‘The harvest is past, the summer is ended, and we are not saved’ (20) – Some people think they’re smart. They’re getting on in the world. They’ve no time for God. They’re too busy enjoying all the pleasures of this world. When this world is ‘past’ and its pleasures have ‘ended’, where will we be? – ‘What good will it do you if you gain the whole world – and lose eternal life?’ (Matthew 16:22).
9:1-26 – Jeremiah speaks of those who are ‘circumcised only in the flesh’. They remain ‘uncircumcised in the heart’ (25-26). Paul tells us that ‘not all who are descended from Israel are Israel’. Salvation is not a matter of outward conformity to religious rituals. What we need is ‘circumcision of the heart, by the Spirit’ (Romans 9:6; 2:28-29). Jesus put it this way: ‘You must be born again’ (John 3:7). Many people have been ‘brought up in the Church’, but they’ve never opened their hearts to Christ. They’ve heard the Word of God preached many times, but they haven’t been born again through the power of ‘the Spirit of the living God’ (2 Corinthians 3:3). Our religious rituals mean nothing if, in our hearts, we remain unconverted: ‘Neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything; what counts is a new creation’ (Galatians 6:15).
10:1-25 – ‘The Lord is the true God; He is the living God, the eternal King’ (10). Can there ever be anything more important than worshipping the Lord? We know the answer as soon as we ask the question! Very often, our lives gives a very different answer. We have taken our eyes off the Lord. We have forgotten that He is the true and living God. We sing the words, ‘O Lord, Thou art my God and King… Each day I rise, I will Thee bless…’ – but they have a hollow ring about them! Here’s a prayer to help you to make a real commitment of your life to the Lord: ‘Teach me to live, day by day, in Your presence, Lord… Teach me to praise, day by day, in Your Spirit, Lord… Teach me to love, day by day, in Your power, Lord… Teach me to give, day by day, from my wealth, O Lord…’ (Church Hymnary, 346; Mission Praise, 627).
11:1-23 – God speaks His Word to us. He calls us to obedience. He says to us, ‘Obey My voice’. Sadly, however, the story of our life is often summed up in the words: ‘They did not listen or pay attention. They did not obey’ (7-8). God’s Word is not just ‘something to think about. When God calls us to obedience, we’re not to say, ‘I’ll think about that later’. ‘Now’ is the time for obedience to God’s Word: ‘Obey now the voice of the Lord’ (38:20). We must not put this off until tomorrow. God is looking for our obedience today: ‘Today, when you hear His voice, do not harden your hearts’ (Hebrews 4:7). To those who were deeply involved in religious ritual – ‘burnt offerings and sacrifices’ – , God said this, ‘To obey is better than sacrifice’ (1 Samuel 15:22). Obedience involves our whole life – not just ‘never missing a service’!
12:1-17 – ‘“If any nation does not listen, I will completely uproot and destroy it”, declares the Lord’ (17). We must not look out to the world and say, ‘That’s what’s happening “out there”’. We must look into our own hearts. We must ask, ‘What’s happening “in here”?’. We are to pray, ‘Search me, O God, and know my heart’ (Psalm 139:23). When the searchlight of God’s Word begins to shine on our lives, it becomes clear that ‘all is not as it seems’: ‘They speak well of You with their lips, but their hearts are far from You’ (2). Our situation seems hopeless. We cannot change ourselves: ‘Can the Ethiopian change his skin or the leopard his spots? Neither can you do good who are accustomed to doing evil’ (13:23). There is a Word of hope. We can be changed by the Lord: ‘I will give you a new heart’ (Ezekiel 36:26).
13:1-27 – ‘These wicked people, who refuse to listen to My words, who follow the stubbornness of their hearts and go after other gods to serve and worship them will be… completely useless’ (10). Are you on the way to becoming ‘completely useless’? Each of us must think about what’s been happening in our lives? – ‘Where is the blessedness I knew when first I saw the Lord? Where is the soul-refreshing view of Jesus and His Word? What peaceful hours I once enjoyed! How sweet their memory still! But they have left an aching void the world can never fill’. We need to pray for real change. We need to pray for ‘a closer walk with God’: ‘Return, O Holy Dove!… The dearest idol I have known… Help me to tear it from Thy throne, and worship only Thee. So shall my walk be close with God…’ (Church Hymnary, 663).
14:1-22 – In ourselves, there is sin – ‘O Lord… we have sinned against You’. In the Lord, there is salvation – ‘O Lord our God… our hope is in You’ (20,22). In the Lord, there is no sin – ‘You are too pure to look on evil’ (Habakkuk 1:13). In ourselves , there is no salvation. We are ‘spiritually dead because of our disobedience and sins’. We need to be ‘made alive’. How can this happen? It is not something we can do for ourselves. The new birth can only be received as a gift from God. We must stop trying to save ourselves. It cannot be done. Salvation cannot be earned. It must be received as a gift from God. It must be received by ‘faith’. We must look away from ourselves to Christ. In Christ, we see ‘God’s great love for us’. Through receiving Christ as Saviour, we are ‘born of God’ (Ephesians 2:1,4-5,8; John 1:12-13).
15:1-21 – Some of our problems come from outside of ourselves. Other people cause problems for us – ‘This people will fight against you’ (20). Some of our problems come from within our own hearts. Our own sins cause problems for us – ‘Put to death what is earthly in you…’ (Colossians 3:5). There are ‘fightings and fears within’. There are ‘fightings and fears without’. We are ‘tossed about with many a conflict, many a doubt’. Tell the Lord all about it. Tell Him how it really is. ‘Just as I am’ – This is how we must come to the Lord. Our ‘fightings and fears’ do not simply disappear the moment we pray, ‘O Lamb of God, I come’ (Church Hymnary, 79). We do, however, have God’s promise: ‘They will fight against you, but they will not overcome you’ (20). He will lead us in the way of victory (Colossians 2:8-10).
16:1-21 – ‘O Lord, my Strength and my Stronghold, my Refuge in the day of trouble, to You the nations will come from the ends of the earth… They will know that My Name is the Lord’ (19,21). Faith is to be personal – The Lord is my Strength, my Stronghold, my Refuge. Faith must not be private. It is not to be kept to ourselves. There is to be no ‘us and them’ attitude. We are not to have a ‘we are the people’ attitude. The Gospel is for the nations. We’re not to say, ‘I’m okay. That’s all that matters’. The Gospel is to be taken to the ends of the earth. We are to reach out to others. We must share the Gospel with the people we meet. Tell the people what the Lord has done for you. Tell them what He can do for them. Let them know how much the Lord loves them. Let them know that our God can be their God too.
17:1-27 – ‘The Lord’ is ‘the Fountain of living water’ (13). He says to us, ‘With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation’ (Isaiah 12:3). We can be ‘like a tree planted by water’, a tree that ‘does not cease to bear fruit’ (8; Psalm 1:3). God speaks His Word to us: ‘“Where is the Word of the Lord?” Let it come!’ (15; Psalm 1:2) He brings His salvation to us: ‘Save me, and I will saved’(14; Psalm 1:6). He gives His blessing to us: ‘Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord’ (7: Psalm 1:1). We rejoice in God’s ‘eternal love’, drinking from ‘the streams of living waters’ and discovering that ‘grace,… like the Lord the Giver, never fails from age to age’ (Church Hymnary, 421). Let us press on to our heavenly and eternal glory: ‘In Your presence is fullness of joy. At Your right hand are pleasures for evermore’ (Psalm 16:11).
18:1-23 – ‘The pot he was shaping from the clay was marred in his hands, so the potter formed it into another pot, shaping it as seemed best to him’ (4). This is what the Lord is doing in our lives. He is ‘the Potter’. We are no more than ‘jars of clay’ (6; Isaiah 64:8; 2 Corinthians 4:7). Our lives are ‘marred’ by sin. It would be very easy to give up on ourselves. God hasn’t given up on us. He looks beyond what we are now. He sees what we will become. He is preparing us for ‘eternal glory’. ‘We are being renewed day by day’. ‘We are being transformed into His likeness with ever-increasing glory’ (2 Corinthians 4:16-17:3:18). ‘Jesus, You are changing me. By Your Spirit, You’re making me like You… You are the Potter and I am the clay. Help me to be willing to let You have Your way…’ (Mission Praise, 389).
19:1-20:6 – ‘Listen! I am going to bring on this city and the villages around it every disaster I pronounced against them, because they were stubborn and would not listen to My Word’ (15). God is warning the people. He is calling them back from the way of sin and disobedience. He is calling them to return to Him. He is looking for people who will take Him seriously. He calls us to live in obedience to His Word. He calls us to worship Him with the dedication of our lives and not only the words of our lips. Sometimes, we wonder, ‘Will God’s blessing be lost forever? Is there a way of rediscovering His blessing in our lives?’. ‘There’s a way back to God from the dark paths of sin. There’s a door that is open and you may go in. At Calvary’s Cross is where you begin, when you come as a sinner to Jesus’ (Mission Praise. 682).
20:7-18 – Jeremiah is deeply depressed – ‘Cursed be the day I was born!… Why did I ever come out of the womb to see trouble and sorrow and to end my days in shame?’ (14-18). He has been preaching God’s Word. He’s getting nothing but abuse in return: ‘The Word of the Lord has brought me insult and reproach all day long’ (8). Does he stop preaching ? No! He keeps on going. He feels like giving up: ‘If I say, “I will not mention Him or speak any more in His Name”’. There is, however, a greater Power which drives him on – ‘His Word is in my heart like a fire’. No matter how much Jeremiah tries to keep silent, he ‘cannot’ do it (9). He moves forward in triumphant faith: ‘The Lord is with me like a mighty warrior’ (11). He calls on the people to worship the Lord: ‘Sing to the Lord! Give praise to the Lord!’ (13).
21:1-14 – ‘Perhaps the Lord will perform wonders for us as in times past…’ (2). That was then. What about now? We must not assume that God will always bless us. Yesterday’s blessing belongs to the past. We must not live in the past. We must not say, ‘He has blessed us in the past. He will keep on blessing us’. Do you want to keep on enjoying God’s blessing? Keep on seeking His blessing. If we do not seek the Lord, there will be no promise of blessing. We will hear a very different Word from the Lord: ‘I have determined to do this city harm and not good… I will punish as your deeds deserve’ (10,14). Don’t take God’s blessing for granted. You could be ‘in for a rude awakening’ – if you do not start seeking the Lord. Start seeking Him today: ‘You will seek Me and find Me when you seek Me with all your heart’ (29:13).
22:1-30 – Jeremiah was speaking to people who had given up on worshipping the Lord (9). His message was clear: ‘O land, land, land, hear the Word of the Lord?’ (29). God is speaking His Word. Are we listening? God is looking for people who will listen to Him. He wants us to pay attention to His Word. God’s Word is like ‘the sound of a trumpet’. It demands our attention. Many people say, ‘We will not listen’. God’s Word shows us ‘the good way’ and calls us to ‘walk in it’. Many people say, ‘We will not walk in it’. What about you? What do you say? What is your response to the Word of the Lord? God is warning us: ‘I am bringing disaster on this people… because they have not listened to My Word’. Don’t bring this judgment on yourself. Listen to God’s Word. Walk in His way (6:16-19).
23:1-20 – ‘Woe to the shepherds who are destroying and scattering the sheep of my pasture!’ (1). We are not to be like the false ‘prophets’: ‘They speak visions from their own minds, not from the mouth of the Lord’. What were the false ‘prophets’ saying? – ‘They keep saying to those who despise Me, “The Lord says: You will have peace”. To all those who follow the stubbornness of their hearts, they say, “No harm will come to you”’ (16-17). God is calling us to be faithful. It will not be easy. Often, we will be tempted to ‘take the easy way out’. We will feel the pull of the world: ‘Just be the same as everybody else’. This may seem to be the ‘easy’ option. There is something else we must remember: It is also ‘the broad road that leads to destruction’. Let us follow Christ on ‘the narrow road which leads to life’ (Matthew 7:13-14).
23:21-40 – ‘I did not send these prophets, yet they have run with their message; I did not speak to them, yet they have prophesied’ (21). Before we can speak for God, we must take time to listen to Him. We dare not attempt to speak for God if we are not prepared to spend time listening to Him. Everything could have been so different – if ‘these prophets’ had taken time to listen to God: ‘If they had stood in My council, they would have proclaimed My words to My people and would have turned them from their evil ways’ (22). ‘If’ – God doesn’t force us to listen to His Word. He invites us to listen. The choice is ours. You can allow other things to become more important than spending time with God. Don’t be ‘too busy’ for the ‘one thing’ that is more important than anything else – listening to God’s Word (Luke 10:41-42).
24:1-25:14 – Can our lives be changed? Yes! They can be changed by God: ‘I will give them a heart to know that I am the Lord’. This is no superficial change. This is real change, change which makes a difference. This is a change of heart: ‘they shall return to Me with their whole heart’ (7). How are we changed? We are changed by God: ‘I will put My Spirit within you, and you shall live’ (Ezekiel 37:14). We become new people – ‘alive to God in Christ Jesus’ (Romans 6:11). This is the great change, the change that makes all the difference. It’s not just a little change here and there. It’s everywhere. No part of our life remains the same. Every part of life is changed. When there’s a real change of heart, everything changes – ‘all things have become new’ (2 Corinthians 5:17). ‘Change my heart, O God…’ (Mission Praise, 69).
25:15-38 – ‘I am beginning to bring disaster on the city that bears My Name’ (29). With the privilege of being the Lord’s people comes the responsibilty of living as the Lord’s people. We are not to be His people in name only. We are to live the life of the people of God. We must not imagine that we can enjoy the privilege of being God’s people if we are not prepared to bear the responsibility of living as His people. Privilege and resonsibility belong together: ‘You only have I chosen of all the families of the earth; therefore I will punish you for all your sins’ (Amos 3:2). We cannot say, ‘I belong to the Lord’ and then live whatever way we like. To those who have been ‘raised with Christ’, receiving new life through faith in Him, God says, ‘Set your hearts and minds on things above, not on earthly things’ (Colossians 3:1-2).
26:1-24 – ‘He has spoken to us in the Name of the Lord our God’ (16). Jeremiah was a true servant of the Lord. We need people like him today. He was faithful. He was unashamed of his Lord. He was unafraid to speak up for his Lord. We see this same faithfulness in Christ’s apostles: ‘Day after day, in the temple and from house to house, they never stopped teaching and preaching the Good News that Jesus is the Christ’ (Acts 5:42). We could do with people like that today, people who are enthusiastic about sharing the Gospel, people who are eager to win others for Christ. We can be people like that. God can make us like that – if we let Him! As you hear the Word of the Lord in Church, as you read His Word in your own home, pray that God will give you the strength to share with others the Word He has given to you.
27:1-22 – ‘They will be taken to Babylon and there they will remain until the day I come for them. Then I will bring them and restore them to this place’ (22). God had a great purpose for His people – but they had to wait for His time. God has a great purpose for us. Christ is preparing a great ‘place’ for us: ‘In My Father’s House are many mansions… I am going there to prepare a place for you’. Christ has promised that He will return to take us to that great ‘place’: ‘I will come again and will take you to Myself, that where I am you may be also’ (John 14:2-3). Christ is coming. We must wait for Him. We must be patient. We must wait for His time, the time of His Coming, the Day when He comes for us. The Lord has not forgotten His promise. He will come ‘to save those who are eagerly waiting for Him’ (Hebrews 9:28).
28:1-17 – ‘Listen, Hananiah, the Lord has not sent you, and you have made this people trust in a lie’ (15). What a difference there is between those who wait on the Lord for His strength and those who rush ahead in their own strength! The Word of God warns us against trying to serve God in our own strength: ‘Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted’. If we are to be true servants of the Lord, we must learn to wait upon the Lord and receive His strength: ‘Those who wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength’. What a difference the strength of the Lord makes – ‘They shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint’ (Isaiah 40:30-31)! Let us exchange our weakness for God’s strength – then we will truly be ‘sent’ by the Lord and will speak His truth.
29:1-32 – ‘I know the plans I have for you… to give you a future and a hope’. This was God’s long-term purpose for His people. It was important that they did not lose sight of this. There would be ‘seventy years’ of captivity in Babylon (10-11). At times, they must have wondered, ‘Will this ever end? Is there really something better still to come?’. Our life on earth may sometimes seem like the ‘seventy years’ in Babylon: ‘The length of our days is seventy years… yet all they bring us is trouble and sorrow’! We wonder, ‘Is there a glorious future still to come?’. In our times of ‘suffering’ and ‘sorrow’, we draw our ‘strength’ from God’s Word. We look forward to ‘the Day’ when Christ ‘comes to be glorified in His holy people and to be admired in all who believe’ (Psalms 90:10; 119:28; 2 Thessalonians 1:4-5,10).
30:1-24 – ‘I am with you to save you’. This was God’s Word to His people. Their ‘captivity’ in Babylon would not last forever. God had given His promise: ‘I will restore the fortunes of My people… I will bring them back to the land which I gave to their fathers’ (10-11,3). ‘I am with you to save you’. This is still God’s Word to us. Our ‘captivity’ will not last forever. Christ has died to ‘free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death’. We look beyond our earthly life. We see our glorious future. ‘Death’ will be ‘swallowed up in victory’. ‘Thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ’. Let us ‘be steadfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord, our labour is not in vain’ (Hebrews 2:14-15; 1 Corinthians 15:54,57-58).
31:1-20 – ‘I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with loving-kindness’ (3). So often, we have been like ‘the prodigal son’ (Luke 15:11-24). We have walked away from our Father’s House. We have wandered off into ‘the far country’. We feel that we are far from God, yet still He draws near to us. The Lord is at work in our hearts. He is bringing us ‘to our senses’. He is reminding us of His love. He is drawing us back to Himself. In love, He is calling us home again. He is speaking to our hearts. He is saying to us, ‘I have loved you with an everlasting love’. As His love reaches our hearts, ‘the prodigal son’ becomes ‘the returning son’: ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son’. ‘Bring me back, let me come back, for you are the Lord my God!’ (18).
31:21-40 – ‘Set up road signs; put up guideposts. Take note of the highway, the road that you take’ (21). It’s so easy to take a wrong turning. You lose your sense of direction. You get confused. You’re not sure which way to go. You are lost. You are getting more and more lost all the time. You can’t find your way back home again. You need someone who knows the way to come and be your guide. Is there someone who can get us on the right road again? Is there someone who can guide us safely home? Yes! Jesus is ‘the Way, the True Way, the Living Way’. ‘I am the Way, the Truth and the Life. That’s what Jesus said. Without the Way, there is no going, Without the Truth, there is no knowing. Without the Life, there is no living’ (John 14:6; Junior Praise, 89). Let Jesus be your Guide. Let Him be your Saviour.
32:1-25 – ‘Nothing is too hard for You’ (17). We face many difficult situations. What are you to do when you feel you can take no more? Remember the Lord. Nothing is too hard for Him. Remember His promise: ‘The Lord is faithful, and He will strengthen and protect you from the evil one’ (2 Thessalonians 3:3). Jesus calls us to follow Him. He calls us to follow Him. He warns us – ‘the way is hard’. It is Jesus – our loving Saviour – who calls us to follow Him. He does not leave us to go it alone. He gives us His strength – ‘My yoke is easy and my burden is light’ (Matthew 4:19; 7:14; 11:30). ‘When the road is rough and steep, fix your eyes upon Jesus. He alone has power to keep. Fix your eyes upon Him’. You can ‘depend on’ Jesus. He is your ‘gracious Friend’. ‘He is faithful to the end’ (Junior Praise, 279).
32:26-44 – ‘I will bring them back to this place’ (37). God is bringing us into His ‘place’. He is bringing us close to Himself: ‘They will be My people, and I will be their God’ (38). He is bringing us into the ‘place’ of obedience: ‘I will inspire them to fear Me, so that they will never turn away from Me’ (40). He is leading us to the ‘place’ of blessing: ‘I will give them singleness of heart and action, so that they will always fear Me for their own good and the good of their children after them’ (39). Sometimes, our life seems like ‘a desolate waste’. We must not lose sight of the purpose of God: ‘I will rejoice in doing them good and will assuredly plant them in this land with all My heart and soul’ (43,41). God will not leave us in our ‘desolate waste’. He will lead us to a better ‘place’ – the ‘place’ of obedience and blessing.
33:1-26 – ‘I will bring Judah and Israel back from captivity and will rebuild them as they were before. I will cleanse them from all the sin they have committed against Me… Then this city will bring Me renown, joy, praise, and honour before all nations on earth…’ (7-9). What great blessing lay ahead of God’s people! God was pointing His people to the place of blessing: Jesus Christ – ‘the righteous Branch from David’s line’ (15-16). ‘In Christ’, we have ‘every spiritual blessing’: ‘No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love Him’ (Ephesians 1:3; 1 Corinthians 2:9). God has so much blessing to give to us. Come to Him and receive His blessing: ‘Call to Me, and I will answer you; I will show you wonderful and marvellous things that you know nothing about’ (3).
34:1-22 – ‘Freedom for the slaves’ – What a good idea! ‘Everyone agreed’. The slaves were ‘set free’. So far, so good! Then things went wrong – ‘Afterwards they changed their minds and took back the slaves… and enslaved them again’ (8-11). What did God have to say about this? – ‘You have turned round and dishonoured Me… You took back the slaves… You forced them into slavery again… You have not obeyed Me’ (16-17). Jesus Christ isn’t like these slavemasters! He doesn’t only promise us freedom. He gives us our freedom: ‘If the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed’. He doesn’t come to us with ‘a pack of lies’ – promising this, that and the other, and then breaking every promise. He sets us free with His Word of truth – ‘You shall know the truth, and the truth will set you free’ (John 8:36,32; Psalm 119:45).
35:1-19 – ‘Will you not learn a lesson and obey My words?’ (13) – ‘Jonadab, son of Rechab, ordered his sons not to drink wine and this command has been kept… I have spoken to you again and again, yet you have not obeyed Me’ (14). We are not to say, ‘I will follow You’ and then change our mind (Luke 9:57). We are not to sing, ‘Take my life, and let it be consecrated, Lord, to Thee’, and then live a life which contradicts our prayer of commitment to the Lord (Church Hymnary, 462). We are to mean what we say. We are to follow through our words of commitment with a life of obedience, a life that is pleasing to the Lord. The Rechabites were obedient to Jonadaab’s command – and they were blessed by God (18-19). Obedient and blessed – That’s what God wants us to be. Let’s obey the Lord – and look to Him for the blessing.
36:1-32 – ‘The king cut it with the penknife, and threw it into the fire’ (23). The king didn’t like God’s Word. He thought he could get rid of God’s Word. What a fool he was! God saw what was going on. The king’s attempt to silence God was utterly futile. God would not be silenced. He continued to speak His Word. Soon, the king was hearing another Word from the Lord: ‘You burned that scroll…’ (29)! God is still speaking to us today. He calls us to listen to Him. He calls us back from the way of ‘wickedness’, back from the brink of ‘disaster’ (31). He calls us back from the way of unbelief, the way that leads to ‘the eternal fire, prepared for the devil and his angels’. He calls us to be ‘blessed’. Have faith in the Saviour. Receive ‘the Kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world’ (Matthew 25:41,34).
37:1-21 – ‘Is there any Word from the Lord?’ – ‘Yes! There is a Word from the Lord’. The Word from the Lord wasn’t exactly what the king wanted to hear – ‘You will be handed over to the king of Babylon’ (17). God was going to bless His people – but they would have to be patient: Things were going to get an awful lot worse before they would get much better! Before their restoration – “I will bring them back and restore them to this place’ – , God’s people faced captivity – ‘They will be taken to Babylon’. There was bad news – a captivity of ‘seventy years’. There was good news – the captivity wouldn’t last forever (27:22; 29:10-11)! God speaks of His blessing – ‘It will certainly come’ – , but He also says, ‘Wait for it’ (Habakkuk 2:3). Let’s listen to all that He says to us – and not ‘only hear what we want to hear’!
38:1-28 – ‘No Surrender’ – Was this the way forward for God’s people? ‘No Surrender’ – What would happen if God’s people adopted this attitude? Jeremiah speaks God’s Word to the people. He calls them to make their choice. They can ‘surrender’ and ‘live’. They can say, ‘No Surrender’ – and face certain death (17-18). Captivity in Babylon would not be easy. They would be heartbroken as they recalled happier times – ‘By the rivers of Babylon we sat and wept when we remembered Zion’. It would be so difficult to keep on praising the Lord – ‘How shall we sing the Lord’s song in a foreign land?’ (Psalm 137:1,4). Life in Babylon would be difficult – but ‘it would not be the end of the world’! They could still look forward to the fulfilment of God’s ‘gracious promise’: ‘I will come to you and bring you back to this place’ (29:10).
39:1-18 – You can take the man out of Babylon, but you can’t take Babylon out of the man! We may have never set foot in the ancient city of Babylon, but we know all about the spirit of Babylon! ‘The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately corrupt’ (17:9) – This is the spirit of Babylon, ‘the spirit of disobedience’, the spirit which is ‘at work’ in every one of us: ‘All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God’ (Ephesians 2:2; Romans 3:23). Is there any hope for us? We cannot change ourselves: ‘Can the Ethiopian change his skin, or the leopard its spots? Neither can you do good who are accustomed to doing evil’ (13:23). We can be changed by God. To those who ‘trust’ in Him, the Lord says, ‘I will save you’ (18). God wants to bless you. Put your trust in Him. Let His blessing flow into your heart (17:7).
40:1-16 – ‘The Lord your God pronounced this evil against this place; the Lord has brought it about, and has done as He said. Because you sinned against the Lord, and did not obey His voice, this thing has come upon you’ (3). We hear a great deal today about ‘the feel good factor’. People need to get a good feeling: ‘Give them a pat on the back. Make them feel good about themselves’. There’s not much of a ‘feel good factor’ in Jeremiah’s preaching! The people must have been wondering, ‘Where did they dig him up from? He has nothing good to say about anyone or anything’. We must rise above the sarcasm of those who have no time for the Word of the Lord. We must ask, ‘Where did Jeremiah’s message really come from?’. This is what the Word of the Lord says: ‘The Word came to Jeremiah from the Lord’ (1).
41:1-42:6 – Terrible things were happening! Things were going from bad to worse. ‘What next?’ – The people were wondering where it would all end. What are we to do when everything seems to be getting totally out of control? There is one thing we must never forget. It is the most important thing of all. We must ‘pray to the Lord our God’. We must ask Him to ‘show us the way we should go’. He will ‘show us the thing that we should do’ (42:2-3). It’s time to stop complaining and start praying. ‘What a Friend we have in Jesus, all our sins and griefs to bear! What a privilege to carry everything to God in prayer!… Have we trials and temptations? Is there trouble anywhere? We should never be discouraged. Take it to the Lord in prayer!… Jesus knows our every weakness. Take it to the Lord in prayer!’ (Mission Praise, 746).
42:7-43:7 – ‘Do not go to Egypt’ (19). We may never set foot in the country known as ‘Egypt’ – but the spirit of ‘Egypt’ may be in our hearts: ‘Who is the Lord, that I should obey Him…?’ (Exodus 5:2). ‘Egypt’ is an attitude of the heart. It is an attitude of rebellion against God. We must say ‘No’ to ‘Egypt’. We must say ‘No’ to the spirit of rebellion against God. For God’s people, ‘Egypt’ was a place of slavery, a place from which they needed to be set free by God (Exodus 2:23-25; 3:7-10). Each of us must choose how we will live. We can remain in the place of slavery – ‘slaves of sin’ – , or we can be ‘obedient from the heart’, stepping out from that place into the place of freedom, ‘the new life of the Spirit’ – ‘`the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set me free from the law of sin and death’ (Romans 6:17-18; 7:6; 8:2).
43:8-44:14 – ‘The Word of the Lord came to Jeremiah’ (43:8). The Lord speaks His Word to those who are prepared to make time for listening to Him. Come to God’s Word, praying that it will be ‘a lamp to your feet and a light to your path’. Come with the prayer, ‘Open my eyes that I may see wonderful things in Your Word’. See that you ‘live according to His Word’: ‘I have hidden Your Word in my heart that I might not sin against You’ (Psalm 119:105,18,9,11). Pray that God will ‘speak’ to you. ‘Listen’ to what He says to you (1 Samuel 3:10). ‘Say to them, “This is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel says…”’ (43:10). Don’t keep God’s Word to yourself. Share His Word. We are not to listen to God without also speaking for Him. We must remember that we cannot really speak for Him unless we are also listening to Him.
44:15-45:5 – ‘Egypt’ was to be a place of punishment. To those who remain in the the place of rebellion, God says, ‘I will punish you in this place’. This is His Word of warning. We don’t need to remain in the place of rebellion and punishment. We can ‘return’ to ‘Judah’, the place of obedience and blessing (28-29). This is not about places we will find on a map of the world. It’s a call to look into the secret places of our hearts. We must ask God to search our hearts. What will He find when He looks into our hearts? Will He find rebellion? Will He find obedience? God wants us to leave the place of rebellion and punishment. He wants us to return to the place of obedience and blessing. ‘Search me, O God, and know my heart!… See if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!’ (Psalm 139:23-24).
46:1-28 – ‘Egypt rises like the Nile, like rivers whose waters surge. He said, “I will rise, I will cover the earth, I will destroy cities and their inhabitants”’ (8). The spirit of rebellion against God is very powerful. Many lives have been destroyed by the attitude of proud unbelief: ‘Who is the Lord, that I should obey Him…?’ (Exodus 5:2). We must take our stand against this attitude. We must stand up for the Lord. We see the world going from bad to worse. We must continue to believe the Word of God. When we are filled with fear, He comes to us with His Word, ‘Do not fear… Do not be dismayed…’. When we feel the spirit of rebellion sweeping over us, God comes to us with His promise: ‘I will surely save you out of a distant place’. He gives us ‘peace and security’ – ‘Do not fear… I am with you’ (27-28).
47:1-48:17 – ‘The day has come to destroy all the Philistines… The Lord is about to destroy the Philistines… Woe to you, O Moab! The people of Chemosh are destroyed’ (47:4). That seems like ancient history – nothing to do with us! What about this? – ‘A curse on him who is lax in doing the Lord’s work!’ (48:17). The Bible may have been written many centuries ago – but it still has a great deal to do with us! We miss the point if we read the Bible as no more than a book of ancient history. God is still speaking to us through His Word. He is still calling us to sit up and take notice. He is still demanding our attention. We must not be lazy in the work of the Lord. We are to be faithful servants of the Lord. ‘Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord… your labour in the Lord is not in vain’ (1 Corinthians 15:58).
49:1-22 – ‘Afterwards I will restore the fortunes…’ (6). Sometimes, when you’re going through a particularly difficult time, you may wonder, ‘Will this ever end?’. God speaks to us His Word of encouragement. There will be an ‘afterwards’. There will be a ‘restoration of our fortunes’. ‘The Lord will not cast us off for ever. Though He brings grief, He will show compassion according to His steadfast love. He does not willingly bring suffering or grief to anyone’ (Lamentations 3:31-33). There will come a time when we will be able to look back at our most distressing circumstances and say from the heart, ‘God meant it for good’ (Genesis 50:20). In our most testing and trying times, God is teaching us to say, with confidence in Him, ‘We know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him’ (Romans 8:28).
49:23-39 – ‘I will restore the fortunes… in days to come’ (39). God is calling us on to His future, a glorious future, a future full of heavenly and eternal glory. We look ahead to ‘days to come’. We look ahead to the greatest Day of all – the Day of Christ’s Return. It will be a glorious Day – ‘the Day He comes to be glorified… in all who have believed’. What a glorious Day it will be – the Day of ‘the Coming of our Lord Jesus Christ’, the Day of ‘our being gathered to Him’: ‘The Lord Himself will come down from heaven… We will be with the Lord for ever’. Get ready for Christ’s Return. Don’t be like those who ‘perish’. They ‘do not obey the Gospel of our Lord Jesus’. They ‘refuse to love the truth and be saved’. Have ‘faith’ in Christ and be ‘saved’ (2 Thessalonians 1:7-10; 2:1,10,13-14; 1 Thessalonians 4:16-18).
50:1-28 – ‘The people… will go in tears to seek the Lord their God… They will come and bind themselves to the Lord in an everlasting covenant that will not be forgotten’ (4-5). God is calling us to come to Him. He is calling us to commit ourselves to Him. We are to come to the Lord with ‘tears’: ‘Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation’ (2 Corinthians 7:10). Our commitment to the Lord is not to be a half-hearted thing. It is to be a whole-hearted dedication of our lives to Him. God loves us. He has blessed us so much. He has drawn us to Himself. He has heard and answered our prayer for salvation. How are we to respond to such love? We must give ourselves to Him as ‘a living sacrifice’. This is our ‘spiritual worship’. It is ‘holy and pleasing to God’ (Romans 12:1).
50:29-46 – ‘The arrogant one will stumble and fall’ (32). God’s Word warns us – ‘Pride goes before… a fall’; ‘Arrogance will bring your downfall’ (Proverbs 16:18; 29:23). We must not trust in ourselves. We must put our trust in the Lord – Our ‘Redeemer is strong. The Lord Almighty is His Name’ (34). We must not boast of ourselves. Salvation is ‘not our own doing’. We must ‘boast of the Lord’. Salvation is ‘the gift of God’ (1 Corinthians 1:31; Ephesians 2:8-9). When we are tempted to take pride in ourselves – ‘Lord, I thank You that I am not like other men…’ (Luke 18:11-12), we must come to the Cross of Christ, praying the sinner’s prayer – ‘Lord, have mercy on me, a sinner’ (Luke 18:13) – and boasting only of the Lord – ‘God forbid that I should glory except in the Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ’ (Galatians 6:14).
51:1-33 – ‘Lift up a banner in the land! Blow the trumpet among the nations!’ (27). God calls us to be His witnesses. If we are growing in our fellowship with the Lord, we will want others to know what they’re missing. We will want them to know how much blessing they could know – if they put their faith in Christ and began to walk with Him day-by-day. Let us give our testimony: ‘The Lord is my Banner’, ‘His banner over me is love’ (Exodus 17:15; Song of Solomon 2:4). Let us make sure that our ‘trumpet’ gives out ‘a clear call’, calling people to come to Christ. We must point them to Christ, calling them to trust Him as Saviour and obey Him as Lord. We must show them the way to true happiness: ‘Trust and obey, for there’s no other way to be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey’ (Mission Praise, 760).
51:34-64 – ‘When you get to Babylon, see that you read all these words aloud’ (61). God’s Word is not to be kept within the place of worship. We are to take His Word to ‘Babylon’. We must speak His Word in the places where He is not worshipped. We are to call people to turn from their sinful ways. We are to call them to return to the Lord. This will not be an easy message to speak. Many people won’t want to hear it. We must warn people that by neglecting God’s salvation, they are placing themselves in danger of His judgment. We must speak of the Day when everyone of us must ‘answer’ to God concerning the way we have lived our lives (Hebrews 2:3; 4:13). We must call on people to ‘believe in the Lord Jesus’ and ‘be saved’ (Acts 16:31).
52:1-34 – We need ‘a portion for each day… all the days of our life’ (34). When we pray, ‘Give us this day our daily bread’, we must look beynd our physical need for food. We must remember our spiritual need for ‘the Bread of life’: ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every Word of God’ (Matthew 6:11; John 6:35; Luke 4:4). Day-by day, we should pray for spiritual feeding: ‘Break Thou the Bread of life, dear Lord to me, as Thou didst break the bread beside the sea. Beyond the sacred page I seek Thee, Lord. My spirit longs for Thee, Thou living Word! Thou art the Bread of life, O Lord, to me, Thy holy Word the truth that saveth me. Give me to eat and live with Thee above. Teach me to love Thy truth, for Thou art love’ (Mission Praise, 64).
1:1-22 – Jerusalem had fallen into hard times – ‘she who once was great among the nations… has now become a slave’ (1). The explanation for this sad situation was not hard to find – ‘Jerusalem has sinned greatly and so has become unclean…’ (8-9). Could things be turned around? Could there once again be blessing? There was a way back to God – the way of being honest before Him. They needed to look seriously at their way of life and think seriously about their attitude towards the Lord. They were not to adopt an arrogant attitude – ‘There’s really nothing wrong with us. We’re doing all right’. They were to come to God with a real confession of sin: ‘The Lord is righteous, yet I rebelled against His command… O Lord,… I have been most rebellious’ (18,20). God’s blessing will begin again when we confess our sin.
2:1-22 – Jerusalem’s fall into hard times was not ‘just one of those things that happens’. God’s people brought it on themselves. They did not take God seriously – but God continued to take them seriously. They ignored God – but God did not ignore their disobedience to Him. They sinned against God – and He was angry with them: ‘How the Lord in His anger has set the daughter of Zion under a cloud!’ (1). This was not just a case of glibly saying, ‘The good times will come again’. They needed to recognize why the bad times had come: ‘The Lord has… carried out His threat’ (17). The Lord had warned His sinful people. Judgment was on its way – if they refused to listen to Him. Now, in the time of His judgment, God is still calling us back to Himself: ‘Cry aloud to the Lord!…’ (18-19). Will we return to Him?
3:1-24 – There are times when it seems nothing is going right for us: ‘I am the man who has seen affliction…’ (1-3). In such times, we must remember this: ‘The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases. His mercies never come to an end’. When we find ourselves in circumstances of great distress, we must learn to look beyond the things that are happening to us. We must learn to look to the Lord and say, ‘Great is Your faithfulness’. It will not be easy to see God at work in our lives when everything seems to be going wrong. We must be patient as we wait for the blessing of the Lord to return to our lives. We must put all our hope in the Lord, trusting in His precious promise: ‘The Lord is good to those who wait for Him, to the soul that seeks Him. It is good that one should wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord’ (22-26).
3:25-42 – In our ‘grief’, we must not forget the ‘compassion’ of God (32). He understands us. He cares for us. How do we know that God loves us? ‘Christ died for us’ (Romans 5:8). This is the greatest demonstration of God’s love for us. How can we doubt God’s love for us when we think of His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, dying on the Cross for us as our Saviour? When we think of God’s love for us, we must remember that He calls us to love Him. We are not to take God’s love for granted – ‘God loves me. I can do what I like’. We are to appreciate God’s love – ‘God loves me. I will love Him’. God loves us. Christ died for us. How can we say, ‘I’ll do what I like’? How can we refuse to be changed by His love? ‘Let us examine our ways and turn back to the Lord. Let us open our hearts to God’ (40-41).
3:43-66 – ‘You came near when I called You… O Lord… You redeemed my life’ (57-58). We wonder, ‘Will God answer my prayer for salvation?’. Yes! At the Cross of Christ, we learn that God loves us and answers our prayer. ‘You did not wait for me to draw near to You, but You clothed yourself in frail humanity. You did not wait for me to cry out to You, but You let me hear Your voice calling me. And I’m forever grateful to You, I’m forever grateful for the Cross; I’m forever grateful to You that You came to seek and save the lost’. ‘Thank You for the Cross, the price You paid for us, how You gave Yourself so completely, precious Lord, precious Lord. Now our sins are gone, all forgiven, covered by Your blood, all forgotten, thank You Lord, thank You Lord’ (Songs of Fellowship, 631; Mission Praise, 632).
4:1-22 – No human king can even begin to compare with our Lord Jesus Christ, ‘the King of kings’ (Revelation 19:16). The people of Jerusalem were full of confidence. They ‘trusted their king to protect them from every invader’. They thought Jerusalem was invincible: ‘No one anywhere, not even rulers of foreign nations, believed that any invader could enter Jerusalem’s gates’. They were wrong. They thought it would never happen – but it did! The unthinkable happened! ‘They captured the source of our life, the king the Lord had chosen’. Why did it happen? God’s Word gives us the reason: ‘It happened because of the sins of her prophets and… priests’. The king – ‘the Lord’s anointed’ – was unable to prevent Jerusalem’s defeat (12-13,20). Praise God – We have a greater King: our Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ!
5:1-22 – ‘You, O Lord, reign for ever; Your throne endures from generation to generation’. We must remember this when we feel like we have been ‘forgotten’ by God. When we feel like God has ‘abandoned’ us, we must remember this: ‘You, O Lord, are King for ever, and will rule to the end of time’ (19-20). We are not only to pay lip-service to the Lord our King. We are to crown Him as King of our heart and life. How are we to do this? We must pray, ‘Bring us back to You, Lord!’ (21). God is looking for a real return to Him and a real difference in our lives. ‘In your hearts enthrone Him. There let Him subdue all that is not holy, all that is not true…’; ‘So let us learn how to serve and in our lives enthrone Him, each other’s needs to prefer, for it is Christ we’re serving’ (Church Hymnary, 300; Mission Praise, 162).
1:1-2:10 – ‘The heavens were opened and I saw visions of God… The Word of the Lord came to Ezekiel’(1:1-2). The Lord opens our eyes to ‘see the light of the Gospel of the glory of Christ’ (2 Corinthians 4:4). The Lord speaks to us and we must listen to Him: ‘Speak, Lord, for Your servant is listening’ (1 Samuel 3:9-10). ‘The Spirit came into me… Do not be afraid of them or their words’ (2:2,6). Through the Spirit, we receive wisdom – ‘We have received the Spirit who is from God, that we might understand what God has freely given us’ – and strength – ‘God strengthens us with power through His Spirit in our inner being’ (1 Corinthians 2:12; Ephesians 3:16). ‘Be Thou my Vision, O Lord of my heart… Be Thou my Wisdom, Thou my true Word… Be Thou my Battleshield, sword for the fight’ (Church Hymnary, 87).
3:1-4:17 – God speaks to us: ‘The Word of the Lord came to me’ (3:16). We speak to God: “Ah, Lord God!’ (4:14). We speak for God: ‘When I speak to you, I will open your mouth and you shall say to them, “This is what the Lord God says, Whoever will listen, let him listen…”’ (3:27). How can we keep on listening to God, speaking to God and speaking for God? We need to be strengthened with the power of the Holy Spirit: ‘The Spirit came into me and raised me to my feet’ (3:24). The Spirit is our ‘Helper’. He helps us to listen to God: ‘The Holy Spirit will teach you all things’ (John 14:26). He helps us to speak to God: ‘The Spirit helps us in our weakness’ (Romans 8:26). He helps us to speak for God: ‘You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be My witnesses’ (Acts 1:8).
5:1-6:14 – ‘Because you have defiled My sanctuary… I Myself will withdraw My favour’ (5:11). To those who despise His Word and treat the place of prayer with contempt, Jesus still speaks His Word of judgment: ‘My House will be called a House of prayer, but you have made it a den of thieves’ (Matthew 21:13). God is warning us: ‘You have abandoned the love you had at first. Remember the height from which you have fallen! Return to Me and change the way you think and act. If you don’t change, I will come to you and remove your lamp from its place’ (Revelation 2:4-5). When God removes His blessing, there is nothing left but ‘a desolate waste’ (6:14). Make sure you don’t become like Samson – ‘“I will go out as at other times, and shake myself free”. He did not know that the Lord had left him’ (Judges 16:20).
7:1-8:18 – ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says to the land of Israel: The end!’ (7:2). Why did God say, ‘This is “the end”’? He had been taking a good look at what was going on among His people: ‘the utterly detestable things the house of Israel is doing here, things that will drive Me far from My sanctuary’ (8:6). He came to this conclusion – ‘This is the end of the road. It’s the end of the time of blessing. It’s now time for judgment’: ‘The end is now upon you and I will unleash My anger against you. I will judge you according to… all your detestable practices…’ (7:3-4). Why did God say, ‘This is “the end”’ – the end of a time of blessing, the beginning of a time of judgment? The answer is clear: If there is no obedience, there can be no blessing. Disobedience can lead to only one thing – judgment.
9:1-10:22 – For many people, the time of blessing had come to an end and the time of judgment had begun. Some, however, would escape the judgment, They had been obedient to God. He protected them in the time of judgment: ‘Put a mark on the foreheads of those who grieve and lament over all the detestable things that are done… Do not touch anyone who has the mark’ (9:4,6). They were marked out as God’s faithful people. They had continued to worship the Lord when so many others were turning away from Him. For many people, life can be summed up in these sad words: ‘The glory of the Lord departed’(10:18). ‘I looked and I saw…’ (10:1,9): In a time when many show no interest in the Lord, there are those who look to Him and catch a glimpse of His glory – ‘the glory of the God of Israel was above them’ (10:19).
11:1-12:16 – God speaks to us about our sin – ‘Son of man, you are living among a rebellious people’ – and His salvation – ‘I will… put a new spirit in them…’ (12:2; 11:19-20). We must receive’ with humility, the bad news concerning our sin – ‘The wages of sin is death’ – before we can receive, with gladness, the Good News concerning God’s salvation – ‘The free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord’ (Romans 6:23). God wants each of us to be saved: ‘The Lord… does not want anyone to perish; He wants everyone to turn away from their sins’ (2 Peter 3:9). To those who refuse to be saved, dismissing the bad news concerning their sin and closing their hearts to the Good News concerning God’s salvation, God speaks His Word or warning: ‘…I will punish them for what they have done’ (11:21).
12:17-13:23 – ‘Hear the Word of the Lord!’ (13:2). God’s Word warns us: ‘The time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn away from listening to the truth and wander into myths’. When we see this happening, we must commit ourselves to the Lord, living as His faithful servants: ‘As for you, always be steady, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfil your ministry’ (2 Timothy 4:3-5). When people are looking for a ‘feel good’ type of message, a message with plenty of entertainment and no real challenge, we must remember this: God’s Word is to be used for ‘teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness…’ (2 Timothy 3:16-17).
14:1-15:8 – ‘Some of the elders of Israel came to’ Ezekiel. He spoke the Word of the Lord to them: ‘Repent! Turn from your idols and renounce all your detestable practices!’ (14:1,8). This may not have been what they wanted to hear. It was what God wanted them to hear. They did not want to hear this, but they needed to hear it. God was warning them what would happen if they did not make a real return to Him: ‘I will make the land desolate because they have been unfaithful’ (15:8). God’s Word demands a response. What will our response be? Will we say, ‘We don’t want the Lord “to reign over us”’ (Luke 19:14)? Will we be, like Peter, who ‘took Jesus aside and began to rebuke Him…’ (Matthew 16:22)? Don’t be like those who dismiss God’s Word with arrogant pride. Listen to His Word, and let Him change you.
16:1-34 – Without Christ, we are naked and dirty. He covers our nakedness and washes away our dirtiness (8-9). He is our Saviour. We must come to Him with this prayer: ‘Nothing in my hand I bring, simply to Thy Cross I cling; Naked, come to Thee for dress; Helpless, look to Thee for grace; Foul, I to the fountain fly; Wash me, Saviour, I die’ (Church Hymnary, 83). God hears and answers this prayer. He has given us His promise: ‘Whoever comes to Me, I will never drive away’ (John 6:37). When God has heard and answered our prayer for salvation, we have this joyful testimony: ‘I delight greatly in the Lord, my soul rejoices in my God; for He has clothed me with the garments of salvation, He has covered me with the robe of righteousness’ (Isaiah 61:10). We rejoice in this: ‘He saved us by washing away our sins’ (Titus 3:5).
16:35-63 – God calls His unfaithful people to listen to His Word: ‘You prostitute, hear the Word of the Lord!’ (35). He speaks to them of ‘sin, righteousness and judgment’ (John 16:8). He shows them their sin – ‘your filthiness and your nakedness’ (36). He speaks to them as the righteous God, the God of perfect holiness – ‘Your eyes are too holy to look at evil. You cannot stand the sight of people doing wrong’ (Habakkuk 1:13). He warns them that there will be judgment: ‘I will judge you” (38). Why does God speak to us of sin, righteousness and judgment? This is His way of bringing us to repentance – ‘I will make you stop being a prostitute’ – and salvation – “My anger will be over, and I will be calm’ (41-42). Our sin is great, but our Saviour is greater – ‘Wonderful grace of Jesus, greater than all my sin… Praise His Name!’.
17:1-24 – To those who adopt a ‘rebellious’ attitude to Him, God speaks His Word of warning. They shall ‘not escape’ His judgment (12,18). To those who abandon this attitude of rebellion, there is a way of salvation. In verses 22 to 24, we have a prophecy which looks forward to the coming of the Messiah, our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. This prophecy ends with God’s promise: ‘I the Lord have spoken, and I will do it’. God has fulfilled His promise. He has sent His Son to be our Saviour (Matthew1:22-23). We now await the fulfilment of prophecy concerning Christ’s Return: ‘I will come again’; ‘This same Jesus… will come back’; ‘The Lord Himself will come down from heaven’. He says, “I am coming soon’. We say, ‘Come, Lord Jesus’ (John 14:3; Acts 1:11; 1 Thessalonians 4:16; Revelation 22:20).
18:1-32 – ‘The soul that sins shall die’ (4). ‘If a man is righteous… he shall surely live’ (5-9) What hope is there for us? If we look with honesty into our own hearts, we discover this dark truth concerning ourselves: ‘None is righteous… All have sinned’ (Romans 3:10,23). Is there any Good News for us? Is there a way that leads to eternal life? ‘Suppose there is a truly good man, righteous and honest…’ (4). Is there such a man? Is there a man concerning whom God says, ‘That man is righteous; he will surely live’ (9). Yes! There is! Who is this man? What does the Word of God tell us about him? He is Jesus Christ, our Saviour. He ‘died for our sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring us to God’ (1 Peter 3:18). We put our faith in Him. He gives us ‘eternal life’. We ‘pass from death to life’ (1 John 5:11-13; John 5:24).
19:1-14 – There is real sadness here. It is the sadness of God – as He looks upon the sinfulness of His people. If we truly love the Lord, we will have great sadness when we see people turning away from the Lord and ruining their lives. We have joy in the Lord – ‘Rejoice in the Lord always’ (Philippians 4:4). There is also ‘great sorrow’ in our hearts when we think of those who refuse to come to Christ for salvation. This ‘sorrow’ leads us to pray: ‘My heart’s desire and prayer to God for them is that they may be saved’ (1,14; Romans 9:2; 10:1). Let us pray for our ‘dry and thirsty land’. Pray that God will come to our ‘wilderness’: ‘He will come to us as the showers, as the spring rains that water the earth’. Pray that people will ‘return to the Lord’. Pray that they will ‘press on to know the Lord’ (13; Hosea 6:1-3).
20:1-26 – What great things God did for His people, Israel. He ‘brought them out of the land of Egypt’. He led them to ‘a land flowing with milk and honey’ (6). Think of what God has done for us. He has brought us out of our sin and into His salvation: ‘He called you out of darkness into His marvellous light’ (1 Peter 2:9). Saved by the Lord, Israel was to live for the Lord: ‘I am the Lord your God. Obey My laws and My commands’ (19). We have been saved by the Lord: ‘You have been saved by grace through faith. This is not your own doing. It is the gift of God’. He calls us to live for Him. We have been ‘saved… for good works’. Our ‘good works’ are to ‘bring glory to our Father in heaven’ (Matthew 5:16). Let us ‘walk in the light’, rejoicing in our Saviour – ‘the blood of Jesus cleanses us from all sin’ (1 John 1:7).
20:27-49 – Here, we have a clear statement of God’s purpose for our lives: ‘Through you I intend to display My holiness for all the nations to see’ (41). He wants other people to notice that we are different. He wants them to see that we have been changed by Him: ‘As the Spirit of the Lord works within us, we become more and more like Him’ (2 Corinthians 3:18). This is to be our testimony: ‘What a wonderful change in my life has been wrought since Jesus came into my heart!… I have ceased from my wandering and going astray since Jesus came into my heart! And my sins which were many are all washed away since Jesus came into my heart!’ (Mission Praise, 748). May God help us to live as ‘a new creation’, being ‘renewed every day’. Make it ‘your aim’ to ‘live for Him’ and ‘please Him’ (2 Corinthians 4:16-18; 5:9,15,17).
21:1-32 – We read here about ‘the time of final punishment’ (25,29). God’s Word speaks to us about ‘eternal punishment’ as well as ‘eternal life’: ‘Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not have life, but will remain under God’s punishment’ (Matthew 25:46; John 3:36). God loves us. He sent His Son to be our Saviour. He calls us to put our faith in Christ (John 3:16-18). He speaks to us His Word of promise – ‘Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved’ – and His Word of warning – ‘How shall we escape if we ignore such a great salvation?’ (Hebrews 2:3). God is calling us to ‘flee from the wrath to come’ (Luke 3:7). We must turn from sin – ‘Turn away from your sins and live’ – and turn to Him – ‘Turn to Me and be saved’ (18:32; Isaiah 45:22).
22:1-31 – ‘I looked for a man…, but I found none’ (30). God is looking for people who will be faithful in prayer. What happens when God’s people refuse to pray? God’s Word leaves us in no doubt – ‘I will pour out My anger on them…, bringing down on their own heads all they have done’ (31). What a tragedy! The people refused to pray – and there was no blessing from the Lord: ‘You do not have, because you do not ask God’ (James 4:2). Things could have been so different: ‘If My people, who are called by My Name, will humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land’ (2 Chronicles 7:14). God wants to bless us. We must pray for His blessing. ‘Ask and it will be given to you…’ (Matthew 7:7-8).
23:1-49 – ‘Because you have forgotten Me and turned your back on Me, you will be punished for all your sin’ (35). We are to remember the Lord. We must not forget Him. We must not let the Word of God ‘go in one ear and out the other’. We must be ‘doers of the Word’ as well as ‘hearers of the Word’ (James 1:22-25). Let’s put the past behind us and make a new beginning with God: ‘Return to Me, and I will return to you’ (Malachi 3:7). ‘Have mercy on me, O God… Cleanse me from my sin… Create in me a clean heart, O God, and put a new and right spirit within me. Do not cast me away from Your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of Your salvation’ (Psalm 51:1-2,10-12). Let this be the prayer of your heart and the blessing of God will flow into your life.
24:1-27 – ‘I will punish you because of the way you lived’ (14). God is calling us to think about the way we are living. He wants us to leave behind the old, self-centred way of living. He wants us to begin a new life, a life that is centred on Him. Real change comes from God. We must pray that He will change us – ‘Change my heart, O God. Make it ever true. Change my heart, O God. May I be like You’. We must pray for a deep work of the Spirit of God in our hearts – ‘Spirit of the living God, fall afresh on me… Break me, melt me, mould me, fill me…’. We must pray that we will become more like Jesus – ‘Let the beauty of Jesus be seen in me, all His wondrous compassion and purity. Oh, Thou Spirit divine, all my nature refine, till the beauty of Jesus be seen in me’ (Mission Praise, 69,613,410).
25:1-17 – We read here about God’s judgment upon sinful nations – Ammon (1-7), Moab (8-11), Edom (12-14) and Philistia (15-17). God speaks to us. He says to us, ‘You will know that I am the Lord’ (5,7,11,17). He speaks to us as our Judge. He speaks to us about ‘sin, righteousness and judgment’ (John 16:8-11). We are sinners. God is righteous. There will be a Judgment. This is God’s way of showing us how much we need His love. He shows us how much we need to be saved so that we might learn to be truly thankful to Him for the Good News of His love, the Gospel of our salvation – ‘God so loved the world that He gave His only Son…’; ‘Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners’; ‘Christ died for our sins’ (John 3:16; 1 Timothy 1:15; 1 Corinthians 15:3). Let us ‘rejoice in God our Saviour’ (Luke 2:47).
26:1-21 – ‘I am against you, O Tyre… You will be no more… You will never again be found…’ (3,21). God’s Word is spoken against us: ‘There is no-one righteous… All have turned away… There is no-one who does good… All have sinned…’ (Romans 3:10,12.23). God speaks His Word against us ‘so that every mouth may be silenced’ (Romans 3:19). He wants us to to stop making excuses for ourselves. He wants us to start listening to what He has to say to us. For the city of Tyre, the situation was hopeless. For us, there is a Word of hope. Jesus Christ has come ‘to seek and to save the lost’. Jesus Christ has ‘died for our sins’ (Luke 19:10; 1 Peter 3:18). ‘Through faith in Jesus Christ’, we hear God’s Word of forgiveness: ‘I will remember their sins no more’ (Romans 3:22; Hebrews 8:12; 10:17).
27:1-36 – ‘Your wealth… will sink into the heart of the sea on the day of your shipwreck’ (27). We will sink if we don’t ‘keep our eyes fixed on Jesus’. We must not allow ourselves to get weighed down. We must not become ‘entangled’ in the world’s way of living. We must ‘throw off everything that hinders’ our spiritual growth. Jesus is ‘the sure and strong Anchor for our lives’. He will keep us from sinking. Let us look to Him and learn from Him: ‘Do not lay up treasures on earth… Lay up treasures in heaven’ (Hebrews 12:1-2; 6:19; 2 Timothy 2:4; Matthew 6:19-20). ‘Will your anchor hold in the storms of life…? We have an Anchor that keeps the soul , steadfast and sure while the billows roll, fastened to the Rock which cannot move, grounded firm and deep in the Saviour’s love!’ (Church Hymnary, 412).
28:1-26 – ‘You were on the holy mount of God… You were blameless in your ways… You sinned… I drove you in disgrace from the mount of God’ (14-16). This is much more than the ‘long time ago’ story of ‘the king of Tyre’ (12). Here, we catch a glimpse of ‘the spiritual forces in the heavenly realms’. We read about ‘war in heaven’. We read about the downfall of ‘Satan’. God’s Word is warning us: ‘Our struggle is not against flesh and blood’. We face a much more powerful ‘enemy’ – ‘Satan’. He ‘disguises himself as an angel of light’. We must not be fooled. He is no ‘angel of light’. He is ‘a roaring lion’. He is ‘prowling about, looking for someone to devour’. We shall overcome him ‘by the blood of the Lamb…’ (Ephesians 6:12; Revelation 12:7-9,11; 2 Corinthians 11:14; 1 Peter 5:8).
29:1-21 – In God’s dealings with Egypt, we see both His wrath – ‘Egypt will become a desolate wasteland’ – and His mercy – ‘At the end of forty years… I will restore the fortunes of Egypt’ (9,13-14). God’s wrath is His response to Egypt’s pride – ‘Because you said, “The Nile is mine; I made it”, therefore I am against you’ (9-10). In His merciful restoration, God places His restraint on Egypt’s pride – ‘It shall be the most lowly of the kingdoms, and will never again exalt itself above the other nations’ (15). We come to God as sinners. We confess our sins, praying, ‘In wrath, remember mercy’. He saves us by ‘His mercy’. His way of salvation – ‘through Jesus Christ our Saviour’ – is a constant rebuke to our pride: ‘This is not your own doing. It is the gift of God’ (Habakkuk 3:2; Titus 3:4-6; Ephesians 2:8).
30:1-26 – ‘The day of the Lord is near… A sword will come against Egypt… The day of Egypt’s doom is sure to come’ (3-4,9). We must not take God lightly. We can’t do what we like and get away with it. We must not ‘trample the Son of God under foot’. We must not ‘treat Christ’s blood as an unholy thing’. We must not ‘insult the Spirit of grace’. We must not forget: ‘It is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God’. God is speaking to us concerning ‘the Day of the Lord’, the Return of Christ: ‘He who is coming will come…’. He speaks His Word of warning: ‘Those who shrink back are destroyed’. He speaks His Word of promise: ‘Those who believe are saved’ (Hebrews 10:29,31,37-39). ‘When Christ comes, will He find faith…?’. ‘Search my heart, O God…’ (Luke 18:8; Psalm 139:23-24).
31:1-18 – ‘Pharaoh, king of Egypt’ had the appearance of ‘majesty’ – ‘Who can be compared with you in majesty?’ – yet he was ‘brought down’ (2,18). There is one Majesty who will never be brought down – Our Lord Jesus Christ. He is ‘the same yesterday and today and for ever’. He will receive ‘glory for ever and ever’. To Him alone, the Father says, ‘Your throne, O God, will last for ever and ever’ (Hebrews 13:8,21; 1:8). This is real Majesty! ‘Majesty, worship His Majesty. Unto Jesus be glory, honour and praise. Majesty, Kingdom authority, flows from His throne unto His own. His anthem raise. So exalt, lift up on high the Name of Jesus. Magnify, come glorify, Christ Jesus the King. Majesty, worship His Majesty, Jesus who died, now glorified, King of all kings’ (Mission Praise, 454).
32:1-32 – ‘Pride goes before destruction’ (Proverbs 16:18). ‘Pharaoh, king of Egypt’ was arrogant and ruthless: ‘You are like a lion among the nations;you are like a monster in the seas, thrashing about in your streams, churning the water with your feet and muddying the streams’ (2). Soon, it would be ‘the day of his downfall’: ‘The sword of Babylon will come against you… Pharaoh and all his hordes will be killed by the sword’ (10-11,32). Don’t be like the rich fool – ‘You have plenty of good things laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry’. He couldn’t have been more wrong! – ‘God said to him, ‘You fool! I will demand your life from you tonight!”’ God is warning us: ‘This is how it will be with anyone who stores up things for himself but is not rich towards God’ (Luke 12:19-21).
33:1-33 – Ezekiel was to be ‘a watchman for the house of Israel’: ‘whenever you hear a Word from My mouth, you shall give them warning from Me’. He was to ‘warn the wicked to turn from his way’ (7-9). This is the warning of love. God loves us. It is because He loves that He ‘has no pleasure in the death of the wicked’. In His love, He shows us our sin so that we might come to Him with a real confession of sin: ‘Our sins are upon us’. In His love, He creates in us a desire for His salvation: ‘How then can we live?’. In His love, He calls us to return to Him: ‘Turn back from your evil ways’. He loves us. He does not want us to ‘die’: ‘Why will you die?’ (10-11). In love, God shows us our sin – ‘The wages of sin is death’ – and calls us to receive His ‘free gift’ – ‘eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord’ (Romans 6:23).
34:1-31 – God speaks to us in love. He says, ‘I Myself will be the Shepherd of My sheep’ (15). We rejoice in His love. We say, ‘The Lord is my Shepherd’ (Psalm 23:1). Jesus is our Shepherd. He is ‘the good Shepherd’. He laid down His life for us that we might receive the forgiveness of our sins. ‘Christ died for our sins’. He – ‘the Righteous’ – died for us – ‘the unrighteous’ – ‘to bring us to God’ (John 10:11; 1 Corinthians 15:3; 1 Peter 3:18). He is ‘the great Shepherd’. He was ‘raised’ from the dead’. Through His resurrection, we receive eternal life. He says to us, ‘Because I live you will live also’ (Hebrews 13:20-21; 1 Corinthians 15:4; John 14:19). He is ‘the chief Shepherd’. He will come again with ‘the unfading crown of glory’ for His ‘good and faithful servants’ (1 Peter 5:4; Matthew 25:21).
35:1-15 – ‘You will be desolate, O Mount Seir, you and all of Edom. Then they will know that I am the Lord’ (15). The people of Edom knew the Lord as their Judge. There is a much better way of knowing the Lord. We can know Him as our Saviour. Those who refuse to come to Jesus Christ, trusting in Him as Saviour, place themselves under God’s judgment. They are ‘condemned already because they have not believed in the Name of God’s one and only Son’. They will know the Lord as their Judge – but they could have known Him as their Saviour if they had submitted to God’s saving purpose for their lives: ‘God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him’ (John 3:17-18). Each of us must choose. Do you know Christ as Saviour, or will you face Him as Judge?
36:1-38 – ‘I will look on you with favour’ (9). Through Christ our Saviour, God looks upon us with favour. Here are some words which will help you to rejoice in the ‘wonderful grace of Jesus’ which is ‘greater than all my sin’, the ‘wonderful grace of Jesus’ which ‘reaches me’. ‘Let me introduce you to a friend called Grace. Doesn’t care about your past or your many mistakes. He’ll cover your sins in a warm embrace. Let me introduce to a friend called Grace’. ‘His grace reaches lower than your worst mistake and His love will run further than you can run away’. ‘He believes in lost causes when common sense would just give up. He believes in lost causes and changes people with His love. There’s nobody too far gone, no one beyond His reach. He believes in lost causes ‘cause He believed in me’. Let Jesus be your Joy!
37:1-28 – It was ‘a valley of dry bones’ (1-2). Then, the Lord changed everything – ‘I will cause breath to enter you, and you shall live’ (5). What a difference the Lord makes! ‘Breathe on me, Breath of God. Fill me with life anew’ (Church Hymnary, 103). What happens when the Spirit of the Lord breathes new life into the Church of God? – ‘The Church that seemed in slumber has now risen from its knees and dry bones are responding with the fruits of new birth’. ‘Holy Spirit, we welcome You. Let the breeze of Your presence flow that Your children here might truly know how to move in the Spirit’s flow… Holy Spirit, we welcome You. Please accomplish in us today some new work of loving grace, we pray. Unreservedly, have Your way. Holy Spirit, we welcome You’ (Mission Praise, 274,241).
38:1-23 – We read here of God’s judgment upon ‘Gog from the land of Magog’: ‘When Gog attacks the land of Israel, My hot anger will be aroused… I will execute judgment upon him…’ (1,18,22). The names ‘Gog and Magog’ are also found in Revelation 20:7-10. There, we read of rebellion against God – ‘They marched across the breadth of the earth and surrounded the camp of God’s people…’ – and God’s judgment – ‘Fire came down from heaven and consumed them’. In this divine judgment upon ‘Gog and Magog’, we see the Lord’s final triumph over ‘Satan’: ‘The devil who had deceived Gog and Magog was thrown into the lake of fire and sulphur’ to be ‘tormented day and night for ever and ever’. ‘Hallelujah! Our Lord God Almighty reigns’ (Revelation 19:6).
39:1-29 – Gog’s defeat points forward to Satan’s final defeat (1-6; Revelation 20:10). We look ahead to God’s final victory over Satan. While we’re here on earth, we must never forget that Satan is a very powerful enemy. He will do all that he can to make us sin against the Lord. We see this in the life of God’s people, Israel. They allowed Satan to get the upper hand – and God was not pleased with them: ‘The nations shall know that the people of Israel went into captivity for their sin, because they were unfaithful to Me’(23). God’s Word assures us that – even when Satan has gained the upper hand – , we can be ‘brought back’ to the place of blessing. God will ‘have mercy’ on us. He will ‘pour out His Spirit’ upon us (25,29). ‘Restore us, O God…’ (Psalm 85:4).
40:1-49 – God was revealing Himself to Ezekiel. ‘The hand of the Lord was upon’ him. He received ‘visions of God’ (1-2). Ezekiel was not to keep this revelation to himself: ‘Tell the house of Israel everything you see’ (4). We are to learn from ‘the prophets who spoke in the Name of the Lord’. Like them, we are to seek to bring ‘sinners’ back to the Lord, showing them ‘the error of their ways’ and pointing them to God’s way of salvation. This work is to be done prayerfully, never forgetting that ‘the prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective’ (James 5:10,16,19-20). God promises great blessing to those who are faithful in this work of winning others for Him: ‘Those who lead many to righteousness will shine like the stars for ever and ever’ (Daniel 12:3).
41:1-42:20 – ‘This is the Most Holy Place’ (41:4). Here, God is speaking about the Temple. The Temple was the place where God’s people were to gather together to worship Him. There is another ‘holy place’, another place where God is to be glorified: ‘Your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit… Glorify God in your body’ (1 Corinthians 6:19-20). We worship God when we are in the place of worship. That is only a part of our worship. Our heart is to be a ‘holy place’ where God alone is worshipped. We are to worship Him in everything we do: ‘Be holy in all you do’. At the heart of our worship, there is thanksgiving for God’s love. At the heart of the holy life, there is love. We ‘obey the truth’ when we ‘love one another deeply from the heart’ (1 Peter 1:15-16,22).
43:1-27 – This is not only about the glory of the Temple. It’s about ‘the glory of the God of Israel’. This is the greater glory – ‘the glory of the Lord filled the Temple’ (1,5). God is not only concerned about the creation of a beautiful place of worship. He wants our lives to be ‘radiant with His glory’. This happens when ‘the Spirit lifts us up’ and brings us close to God – ‘into the inner court’ (2,5). We pray that the glory of the Lord will fill the place of worship: ‘May the fragrance of Jesus fill this place’. We pray that ‘the glory of Jesus’ will ‘fill His Church’. We are not only praying for God’s glory in the place of worship. We are praying for His glory in our lives: ‘May the beauty of Jesus fill my life… Fill my thoughts, my words, my deeds’ (Mission Praise, 462).
44:1-31 – ‘I looked and saw the glory of the Lord filling the Temple of the Lord…’ (4). We look to the Lord and, catching a glimpse of His glory, ‘we become more and more like Him’. He is leading us out of our life of sin, a life that ‘falls short of His glory’, and into His life of salvation, a life of ‘being transformed into His likeness with ever-increasing glory’ (2 Corinthians 3:18; Romans 3:23). We have not yet arrived at our full deliverance from sin: ‘When He appears, we shall be like Him’ (1 John 3:2). As we await our Lord’s return, let us keep on praying: ‘Change my heart, O God… May I be like You’.‘Turn your eyes upon Jesus, look full on His wonderful face and the things of earth will grow strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace’. (Mission Praise, 69,712).
45:1-25 – We read here of ‘the sin offerings, cereal offerings, burnt offerings, and peace offerings, to make atonement for the house of Israel’ (17). All of this points forward to the single Sacrifice for sin made by our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ: ‘Christ died for sins once for all, the Righteous for the unrighteous, to bring us to God’ (1 Peter 3:18). ‘We have been forgiven and made clean through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all’ (Hebrews 10:10). This is what we must see here. We must learn to look beyond the many sacrifices to the one Sacrifice: ‘Christ has offered one Sacrifice for sins, an offering that is effective for ever’. Let us rejoice in our Saviour: ‘He is able for all time to save those who draw near to God through Him’ (Hebrews 10:12; 7:25).
46:1-24 – We read here about the ‘offering’ of ‘a lamb without defect’. This was to happen ‘morning by morning’ (13). From these offerings , we look on to another Offering, ‘a single Offfering’, the ‘once for all’ Offering of Jesus Christ as ‘the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world’. Jesus Christ – the Lamb of God – has ‘offered for all time a single Sacrifice for sins’ (John 1:29; Hebrews 10:10,12,14). As we read about the many lambs, we hear God’s voice calling out to us, directing our attention to our Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ: ‘Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world’ (John 1:36). ‘Christ’ is ‘our Passover Lamb’. He ‘has been sacrificed’ for us. Through His ‘precious blood’, we are ‘redeemed’ (1 Corinthians 5:7; 1 Peter 1:18-19).
47:1-23 – Here, we see the rising of the ‘river’ of God’s blessing – ‘ankle-deep… knee-deep… up to the waist … deep enough to swim in – a river that no-one could cross’ (3-5). This is the river of ‘life’ – ‘a great number of trees…. Swarms of living creatures will live wherever the river flows… large numbers of fish because… where the river flows everything will live’ (7-9). ‘The Spirit’ brings ‘rivers of living water’ into our lives (John 7:38-39). Don’t settle for a shallow experience of God’s blessing – ‘ankle-deep’, ‘knee-deep’. ‘Deep calls to deep’. Let ‘the Spirit’ lead you into ‘the deep things of God’. ‘Launch out into the deep’. ‘Swim’ in God’s mighty ‘river’ of blessing. ‘Be filled with the Spirit’ (3-5; Psalm 42:7; Luke 5:4; 1 Corinthians 2:10; Ephesians 5:18).
48:1-35 – ‘The Lord is there’ (35). He is with us when we gather for worship: ‘Where two or three are gathered together in My Name, there am I in the midst of them’ (Matthew 18:20). He loves to be among us when we are worshipping Him: ‘He looks down upon us, delight in His face, enjoying His children’s love, enthralled by our praise’. We are to come into the Lord’s presence with joyful praise – ‘The King is among us. His Spirit is near. Let’s draw near and worship. Let songs fill the air!’ – and reverent fear – ‘Be still, for the presence of the Lord, the Holy One, is here. Come bow before Him now with reverence and fear’ (Mission Praise, 650,50). When we leave the place of worship, let us take His promise with us: ‘I am with you always’ (Matthew 28:20).
1:1-2:16 – ‘Daniel resolved not to defile himself’ (1:8). Daniel was devoted to the Lord. It was not easy to live as the Lord’s faithful servant. His dedication to the Lord was put to the test – ‘Test your servants’ (1:12). Our faith is put to the test. We ‘suffer many trials’. Why does God allow our faith to be tested by ‘all kinds of trials? – ‘The testing of your faith produces steadfastness’. ‘These have come so that your faith, which is much more precious than gold, may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honour when Jesus Christ is revealed’ (1 Peter 1:6-7; James 1:2-3). Knowing that ‘every trial falls from above, traced upon our dial by the Sun of Love’, may we learn to ‘trust God fully’ and ‘find Him wholly true’ (Mission Praise, 421).
2:17-49 – ‘In the time of those kings, the God of heaven will set up a Kingdom that will never be destroyed’ (44). There is only one Kingdom which stands forever – the Kingdom of God. His Kingdom is eternal. Through Christ, ‘the Kingdom of God has come near to us’ (Luke 10:9). Christ is the ‘King of kings’ (Revelation 17:14; 19:16). ‘His throne will last for ever and ever’. ‘His Kingdom will never end’. ‘He will reign for ever and ever’ (Hebrews 1:8; Luke 1:33; Revelation 11:15). Christ is ‘triumphant… ever reigning… enthroned for ever’: ‘Sin and death and hell shall never stifle hymns of love. So, our hearts and voices raising through the ages long… this shall be our song: Yours the glory and the crown…’ (Mission Praise, 77).
3:1-30 – ‘We want you to know, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up’ (18). We have no other king but the Lord. He alone is King. He alone is to be worshipped. We are to ‘have no other gods before Him’. We are ‘not to make for ourselves an idol’ which takes the place of the Lord (Exodus 20:3-4). The Lord must come first in our lives. He is to be our ‘first love’ – ‘the love of our heart: ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart…’ (Revelation 2:4; Mark 12:30). Jesus asks us, ‘Do you love me?’ He waits for our reply: ‘I love You’ (John 21:15-17). ‘I love the Name of Jesus. King of my heart, He is everything to me’. ‘I love You, O Lord, You alone… my God who shall have all my praise’. (Mission Praise, 285,286).
4:1-37 – ‘His Kingdom is an eternal Kingdom; His dominion endures from generation to generation’ (3). The generations rise and fall – ‘You sweep men away in the sleep of death; they are like the new grass of the morning… by evening it is dry and withered’; ‘As for man, his days are like grass… the wind blows over it and it is gone, and its place remembers it no more’ (Psalms 90:5-6; 103-15-16). The Lord is ‘the everlasting God’: ‘From everlasting to everlasting You are God’. His love is an ‘everlasting’ love: ‘From everlasting to everlasting the Lord’s love is with those who fear Him’. The Lord ‘has established His throne in heaven, and His Kingdom rules over all’. He is ‘our dwelling-place throughout all generations’ (Isaiah 40:28; Psalms 90:1-2; 103:17,19).
5:1-31 – We are not to ‘praise the gods of gold and silver…’ (4). Material possessions must never take the place of God. Seeking material prosperity is not to be the most important thing in our lives. We are to ‘seek first His Kingdom…’. We are to ‘grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ’ (Matthew 6:33; 2 Peter 3:18). ‘I’d rather have Jesus than silver or gold, I’d rather be His than have riches untold…I’d rather have Jesus… than to be the king of a vast domain and be held in sin’s dread sway. I’d rather have Jesus than anything this world affords today. I’d rather have Jesus than men’s applause, I’d rather be faithful to His dear cause; I’d rather have Jesus than world-wide fame, I’d rather be true to His holy Name’ (Mission Praise, 319).
6:1-28 – ‘He is the living God and He endures for ever; His Kingdom will not be destroyed, His dominion will never end’ (26). He is the living God. He is also the loving God – ‘His love endures forever’ (Psalm 136). He is the King. He is a very special kind of king. He is ‘the King of Love’. The coming of God’s Kingdom will be the victory of His love: ‘Kingdoms of the world become the kingdoms of the Lord: Love has the victory for ever!’. We enjoy the victory of His love as we lift our hearts to Him in worship: ‘Who can see Your greatest Gift and fail to worship You?’. We enjoy the victory of His love as we give our lives to Him in service: ‘Let us labour for the Master… Let us talk of all His wondrous love…’ (Church Hymnary, 388; Mission Praise, 86,759).
7:1-28 – ‘There before me was one like a son of man, coming with the clouds of heaven… His Kingdom is one that will never be destroyed’ (13-14). These words point us to Christ’s description of His Second Coming, the Coming of His Kingdom: ‘They will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky, with power and great glory’ (Matthew 24:30). In Revelation 1:7, we have another echo of Daniel’s ‘vision’: ‘Look, He is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see Him’. ‘Lo! He comes, with clouds descending… Yea, Amen! let all adore Thee, high on Thine eternal throne; Saviour, take the power and glory, claim the Kingdom for Thine own. O come quickly! O come quickly! O come quickly! Alleluia! Come, Lord, come!’ (Church Hymnary, 316).
8:1-27 – Here, we have a ‘vision’ concerning ‘the distant future’, ‘the time of the end’ (26,17). Here, we catch a glimpse of Satan, the very powerful enemy of God’s people. Satan’s power is very frightening – ‘His power shall be great, and he shall cause fearful destruction…’. It was the power of Satan which lay behind the ‘stern-faced king’: ‘He will become very strong, but not by his own power’ (23-24). Satan’s power will be broken. Satan faces certain defeat – ‘He will be defeated’. How will he be defeated? We will not defeat him – ‘He will not be destroyed by human power’. There is only one Power able to destroy the power of Satan: ‘He shall be broken by the hand of God’. ‘Thanks be to God who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ’ (1 Corinthians 15:57).
9:1-27 – ‘O Lord, listen! O Lord, forgive! O Lord, hear and act!’ (19). How do we know God will hear and answer our prayer as we look to Him for salvation? – ‘The Lord our God is merciful and forgiving, even though we have rebelled against Him’ (9). We come to God with our sin – We are ‘dead in our sins and wickedness’. He comes to us with His grace – ‘By grace you have been saved through faith’. We come to God, deeply conscious of our sin. We know in our hearts that we can do nothing to save ourselves. The way of salvation can never begin with the word, ‘I’. It always begins with God. It begins with His love – ‘His great love for us’: ‘God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in our sins’ (Ephesians 2:1,4-5,8).
10:1-11:13 – Daniel came to God in great weakness – ‘I am helpless… My strength is gone…’ (16-17). From the Lord, Daniel received great strength – ‘The One who looked like a man touched me and gave me strength… When He spoke to me, I was strengthened…’. Daniel’s strength came from the love of God and the peace of God. God assured Daniel of His love for him. He called Daniel a ‘man greatly beloved’. God spoke His Word of peace to Daniel: ‘Peace be with you’. As God revealed His love and peace to him, Daniel came to realize that there was no need to be afraid. He could ‘be strong’ in the Lord (18-19). When we are weak, let us come to God and receive His strength – ‘His grace is sufficient for us. His strength is made perfect in weakness’ (2 Corinthians 12:9).
11:14-45 – We are to live for God – ‘The people who know their God shall be strong and do great things’. We are to stand against Satan – ‘The people who know their God will firmly resist him’ (32). Living for God and standing against Satan, we must ‘put on the whole armour of God’. ‘Strong in the Lord’, we ‘take our stand against the devil’s schemes’ (Ephesians 6:10-11). ‘Soldiers of Christ, arise and put your armour on, strong in the strength which God supplies through His eternal Son… From strength to strength go on, wrestle and fight and pray, tread all the powers of darkness down and win the well-fought day that, having all things done and all your conflicts past, ye may o’ercome through Christ alone and stand complete at last’ (Church Hymnary, 441).
12:1-13 – We read of two very different futures – ‘everlasting life’ and ‘everlasting contempt’ (2). We receive ‘eternal life’ through ‘believing that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God’. Through faith in Him, we ‘know that we have eternal life’. God gives us His promise: ‘He who has the Son has life’. To those who ‘overcome’, through ‘believing that Jesus is the Son of God’, God gives this promise: ‘I will never blot his name out of the Book of Life’. Alongside His promise, there is His warning: ‘He who does not have the Son of God does not have life’. To those who refuse to come to Christ for salvation, God gives this warning: ‘If anyone’s name was not written in the Book of Life, he was thrown into the lake of fire’ (John 20:31; 1 John 5:5,11-13; Revelation 3:5; Revelation 20:15).