Isaiah 65:1-25; Philippians 3:1-3; Psalms 74:1-11; Proverbs 18:9-10
OT: “I was sought by those who did not ask; I was found by those who did not seek me. I said, ‘Here I am, here I am,’ to a nation that did not call on my name. I spread out my hands all day long to a rebellious people who walk in the path that is not good, following their own thoughts… The Lord says this: “As the new wine is found in a bunch of grapes, and one says, ‘Don’t destroy it, for there’s some good in it,’ so I will act because of my servants and not destroy them all. I will produce descendants from Jacob, and heirs to my mountains from Judah; my chosen ones will possess it, and my servants will dwell there. Sharon will be a pasture for flocks, and the Valley of Achor a place for herds to lie down, for my people who have sought me. But you who abandon the Lord, who forget my holy mountain, who prepare a table for Fortune and fill bowls of mixed wine for Destiny, I will destine you for the sword, and all of you will kneel down to be slaughtered, because I called and you did not answer, I spoke and you did not hear; you did what was evil in my sight and chose what I did not delight in.” Therefore, this is what the Lord God says: “Look! My servants will eat, but you will be hungry. Look! My servants will drink, but you will be thirsty. Look! My servants will rejoice, but you will be put to shame. Look! My servants will shout for joy from a glad heart, but you will cry out from an anguished heart, and you will lament out of a broken spirit… For I will create new heavens and a new earth; the past events will not be remembered or come to mind. Then be glad and rejoice forever in what I am creating; for I will create Jerusalem to be a joy and its people to be a delight.”” (Isaiah 65:1-2, 8-14, 17-18 CSB)
In Isaiah 64, Israel’s cry to the Lord was, “You have hidden your face from us and made us melt because of our iniquity.” In response, the Lord told them, “I spread out my hands all day long to you…” God was not hiding. God was making Himself very obvious – so obvious that the gentiles (those who were not asking for Him nor seeking Him) found Him. That is what rejecting God’s way and seeking your own way does – it completely blinds you to the things of God and opens the door to deception.
Among the majority of Israel who had abandoned the Lord, there was a faithful remnant that remained committed to the word, will, and ways of God. It was because of that faithful remnant that God didn’t completely wipe out the nation of Israel and start over. Israel wasn’t all bad – and for the sake of the faithful few, God would restore the nation and preserve the purposes He had for His chosen people. Those who remained faithful to the Lord would receive His blessing – those who abandoned the Lord for their own pursuits would not. Ultimately, at the end of the age, God will create a new heaven and a new earth. The new heaven and earth will be a delight for those who choose to delight themselves in Him.
Within the purposes of God, God isn’t as concerned with quantity as He is with quality. Even Jesus said that in the last day there will be many who will claim to have followed Jesus – but He will have to say, “Depart from me, for I never knew you… you were not faithful to My word, will and ways… you were not my disciples – you just dropped my name to say that you knew Me.” God is after people who come to Christ the Son in faith, are redeemed and made righteous by faith, and remain in Christ through faith-filled loving obedience by grace through faith. Those who put confidence in the flesh and go their own way outside of faith will not experience God’s blessing and will not enjoy the new heaven and earth to come.
NT: “In addition, my brothers and sisters, rejoice in the Lord. To write to you again about this is no trouble for me and is a safeguard for you. Watch out for the dogs, watch out for the evil workers, watch out for those who mutilate the flesh. For we are the circumcision, the ones who worship by the Spirit of God, boast in Christ Jesus, and do not put confidence in the flesh — ” (Philippians 3:1-3 CSB)
Paul’s charge to the believers in Philippi: rejoice in the Lord. Paul, who was under house arrest in Rome was able to be full of joy. How was he able to do that? Faith in the Lord. No matter what challenges came before the Philippians, Paul wanted them, in all things, to rejoice by faith in the Lord. There would be many who would come along and say that faith is not enough… that the only way to have confidence in the future was to chain yourself to the righteous requirements of the law and earn righteousness through your own efforts. Paul’s hope and joy did not come from his adherence to the requirements of the law. His joy came by grace through the Holy Spirit as he placed his faith fully in the completed work of Christ. To fully rejoice in the Lord, we cannot put confidence in our flesh – for as we saw in Isaiah, that can lead to blindness and deception. Our confidence must be in Christ by faith… and through that faith, we will receive abundant joy from the Lord by grace.
Prayer: Lord, it is so tempting to place faith and confidence in what I can see, hear and touch… in what I can think in my mind and do with my hands. However, You call me to have faith and confidence in You and trust Your word, will and ways. In the end, I want to be among the remnant that found to be faithful and full of Your glory and grace. Therefore, I put no confidence in my flesh and endeavor to trust You in all things. In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.