Bible reading for May 12 -- 13
May 12 -- Isaiah 10 and James 4
May 13 -- Isaiah 11-12 and James 5
"There shall come forth a shoot from the stump of Jesse, and a branch from his roots shall bear fruit. And the Spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him, the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and might, the Spirit of knowledge and the fear of the LORD." (Isaiah 11:1-2)
ASSYRIA, A TOOL (ch 10). Complete and total judgment would come upon Assyria for their arrogance and pride. The Assyrians thought they were a mighty people, when in fact they were merely a tool in the hand of the Lord, like an axe (v 15). And when the Lord was finished bringing chastisement upon his people he would dispose of that tool. As in other times of Israel's history, there would be a remnant preserved, and a regathering of his people from exile.
THE BRANCH (ch 11). At the center of God's purposes for Judah and Israel, and all the nations, is the Messiah. After judgment upon the earth new life will come from God. The terms, "shoot" and "branch" mean that, though the nation, and the reign of David, will nearly be destroyed, one descendant of David will humbly sprout forth from the stump, and he is the one who will rule the earth and bring the knowledge of God to our world. To him the nations will come. Some scholars have related the term "branch" (Heb., netser) with the word "Nazarene" (Matt 2:23). The global reign of the Messiah will result in global change, and a glorious future. As is the nature of prophecy, this did not mean that it was an immediate future for Judah at the time. The Messiah would be anointed with the Spirit (cf Isa 61:1), which is here described with seven attributes. This passage may help clarify the image of "seven spirits" (Rev 1:4; 4:5; 5:6) as perhaps symbolizing the seven-fold Spirit here. He is thus called the Anointed One (Heb., Meshiah; Gr., Christos), and he it is who will regather the people (vv 11-16; cf Rom 11:26), including representatives from the ten tribes resettled by the Assyrians (Rev 7:4-8).
DOXOLOGY AND PRAISE (ch 12). Such a beautiful passage follows! My wife and I have been making note of various doxologies, praises, and thanksgiving in the Scriptures, in order to make them a part of our own prayer life. Too often our prayers may not rise above the level of, "Thank you for this meal, thank you for this day, please keep us safe..." To write, memorize, and use these passages is to greatly enrich our prayer life. For example, what would it be like if every morning this upcoming week you prayed this prayer, as adapted from Isaiah 12...
"Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you." (James 4:10)
HUMBLE YOURSELVES (ch 4). In the first of his "Ninety-five Theses" posted in 1517, Martin Luther wrote that the Lord willed "...the entire life of believers to be one of repentance." He meant that the Christian always involves facing the truth about ourselves, and then turning from sin. James's words here are similar to the Apostle Peter's in 1 Peter 5. The Christian life is not meant to be always a feel-good experience! Humility also demands that we recognize God's sovereignty over all of life, including our opinions, judgments, and work plans (vv 11-17).
CONFESSION AND HEALING (ch 5). We are to be serious about sin and repentance (vv 1-6), patient in suffering, and steadfast in waiting upon the Lord in prayer (vv 7-11). James mentions examples from the OT to follow: the prophets (v 10), Job (v 11), and Elijah (v 17). We are also to pray, to sing, to confess, and seek healing (vv 12-20). At both churches where I served the elders always welcomed those who requested special prayer. We would anoint with oil and pray for many who had illnesses and various conditions. Occasionally, we would see very remarkable improvement, even instantaneous healing. Often, however, improvement might come slowly over time, or not at all. We can't always predict how the Lord will answer, but we do know that this passage teaches us to pray in faith for one another.
Image credit. My photo of the outer banks of North Carolina in 2014. About this newsletter: I post three times a week on my Bible reading, following the Robert Murray M'Cheyne (RMM) two-year reading schedule, as arranged by D. A. Carson. Subscribe for email at Buttondown.email/Sandy. Scripture quotations, unless otherwise noted, are from The ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved. A very helpful resource is the NET Bible with its excellent notes at netbible.org.