(last updated 9/4/17)

Jan Young


The Books of Prophecy: Introduction

Now we come to a major section of the Bible called the Prophets. These fit into the Bible timeline back in Kings and Chronicles; these prophets lived during the times of the divided kingdom.

Compare the way God speaks to Israel with the way He speaks to the church. Do we have the same kind of warnings, of language? In Rev. 2-3, we have several warnings to repent, and a reminder of how He will discipline if they don't. But we don't have the scathing denunciation that Israel often gets, the warnings of wrath to come. We, on the other hand, are admonished to act like mature men, not like spiritual babies. Israel is called sinful, corrupt, unfaithful, etc. The church is without spot or wrinkle; it is the body of Christ.

Here is more evidence that the church and Israel are two different entities, and that during the Tribulation, God has a different plan for each. The bride, as a chaste virgin awaiting her wedding, does not need purified or chastised; Israel, the unfaithful wife, does. During the Tribulation God pours out His wrath on the sinful world, brings judgment and correction on Israel, and prepares Israel for a national change of heart, for at the end of the Tribulation Israel will finally recognize Christ as their Messiah.

The Prophets make a strong case for the Bible as the Word of God. In many cases we are told this is specifically the word of the Lord, in quotes, coming through the mouths and pens of these men. (Inspiration is defined in II Pet. 1:21.) If they are man's words and not God's, these men are lying, are evil, and are misleading people. If they are not lying, these ARE God's words. There is no in-between position.

In the historical accounts, we read what Israel was doing, and what the kings and priests were doing. God held the kings and priests responsible for the spiritual leadership of the people. We read a little bit about what some of the prophets did and said. Now we have the full text of their messages. What was the main problem in Israel and Judah? Is. 2:8, 40:19, 42:17. Is this a problem for us in our culture? What does the New Testament say about idolatry? Col. 3:5, Eph. 5:5. Is this a problem in our culture? Is this a problem for Christians? Our culture is based on materialism, consumerism, commercialism, greed; we see the corruption it causes. When God pours out His wrath during the Tribulation, this is one of the things He judges, according to Rev. 18.

True vs. false prophets: read Deut. 18:18-22. The purpose of a prophet was to give God's message--what He expects of people, what He will do if they obey, what He will do if they don't. The primary purpose was not to foretell the future, as in divination, which was forbidden; however, that was the means of determining if he was a true or false prophet. Those who falsely predicted short-term future events failed the test, and were to be put to death, 20. Today many call themselves prophets and have foretold events that didn't happen, and set dates that turned out to be false, but aren't put to death. They continue their "ministry" and gullible people still follow them. "Prophets" today seem more interested in new "truth" (if there is such a thing) rather than drawing people back to God. If there IS such a thing as "new truth," what does that tell us about the Bible?

Fulfilled prophecy is one of the greatest evidences that the Bible IS God's Word, proving the Bible is true. The way Bible critics try to get around it is to claim that Old Testament books had to really have been written much later than believed; they have no historical proof, no manuscript evidence, just the belief that it couldn't have been written before things happened. Mathematically, for every prediction, there is a 50/50 chance of it being right or wrong, and every element added to that prediction cuts it in half again. Christ's first coming literally fulfilled over 300 predictions. (By the way, this is another reason why we believe in the literal fulfillment of the promises about Christ's second coming as given in Daniel and Revelation. Why would those prophecies be fulfilled in a vague, allegorical way, when the rest have been fulfilled right down to the exact detail?)

The Bible is about knowing God, how we can't because our sins have separated us from God, and how God made a way for us to be reconciled to Him through Jesus Christ, the Messiah. The prophets spoke often of the Messiah, His virgin birth, life, death, resurrection, second coming, millenial kingdom, and what He and His ministry would be like, so that everyone would be able to recognize Him when He appeared. This is why we see so many Old Testament quotes in the Gospels, telling us that here is the fulfillment of Scripture.

The primary message of the prophets was to people in their time. However, many Bible prophecies deal with the future, and many deal with both at the same time, such as Dan. 11. There is a situation in the near future that fulfills it, or partly fulfills it, but it also refers to a future, greater, complete fulfillment.

Isaiah: Introduction

Isaiah can be divided into three sections: Chapter 1-39 stress law and judgment; 36-39 are written in a prose (story) style, giving a historical narrative about King Hezekiah; and 40-66 stress grace and salvation. Critics say this indicates three writers. Jesus and the New Testament writers quote from all parts and attribute them to Isaiah; could they have been mistaken or lying?

Interestingly, there are 66 books in the Bible, and 66 chapters in Isaiah. How many books are in the Old Testament? In the New Testament? How many chapters in the law & judgment section of Isaiah? How many in the grace & salvation section?

Secular sources say that Isaiah was sawn in two; tradition says it was under King Manesseh. Heb. 11 mentions those who were sawn in two, yet none are specified in the Bible; it could be.

Up till now as we are reading through the Bible, our knowledge of God is mostly gained through examining how He worked in the lives of people, with a few instances of His direct words and actions. Often, we have to figure out or interpret from these stories, information about God. But now, we have God directly revealing Himself to us! That makes this major section of Scripture very exciting and personal!

Chapter 1

1 A vision suggests that perhaps Isaiah saw and heard somehow. Mentally, spiritually? Or perhaps he was physically carried into the presence of God?

Who is being addressed? Not just Israel. All the world is asked to listen and agree with God's judgment on Israel; implies that anyone and everyone would agree.

Many of the prophets begin by giving the setting--which kings and kingdom. Israel, the northern kingdom, will soon by taken captive by Assyria. Judah is rapidly approaching the same fate.

2-3 Begins with "Listen." Who is now speaking? The quotation mark isn't until 3. Who is now speaking? Watch this; Isaiah is speaking unless there are quotation marks. And sometimes the quotes indicate that other people are speaking.

4 Let's talk for a minute about a common misconception of the term "God's people" or "God's chosen nation." Many think this must mean that all Jews were saved. Can this be possible? Can anyone be saved merely because they are born into a certain family or bloodline? The Bible makes it clear that each individual must personally believe in order to have salvation. The fact that Israel is God's chosen nation goes back to Gen. 12:1-3, or what is called the Abrahamic Covenant. God promised to make a special nation from his descendants because of Abraham's faith, Gen. 15:6 (read all 15). How will all the earth be blessed through Abraham's seed, 12:3? Who would eventually be born of his bloodline? Who was first promised in Gen. 3:15? Which of Abraham's sons was the chosen line, 17:21? Which of his sons was in the chosen line, 26:1-5? Which of his 12 sons was in the chosen line, 49:10? The Old Testament traces this promise through a particular family that was chosen to be the means of God eventually sending Jesus Christ to be born as a man. They were the ones He used to reveal Himself to men, through the promises, the Law, and eventually through Christ. Rom. 9:4-5. But this does NOT mean that all Jews were saved simply because they were born Jews. The Old Testament stories make it clear that many did not truly believe; they obeyed outwardly because of pride or fear of consequences, but not from a true heart that has repented of sin.

So far, this sounds like a people who have turned completely away from God. But keep reading...

5 Changes from "they" to "you"; addressing Israel. Watch for this wording in the Epistles, where "we," "us" and "you" generally refer to believers, the church, and "they" and "them" generally refer to the other group--unbelievers. Understanding this will clarify many passages for us.

7-9 Why is their land like this?

8 Who is the daughter of Zion? What is Zion?

9 "Survivors" is "remnant" in the KJV. Isaiah will refer again to the faithful remnant. The Bible teaches that there is always a faithful remnant. Is a remnant a small piece or a large piece? Unbelievers will always greatly outnumber true believers. The Bible never teaches that eventually believers will gradually fill the earth, although some teach this.

10 Is God actually speaking to Sodom and Gomorrah? He is speaking to Judah (Israel), but 9 likens them to Sodom and Gomorrah. God uses figurative language; so does Jesus, in the Gospels.

11-20 God speaks. Have these people totally abandoned Him? What is going on then? In this chapter there is no mention of their mixing true worship with idol worship. The problem is, they are so wicked, their worship is false, outward. Does God accept it as worship? Do sacrifices themselves have the power to remove sin, regardless of your heart, if you are being a hypocrite? Does keeping the Sabbath, etc., mean anything to God if your heart is not right? CAN Israel even truly leave God? The unfaithful wife is still under the marriage covenant, just as Israel is under the covenant God has made with her; leaving Him or dissolving the covenant is not an option.

What application is here for New Testament Christians? Even though the church is never mentioned in the Old Testament, we learn much about God--His character (which the Bible says never changes), what He wants from His people, how He feels about things. Can our worship be mostly outward? Can unbelievers outwardly appear to act like believers? Is God after certain outward actions, or is He after a change in our hearts? Can a true believer ever be separated from God? Some say yes, but study Rom. 8:31-39, John 10:28-29, 18:9, I John 5:12-13 (actually, ALL of I John). If eternal life can be lost, or come and go, then it is not erernal . The Bible does not teach that the indwelling Holy Spirit comes and goes; in the Old Testament He did, not indwelling believers, but coming upon them temporarily for power for a time, or for some particular task.

15 What is taught here about prayer?

16-18 God calls them to repentance.

19-20 If you...but if... God basically repeats in a nutshell the Mosaic covenant. Ever since the giving of the Law, this has been the arrangement. We do not find this type of covenant in the New Testament for the church. Many Christians mistakenly believe we are still under this arrangement because they do not see that God deals differently in different times (dispensations) with different groups of people. Many try to interpret events in the world and in their lives in this manner.

21 What is the faithful city? Jerusalem, the capital of Judah, the southern kingdom.

God has told them how He feels, He has told them what to do. Now, in 24-26, He tells them what HE will do. He knows they will not do v19 but instead will do v20. This section is an example of a prophecy that has both a near and a far fulfillment. What would that be? The Babylonian captivity followed by a return to their land; and later, the Tribulation, followed by the Millenium. How is dross removed by lye, how is alloy removed? Fire; judgment. God's judgment is not to "get back" at them; it is to purify, it is for their good. Why does God discipline the New Testament Christian? Heb. 12:5-11. Why does God "prune" in our lives? John 15:1-5. What does the gardener put on his plants to help them to grow? Does it smell good? Why--what is it? Don't pruning and fertilizer explain much of what feels and smells bad in our daily lives? So should we ask God to remove those situations, to make them stop? If not, how might we pray instead?

27-31 What is Zion? These verses seem to apply more to the end time than the captivity: sinners crushed, come to an end, burn, none to quench. Oaks and gardens would be a reference to the places where they indulged in idolatry. An application to us might be that if we haven't chosen to put God first, we may be embarrassed at the judgment seat of Christ when we have to give account of our deeds--the things we desired and spent our time and effort on.

We have looked at quite a bit of detail in this chapter because this chapter presents in a nutshell what the entire book is about--God's judgment on Israel.

Chapter 2

This chapter also presents in a nutshell the rest of the message of the prophets--the final outcome of things. This chapter presents events that have not yet happened.

2 "In the last days" is what is called a technical term that refers to the end times. There are several other similar terms that mean the same thing: the last day, in that day, in those days, the day, that day, the day of the Lord. This will be an important clue in understanding prophecy. We also see it in 11, 17, 20. So does it refer to the Tribulation, or the Millenium? Look at this chapter and see which is being talked about--it's both! That is another important thing to notice about these terms. The day of the Lord begins with the Tribulation and goes on through the Millenium. It is not talking about one 24-hour day, such as the actual day Christ returns. As far as the immediate aspect of these prophecies, the day of the Lord or "that day" probably refers to a day of judgment.

2-3 What important information do we learn about what will happen in the last days? Israel will be the centerpiece of the earth. Where in Israel in particular? Christ will rule His kingdom from Jerusalem. What will Israel be like spiritually? So do you think 2-4 are talking about the Tribulation, or the Millenium?

5-on Then the tone gets negative. 6-8 tells why God abandoned His people. When the last days come, do you really think the land of Israel will be full of horses and chariots? What might this be saying? Military power. Also false religion, humanism.

6 God's judgment will fall on Israel. The entire nation, the house of Jacob.

10 What does this tell us about the last days? What two things about God will be revealed during this time? (also in 21)

11 What particular sin is mentioned?

12 Reinforces the fact of judgment in the last days, so we know for sure this section is talking about the Tribulation. Again, what sin is mentioned?

13 Does God have something against tall trees? Because that literal meaning does not seem logical, we consider whether these trees could be symbolic of something. Compare Judges 9:8-15. God's judgment during the Tribulation will fall not only on Israel, but on all the nations. In applying a literal interpretation, we let the words tell us when symbolism is being used. Since trees used as symbols here, they may be used as symbols elsewhere in the Bible, such as Mat. 3:10, 21:19, Luke 6:44, Rom. 11:17-24, and possibly Rev. 7:1.

14 So if the trees of 13 are symbolic, might the mountains be also? Symbolic of what? All these things (trees, mountains, towers, walls) seem to represent various degrees of power, nations of every sort. Again, if mountains are used as symbols here, they may be used as symbols elsewhere in the Bible, such as Mat. 17:20, possibly Is. 40:4, Rev. 6:14.

17 What is mentioned again that God is going to judge at that time? What are we learning about God? How should we apply that knowledge to ourselves? Do you see that even though the church is not in the Old Testament, that increasing our understanding of what God is like should have a major impact on how we as Christians think and live?

19-21 Men hiding at that time in rocks and caves; where else do we find this? Read Rev. 6:15-16.

22 In contrast to the terror and splendor of the Lord, what is the conclusion about man? (No self-esteem movement justified here!) So does the world really revolve around me? Is my Christian life even about ME? If not, then who IS it about? We need to keep our priorities straight. Our culture is so self-oriented that this thinking is quite prevalent among Christians.

These two chapters sum up the basic message of the prophets, which we will see elaborated on in more detail.

Do we find any hint here that the church will also be targeted for judgment? The church was not yet in existence, and the prophets did not know about it. We will find that the church comes into existence following Israel's rejection of God, when God temporarily stops dealing with Israel; the church will be removed from the earth before God once again begins to deal with Israel at the beginning of the seven years of tribulation. I Thes. 4:14-18, 5:9-11, II Thes. 2:7-9, Rev. 3:10. We are living in that in-between time now. When will the church age end and God once again begin dealing with Israel? Read Romans 11:25. (Look at 26-29 also.)

Chapter 3

Is this another prophecy, or is it still dealing with the same matter and the same period of time? Clues: 7, 18, 4:1, 4:2, 5:30, and we will find other clues from here through Chapter 5 that this all deals with the day of the Lord. Chapter 6 begins with comments that indicate another vision.

1-7 Bad stuff that will happen in Israel at that time.

8-9 This is why.

4-5, 12 Hints about their rulers at that time. Rulers of Israel itself, or the Antichrist or other powers in the global government that the Bible tells us will be in place at the time of the Tribulation?

13-15 God holds the rulers of Israel guilty. Why? Compare James 3:1. So we see that God holds people accountable according to how much they know, how much light they have. The more light you have received, the greater your responsibility in God's eyes. Mat. 11:21-24, Luke 12:45-48, 20:45-47.

16-24 What does God accuse the Jewish women of in 16? Details of fashion; its great importance, commercialism (just watch the TV ads!). Do Christian women today engage in this type of thinking or behavior? What does God think about it? Do we need to change our thinking or behavior?

Chapter 4

1 Seems to go with 3:25-26. Many Israeli men will die in battle, women will greatly outnumber.

2-6 The positive aspect, the outcome of this judgment.

2 Survivors; we know that many Jews will be killed, or will die in battle.

4 Again, what is one of the main purposes of the Tribulation?

5-6 Where else have we read about such a cloud? Ex. 13:21, 24:16, Num. 14:10, Ez. 10:4.

Chapter 5

1-6 A story about someone and his vineyard.

7 What is it really about? What does the vineyard represent here? We find elsewhere in the Bible that the vineyard also represents Israel; if we notice Bible symbols, we find that the Bible uses them consistently, and we don't have to guess at the meanings of symbols. The Bible interprets itself, so we need to get in the habit of comparing Scripture with Scripture. Now we might go back to 3:13-15 and see what God is saying to those elders and princes of Israel.

2 What did God expect from Israel? Fruit. What is fruit? (7) What else does the Bible tell us that fruit is? Gal. 5:22-23. Where do we read about vines and fruit in connection with believers in Christ? Read John 15:1-5. The church is never described as a vine or a vineyard; we are branches. Read Rom. 11:17-24. What does this tell us about ourselves as branches? We are grafted in. God's original plan (ideal will) centered around His chosen people, Israel; their sin resulted in "Plan B," the church, us (not that God was caught off guard and had to make a new plan--He knew all along what people would do and what He would do). The church was not the main thing, but many today believe that it now is. 11:20 warns us not to be proud of our position as grafted branches.

5 What is God going to do to Israel?

8-23 More about reasons for what God is going to do to them. What specifically in 12? In 13? In 15?

18-19 Scoffers. Compare Mat. 12:38-39, II Pet. 3:3-4.

24 Will this judgment happen gradually over time? Compare v27, also Rev. 1:1.

25 It almost sounds like this all could be said of mankind in general, but who is He talking about?

26 This verse says what will come swiftly? Other nations; God will use other nations to bring about this judgment on Israel. Described in 26-30. 28, will there be horses and chariots? Like what and what? Which indicates what?

God used wicked men to discipline Israel. Might He do that in our lives? When people do things to us that are not right, should we automatically assume that this cannot be what God's wants to be happening in our lives? On the one hand, does God want people to sin or to hurt others? But does He stop anyone from sinning if they choose to? But can He use that sinful action to fit into His purposes? Compare II Sam. 24; God's plan was to punish Israel. How did He bring about that punishment? Through David's sin. Was God responsible for David's sin? Obviously not. In fact, compare the parallel account in I Chron. 21:1. So who was behind David's sin? God, Satan, or David? All three! But--David was the one who sinned, and he knew it, 24:10. God planned that David's sinful actions would actually bring about His own purposes. If you look around you, you can see this same process happening all the time. God's ideal will is that we not sin; but He permits us to sin, so we call the things that He permits to happen, His permissive will. We see these two concepts a lot in the Bible, and understanding this can help us to make sense of our lives.

30 And just to be sure we remember the time Isaiah is talking about, he reminds us; when? A couple other clues: the darkness of 30 and the great earthquake of 25 sounds like Rev. 6:12.

Chapter 6

1 Apparently the first five chapters were all one vision. Now we have another dated vision.

2 What are seraphim? Where else do we read about them? Only here! Strong's: fiery serpent, seraph. From: burning, the copper color. Several Hebrew words related to seraph, all have to do with burning, fiery. So they have six wings, and are found in the presence of the Lord as He is sitting on His throne. Angels in the Bible do not have wings; when they appear on earth, they are described as men, or men dressed in white shining garments. The popular picture of angels with wings is reinforced by Christmas cards and flannelgraph stories, but these should not be our source for biblical truth. Also, in the Bible angels are never female. So if someone believes that today they have seen an angel and it is female or has wings, they have either imagined it, are lying, or have seen a Satanic deception (demons are fallen angels--Satan's favorite tactic is deception).

The beings described in Ez. 1 have no name but have four faces and four wings and human hands beneath their wings (6-8). These are also in connection with the Lord in heaven and His glory.

Cherubim (or cherub) are mentioned frequently. Strong's: of uncertain derivation, a cherub or imaginary figure. Gen. 3:24, Ez. 10; v21 tells us they have four wings and four faces, with human hands beneath their wings. One on each end of mercy seat, of gold. I Kings 6, two made of olive wood in the inner sanctuary of the temple, 10 cubits high, wings of five cubits, wingspan of 20 cubits II Chron. 3. These carvings all sound like they had two wings.

Rev. 4:6-8 are described as seraphim but called living creatures; KJV, beasts. KJV also uses "beast" to talk about the Antichrist. Different words in Strong's: angel/beast: animal, live thing. Antichrist/beast: dangerous animal, venomous wild beast. Interesting that Satan is an angel, angels are good and evil. Same word.

3 What is one things the angels do in heaven?

4 Have we heard of this smoke elsewhere? Ex. 19:18, Rev. 15:8.

5 What is Isaiah's response when he is confronted with the holy God? Others in the Bible have a similar reaction. What does this tell us about reports of near-death experiences, where people supposedly meet Jesus and hug Him and have sweet little conversations with Him? They don't match the biblical accounts at all! Jesus is not our buddy. What does this tell us about how we should come into God's presence, so to speak, in prayer? Did this man actually see God?

The Bible says no man has seen God. Compare John 1:18 to Gen. 18:22, Ex. 33:11, Judges 6:14-15, I Tim. 6:16, and I John 4:12. Is the Bible contradicting itself? Remember that God is a Trinity: John 4:24 tells us what about the Father? The Holy Spirit is obviously spirit also. According to this verse, when God appeared on earth as a man, He appeared as the Son, the Christ. His human name was Jesus. In the Old Testament, He also appeared, not as Jesus but as the pre-incarnate Christ. (Incarnate = in the flesh.) He appeared as the Angel of the Lord, who can be identified as God in many passages. See Gen. 22:11-18 and Judges 6:22. So whenever the Bible speaks of someone seeing God, they obviously saw God the Son, not God the Father.

5-8 The Bible teaches that because of God's holiness and our sinfulness, our sin must be dealt with first if we wish to come into God's presence. We must first recognize our sinfulness. The closer we get to God, the more we recognize our sinfulness. Some Christians actually think they do not sin. I John 1:8-10 speaks to this issue.

8 Do you see the Trinity implied? What is Isaiah's response, after his sin has been dealt with?

9-10 Who is "this people"? What do you make of God's comments here? We can almost hear the sarcasm. Doesn't He want people to repent? The more people listen without responding, the duller their hearing gets. It's like when He hardened Pharoah's heart; He does it, and we do it--free will and sovereignty, all at the same time. First Pharoah hardened his own heart; then later it is stated that God hardened it. He is going to judge them; they will not hear or see or repent; it is their choice, and He will see that they do it. He will bring out what is in people's hearts. God does not blind anyone's eyes who wants to see; those with eyes to see will see, and those who are blind will not see. It is God's desire that all would see, I Tim. 2:4.

13 A remnant will remain of God's people.

Chapter 7

What important prophecy do we find in this chapter? The virgin birth of the Messiah, 14. So we have the circumstance in which this prophecy was given.

Ahaz, the wicked king of Judah, has been threatened by the king of Syria and the king of Israel. God sends Isaiah to reassure him that it will not come to pass. He also says that Israel's days are numbered.

10-11 To strengthen Ahaz and Judah's faith, God wants to give them a sign, a short-term prophecy, that they will be able to see come to pass.

12 Ahaz refuses to ask for one; he disobeys God.

13-16 God gives one anyway. Controversy: is it talking about a young woman or a virgin? The word can be translated either way; must consider the context. Keep in mind that this prophecy, like many, has a short-term and a long-term fulfillment.

Mat. 1:18-23 tells us three times that Mary was a virgin, that she conceived by the Holy Spirit, and that this virgin birth was the fulfillment of Is. 7:14. What about the short-term prophecy, something that would be recognizable to Ahaz and his nation? Isaiah is giving a timetable till the two kings' lands are forsaken. Whether it is meant as virgin or young woman, the idea is that she will conceive and bear a son (9 months), his name will be Immanuel, and by the time he can tell right from wrong (a couple of years), this will take place; in just a few years the alliance would be broken.

Jesus was never called Immanuel, so does He really fulfill this prophecy?? Yes; what does Immanuel mean? God with us. The Messiah, the one born of a virgin, would be God in the flesh, divine. He is the only one who has ever fulfilled that prophecy.

18 When enemy nations came against Israel, did they just decide to come, on their own? This is a trick question! Yes, they did; they operated under their own free will. But we are told that their free-will actions are also under God's sovereign control. How should this make us feel when we see what is going on in the world, or in our lives? Are things that seem out of control, really out of control? So do we need to fear or be anxious?

20 Shaving the hair brought humiliation in those days.

"In that day" used several times. A time of judgment on the land of Israel; pictures a greater judgment in the future. 17, such days as have never come…

Chapter 8

3-4 God is using Isaiah's son to mark a timetable in His judgment on the nations--about a year. 18, his children are for signs from the Lord.

5-8 Warns of coming invasion by Assyria. Likens the invasion to water flowing.

9-10 No matter what the nations devise, God's plan cannot be thwarted. He is sovereign--the Bible makes this so clear. How should this fact affect our thinking about God, about our lives, about prayer?

11-14 How was Isaiah to act and feel? In contrast, how would Israel and Judah act? What should be our approach to life? What if our friends or family see things differently, even make fun of our beliefs? What if we see other Christians around us speaking or acting in a way that dishonors God? We are not to allow ourselves to get sucked into wrong things or attitudes that are going on around us.

19 What were the Jews doing? How does God feel about occult practices? Compare Deut. 18:9-12.

20 "The law and the testimony" is God's Word; how much of God's Word did they have in those days? The five books of Moses. Rather than consult occult forms of knowledge, what does God want us to do? And how do we consult God? In His Word. We hear God's voice, what God has to say to us, by reading His Word; we speak to God in prayer. This is the way God has designed that we can have a two-way conversation with Him. Some think they hear God's voice by clearing their minds and listening for a voice; we cannot know that whatever we think we hear is really what God has to say. Only in God's Word can we know without a doubt what God is saying. Beware of opening yourself to subjective influences and calling it "God's voice."

Chapter 9

1-2 In what way would God later make it glorious? When is "later on"? A prophecy of the Messiah. Compare Mat. 4:15-16. What light is referred to here? Compare John 1:1-13.

6-7 Who is the subject of these verses? This is an amazing Old Testament picture of Christ. He is not only a son to Mary and Joseph, He is God's Son. Government: when will that happen? At His first coming? The Old Testament prophets didn't see that there would be two comings, that not all this would be fulfilled at once.

We have the Trinity here: we will be given a son, a child, and he will be called the Eternal Counselor; we are told that who is the Counselor in John 14-16? He is the mighty God, equal with the Father, and He is eternal. This told them that the Messiah would be divine, both God and man. This implies the virgin birth; a baby that is 100% human cannot be God in the flesh. His kingdom will be eternal, will be characterized by peace. Some believe the kingdom is only a spiritual kingdom, where Christ rules in the hearts of believers. The word "government" makes it clear that the kingdom will also be earthly and physical, ruling on the throne of David from Jerusalem.

Then three paragraphs directed to Israel, telling what God will do to them because of their pride and arrogance, 9, each ending with the same two lines. Even though God brings these judgments, His anger isn't quenched, because they don't repent. When will His anger turn away? At the end of the Tribulation, because at that point they DO repent. Zech. 12:10.

Chapter 10

1-4 This seems to belong to Chapter 9, ends with same two lines.

5-7 An extremely important truth regarding God's sovereignty, how He works out His purposes. He uses the ungodly, and the evil events we see. They all fit into His plan. But He does not make them against their will. They think they are doing what they are doing, for their own purposes. God uses them to bring His punishment and discipline on His own people. This will be true of the Antichrist in the Tribulation, and it is true of Satan himself.

12 And after He has allowed them to do their wicked thing, for His purposes, what will He do? Punish them for doing it! As the Righteous Judge, He cannot punish them unless they are actually responsible for what they have done, so we know that He has not made them against their will. We are comforted by the knowledge that God will deal with those who have done us wrong; we may not see it, and it may not even happen in this life, but in eternity. However, we should not wish eternal punishment on the worst of sinners; what does Mat. 5:44 say to do instead? Does it say "love" or "like"? What is the difference? God's kind of love is not based on whether or not someone is lovable. "Agape" love is concerned with the other person's well-being, with their needs. We are told to love others as we love ourselves; we see that our needs are met. We make sure we eat when we are hungry, sleep when we are tired, and put on clothes when we are cold. Luke 10:27-37 illustrates what it means to love others.

As we read through the Prophets, notice how often pride and arrogance are mentioned as the prevailing sin God is judging. Can we infer from that that this is the sin that is pervasive throughout all mankind? Do we ever have a problem with it? Might it be our problem and we are not even aware that it is?

13-14 I, I, I... MY hand, MY wisdom...

15 They are the axe/saw/club/rod, but His hand is wielding it. This gives us some real insight into how God works in and through people's lives, both believers and unbelievers.

17-19 More evidence that trees often symbolize nations, power. Trees, forest, thorns, briars, garden. God deals this way with whoever opposes His plan and His people.

20 "In that day." Up to this verse, God has been speaking of Assyria and the immediate situation, but now we have a clue that this prophecy also has a future implication. Again, only a remnant will return to God following judgment by the hand of the wicked.

25 Again, this wicked nation is merely an instrument in God's hand, and then it too will be judged.

27 "In that day." Refers to the future as well as Assyria. The yoke will be removed from the nation Israel.

28-32 Traces the march from the north, to Jerusalem. At that time Assyria was the enemy from the north. End time prophecy often refers to the power from the north, whoever that may be at that time. The situation with Assyria at that time pictures the end time situation.

33-34 Either we conclude that God dislikes trees and wants them cut down, or we can conclude that these often picture powers and nations. "Tall" and "lofty" probably are a reference to pride and arrogance. This is why, when we read in Rev. about 1/3 of the trees burnt up, we are justified in wondering if it is literal trees OR symbolic of nations and powers--or both.

We see in these prophecies that at the same time, God is speaking to them of their present condition, judgment to come from wicked enemies, and God's final deliverance, while He is also saying that in the distant future, this is His plan for Israel. This is an amazing evidence that the Bible could not possibly be written by mere men. God is not through with Israel, and we will find much evidence for this fact in the books of prophecy.

Chapter 11

1 Then - a time word. In the future.

1-5 Who is the "He" in this section? What predictions are made about the Messiah here? It's interesting that in the light of the symbolic use of tall trees, the Messiah is represented as what? Shoot, stem, branch (and later, in the New Testament, the true vine, John 15). Isn't it amazing that we find the over 40 authors of the books of the Bible using the same consistent symbolism, even though they wrote over a period of 1500 years? This is evidence that the Bible could not have been authored by mere men.

2 Do you see the Trinity in this verse? The Spirit = the Holy Spirit. Of the Lord = the Father. Him = the Son.

6-9 Has anything like this ever happened? No, so it must be still future. (According to this verse, we cannot be in the kingdom now, even though many say we are. Those who believe that all prophecy has already been fulfilled must explain this passage.) What will be different in this future time? Animals will not be carnivorous (like in the Garden of Eden, when they ate only plants; compare Gen. 9:1-7, how things changed after the flood). Wild animals will not hurt or be afraid of humans. This will be on the earth; this is not in heaven. Part of the curse of sin will be removed from the earth, but not all; death will not be abolished until the end of the Millenium. The dog-eat-dog code of the animal kingdom is a reminder of whose sin? What three beasts do we see here that are mentioned in Dan. 7:4-6? Which represented three what? So what might Isaiah also be saying about the kingdoms of the world in the Millenium?

10-11 Time clue as to when: in that day. Could this be referring to a time that is not the end time? This has never happened, nor will it until that time. Is it describing the Tribulation or the Millenium? "That day," "in that day," "the day of the Lord," includes both, we are seeing.

11 Some teach that God is through with Israel because they were disobedient. But we have been reading that He punished them at that time; then a remnant returned to the land. Here we read that "in that day" (which we have seen includes the Tribulation and Millenium) a second time God will recover a remnant of Israel. Where will He recover them from? Islands/isles/coastlands refers to the lands of the Gentile nations. Compare Mat. 12:21 to Is. 42:4; Mt. 13:1, Rev. 17:15, Rev. 13:1.

12-13 Again, the remnant will be gathered from all the earth, the Gentile nations. Israel and Judah, reunited; no lost tribes here, as some teach.

15 God will dry up the Gulf of Suez, the Red Sea; the Euphrates River will be changed into seven streams or canals (shallow). Also referred to in Rev. 16:12.

Chapter 12

1 "On that day" has a similar meaning to "in that day" we see; it is talking about the same period of time as the preceding chapter. Now God's anger has turned away, compare to 9:12,17,21.

2-3 Saved Israel in the millenial kingdom.

4 In that day. This will be the state of the remnant referred to in Is. 11.

Chapter 13

1 Burden, oracle, prophecy, utterance (especially of doom): a weighty, burdensome message to deliver. About what? Isaiah "saw"; sounds like a vision, in which he also hears the Lord speaking. Because God sometimes spoke to people in the Old Testament days through visions, does that mean we should also expect visions? We see a few visions mentioned in the Gospels and in Acts; the prophecies of Revelation were given through a vision. We do not read in the Epistles--the directions for the church--about having or expecting to have visions. Why is this? God used visions at certain times to impart information from and about Himself; how does He do that now? What do we have that contains everything God needs us to know? In the past God spoke through visions, revelations, dreams, and prophets; now we have God's complete written Word, His complete revelation in Jesus Christ, Heb. 1:1-2. Study the Epistles to find how God deals with the church.

What do we already know about Babylon? World empire, anti-God, Babel the beginning of man's organized rebellion against God. Babylon in Revelation will again be the object of God's judgment, whether it refers to a literal city to be rebuilt, or whether it refers symbolically to man's organized rebellion.

3-5 This could be God's own army, His angels; or, comparing to what we just read about how God uses other nations to execute His judgments, it could be other nations, as in 4-5. Does "consecrated ones" mean angels? Consecrated means set apart; He may be speaking of unbelievers that He has set apart to do His will by executing His anger on Israel.

6,9 The day of the Lord. Judgment is going to fall on Babylon at that time, but this also pictures a greater judgment to come in the future against Babylon. The Bible frequently uses this type of two-tiered prophecy.

7-13 What will conditions be like during the great Tribulation? How will people react? Similar to descriptions in Revelation of the Great Tribulation.

10 Compare Rev. 8:12.

11 This especially sounds like a reference to the final judgment. Did this happen at the destruction of Jerusalem? This is one of the purposes of the day of wrath.

12 A large percentage of people on earth will be killed during the Great Tribulation. Compare Rev. 9:18.

3,9,13 This is the time of God's anger, His wrath. Does the pouring out of His wrath, the day of wrath, refer to the seven years of tribulation or the lake of fire? See Rev. 6:17. This means the church will be removed before the Tribulation; see I Thes. 5:9 & Eph. 5:6. Even though the church is not mentioned in the Old Testament, understanding the Old Testament sheds much light on what the New Testament has to say about the church.

17 The city of Babylon was attacked by the Assyrians some time before the Babylonian empire fell. Here, the Medes attack the Assyrians, those who are attacking Babylon. What country is Assyria today? Look on a Bible map. Are unbelievers under God's control? The more we understand God's sovereignty, the more we will trust God, and the less we will by gripped by fear and anxiety.

19-22 The city was destroyed, but was later rebuilt. Some time later, the empire of Babylon was destroyed.

We are quite familiar with one leader of Babylon, Nebuchadnezzar; Daniel served under him. Timewise, was that before or after Isaiah?

Chapter 14

1-4 What time is this referring to, 1? The immediate context: when Israel returns to their land, after the Babylonian captivity. The future context: when Israel is in their land in fulfillment of the promises about the kingdom. Who is this about, 4? The king at that time; we will see that he pictures or is a "type" of someone else, a more powerful "king."

4b The oppressor has ceased; so will this person rule forever?

4-21 Goes on to rejoice (maybe even gloat) over this fact; 9, his descent to Sheol, the place of the dead, and 12-15, his arrogance.

12 Has any king of Babylon actually fallen from heaven? So who is this talking about? Who was in heaven but has fallen from heaven? We see how God's message about this king uses him as a "type" of someone else, starting out talking about the literal person, then changing the language to indicate that now someone else is actually being referred to. We find this literary device used in other places in the Bible. Compare Ez. 28:2, in which the prince of Tyre is described, and pictures or is a "type" of Satan. 28:12 changes the picture to the king of Tyre, and we can tell that some of the things said here could not be said of any human. Read 12-17.

KJV says "Lucifer, son of the morning." Lucifer (Strong's): the morning star, bright shining. This is the only place the name Lucifer is used, although some of the modern translations do not use the word. Compare Luke 10:18 and Rev. 12:7-9.

13-14 The five "I will's". Satan desires to be like God, even to usurp Him. 14b, compare Gen. 3:5, what he tempted the first humans to desire; don't many false teachers still make this promise? Don't people continue to fall for it? Why? Compare II Thes. 2:4, describing the Antichrist.

4-7 are only completely fulfilled in the millenial kingdom; the Lord has triumphed over evil at the end of the Tribulation. What has happened to Satan? Rev. 20:1-3. And because we see this is describing a time which can only be the Millenium, since Satan is out of the picture, we see that verse 1 tells us something specific about God's plan for Israel. God is not finished with Israel, as many claim. Many claim that the church is spiritual Israel or God's greater Israel or the new Israel. This view can only be justified if the words of the Bible are spiritualized or allegorized to change their obvious meaning. Let the Bible say what it says.

8 Again trees are used to picture what?

24, 27 What do we learn about God from these verses? He has plans, for nations, for the whole earth, and all His plans will happen just as He has planned them. Can God's plans be thwarted? Even if we disobey or make bad choices? Even if evil rulers are in control? God's sovereignty extends over all. And each of us as individuals will be fitting into that plan, even if we don't realize it or see it. How does this make you feel about things in your life that you don't like or understand?

28-29 Don't get too excited because your oppressor has been broken--several more oppressors will follow him. Philistia is the land that will later be called Palestina, then Palestine.

Chapter 15

We won't spend much time on these judgments against various nations but will try to pick out a few points that are relevant to us.

A prophecy against Moab, an important land at that time, an enemy of Israel. What was the origin of the people of Moab? Gen. 19:29-38. Balaam was hired by Balak, king of Moab, to curse Israel. Ruth was a Moabitess. Today there is no nation of Moab.

This detailed prophecy has been literally fulfilled. Literally fulfilled prophecy is an important reason why we believe in the literal interpretation which sees future prophecy as also to be literally fulfilled, even if right now we can't see exactly how that could be.

Chapter 16

4-5 Has the end of 4 ever happened yet? When will it happen? Who is spoken of prophetically in 5? What two roles of the Messiah are mentioned? What are some of His attributes? The Bible also tells us that these are attributes of God. The Messiah is to be divine (God).

6 What was Moab's sin? So often this is the sin God judges. How can we apply this knowledge to our own lives?

12-14 Within three years Moab was destroyed by Assyria. Whatever God says, will happen, just as He says. Should this knowledge increase our trust in God's Word, and in His power?

Chapter 17

Damascus was the capital city of Aram, the land of the Syrians, just north and east of Israel.

4,7,9 Several references to "in that day," the time of judgment, often with application to the future judgment yet to come. The short term judgment pictures the future judgment. Again we notice that "in that day" refers to a time period including both judgment and blessing--the Great Tribulation and the millenial kingdom.

4-6,11 Harvest, the reaper, gleanings. The Bible often uses harvest to picture judgment. Although some gospel songs and some preachers refer to harvest as winning souls for Jesus, this is not the primary meaning of harvest in the Bible. Compare Mt. 13:24-43.

6 Many killed but a few will be left.

10-11 What is the reason given for God's judgment? They made their plans for the future without including God in their plans. What then happened to their plans? How can we apply this to our lives? Psalm 127:1, James 4:13-16.

Chapter 18

1 Cush included parts of Egypt, Ethiopia, and Sudan.

2,7 What were these people like?

3 Will God's judgment be done in a corner, hidden from view?

5 How are God's actions described here? Does God ever prune in our lives? What is the purpose of God's pruning for the Christian, John 15:2? What is God likened to in John 15:1?

Chapter 19

Egypt has been an important part of Scripture. It still exists as a nation, and will in the future.

1 What particular sin is mentioned about Egypt?

1-15 Many specifics in this section that were literally fulfilled.

2-4 After the Pharoahs, Egypt disintegrated into city-states. God says He will incite them against each other and will confound their strategy so that they resort to divination (which the Bible forbids and condemns); is God making people sin? Is such an idea consistent with what the Bible teaches about God's character? Then what IS this saying? Does God ever force anyone to do anything? Does He force people to sin? Does He stop people from sinning if they choose to sin? The Bible teaches that we have free will; it also teaches that God is control of everything that happens. God does not cause people to sin, but He works through sinful people to do what they choose to do, and those actions, although wrong, fit into His Big Picture and were known to Him from the beginning. We have free will and God is sovereign over all things. Our brains cannot truly grasp this because we are finite humans, our minds tainted by the Fall, yet we are trying to understand an infinite perfect God. It is arrogant and audacious to say that just because WE cannot understand something, it can't be so.

5-10 The Nile delta filled with sediment; or, a drought, the drying up of the Nile. It no longer supported once-flourishing industries, like fishing, manufacturing, growing papyrus (reeds and rushes; 7, bulrushes, is paper reeds in KJV).

11-14 The wisdom of man was folly, 11; also, the close intermarriage among Pharoahs produced mental misfits. 12, do the Egyptian wise men have any understanding of the true and living God or of His purposes? Compare Prov. 2:6.

16-on "In that day." None of the rest of this chapter seems to have been fulfilled in the past, which also leads us to believe it is speaking of the Tribulation and Millenium. What are God's plans for Egypt in the future? Has this happened yet? What is said about Egypt, Assyria and Israel? Has this happened yet?

Israel may have been tempted to look to Egypt for help against the coming Assyrian invasion, instead of trusting God, but God was going to judge Egypt too. In the Bible, Egypt is a "type" of "the world." The children of Israel came out of Egypt to follow the Lord, first in the wilderness of disobedience and grumbling, often thinking longingly of what they left back in Egypt, and finally into Canaan, the promised land, the place of rest and victory. What things of the world do we sometimes trust in? What does God think about that? Might God have to do some pruning in our lives when we do that?

Chapter 20

Did Isaiah go buck-naked? Does this really seem logical? "Naked" can mean stripped of the outer garment, not fully clothed. Everyone wore an undergarment; sackcloth was the outer garment. Some even make the ridiculous claim that nudity was sanctioned in the Bible because of this incident and a couple of other uses of the term "naked."

This was an object lesson of how God would use Assyria to lead Egypt and Cush away--not fully clothed, barefooted, and in shame. Israel should not look to them for help against Assyria. Maybe at this point, Israel thought Egypt looked like a likely source of help, but Israel did not know the future; God is telling them the future so they will have even more reason to look to Him alone.

We might put our trust in our insurance policies or investments; do we know that the economy or the stock market will be what we expect when we need it? We might trust in our own physical and mental abilities; do we know that those abilities will always be intact? We might trust in another person; do we know that our family or friends will always be there for us, will never turn on us, will never let us down? What other sources of false security can you think of?

Chapter 21

Oracles against Babylon, Edom, and Arabia.

Babylon was not yet a world power, but her fall is already predicted here, about 200 years before it happened. Babylon first shows up as Babel (Gen. 11), then as the final seat of rebellion against God (Rev. 18).

1 Wilderness or desert of the sea; Babylon had many bodies of water. Might this be similar to Rev. 17:1-3 where John was carried into the wilderness and saw the woman/whore that sits upon many waters?

2 Elam is Persia. Media-Persia defeated the world power of Babylon and became the next world power.

9 Quoted in Rev. 14:8.

10 What has happened to Israel? What happens when grain is threshed? Threshing comes at the time of harvest--here and many other places, judgment.

11 Edom/Seir. Who was the father of this nation? Gen. 36:1,8. These names are used interchangeably.

12 What might morning and night be contrasting? Dark times, pleasant times? Judgment, blessing?

13 Arabia.

16 Judgment will fall in a specific period of time, in the very near future. Why might God tell this in advance? If we know in advance that God has promised to do something, and then it happens, how might that make us feel? If it just happens, with no warning, would we connect it with God's plan, or think it was something that "just happened"?

Chapter 22

1 The valley of vision is referring to what place? 4,8,9.

3 They were beseiged; some were captured.

5 What will this day be like?

7 Surrounded by the enemy; things looked pretty bad, from a human perspective.

8 What had they depended on? Who arranged the circumstances so that they would be without defense in this situation? Why? (The answer is not in these verses, but is found throughout this book and the entire Old Testament.) God doesn't just allow difficult circumstances in our lives, as many like to think; if we read His Word carefully, it becomes obvious that He plans them, yet we always see that at the same time He allows them to be the product of our own choices, our free will. God never violates our free will. Why do we sometimes continue trusting in self-effort and fail to trust God completely, even when He is disciplining us by allowing trials in our lives? Is knowing we should trust Him more or quit complaining, the same as doing it? Why is it so hard to do it? Is this why sometimes God brings trial upon trial, because we aren't really getting it yet? Self-will is so strong that sometimes we must actually hit bottom before we actually give up, trust, and obey. "In that day"--again we see pictured the future time of judgment for Jerusalem also.

11 They did what they could. But who should they have depended on? Does He just make it up as He goes along? Ps. 139:16, Eph. 2:10. Think about the things that have happened in your life, even the times when things seemed out of control. Were they? Are they now? The Old Testament has much to teach us about who God is and how He acts. Should this knowledge affect our level of trust? So what place should worry have in the Christian's life?

12 "In that day"--takes this prophecy from the immediate context on into a future context--another layer of application. We keep seeing prophecies that have 1) an obvious meaning for those people in that time period, 2) a future and more complete fulfillment, and 3) an application for us as we look for the underlying spiritual truth that applies to those of us living in the church age. God planned His Word in such a way that all these meanings are there, and none contradict each other. What an amazing book! Never think that because you have read the Bible once, you don't need to read it anymore. There are so many layers of meaning to be discovered.

12-14 How should these Jews have responded to what God was bringing about? What were they doing instead? Is there anything wrong with eating and drinking? But what was their attitude? Does 14 mean that this sin would not be forgiven even if they repented? Does the rest of the Bible support that thinking? Or is it saying that God knows they will not repent of this sin at all, therefore it will not be forgiven?

15-25 Contrasts the two leaders, Shebna and Eliakim. Who are they? What is going on with them? We read about them in II Kings 18:18-37, 19:2, Is. 36:1-22, 37:2. In those references we find that Eliakim was over the household of King Hezekiah and Shebna was the king's scribe, and their part in the confrontation between Hezekiah and Assyria, specifically with Rabshakeh. But here we find some details about them that are not given in the historical account. What was Shebna like, 15-18? What was the significance of his preparing a tomb for himself? He was attempting to establish a place for himself among posterity even after his death. What was God going to do to him, 17-19? Who would be given his place, 20-21? So what must Eliakim have been like? 21-22 don't really sound like something that could be true of the man Eliakim; because 12 and 25 frame this section with the phrase "in that day," we can assume that there is something future pictured, something bigger. Because "in that day" generally have reference to the day of the Lord (the Tribulation and the Millenium), who might these two men be picturing in that future time? Notice that in 17 Shebna is referred to as "O man." Who at that time will be "the man"? II Thes. 2:3. Compare Is. 22:22 to Rev. 3:7; who does Eliakim seem to picture?

23, 25 What do these pegs picture? Isn't this analogy just like Mt. 7:24-27? Isn't God's book amazing? What kind of weak pegs do people hang their lives on? Even pegs that appear to be firm will fall at that time. The Bible teaches that the church will be removed (caught up, raptured) before that terrible time, but what application is there for us today? Do Christians ever trust in things other than God? We saw in 8-11 that they did some things that seemed like a good idea, so why did God get after them for doing those things? Are we to do nothing? Are we not to earn money, save money, plan for the future? How can we DO those things without depending on those things? James 4:13-15. Luke 19:13 (KJV) says we are to "occupy" till He returns, or as the NASB says, "do business." We are to be involved in and doing our best in the daily affairs of life, yet not be so caught up in them that we forget to depend on God. Compare Col. 3:23, Rom. 14:8.

Chapter 23

A prophecy against Tyre.

1-7 The key trading city, the center of commercialism at that time, shipping. 3, the market of nations.

Read 8-9. We keep seeing that God has a problem with commercialism, with pride.

17 Tyre is likened to what? What does this remind us of in Revelation? Tyre was the "great whore" then, Babylon will be the "great whore" in the future. Possible evidence that Babylon in Revelation 18 may not be a specific city but commercialism, or the center of commercialism. Could it be the stock market, the epitome of commercialism? Could its downfall happen in one hour? Would all the merchants of the earth howl about how her great wealth was laid waste? If Isaiah or John was talking about the stock market, could this be the language they might possibly use to portray whatever he saw in his vision? How could someone of that day put into words what they see in a vision of a world 2,000 or more years in the future? Do they understand what they see? Do they have language to describe it? Do you see why many futuristic prophecies are phrased in such symbolic, mysterious language?

Should seeing what God says about commercialism in the Old Testament matter to us today? Does God change? How important is commercialism in today's world? What are some other words for commercialism? Materialism? Greed? Do we struggle with those things? Does God want us to trust in money or things?

This prophecy had a short-term application to the literal city of Tyre, which was destroyed as prophesied, but the phrase "in that day" in 15 hints that a more complete fulfillment is in the future, in the endtimes. We will read more about this in the next few chapters, which seem to go together.

Chapter 24

This chapter is quite similar to what is described in Revelation.

1 Has this ever actually happened yet? This must be future.

2 Things will be so bad that the playing field will be leveled, so to speak. No one's power, money or influence will be able to help them then.

3-4 What happens to the earth?

5 Why?

6 What word tells us that God holds people accountable for their actions?

7-9 What will stop at this time that apparently has been going on on a major scale up till then?

10 Another reference to "the city." How is it described here?

11 Again, what is mentioned that appears to be an important factor in what is happening?

12 Now what is said about "the city"?

13 How are the events on earth described here?

14-16 But some are doing what? And who would those people be? Meanwhile, other people are doing what? Who would those people be?

17 Who does Isaiah address here? This is an interesting parallel to a similar phrase found in Revelation: "those who dwell on the earth"--earth dwellers as opposed to those whose citizenship is in heaven, or the kingdom. Compare Rev. 3:10, 6:10, 8:13, 11:10, 13:8,14, 17:8.

18 Will these "earth dwellers" be able to escape God's judgment? Compare "windows above are opened" to Gen. 7:11. Apparently devastating rainstorms will be one event. The earth has experienced major earthquakes, but have any so far actually shaken the earth's foundations?

19-20 Has anything like this every happened? Many believe this describes the earth being struck by a comet or something similar that will actually throw the earth off its axis. Compare Rev. 8, especially 8:8.

21-22 When will this happen? What two groups will be punished? Who is the "host of heaven"? "Host" is a company organized for war; interestingly, this is how angels are often referred to in the Bible. Are all angels good? Could God be punishing His good angels? So who is He punishing here, at this time? Who will be confined? When will they be punished? (later, at the end of the thousand-year kingdom) Compare Rev. 19:19-21, 20:1-3, 20:7-15.

23 Has this happened yet? Compare Rev. 21:23.

We live on this earth, but are we citizens of this world, of "the city"? Eph. 2:19, Phil. 3:20. How should that fact affect the way we live? II Cor. 5:20 says we hold what position on this earth? What do those do? Where is their loyalty and concern centered?

Do you find it scary to think about the great disasters that the Bible says are in the future? Will the church be on earth at the time of the Great Tribulation? But might there be disasters and lesser tribulations before we are caught up to be with the Lord? Believing in the rapture does not mean believing that we will be spared from all disasters. We should trust God for our future--our lives can change in a split second, but the Bible is full of admonitions to "fear not." Trust is the opposite of fear. If you struggle with fears, spend more time thinking about God's love, His care, His sovereignty, His goodness. The more you get to know what He is like, the easier it gets to trust Him.

Chapter 25

1 Now the tone changes; what two things does Isaiah do here? He has been prophesying about the time of God's judgment, the Tribulation, but now is looking forward to the millenial Kingdom, which comes next in God's timetable (compare Rev. 19-22). Did any of these events catch God by surprise? What important doctrinal truth is presented here? Predestination. Plans for what? Each and every person, every nation, the whole world. He planned it all in advance. So how big is God? This thought should color our prayer life and our thinking about everything that happens in our lives.

2 "A city"--"the city" we have been reading about. As the city of Babylon is the focus of God's judgment at the end of the Tribulation, either as the seat of commerce at that time, or representing the commercialism that God hates, perhaps "a city" here refers to the same thing. Now it is the Millenium; commercialism, "the city," has been destroyed.

3 Cities have changed--how? Why? Is this happening now?

4 Like Psalms points out, God is our refuge, rock, strength, defense. He doesn't necessarily remove the distress, storm, heat; He protects us as we go through them. The Bible never says it is His desire to keep us from going through those things; rather, He plans that we should experience them, that we might grow spiritually as we learn to depend on Him. John 16:33, Acts 14:22, Rom. 8:35, II Cor. 1:5, Phil. 1:29-30, I Thes. 3:3, II Tim. 3:12, I Pet. 4:12-19. But in the Millenium, those will apparently be things of the past.

5 God will deal with the ruthless invading strangers Israel faces. But "in that day" (9) tells us this has application and fulfillment in the endtimes. When the Millenium comes, they will have been taken care of. Who might these "aliens" be? Interestingly, today "aliens" are a known phenomena. Could the Bible be hinting at something unusual that will take place during the Great Tribulation? In the NASB, it is interesting that the KJV word "strangers" has been translated "aliens." The Hebrew word can be "foreigner," "strange," "from another place." This same word is found in several places in the Bible. Let's consider the possibility that the Bible may have something to say about "aliens."

Let's start with Dan. 7:19-22. Like us, Daniel wants to know more about this fourth kingdom. Again we are told it is "different" in some unexplained way; it is more vicious and destructive than all the earlier ones. Like us, he wants to know more about the 10 horns and that one horn in particular. In 7:8 he describes it as a little horn, but here he says it is larger in appearance than the other horns; KJV says "whose look was more stout than his fellows." Strong's also gives these terms: captain, chief, great, lord, master. Sounds like his role rather than his physical appearance. Some think eyes are thought to refer to his knowledge or intelligence; this could be describing the man himself, or the capabilities of his kingdom (think about how the computer, satellites, and implantable chips could be used to track us and everything we do).

Or there could be something unique about his eyes--similar to human eyes but different. He is described here and elsewhere as boastful, arrogant, blasphemous. Interestingly, there are already known "creatures" that fit this description--demonic spirits or fallen angels that currently go by the name "aliens," with unusually shaped eyes. Many Christians think they could play a big part in the end times scenario. Unbelievers generally think "aliens" are highly evolved beings that desire to help earth's inhabitants evolve to a higher form of humanity, and that they bring knowledge of higher technology. A cursory look at their "message" reveals that instead, they speak on religious matters, claiming even to be our creators. Their religious message contradicts that of the Bible, and parallels New Age beliefs such as: we are all one, "god" is in all of us and in everything, and we are also becoming god-like; what was Satan's first lie, Gen. 3:1-5? This is parallel to the New Age belief that we all have access to "the christ" or the "christ-consciousness" within us. In Mat. 24:5, Jesus tells His disciples, inquiring about the end of the age, that the first thing that will happen is that "many will come in My name, saying, 'I am Christ.'" If they are truly from a higher technology, why isn't technology the message they bring? Their message parallels what the Bible says about Satan's character, his lies and deceptions. Could it even be that the Antichrist will be an "alien" or that "aliens" will accompany him?

An important aspect of the message the "aliens" bring is that there are millions of people on earth who are holding back the arrival of the "aliens" and the age of Aquarius in which we supposedly will evolve to a higher state of consciousness--the "fifth dimension." These "dark forces" have "bad vibrations" and must be cleansed from the earth. The "aliens" claim that they will levitate these people up to waiting UFO's and transport them to another place. This brings up some interesting implications. Will this be the Antichrist's explanation for the disappearance of many people when the church (all true believers) are caught up to meet the Lord in the air? Do Satan and his demons have knowledge of this event foretold in Scripture? Of course Satan has access to God's Word.

Many Christians do not believe that the church will be caught up before the appearance of the Antichrist and the seven years of the Great Tribulation, although this is taught in I Thes. 4:14-18 and II Thes. 2:6-8. Yet it appears that Satan and his demons understand God's plan as revealed in His Word, and are preparing for "damage control." Another intriguing implication is the fact that "alien" sightings, although recorded throughout history, began to snowball starting in the 1940's. Why then? They speak of this age of Aquarius as being right around the corner--in the very near future. If indeed they know about the coming departure of believers, what could they possibly know about the timing of this event? Doesn't the Bible say that no one knows the day or hour of Christ's return, and didn't Jesus say that only the Father knows when it will be, Mat. 24:36, 42,44?

Let's look at what the Bible says about the timing of the catching up of the church. First, although the English word "rapture" is not found in the Bible, this event is often referred to as the "rapture," from the Greek word meaning "to take, to catch up, to snatch"--the same root word from which we get "rape" (to take by force) or "rapturous" (to be carried away emotionally). Second, when Jesus says no one knows the day or the hour, He is speaking of the Second Coming, not the rapture (although surely the same principle applies to the timing of the rapture); the Olivet Discourse is addressed to Jews, not to the church, which was not yet in existence. The Second Coming will happen at the end of the seven years of the Great Tribulation, so the year will be known, and possibly even the month--note that Jesus does not mention those, just the day and hour. (For more details on the timing of the seven years, see notes further on in this chapter.)

Third, what clue might give a rough time frame that can be known be both us and the demon-aliens? Many believe that clue is found in Mat. 24:32-34. Jesus has just told His disciples about the events of the endtimes and now is speaking of when they will take place. He uses the fig tree in a parable; the fig tree is often used in Scripture to picture Israel. Compare Hos. 9:10, 10:1, Mt. 21:19, Luke 13:6-9. For centuries, Israel was a people without a land. In 1948, they once again became a nation--the fig tree began to put forth leaves. Ez. 37 gives us a similar picture of the nation Israel one day coming back to life, over a period of time; 37:11 tells us that this parable of bones is about Israel. The breath of life does not come back into the bones until the very last--when Christ returns to set up His earthly kingdom in which Israel will be the primary nation, having finally recognized Christ as their Messiah. So in Mat. 24:32 Jesus says that we are to be watching the fig tree--Israel--as God's timepiece marking the coming of the endtimes. Luke 21:29 records that Jesus also said "and all the trees," indicating we are to be watching world events unfold along with the rebirth of the nation Israel, as our clue to the start of the endtimes. Satan and his demons also know what is written in Scripture; James 2:19 says the demons also "believe, and shudder." They do not believe in faith, but they believe in God, and know their adversary.

So, to sum up, if indeed the "aliens" are demons or fallen angels, and if indeed this impending evacuation of people who don't accept their agenda is their lying explanation for the rapture of the church, this merely strengthens and confirms the belief of many Christians that the generation who sees the rebirth of the nation Israel (Mat. 24:33-34) is the generation that will not "pass away" (die of old age) but will be "changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye" (I Cor. 15:51-52) and will be "caught up…in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air" (I Thes. 4:17). This is pictured in Rev. 3:7-13, the church in Philadelphia, which pictures the church just before the endtimes begins, to whom is given an "open door"; compare Rev. 4:1, "a door standing open in heaven" and a voice, "Come up here," where John is a type of the church who will "come up here" through that "open door." This church will be kept "from the hour of testing, that hour which is about to come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth," Rev. 3:10. 3:12, this church is identified with the "new Jerusalem, which comes down out of heaven," as described in Rev. 21-22, the dwelling place of the church during the seven years of the Tribulation and then on during eternity.

The Bible says that the Great Tribulation will be characterized by the Antichrist's lying signs and wonders; we know that supernatural power comes from only one of two sources--God or Satan. II Thes. 2:11 speaks of the unbelievers during that time believing "what is false" (NASB); the marginal note says another possible translation is "the lie." What might be this lie that they will believe and be judged for? Could it be what they believe about the identify of the Antichrist, the source of his power, or, if indeed "aliens" accompany his presence, who they really are? Could "the lie" be the Antichrist's explanation of what happened to the mass of believers who disappeared? What does John 8:44 say about Satan?

The Bible seems to give us some clues about "aliens" and the end times. The word "alien" in the Bible generally means someone strange, a stranger, someone from a foreign land; "aliens" are the ultimate in "strange," and from the ultimate in "foreign lands." We have also noticed in studying prophecy that the Bible often gives us several layers of meanings, encompassing both the near future and the distant future. Several passages have some interesting context clues that make us wonder if such "aliens" are referenced here.

Ps. 144:7-11 in the NASB has two references to "aliens." The context, 1-4, is war--possibly either physical or spiritual warfare. We know that there will be great battles during the Great Tribulation, and also that this is the time of great spiritual warfare. 5-6 speak of God coming down to rescue man, with great signs and wonders, out of the hands of "aliens," 7. How are these "aliens" described, 7 and 11?

Is. 25:5 is another reference to "aliens" in the NASB. The context, chapters 22-27, is the end times, encompassing both the Great Tribulation and the Millenial Kingdom. We know this by the frequent use of the key phrase "in that day" which generally refers to the end times, and from the striking parallels to the book of Revelation. Is. 22: "in that day," 8,12,20,25. What is God about to do, 17? In 20-24, who is Eliakim likened to? Compare Rev. 3:7. Is. 23: what is happening to Tyre, 1? What is Tyre, 3? This "city" (symbolic of commercialism in its greatest sense) has been around how long, 7? "In that day," 15. Compare this chapter, especially 17, to Rev. 18. Is. 24: This chapter closely parallels the description in Revelation of the seven years of Tribulation. More references to "the city," 10,12. "In that day," 21. Who will God punish, besides the rulers of the earth, 21? What does 22 say God will also do to them at this time? Compare Rev. 20:7-10. Has 23 happened yet? This must be future.

Now we come to Is. 25. The "city" has been destroyed, 2 (Rev. 18). What has happened in 8? "In that day," 9. So the context is definitely the end times. 25:5 tells us that God has subdued who? How are they described in 5? Isn't this how Dan. 7 describes the Antichrist and his final but short-lived kingdom? The context, Is. 26-28, goes on to speak of what God did, and the Millenial Kingdom, which arises after the overthrow of the Antichrist. "In that day," 26:1, 27:1,2,12,13, 28:5.

Another clue about "aliens" is in Dan. 2:40-43. In that final kingdom, what two things will be combined? Will they adhere to one another? This is an unnatural mixture. What might "clay" refer to, Gen. 2:7? So what might "iron" refer to? Something non-human? This could even refer to attempts at inter-breeding, which the "aliens" seem to have a great interest in. See notes on Gen. 6:1-12.

Our final reference is Jer. 51:51. What have the "aliens" done here? Interestingly, part of the religious message of the "aliens" is that they will build themselves a temple in Jerusalem. Right after that, 53, we see several terms that could reference "aliens." Even if they fortify themselves from the heavens (with their "UFOs"), God's "destroyers" will come--who might they be? What is the context of this chapter? Jeremiah is prophesying that Babylon is about to come against Israel, which literally happened under Nebuchadnezzar--the near fulfillment. We also know that the future destruction of Babylon (either a symbolic name, or the rebuilt city of Babylon) is the focus of Rev. 14-18. What does God say about Babylon in Jer. 51:1,7,11,13,24,25,29,37? Compare 51:6,45,50 to Rev. 18:4.

Jer. 51:53 also parallels Dan. 9:27, where the Antichrist makes a covenant with Israel for one "week" (one "seven"). "The one who makes desolate" is said to come "on the wing of abominations"; in the KJV it is rendered "for the overspreading of abominations." Strong's #3671: an edge or extremity of a bird or army, a wing, a flap; includes such words as bird, feather, flying, overspreading, something winged. Could this be a reference to "UFOs"?

If you disagree with these ideas, that is OK, because they are only hinted at. This may not be what happens at all. I would not be dogmatic about them, but it is food for thought. They do seem to dovetail with, and explain, the increase in reports of "aliens" and "UFOs," whatever they are, in the past several decades, and even of their unusual presence especially in the land of Israel. What better explanation is there of this phenomena?

Back to Isaiah 25...

6 There will be plenty for all. Could this banquet be the marriage supper of the Lamb spoken of in Rev. 19:9?

Another interesting aspect of this verse is its comments about wine being part of the banquet the Lord prepares. Drinking wine is a controversial topic among Christians, but our beliefs should be based on the Bible. Does the Bible forbid the drinking of wine? If so, how does one explain this verse, the many other references to drinking wine in the Old Testament (in a non-judgmental context), and the fact that Jesus' first miracle was turning water to wine? The Bible DOES speak against the over-use of wine or strong drink, and drunkenness.

Many Christians try to get around the term "wine" by claiming that in those days, what was called "wine" was really an unfermented drink we would call grape juice. This verse refutes that idea. Aged wine is definitely fermented, as would the wine have been that Jesus created at the wedding in Cana, since it was said that the best wine (aged wine) was kept for last. I am not advocating drinking, but I do believe it is important not to add to the Bible, which does not condemn drinking wine, but does condemn drunkenness or being "given to" wine or strong drink. And there are reasons to avoid all drinking, but we must be clear that those reasons are personal conviction, not biblical injunction. We must be careful not to impose our personal convictions on other Christians and thereby become legalistic.

6,7,10 This mountain; where will Christ rule from?

8 This will take place at the end of the Millenium (Rev. 20:14, death will be thrown into the lake of fire). For believers who have died or been raptured, we will already have received our immortal bodies. Rev. 7:17, I Cor. 15:54.

9 "In that day;" the Millenium. Do we wait for God? How do we wait? Hopelessly, negatively, complaining? If so, do we really trust God? The word includes these ideas: expect, hope, hopeful, wait eagerly, look eagerly, wait patiently. How can we do those things when things appear bleak to us?

10-12 The proud nations will have been brought down. Things will be different in this world in the millenial kingdom.

Much of the world today is also talking about a Millenium in glowing terms, but they believe man is about to bring in a golden age, a utopia. They will be deceived by the Antichrist, who will convince the world that he can do that very thing, just as Hitler convinced Germany. But like Hitler, the Antichrist has a very different agenda. He will tell people what they want to hear, and they will believe it, because they want it to be true. Like Hitler, he will be very convincing, while intentionally deceiving them.

Chapter 26

1 "In that day."

1-6 Two cities. 1-2, who will enter? 1-4, how is this city described? This is the city we read about in Rev. 21-22. 5-6, how is this city described? This it the city we read about in Rev. 18. These must be two different cities. The earthly city Jerusalem and the heavenly city called the new Jerusalem are spoken of in a positive way. The city of Babylon, which may or may not be a specific city at that time, is spoken of negatively.

7 This is an Old Testament concept; what do we read in John 16:33, Acts 14:22, Rom. 8:35, II Cor. 1:5, Phil. 1:29-30, I Thes. 3:3, II Tim. 3:12, I Pet. 4:12-19? Even in the Old Testament, godly men were not spared from trouble; trouble was often what created greater godliness. Apparently, in the Millenium this will be true for believers. Many churches and Bible teachers fail to realize that in the Old Testament, when God's people (Israel) lived under the Law, there were specific promises that rewarded obedience. They then assume that the same holds true today. But in the New Testament, after the resurrection, believers are no longer under the old covenant of Law, the if/then of obedience/blessing or disobedience/curses, Deut. 28. The church is living under grace, and physical blessings are no longer promised for obedience. Rather, spiritual blessings are promised, Eph. 1:3 (read entire chapter for context).

8-9 How will believers feel about God at that time? Why (end of 9)? When did that judgment take place? During the seven years of Tribulation just preceding the Millenium. Do we learn anything when God allows us to go through trials? Is this the way we respond to God during difficult times? Or do we complain that He is unfair, unloving, that He is not making it stop like we are begging Him to? Should we beg God to make trials stop? What does it mean to wait eagerly? Do our souls ever long for God? Would you like this to be the response of your heart?

10 When the wicked see God's mercies, are their eyes opened? Not all unbelievers fall into that category; those who are the elect will be drawn to God and will believe at some point in their life. But not the wicked (those who are not the elect). Does God show favor to unbelievers? Mat. 5:45. Why does He do this?

12 What will characterize Christ's earthly kingdom?

15 What nation, what land here? Israel (v1). What has happened to this nation now, in fulfillment of many Old Testament prophecies?

17-18 What had human effort accomplished? We struggle through the trials God sends us, and if we are seeking to follow Him, there will be positive results in our lives. But if we are not seeking Him, or are trying to avoid Him, it may be all for nothing. Then what? He'll just have to send another trial that we can learn from.

19-20 "Your dead" seems to be in contrast to "the dead" in 14 that will not live, not rise. Could this be foreshadowing the rapture, the day when all believers on the earth will be caught up alive and changed into immortality, and those believers who "sleep" in the dust of the ground will physically rise also to receive their resurrected bodies? (I Cor. 15:51, I Thes. 4:15-17) John 14:3 tells of Christ preparing these "rooms" for us. The "indignation" would be the day of God's wrath, Rev. 6:17. "A little while" would be the seven few short years of the Tribulation. The Old Testament does not mention the future church, so it does not mention the rapture either. But both are foreshadowed--hinted at...not enough that those at that time would realize what is being talked about, but we can look back and see types and hints. Here are a few other places the rapture is foreshadowed: Gen. 5:24, II Kings 2:11, Song of Sol. 2:8-13.

Song of Solomon is the only Old Testament book to use this term for "bride," meaning "a son's wife," "bride" being a New Testament term for the church. John 3:29; Eph. 5:23,32; Rev. 19:7, 21:2,9. King Solomon can be viewed as a type of the Messiah: the King's Son, bringing in the peaceful kingdom following a turbulent and bloody time--the Great Tribulation. The king and his bride can be viewed as an allegory picturing the love story of Christ and the church. In II Samuel 7, we see God's promise to David of a descendant--Solomon. Yet Solomon's kingdom will not go on forever, a term that repeated over and over. Even David realizes God is speaking of the distant future, 19.

However, the reader or hearer of that day would not see this foreshadowing here. They would probably see in this passage the fact that believers who had died will be resurrected at the beginning of the millenial kingdom that they might receive the promises God made to Israel. Those alive during this promised "indignation" were to hide during the day of wrath, just as we read in Mat. 24:15-21, Rev. 12:13-17.

21 Again we see that who is to be punished at that time? Compare Is. 24:17, Rev. 3:10.

Chapter 27

1 What phrase takes us to the endtimes? Leviathan is a what? Who does that creature represent in the Bible? Gen. 3:1, Rev. 12:9. The fleeing serpent is also a constellation; some Bible scholars believe the constellations were originally put in place by God to tell the story of the Bible in pictures for all to see and read, although they have since been twisted into the occult practice of astrology. What kind of a serpent is he? What will God use to kill him? Compare Eph. 6:17, Rev. 19:21 When the Bible uses symbolic language, isn't it amazing to see how consistently it is used, even though the Bible was written by about 40 authors over a period of about 1500 years? Seeing this consistency gives us an even greater confidence in the truth of God's Word.

Where does Leviathan live? In Revelation the first beast comes from the sea, the sea often representing the Gentile nations. In Job 41 Leviathan is mentioned as a sea monster, at the same time picturing Satan. What was Satan's sin? Compare Job 41:15, 34. What did God warn about in 41:8? Compare Eph. 6:10-17. What weapon in particular is described in 41:19-21? Compare Eph. 6:16. How is his heart described in 41:24? If indeed the sea is often a picture in the Bible of the Gentile nations, the nations of the world, 41:31 indicates that he keeps things boiling; on the contrary, when the Messiah rules on earth, there will be peace. Job 41 presents Leviathan as an extremely powerful creature; how does Jesus describe Satan in John 12:31, 14:30, 16:11? God is sovereign over all, but has given Satan a measure of power for a period of time.

2-3 What familiar phrase? A song about what? Who is the keeper? How often does He water it? How often does God "work" in our lives? Only every now and then, when we manage to recognize it with our blurry vision? Or does the Bible indicate He is working in our lives in every moment, whether or not we feel it, see it, or recognize it. Is He working every moment in the lives of those we pray for, or only when we remember to pray?

6 So who is the vineyard? Has this happened yet? In the earlier story of the vineyard, God judged it and allowed it to be destroyed. Now He is making it fruitful again; in the future (the Millenium), the world will be blessed through the nation of Israel. "Jacob" is one of several terms for Israel. Ephraim, one of the northern tribes, generally refers to the northern kingdom (capital, Samaria). Judah, one of the southern tribes, generally refers to the southern kingdom (capital, Jerusalem). Also, Israel is often used as the name for the northern kingdom, not always as the entire nation. This can be a little confusing, so compare the context.

The Bible is full of evidence that God still has future plans for Israel, to fulfill all the promises He has made to them. If He doesn't, is Mal. 3:6 or James 1:17 true? Many Christians believe God is through with Israel because of their disobedience, and the promises He made to them have been given to the church (even though the Bible does not state this). If He doesn't keep His promises to them, can we be sure He will keep His promises to us? Can we really know we have eternal life? Or might He change His mind if we are disobedient like Israel?

God has made two kinds of promises, or covenants: conditional and unconditional. Conditional promises are "if/then" and will be kept on the condition that the other part keeps their side of the agreement. Unconditional promises are kept regardless of the behavior of the other party; there are no conditions attached. God made promises to Abraham about a land, a people, and a blessing, which we call the Abrahamic Covenant. He reiterated it and expanded on it in several places: Gen. 12:1-3, 13:14-17, 15:1,5,13-21, 17:1-21, 18:17-19, 22:15-18, and later to his descendants. God does not give any conditions for the fulfillment of this promise. In fact, in Gen. 15, God puts Abraham to sleep while He alone performs the ceremony that sealed a legal agreement in those days. Abraham had no part in it. Interestingly, this passage immediately follows what statement in 15:6? This is all Abraham had to do; God honored it, just as He does for us, regardless of how good (obedient) we are. Gen. 15:6 is so important that it is quoted in several other places, applying it also to the New Testament believer: Rom. 4:3,20-25, Gal. 3:6, James 2:23.

8 God banished, expelled them from the promised land; why? God never tells them that the land is no longer theirs, but He does remove them from the promised land for disobedience.

9 Their sin will be atoned for, and they will no longer engage in idolatry. This will not happen until God has purged them and has changed their hearts (Ez.11:19-20).

12-13 "In that day." God will bring them back into the land. Comparing a Bible map to a modern atlas, Assyria comprises the present countries of Syria and Iraq. This is an amazing prophecy; has it been fulfilled yet? It must be yet future.

Chapter 28

1 Who is Ephraim? The northern kingdom. Isaiah prophesied to Judah, the southern kingdom. He is telling them what will happen to the northern kingdom, and warning them not to be like them. What two problems are mentioned in the first line, and again in 3? Proud, drunkards. Woe; this term is used today to mean "poor me." In those days, it was "alas," a term of great sorrow or fear of what was about to take place. Israel is about to be trodden under foot for her sin, will soon be attacked by Assyria.

2 God has a strong and mighty agent, likened to hail and flood. The Assyrian army. More on this later in the chapter.

5 "In that day." This verse is obviously in the future.

7-8 Again mentions drunkenness, so this must have been a huge problem--of whom? The religious leaders! Staggering, confusion, vomit…is drinking fun? Is it cool? Is "partying" as great as people say?

9-10 This is in quotations marks, apparently the words of the prophets and priests just mentioned. This is their scoffing answer to Isaiah's message. 10, apparently in Hebrew this was "baby talk," gibberish, as they mocked Isaiah's words to them, as if Isaiah were an adult lecturing little children. But if we are not listening and obeying, we must be treated as spoiled, disobedient little children who have not yet learned.

11 God will speaking to them in stammering words!! This verse has relevance to the issue of speaking in tongues. Also Jer. 5:15,19. When God brought judgment against Israel, it was always through a foreign nation, one whose language they did not understand. Read I Cor. 14:21-22. This Old Testament quote is applied to the tongues issue in the early church. It was a sign to unbelieving Jews; God was again speaking to them in a language they could not understand--another reason why we can assume they were given for a temporary purpose.

13 This verse gives a biblical view on another charismatic practice, being "slain in the Spirit," which is not mentioned or taught anywhere in Scripture. There are only two passages that mention falling backwards: here, and John 18:6. Neither are referencing a positive experience with the Holy Spirit. On the contrary, when people find themselves in the presence of God, their natural reaction is to fall on their faces: Gen. 17:3, Joshua 5:14, Ez. 1:28, 3:23, 43:3-4, Mat. 17:6, Luke 5:12, 17:16.

14 Now he includes Jerusalem, therefore the southern kingdom Judah.

15 A covenant with death and Sheol (the grave, the underworld). They trusted also in false gods, which would actually be demons, the gods of the underworld. In the endtimes (5, "in that day" references this time period), who makes a covenant with whom? Israel makes a covenant with the Antichrist, Satan's man, who has all Satan's power (Dan. 9:27). They think that will protect them against the threat from foreign nations--the overwhelming scourge. What is their "refuge"? Falsehood, deception--these terms are used frequently in the Bible to describe the Antichrist and his brief reign. Dan. 11:23,27; Mt. 24:4,5,11,23-24; II Thes. 2:10-12. Do people ever think that a lie, or often a series of lies, will protect them? Do they sometimes protect you, in the short run? For some people, lying is a way of life. Are all people interested in truth--for daily life, or for eternal truths?

16 What is this verse about? Stone...a tested stone...a cornerstone. A prophecy of who? Mat. 7:24-27, I Pet. 2:4-8.

17-19 Again mentions the overwhelming scourge to come, sheer terror. What will happen to the seven-year covenant they make with the Antichrist? Dan. 9:27 is obviously not talking about a literal week; no one makes a treaty for one week, canceling it after 3 1/2 days. A week is a "seven" which is confirmed by various references in Revelation referencing the 3 1/2 years as 42 months (Rev. 11:2, 13:5), 1260 days (Rev. 11:3, 12:6), "a time and times and half a time," meaning a year, plus two years, plus half a year (Dan. 7:25, 12:7, Rev. 12:14). It seems the author of the Bible--the Holy Spirit--inspired its human writers to use so many different parallel terms that we could not possible miss their meaning.

22 When will decisive destruction take place on all the earth, according to the Bible timeline?

23-29 God is like a farmer. You don't do one thing forever (plow, harrow, level, plant, thresh); everything in its time. 28, what is threshing? Will it go on indefinitely? Judgment will come in the future, but after that will come the blessings of the Messiah's earthly reign. This passage is a good example of how the Bible uses illustrations that are familiar to its readers so that they may more easily understand spiritual truth. When we are talking to others, we need to be flexible and creative, not using stereotyped religious terms, but tune in to what the other person is interested in or knowledgeable about, and try to use that as a bridge to parallel spiritual truths. Other examples are John 4:1-26 and Acts 17:16-34.

29 Where do we find God's advice, His counsel? When we ask Him for advice, do we then spend time looking through the advice He has given? Or do we listen for some little voice or feeling that we think will tell us what to do in a particular situation? Which does the Bible tell us to do? If we hear a "voice" or feel a feeling, can we know that is God's will? How can we know His will for certain? The more time we spend in His Word, the more we will know His will. The word for "wonderful" includes the ideas of extraordinary, marvelous, miraculous, wonders (remember that marvels and wonders are miraculous), showing His power.

Chapter 29

1 What is Ariel? Jerusalem. Lion of God or lionlike (a strong city); can also mean altar of God. The bloodshed to come would make it like an altar, where sacrifices were offered. How is Christ described in Rev. 5:5?

1-4 Another woe, this time against Jerusalem. Beseiged, but, 5-8, at the last minute, will it be taken? It doesn't say "in that day," but later in the chapter we find "on that day," 18, which hints of an endtimes scenario. We can see the parallels to the endtime siege of Jerusalem. Zech. 14:1-3, Ps. 76.

6 Should today's natural disasters, or even personal ones, be interpreted as judgments from God? If so, how can we know what in particular God is judging for, and who in particular is being judged? If a tornado destroys part of a town, is God punishing the individuals affected, the town, the mayor, the state, the governor of that state, the country, the president, etc? Some Christians make such claims, even claiming to know who the disaster was aimed at, but apart from Scripture, how can this be known? Some believe in present-day prophetic messages, but how can we know these are not subjectively influenced by the thinking of the "prophet"? There is no objective way to be sure.

In the Bible, God sometimes used natural or personal disasters to judge, but the difference is, He warned of it ahead of time through His prophets. That way, when the disaster happened as prophesied, the people knew it was from God, and why. God often warned people to repent, with the result of judgment if they didn't, or the possibility of judgment being averted if they did. Today God speaks to us in His completed Word; there are no prophets to the church as a whole, only self-proclaimed prophets who are accepted by small groups of followers. The Old Testament speaks of true prophets and false prophets; to prove their identity, true prophets did miracles or gave specific predictions that must come true so all the people would know beyond a shadow of a doubt that they spoke God's truth. False prophets were stoned. This test is never used today, and those who have made predictions have failed but are not stoned, or even disciplined by the church.

The disasters spoken of in 6 are specifically said to come upon those nations who have come against Jerusalem. This may have been a short-term prophecy for Israel at that time, but "on that day" in 18 also takes us into an endtime timetable.

9-12 Because of the spiritual blindness of the people, especially of the prophets/seers, what did God do? Is this fair of God? Does God ever act unfairly? Is that possible if He is perfect? Yet don't we sometimes think He is unfair? Would God ever blind the eyes of anyone who truly was seeking Him? Because they were spiritually blind (through their own choices), God helped them to do what they wanted to do. He just brought out what was in their own hearts. We also see this in II Thes. 2:11, again taking us to the seven years of tribulation. Whether they could read or not, they didn't understand. Many people today dismiss the Bible, or parts of it, because they claim you can't understand it. God has given us, and them, light, but many refuse to see; they are blind and deaf.

13 This describes Israel, both then and now. Can it also be referring to anyone guilty of this? Many levels of meaning can be found. Can it also apply to us? We need to make sure we are not guilty of this. Sometimes we go through the motions to pray, read the Bible and go to church; how important are our motives? God is against "religion," going through outward motions only.

What are marvels? So God will is promising to deal with them at that time through marvels and wonders--in a unique way. What will come of their human wisdom and discernment? Is it wrong to use our human abilities of wisdom and discernment? So what was wrong with their wise men?

15 Can we hide our thoughts or motives from God? Do we ever try? Why? Many think they can. "Woe" to them!

16 Humanism. 15-16 show the confused thinking of those who do not think man is under the hand and eye of God, who would explain away God, who deny that God is the Creator. What does God seem to think of people like that? Is He threatened by them? Today many Christians have formed ministries to scientifically defend and promote creationism. Statistics show that the majority of Americans believe in creation rather than evolution, but evolutionists continue to hold power in science and education. How can we be better witnesses about the truth of Creation?

18-21 What will happen "on that day"? Blind, deaf; is this talking about literal healing, or is it symbolic of being able to see and hear God's truth? Maybe both? Contrasts with 9-10. Do you get sick and tired of our world being characterized by 20-21? When Christ rules in His earthly kingdom, these things will not be allowed to take place. Some believe we are in the kingdom now, that Christ is ruling on this earth, and Satan is bound (on a very long chain). However, these wrongs continue to characterize our world; the Bible says when Christ rules, these will not happen. He will reign righteously, with a rod of iron, Ps. 2.

22-24 God made promises to Abraham which will one day be fulfilled. A day is coming when they will what? Because they finally recognize Christ as their Messiah at the Second Coming, at the end of the seven years of tribulation, this is the way it will be in the Millenium.

Chapter 30

1-2 How does God describe the Israelites? Could we ever be described that way by God? Whose plans should we put first? Mt. 6:10. How should we make plans according to James 4:13-15? What does Proverbs say about our plans vs. God's plans, 16:3,9, 19:21? The Israelites were looking to the nation of Egypt for help when they should have been trusting God. What or whom do we sometimes trust in instead of God?

3-5 Will God stop them from going there? Since they are dead set on having their own way, what will He allow to happen to them? Is there a lesson here for us?

7 This Rahab is not the harlot of Joshua 2, but is also the name given to a dragon or sea monster; the name literally means "pride." Who is the father of pride, whom the Bible portrays as a serpent/dragon, Rev. 12:9? Compare Is. 30:7. The name came to be synonymous with Egypt and a demonic force behind Egypt. There may have been a literal sea serpent also that God destroyed; Scripture often has several layers of meaning, both literal and figurative, both immediate and distant, both past and future.

10-11 What do the people want? What don't they want?

12-17 Because they had rejected God's known will for them, God allowed them to do what they wanted, but they would pay the penalty. You reap what you sow; chickens come home to roost. This is the way God has designed the world. We find this truth throughout both the Old and New Testaments, and applied to the unsaved as well as to the saved. Compare the story of Jacob's deception of his father, how he was later deceived by Laban and then by his sons, and how it affected his family, Gen. 27-50. Compare Ps. 81:11-12, 107:11-12, 109:17, Obadiah 1:15, II Cor. 9:6, Gal. 6:7.

18 This is spoken to Israel as they are about to be attacked by Assyria, but this also has a message for us about God. God's plan for us is to grow closer to Him and more Christlike, and that happens through trials which He allows, even engineers. So why does He ever give us good times and blessings (what we call blessings)? Are all God's acts toward us, blessings, perhaps in disguise? Here it says He longs or waits to be gracious and compassionate. But as a wise parent, He knows He can't be that way all the time, just as we know we can't give our children nice stuff, or what they want, all the time, even though we enjoy being able to do that. What would that result in? What is the promise at the end of the verse? Long/wait.

19-26 How do we see God acting toward Israel in this passage? "Then," "on that day" (KJV, in that day), 23, take us to what time period? So when will God be gracious to Israel once again and give them these blessings? Compare 26 to Rev. 21:23, 22:5.

20-21 At that future time, God will no longer hide Himself from then. His leading with be clear and known to all. Does God hide Himself from us today? Did He then? Again, an understanding of the difference between the Old Testament dispensation (Law) and the New Testament dispensation (grace, or, the church age) will help here. Today all believers have the indwelling Holy Spirit. John 14:17, Rom. 8:9-11, I Cor. 3:16, Gal. 4:6. The group of believers who have the indwelling Holy Spirit is also called the church. When the church is caught up to meet the Lord in the air, and removed from the earth, those who believe after that moment will no longer receive the indwelling Holy Spirit. The indwelling Holy Spirit will be removed at the rapture (referred to as "the restrainer" in II Thes. 2:7), but the Holy Spirit will continue to be active on the earth and in their lives, but apparently as He was in the Old Testament. In the Old Testament, the Holy Spirit did not indwell believers, but came and went. He "came upon" someone for power and service, for a time. Num. 11:25, Judg. 3:10, 6:34, 11:29, Ps. 51:11.

Today we sometimes feel as if God is not with us, so we assume He is not. But we are to go by Scripture, not by our feelings. It is great when we feel God's presence, but He is just as present when we don't feel anything. Sometimes we don't feel His presence because WE are farther from Him, so to speak. Perhaps sometimes He removes the feeling of His presence to help us learn to walk by faith, not by sight or by our feelings.

20 and 26 present some fascinating information. Notice the last phrase. God will heal their bruise, but how was it inflicted? So does God merely allow troubles in our lives, as we like to think? Or does He actually engineer them? Would a loving God do such a thing? This takes us to a deeper question: what IS love? Our human concept of love is a warm fuzzy feeling that makes us feel good. Is it God's desire that we always feel good? Or is loving discipline part of His plan for us? Is discipline the same as punishment? How might we punish our child, and for what? How might we discipline them? Might they perceive our discipline as punishment, as unfair? Why would they think that? Because it doesn't feel nice, because it doesn't allow them to do whatever they want, whenever they want. Compare Psalm 88:6-7, 118:18, 119:67,71,75.

So what is the typical human idea of love? The feeling you have for someone who makes you feel good? What if that person doesn't make you feel good? Isn't that idea of love why there are so many divorces? "He just doesn't make me feel warm and fuzzy anymore. That tingle inside is gone." What is the Bible's idea of love? A great definition is found in Luke 10:25-37. What did Jesus tell the lawyer to do? He asked Jesus who then should be the object of his love. Jesus answers with the story of the good Samaritan. Did the Samaritan "love" the hurt man? What DID he do, 37? Were his actions based on warm fuzzy emotions toward the man, or choices based on that man's needs?

Is God's love for us based on warm fuzzy feelings for us cute sweet adorable little humans, always giving in to our every whimper? Or does He love us because it is His nature to love? Does He give us what we want, or what He knows we need to mature and become Christlike? Christians are told to love one another; does that mean we have to like everyone? Is that possible? Can our feelings be commanded? But can we choose to give someone what they need, even if we don't like them? So are "like" and "love" the same thing?

27-33 Who is more powerful than Assyria? What will God do to Assyria, 32, after He has used them to discipline Israel? Does understanding this principle help you to accept and understand unfair treatment you have received from others? God uses other people's faults, even their sins, to be the sandpaper and chisel in our lives as He transforms us into Christ's image, Rom. 12:2. Revenge is not our job, Rom. 12:17-19.

While the immediate context of this chapter is the impending invasion of Israel by Assyria, 27-28 seem to describe the Great Tribulation. Anger and indignation remind us of God's wrath, Rev. 6:17. Shaking the nations sounds like more than just Assyria is in view.

Chapter 31

1 What 4 things is Israel specifically told not to look to for help? Meaning what? The world, military strength. We are not to look for security in our investments or insurance plans or in our country's strength or the promises of our leaders. And why is that? Not only was it specifically forbidden in the Law of Moses (Deut. 17:16) but read 31:3. These things have their place, but are not to be the object of trust and security for the Christian.

2 God brings disaster because why? He does not do what? This is important to our understanding of Israel and God's future plans. He made promises to Israel that have not yet been kept.

3 When will this "end" take place? 7, "in that day."

4-5 Remember, there is a near fulfillment, in Israel's day, and then a distant fulfillment pictured. At that time, Assyria was about to attack Jerusalem. We will read the account of it in Chapter 36-37, and God does fight for them. 185,000 Assyrians are slain by the Lord (the Angel of the Lord) and did not attack the city; they went home, and the king was killed by his own sons. A future fulfillment is pointed to by 7, "in that day," and described in Zech. 12:1-10, 14:1-3.

If all prophecy has already been fulfilled in history (as many say it has) then at some point the Lord came down from heaven to Jerusalem and actually fought for it on its hill. This would mean the Second Coming has already taken place (and some say it has). If it has, and if we are now in the kingdom age, then you can see how many think that much of the Bible is merely expressed in poetic language, and that we cannot take specific words and phrases to have actual meaning. But if words have meaning, then this event has not yet happened. When it does, it will be obvious to the whole world; there will be no doubt. Rev. 19:11,15,19. Zech. 14:3-4.

6-7 What time reference do we find here? Do most people today really have idols of silver and gold? What is an idol? Anything you worship. What is worship? Read Gen. 22:5. What did Abraham do that was "worship"? Read Dan. 3. What is worship, according to this chapter? Anything we yield ourselves to--our wills, our bodies--can be worship. What kinds of things do unbelievers worship? Can a believer have things in her life that sometimes/often/always take a higher priority than God? Can we worship things like spouse, children, family, fun, success, recreation, security? Are those bad things? Can they have a wrong place in our lives?

8-9 Assyria falls, not by human soldiers, Is. 37:36, but by the sword of the Angel of the Lord--the pre-incarnate Christ. "The Assyrian" also pictures the Antichrist as a "type." The Antichrist is defeated by Christ at the Second Coming. Compare Is. 10:12, Rev. 19:20.

Chapter 32

1 It seems that the word "will" should be emphasized both times in this verse. Kings and princes have not ruled righteously and justly in Israel, or anywhere else, but Isaiah tells them a day is coming when that will change! Who do you suppose this king will be?

2-4 This will characterize that time. What words do you see in 2 that are often used in Psalms to refer to God? When that time comes, no one will be spiritually blind or deaf. No stammering tongues (see notes on 28:11); no foreign tongue of a conquering people, because now they are in obedience. At the same time, this verse could be speaking of healing for those who cannot see, hear or speak. When Christ rules on earth in His kingdom, there will be not only righteousness and justice, but also health and long life, as we also read elsewhere.

5-8 "Fool" (Strong's: wicked, vile) is contrasted with "noble," "rogue" (Strong's: churlish, niggardly) with "generous." Everything in society that is wrong, backwards and upside down will be changed. Good will triumph, not evil. Health, not sickness.

Do you get frustrated when you see corruption among those in power or leadership? Does this even happen among believers? We pass laws to correct evils; we become activists to change wrongs. But they continue, and we wonder why? Doesn't God see? If He is loving and all-powerful, why doesn't He change things? Remember why all these things are happening; reread Gen. 3. Because man sinned, sin entered the world. Even the earth itself carries the curse of sin. All people manifest their sin natures--believers as well as unbelievers--and the earth is full of weeds, thorns, and natural disasters. Life will be painful. It is to be our daily reminder of the consequences of sin.

But the Bible tells us over and over that one day this will change--even before we spend eternity in heaven. This "age" will end when the church (all present-day believers) is caught up to be with the Lord (I Thes. 4:13-18) and God pours out His wrath and judgment on unbelievers (Rev. 6:17). In the process, Israel is purged and purified (Is. 4:3-5, Dan. 11:35, 12:10) and prepared for the coming of their Messiah (Rev. 19:11-16, Zech. 12:10). When He returns at the end of the Great Tribulation, we will enter the next "age," the Millenial Kingdom. For the next 1000 years (Rev. 20:1-7), life will continue on earth, under the righteous reign of Christ Himself, ruling from Jerusalem, with Israel the primary nation (Psalm 2,67,76,99,110, Is. 2:1-4, Zech. 14:4-11). The church (all present-day believers), having been changed into our immortal and sinless state, will oversee His administration (Mat. 24:45-47, 25:14-23, Luke 19:11-19, Rev. 2:26). God is using the experiences and trials of this life to prepare us for our role in the next age, whatever that may be. Then there will be a final rebellion, after which Satan is thrown into the lake of fire forever (Rev. 20:7-10), there is a new heaven and earth (Rev. 21:1), and the kingdom goes on into eternity! (Dan. 2:44, 7:22,27) Isn't it exciting to see the Big Picture? Doesn't it put a whole different light on the trials we have in this present life? Doesn't it make you wonder what God is preparing you for? This is one purpose of prophecy, to give us a better perspective on life, and to have hope for the future!

9-14 Warning to those who are living the life of ease, who are complacent. (Synonyms: self-satisfied, pretentious, arrogant, assured.) It's about to come crashing down around you. It could be that the women in particular were "into" a really cush-y lifestyle, or perhaps even the men were, so much so that Isaiah mockingly calls them "women" because they were so "soft." Our culture stresses materialism, leisure, affluence. How do we walk the line between our needs and our wants? Is this a problem in your life? Do some Christians define those differently than other Christians? Does this become even more complicated for the Christian who is well-to-do? Do we "have" things, or do things "have" us? Is the problem the money and the things, or our attitudes about them? If you have very little money, aren't these attitudes still a problem because of the desire for more, and perhaps bad attitudes towards others who have more than you? These are thorny questions that we all struggle with. We have seen in past chapters of Isaiah that materialism is something God hates.

Isaiah warns them that their cushy life IS going to change! God's judgment is coming soon on Israel. Do you think they believed him? Do we sometimes dismiss ideas that we don't want to think about?

15 What key time word do you see? It's going to be that way until when? Read 11:1-2. It is going to get bad, soon, but in the future, things will be different. How far in the future, they do not know. But God wants them, and us, to know this information about the future.

16-20 What will characterize that time? What will happen to "the city"? This takes us back to God's judgment on "the city" in previous chapters.

When the Assyrians invade, which apparently no one believes will really happen, things will get very bad, but God will intervene. Judah will not actually be taken captive until some time later, by Babylon, which is not yet even a world power. God is working with them, trying to get them to repent. But any change that comes because of this will only be partial and temporary. We see that justice and righteousness will not truly characterize their nation, nor will verses 2-4 be true. So even though we don't see the words "in that day," we know that this will not be completely fulfilled in their time.

Chapter 33

1 Who is this destroyer that is addressed? Assyria. God is speaking to Assyria about what will take place when they attack Judah. I wonder if Isaiah went to them with this message, or sent a written message? Or if he is speaking to Israel, letting them in on God's plans for Assyria.

The Bible teaches that you reap what you sow, that God will repay justly. We find this principle throughout both Old and New Testaments, applied to both the saved and the unsaved. We also often find that God uses a cruel, wicked nation to bring HIS discipline to Israel. God often works through others to accomplish His purposes. Might He use sinful people to discipline us? ("Destroyer" can also be translated "oppresser.") Are there any other kind of people? Can He use us, even though we are also sinful? What does Rom. 8:29 say God is doing in the lives of those He has chosen? How does He do that? Might these kinds of people be the sandpaper or even the hammer and chisel He is using? Can understanding how God works, help us to accept the unpleasant things that happen in all our lives?

Another principle we see here is that after God uses that sinful person to help Him bring about change in our life, He will discipline that person, in His way and in His time. We don't need to take matters into our own hands and get even. The one who is treacherous will reap what he has sown. Get your eyes off that person who is driving you crazy and start examining yourself to see what God would have you change in your life.

2 This is probably the prayer of the righteous remnant. HOW should we wait for God? Impatiently, demandingly, accusingly? Drumming our fingers? This word implies waiting eagerly, hopefully, expectantly--in faith.

3-4 The Assyrians will flee when God shows Himself. Their spoil will be gathered (by Israel).

5-6 What the Lord will do.

7-9 The conditions at that time; the brave, and those calling for peace, are demoralized; it's not safe to travel; nearby locations are ravaged. (These exact areas are mentioned in Is. 35--how wonderful they will be in the Millenium.)

10-12 God's breath will consume them, they will be burned; perhaps this is what happened to the 185,000 slain by the sword of the Angel of the Lord during the attack on Jerusalem, Is. 37:36?

13 What two groups of people might these be? Near and far geographically? Assyrians and Israelites? Jews and Gentiles? Righteous and unrighteous? All people are held responsible for the knowledge of God. This information is available to all. Ps. 19:1-4, Rom. 1:19-20. Many people think God is unfair to condemn those who haven't heard; on the contrary, the Bible clearly says that all have heard--they have heard enough to know there is a Creator. What they do with that knowledge will be the basis of their judgment.

14 Possibly the everlasting lake of fire, or just the fire of God's judgment. Fire speaks of judgment. Heb. 12:29, "our God is a consuming fire."

15 Only the righteous can dwell in the Lord's presence, which would be the kingdom, where Christ rules on earth. Apparently God is telling the Assyrians what is required for them to walk righteously. Is this teaching salvation by works? If we do these things, will we dwell with Him (16)? Does the Bible give contradictory messages about salvation?

The answer to those questions is clearly stated in Rom. 3:10-12, quoted from Ps. 14:1-3 and 53:1-3. This principle is clearly stated in both Old and New Testament. Other passages used to teach that salvation is by works is Micah 6:8 and the Sermon on the Mount. Can an unsaved person keep any of these "rules"? If it were possible, then Christ did not need to die to pay the penalty for our sins; we could save ourselves by our own efforts.

16 Do you see several terms which often refer to Christ? The Psalms especially often refer to God as our Rock; in John, Jesus claims to be the bread of life and to give the water of eternal life.

17 It appears that from here to the end, Isaiah is addressing Israel. Who is the King? They will see the Lord. When? In the near future? In what land?

18-19 In the future, when righteous Israel inherits the promised kingdom, they will no longer be subject to other ruling nations ("a people of unintelligible speech"). Throughout Israel's history, God has used foreign nations to discipline them. "Stammering tongue" has reference to God's discipline and punishment on unbelieving Israel; compare Is. 28:11, Jer. 5:15-19. I Cor. 14:20-25 applies this principle to the early church sign gift of speaking in tongues.

20-21 They will see Jerusalem and the Lord. Has Jerusalem ever been an "undisturbed habitation"? So when will this be?

22 Our/us must be Israel. You/your must be Assyria.

23 Their defeat will be like a shipwreck, and others will take their spoil.

24 In Jerusalem there will be a people forgiven of their sins, as well as no sickness. This sounds like the Millenium. Apparently in the Millenial Kingdom, the curse will be partially removed; there will be no what? But we know that sin is not yet removed; compare Rev. 20:7-10. Not all who live in that era will be saved; there will be a final rebellion.

Chapter 34

1 Not all of Isaiah's messages were to Israel or even to just one nation. Who is this message addressed to?

2-4 Who is God's wrath directed toward? We see the use of the past tense here; has this happened yet? When will this happen? Bible prophecy is often given in what is called the "prophetic past tense." It is prophecy--speaking of the future. But it is said as if it has already happened. Is God locked into time like we are? Being eternal, the past, present and future are all the same to Him. So with God, future events are as if they have already happened. This is hard for our brains to wrap around because we live and think on a time line.

Compare this strong language with Zech. 14:12-15, Rev. 14:17-20, 19:17-21. "Withers from the vine," "withers from the fig tree," speak of a time of judgment, of Israel. We have seen often that the vine and fig tree are often used symbolically of Israel. Compare this passage with Mat. 24:29, Rev. 6:12-14.

5-7 So far this prophecy tells of wrath against all the nations, of judgment on Israel, and now specifically of judgment against Edom, which is the land of Esau. Edom and Esau are often used synonymously.

God did bring judgment on Edom in those days. But because 2-4 contain language which must refer to a greater future fulfillment, we know it is not limited to a local judgment in the past. Edom/Esau is not only the literal enemy of Israel, but also represents the flesh--the perpetual "enemy" of God's people of every age. It represents everything that is in rebellion against God. Where do we find this in the Bible?

Rom. 9:13 quotes God as saying, "Jacob have I loved but Esau have I hated" (quoted from Mal. 1:2) Did God actually hate Jacob's brother Esau? Does God hate anyone? What does I John 4:8 say about God? Is any other person mentioned in the Bible as being hated by God? So what can this verse mean about Esau? Check the context; go back to Rom. 9:6-13. What two groups does 9:8 talk about? God is speaking figuratively of Jacob as Israel (His chosen people--true believers), and Esau as the flesh (those in rebellion).

So who is spoken of in this passage as targeted for judgment and destruction in the future? Those still in the flesh--those not having the new nature (see Rom. 8). Those who harden their hearts and refuse to believe in Him are "the people whom I have devoted to destruction."

8 What day is spoken of here?

9-17 It goes on to detail how He will destroy the land of Edom (in their time) and the dwelling place of those in the flesh (in the future). What clues do we see in 9, 10, and 17 that point to a greater future fulfillment? Who is mentioned in 16? Those whose names are written where? Compare Rev. 3:5, 20:15, 21:27. When are these names written? When a person believes? When was this matter decided, according to Rev. 17:8? Likewise, those in 34:5 who refuse to believe are set aside for judgment. God knew from the beginning who would believe and who wouldn't. His plan does not change from day to day as He sees who choose Him and who reject Him. He is sovereign and eternal; with Him, the future is the same as the present and the past.

Some think this makes God unfair; why didn't He just choose everyone? Why didn't He write everyone's name in the book of life? Think about it. If He had done that, would anyone have a choice? Would we have free will? Or would we be robots, programmed to do His will? Would those who were programmed to love Him, actually love Him? What is love? Is it a choice? Isn't that what makes love so exquisite--knowing that person chose to love you? Would God keep anyone from being saved that wanted to be saved? Is there anyone that can say, "I wanted to be saved! I tried to believe and receive Jesus as my Savior, but God wouldn't let me!" What does I Tim. 2:4 say about this? We can't understand how God could plan everything from the beginning and yet give us free will, but the Bible says He did. We cannot understand an infinite, eternal, holy God with our finite human minds that have been corrupted by the Fall. This is where we must exercise faith in God and in His Word. To say, "I can't understand this, therefore it can't be true," is foolish and arrogant. The Bible says God is loving, good, kind, and just. Is He, or isn't He?

Chapter 35

1-2 What will happen to the desert? Any clues to location? (plain of) Sharon and (Mt.) Carmel are in western Israel. (Mt.) Lebanon is north of Israel. What was said about these places in 33:9? Bashan is northeast of Israel. When will this happen to the desert? In our day? During the Tribulation? During the Millenium? The clue is at the end of 2. When will that happen? His glory and majesty will be seen when He is physically present on earth, ruling as King during the Millenium.

3-4 What time period is referred to here? Vengeance, recompense: the Tribulation. Isaiah has encouraging words to those who struggle with their present condition, telling them to look to the future for hope. Things won't always be like this.

Do you ever feel exhausted or weak? Do you ever stumble badly, stagger, totter, fail? Are you trapped by depression, by anxious or fearful emotions? What do these verses say to you? Can emotions be controlled, or must we be the victims of our feelings?

Can fear and anxiety be controlled? If not, how could God command us not to fear? God knows that fear and anxiety are huge problems for us. Many verses in the Bible tell us "fear not," "do not be afraid," "be not afraid." Many verses tell us not to be anxious, not to worry, not to "take thought"--the wording depends on your translation. A good example is Mat. 6:25-34.

So if we are told Nnot to fear, be anxious or worry, yet we continue to give in to those feelings, we are disobeying God. We are sinning. When feelings come, we can choose whether or not we will give in to them. When they "knock," we can open the "door" and say, "Come on in, let's sit down and visit!" and we can wallow in them. Or we can open the door and say, "Sorry, you're not welcome here," and shut the door. They may immediately knock again, and we may have to do this over and over and over. Giving in to those feelings is sin, to be confessed and repented of. Repent means change; turn and go the other way. Those feelings are all the opposite of trust. The good news is that we don't have to be controlled by our feelings.

The importance of trusting God is one of the major themes of the Bible. It is one of the major issues in our Christian lives, and particularly in our growth and maturity. Most Christians would probably say they trust God, but most probably struggle with anxiety. The more we come to know and understand God's character, particularly His sovereignty over everything that happens, the more we trust Him. If we truly believed that God is all-powerful, all-knowing, loving, kind, etc., we would not be anxious about how He was going to allow things to turn out, or whether or not He was going to help us get through them. How do we come to know Him better? By spending more time with Him--hearing what He has to say by reading His Word, and talking with Him in prayer.

Prayer and Bible reading are the two most important spiritual disciplines. Not just "quickie" prayers, tossed up here and there as we hit the "panic button" throughout our day (although those are better than nothing). Not just reading a daily verse card or page in a "daily devotional" (although that is better than nothing). Not just "saying your prayers" and "doing your daily devotions," going through the motions so that you can say, "There! I did my daily Christian duty. Isn't God proud of me? Surely He will give me some points for doing that today!"

Would that quantity and quality of communication create a meaningful relationship with a spouse/child/friend? I think many Christians do this type of "surface" prayer and Bible reading, then say, "I tried praying and reading my Bible. It didn't work for me." Many only hear and read the Bible in church, being spoon-fed a small pre-digested portion, like we would feed our babies. Or we read Christian books--books about the Bible, because we find them more interesting or easier to digest. If you wonder why you are not growing more in your Christian life, these may be some reasons to consider.

5-6 Apparently in the Millenium, either disease will be done away with, or the Messiah will heal all disease. Sickness is part of the curse of sin, as is death, but it doesn't appear that death is done away with until the end of the Millenium. 10, what else will subside? The earth's productivity will increase and sickness will be conquered; the curse will be partially removed during the Millenial Kingdom.

Isaiah said these things would mark the Messiah's coming; they were His credentials. The Old Testament prophets did not know that the Messiah would come two different times; this was not revealed to them. Some prophecies lump together the various time periods, and events of His first and second coming. For a good example, compare Luke 4:16-21 and Is. 61:1-2. Notice how Jesus stopped in the middle of the sentence, saying that had been fulfilled. But the rest of the sentence had not. That will be fulfilled at His second coming. When Jesus healed people, this prophecy about the Messiah and the Kingdom should have come to their minds. No one else had ever done this; only the Messiah will be able to do this. So we have three time periods lumped together in this prophecy: Christ's first coming, the Tribulation, the Millenium.

7 Water will be plentiful on the earth in the Kingdom.

8-10 What kind of people will return to Zion (Jerusalem) with the Lord--the Messiah? At the end of the Tribulation, all the unsaved who are still alive will be removed from the earth, Mat. 13:40-43, 49-50. Only the saved--the righteous, remain--and when Christ institutes His earthly reign, the Kingdom will contain only believers, in their mortal earthly bodies. They will continue to marry, bear children, and populate the earth. As in every age, not all will believe, although all will be required to give external obedience, Ps., Is. 45:23, Rom. 14:11, Phil. 2:10, Rev. 12:5. Every knee will bow, although not every heart will. This is repeated three times in Scripture, in Old Testament and New. At the end of the 1000 years, Satan, who has been bound during that era, will be loosed briefly to once again tempt man. There will be a final rebellion, the final judgment (Rev. 20:7-15), and then the curse of sin will finally be broken completely.

Chapter 36

Now we have a change, a break, the second section of Isaiah, which is actually a subdivision of the first section. Its form is unlike the first section, but the subject matter is the same--the foreign threat and invasion.

1-3 This is the event that Isaiah had been warning Judah about, the invasion by Assyria, and its king, Sennacherib. Who was king in Judah now? What other details are we given? This is why the Bible is such an important historical document, as well as the source of our faith and beliefs. These details help validate events mentioned, and can be cross-referenced against other secular sources, as well as archaelogical finds. Nothing in the Bible has ever been proved false. Along with the statistical evidence of literally fulfilled prophecies, these are two important proofs for the truth and supernatural nature of this book.

I used to wonder why this narrative was inserted into this book of prophecy; it didn't seem to fit. But it tells the story of what Isaiah has been prophesying. It tells what Judah and Hezekiah did, what Assyria did, and what God did. This story is recorded in the Bible three times (also II Kings 18-20, II Chronicles 32). What does that tell us? There is something important here for us.

4-20 Rabshakeh, with an army behind him, tells them there is no point in resisting; no other country has been able to successfully resist the powerful Assyria. Their gods were not strong enough to help; Judah's won't be either. And by the way, don't bother to turn to Egypt for help; they are no stronger than a broken reed. (This is exactly what Isaiah has been saying too.)

7 Whose high places and altars did he think Hezekiah had removed? He doesn't see any difference in God and the gods. Like today, many don't see that it makes any difference what or how you worship, as long as it "works for you," which basically means, makes you feel good--that's all religion is supposed to do anyway, isn't it? That's why many say that all religions are equally good, and all can be considered true, and no one should tell anyone else that one is wrong and the other is right. For many people, religion is not about truth.

8 He wants them to make a what? He tempts them with compromise. This is a temptation that believers often fall for--a way of trying to do both what God has said and what we want to do.

10 Who does he claim to have heard from? He tries to convince them that their own God has turned against them. God did speak in those days, but through His prophets. We have a similar problem today; many claim to have heard something from God. If we let subjective experience be our guide, then we must accept such claims by anyone who makes them. But the Bible is the authoritative word of God. It is complete and without error; nothing can be added to it or taken away from it. Many Christians and churches are no longer committed to this truth, but are quite open to "messages" from God. If God does indeed give messages today, can we argue or disagree with a such a message? This can be dangerous, whether an individual thinks he has heard messages, or whether a pastor or leader claims he has a message from God, which everyone is then obligated to accept. Some claim to be prophets today. Has God given any prophets to the church today that are universally known and accepted by all? Are today's "prophets" are self-proclaimed? In the Bible, did God select prophets or did people just announce that they were prophets or had a prophetic message? Was there a method of testing who were true prophets and who weren't? Is there today?

12 The comment about dung and urine was a way of saying that if they stayed, under siege, they would suffer famine so severe, they would do this to stay alive.

16-17 The compromise he offers is tempting: a good life in a good land. Isn't this what most people want, even Christians? Does it matter how you get it, or whose land it really is? The key word is "like." What words follow "like"? Why was that important? Who gave them that land? It was "like" what God gave them, but it wasn't what wanted them to have. How does this apply to our lives?

18-20 Is there any difference between the God of the Bible and any other god or system of belief?

22 Tearing their clothing was a sign of distress, mourning, humiliation, shame. Humanly speaking, it doesn't look good for Judah, does it?

Why did God put this story in the Bible three times? Who do you really trust? God, someone or something else, or even yourself? Do you trust God even when things look bleak or black? Why or why not?

Chapter 37

1-5 Hezekiah hears from Eliakim and Shebna. He sends them to Isaiah the prophet, to ask him to pray. Sackcloth was another sign of shame and mourning. The people were so demoralized and weak with fear that they had no physical strength left to face the daily challenges of life, such as childbirth. Have you ever been so trapped by fear that you had no strength or energy to face the day? This chapter addresses that kind of fear. What was Hezekiah's first action?

6-7 What are Isaiah's first few words? The Bible repeatedly tells us not to what? This is God's will for the believer! So to give in to fear is to disobey God; that is sin. We are not talking about personality weaknesses; the Bible says we have a choice. When we make wrong choices, we sin, and need to confess and repent (go the other way). What is the opposite of fear? Ps. 56:4. God not only promises to deliver them, but two other specific prophecies.

8-13 Rabshakeh returns home, then sends Hezekiah a message saying the same stuff.

14 What is Hezekiah's first response? Is this our first response when we are gripped by fear?

15-16 King Hezekiah's prayer is a wonderful example of a biblical model for prayer. How does he start? Has he asked for anything yet? How do we start our prayers? What is the benefit of starting our prayer this way? Compare the beginning of these prayers: Jer. 32:16-25, Mat. 6:9-13.

17-20 Was it necessary to ask God to open His eyes and ears, to ask Him to see and hear what was going on? Doesn't God see and hear and know everything, all the time? Then why did Hezekiah pray this? Why do we sometimes pray like that? It could be just a way of speaking, a way of telling God that we really hope He is aware of our situation, even though deep inside we know He is. Or it could be a lack of faith, a lack of understanding that God does know, or a failure to believe that He will do anything about our situation. We may be tempted to think that God is so busy with important things, surely He doesn't have time to bother with me. Or surely He answers prayers of people who are the really good Christians, and I haven't been doing so good, so I don't deserve His attention or His help.

Is God sitting up there twiddling His thumbs about our situation until we ask Him to do something? Or is He already at work in our situation, and every situation, in everyone's life, all the time? Is He limited by time, or can He hear everyone's prayers at the same time? Is the problem that He needs to do something, or is the problem that we need to become aware that He IS doing things? Which is the real purpose of prayer? Are we actually going to change God's mind about what is best in this situation? Is it possible that our plan is better than His plan? If not, do we really want Him to drop His wonderful plan and implement our flawed plan? Does God ever look at His plan and think, "Oh my, this is not working out like I had hoped, I'd better try something else that might work better"?

Isn't the real problem that we just need to remind ourselves that He is at work, and to trust Him? Might it be that this is why God tells us to pray--to increase our awareness of Him, rather than to try to change Him? And if we have prayed about a situation, won't we then see whatever happens as from God's hand, whereas otherwise we would just see it as stuff happening, randomly, out of control?

21-22 God sends Isaiah to him with His answer. "Because": Is this saying that because Hezekiah prayed and trusted, God is now going to do something different about the situation than He would have done otherwise? It could appear that way at first glance. But we need to compare all Scripture. Because we know that God knew from the beginning what Hezekiah would do, even though he had free choice to respond in other ways, didn't God know that he was going to trust Him and give it to God in prayer? Didn't God know what He was going to do in response to Hezekiah's prayer? We see again the clear Bible teaching that we have free will, but that God knows our choices from the beginning, and has already planned that all our choices will fit into what His sovereign will and plan are, and have been from the beginning. No one is "programmed" to do anything. Our finite minds cannot comprehend how both can be true, but remember that our finite minds, infected by sin, are trying to comprehend a sinless, infinite God.

Assyria and Jerusalem are being personified as two girls or women; both are referred to here as "she." Virgin daughter of Zion: the people of the city are being personified as a young innocent girl, possibly because the walls of the city had never yet been breached.

23 God recognizes that Assyria has blasphemed His name. Does God take this lightly?

24-25 Is this talking about Assyria's logging practices? So then what is meant by these trees? Are they symbolic? Of what? And what are the mountains referring to? What does Assyria have a reputation for doing? Even though we talk about taking the "literal interpretation," we recognize that the Bible frequently uses symbolic language. We find personification, similes, metaphors, and hyperboles. When it is obvious, as in the last few verses, that the literal meaning of words is not intended, then we recognize the common figures of speech that are used in many writings of all languages.

26 What is God telling Assyria here? They think this was THEIR doing; it was, but it was also GOD'S doing. Free will and sovereignty. The Bible tells us that God doesn't just "allow" bad things to happen; He plans them and causes them to take place, to fit His purposes. So that would mean, not only for Assyria, but in our lives too. Does this make God mean, unfair, unloving, powerless? What did God allow man to do in Gen. 3? Our natures, our bodies, even the earth are now affected by that choice. God uses sinful people, sickness and accidents, even the hurtful forces of nature, to fit into His will and accomplish His purposes. He allowed them to happen, He knows they will happen; they are not beyond His sovereign control.

28-29 He speaks of their raging against Him and their arrogance; they thought God was no different than idols, and that He could not defeat them.

Does God just have His watchful eye on the godly, the elect--believers? Does He know everything about only believers, or about everyone? Is He thinking only about believers, or about everyone? And here is the "biggie": Is He working only in the lives of believers, or of everyone? Psalm 139 tells how David (a believer) is comforted by the knowledge of God's omnipresence and omniscience. But the wicked will be held accountable for all they do. What is pictured by the hook in the hose and the bridle in the lips? An ox or a horse under the control of someone else, obeying someone who is calling the shots. (The Assyrians were known for leading their captives by hooks in their noses.) So when we are affected adversely by the wicked actions of unbelievers, is that part of God's plan for us? Is God going to use that somehow in His plan? So will God use sickness, pain, death, wrongs, and sin (ours and other people's) to accomplish His will for us and His overall plan?

30-32 God's promise to Judah.

33-35 This is a very specific prophecy; if just one person shot just one arrow, it would be falsified. Is God protecting them because they are such good people, because they deserve it, because they have earned this protection? Then why? If things are going good in our lives, is that proof we are doing good and pleasing God? So if things are not going good in our lives (by our definition of "good"), is that proof that we are not doing good enough or pleasing God? Compare Rom. 8:28. Does it say that everything that happens to us is good or feels good? Do only some things in our lives fit into God's plan? This verse is another important teaching on God's sovereignty. The more we understand God's sovereignty, the more we trust God and the less we are trapped by fear.

36 II Chron. 32:21 describes those who died as every mighty warrior, commander and officer.

37-38 The prophecy of Is. 37:7 came true. This was a short-term prophecy given through Isaiah, serving the purpose of proving to Judah that God was powerful and that Isaiah was indeed a true prophet and could be believed and trust. Because God allowed prophecies to be literally fulfilled before their eyes, they knew, and we can know, that future prophecies that have not yet been fulfilled will also happen for sure and be literally fulfilled.

So we have the amazing story of what happens when Israel is trusting and obeying. What will happen in our lives when we are trusting and obeying? All through this book, Isaiah has been telling Judah that God is going to use Assyria to punish them for their sin and to turn them back to Him. In this instance, they responded properly (trusted and obeyed) and they were not taken captive. They will later be taken captive; that prophecy is at the end of Is. 39.

Chapter 38

The last two chapters showed how the prophecies about Assyria and God's judgment on Judah actually worked out. Why are these next two chapters included in this historical interlude in the prophetic book of Isaiah? Judah was not taken into captivity by Assyria; who did later take them captive? Babylon, which will be the subject of some of prophecies later in this book. The story in this chapter brings up many important questions that we need to consider.

Up till now, Hezekiah has been a very godly king; for a little background on Hezekiah, how is he described before this all happened? II Chron. 31:20-21. (II Chron. 32 goes on to relate the incident we just studied.) Now we see some of his failings, in two related incidents.

1 In those days. See how this minor difference in wording becomes important? It didn't say, in THAT DAY. The literal interpretation pays attention to such minor details as exact words, even "minor" words; the allegorical approach doesn't.

1-5 What are we to learn from this story? To pray for healing, even when at the point of death, even to twist God's arm? To remind God of how good we have been, how deserving we are? Or to accept what God brings into our lives, even if we don't like it or understand it? Two factors affect our answer: what resulted from God agreeing to heal him, and Hezekiah's attitude in prayer. What clue do we find in 3, 15, 17? Bitterness. In contrast, what attitude was his prayer in 37:15? Trusting, desiring that God's name would be magnified. Read II Chron. 32:24-25.

Yes, it is OK to pray for healing, but why wasn't it OK in this situation? Had God revealed His will in this matter to Hezekiah? Did Hezekiah believe and accept God's revealed will? Was his attitude, "Here's what I really want, but Thy will be done"? Did he humbly acknowledge God's sovereignty? God answered his prayer and gave him 15 more years; is this proof that God was pleased by his prayer and convinced by Hezekiah's argument? Is it proof that we too should insist God heal us, or give us what we deeply desire? This account does not tell us one way or the other; the Old Testament does not often give us editorial comments. We must find the answer by reading and comparing Scripture, and thinking about it.

The answer is found in II Kings 20:21, 21:1-2,9. Who took over Hezekiah's throne? What kind of king was he? Hezekiah was described as a very godly king, but was he a godly father? How old was Manesseh when Hezekiah died? Was he born before or after Hezekiah's healing? If Hezekiah had accepted God's will, would he have fathered this child? Since this child of his old age inherited the throne, what can we conclude about Hezekiah having any other sons? Could this be a clue why Hezekiah was bitter about accepting his imminent death as God had said--because he had no heir and hoped to change that situation? The parallel account in II Kings 20:1-7 doesn't shed much light on this story, but compare II Chron. 32:24-26.

Should we insist that God answer our prayer for healing, or to give us something we greatly desire? Is "answered prayer" our right? Do we really know what is best for us? Do we know how the future will turn out? Does God? Who is all-wise, us or God? Who is all-powerful, us or God? Who truly desires our ultimate best (not just our desire to feel better immediately)--us or God? Is it wise to advise God how to act in any given situation? Does it show humility?

Is "yes" the only possible answer to prayer? When people don't receive what they asked for, don't they say their prayer wasn't answered? How else might God answer besides "yes"? Circumstances might include a door shutting that would tell us the answer was a definite "no." Sometimes there seems to be no answer; might God be asking us to wait and see how He will work things out? Why might He choose to leave us in the dark? Perhaps the "yes" might be far in the future; is it His job to tell us NOW how things will turn out in the future? What does II Cor. 5:7 say about all this?

So what about those who teach what may be called "name it and claim it" or "positive confession" or "word of faith"? Is this biblical? Is it wise? Is God obligated to give us what we ask for? Are there "secrets" to getting our prayers "answered"? Is prayer for the purpose of trying to manipulate God? What does this attitude show about our view of Self, and our view of God?

What can happen when you pray for something that God has already spoken about? Will He just patiently remind you of what He said? Will He keep you from doing what you really want to do? In Num. 22, we find the story of Balaam. God told him what to do in 9-13, but when Balaam felt more pressure (15), what did he say (19)? How did God feel about that (22, 32)? Might God actually give you what you insist on, to teach you a lesson about trusting and obeying? We find this illustrated in Ps. 78:18, 29-31 and 106:13-15, referring to the incident in Num. 11. We need to be careful how we pray. Do we pray to satisfy Self, or to bring our contrary self-centered wills into line with God's will?

6 Apparently this incident happened during the time of the Assyrian threat. This verse indicates that the events of this chapter happened before the events of the last two chapters. Along with promising to heal Hezekiah, God promised to deliver and defend the city. The invasion took place in the fourteenth year of his reign, he reigned for 29 years, and the last 15 were after this incident, II Kings 18:1-2,13. 14 + 15 = 29. Have you ever had several major catastrophes going on at the same time, or one right after the other? So did Hezekiah. Why might God allow that? Is it God's plan that we feel totally in control of our lives, or is it that we feel so lacking in control that we are "forced" to lean totally on Him? God never truly forces us--He has given us free will. But He does arrange circumstances to help us look to Him.

7-8 God gives Hezekiah a sign, a miracle. Just as He prolonged his life, God also prolongs a day. This sign would strengthen Hezekiah's faith that God would indeed deliver them at this time.

9-18 King Hezekiah's "diary" following his recovery. How many clues can you find that show his wrong attitude--his lack of humility and faith? We do see that he looks to God, and tries to interpret his life in that light. We should also consider that under the Mosaic covenant, God had promised health, prosperity and long life to the righteous. Perhaps Hezekiah thought God was wrongly punishing him. But the many references to his bitterness, plus the comment in II Chron. 32:25, reveal his sinful attitudes. Compare Job's attitude to the possibility of God taking his life, Job 13:15.

10 He appears to be rather attached to this world. Does everyone have a right to long life? What will be your attitude if you lose a loved one at an early age? Compare his attitude to that of Job in Job 1:18-22.

12 He likens his body to a shepherd's what? And he calls his body his what? We find similar terminology in II Cor. 5:1-4 and II Peter. 1:13-14. (KJV--tabernacle; others--tent, house) If the Bible tells us our bodies are just a temporary place for the real "us" to dwell, should we fear death? If God takes home a believer, or a child, how should we think and feel about that (other than the obvious grief we experience from the separation)? Is this earthly life everything, as unbelievers think? Some who have great trials look at death as an escape to a better life in heaven, and rightly so.

17 points out one of the basic truths of Christianity. "Religion," on the other hand, only hopes that our good deeds may outweigh our bad. The Bible says that we can know our sins are forgiven.

18 Those who have experienced death have no further hope. There is no second chance after death--no purgatory. It is not biblical to pray for those who have died.

21-22 Isaiah is instrumental in the healing. A boil could have been an inflammation or ulcer; this is what Job suffered from--"sore" boils, very severe--Job 2:7. Did God miraculously zap Hezekiah? Or did God act through the medicine of that day? Apparently some type of poultice was used.

This was not an immediate healing, as Jesus did. Hezekiah has the audacity to not only demand that God heal him because he is "worth it" (as the commercials always tell us about ourselves), but then to doubt that God will actually do what He said. It is at this point that God gives the sign described in 7-8.

Isn't it amazing that God doesn't just strike us dead, but works with us even in our proud and sinful ways? Ps. 103:14 tells us why. Yet sometimes God did punish people for their lack of faith. In the case of Zacharias, it was immediate, Luke 1:18-20. In Moses' case, the punishment was told him immediately, but did not take place for years, Num. 20:8-12. Does God discipline all His children in the same way?

Does God change His mind? Did He in these situations? Did He actually think, from eternity past, that He was going to do the one thing that He had planned, and then at the last minute say, "Oh, OK, I guess I'll change the plan and do it your way"? Or did He know from eternity past that He would tell what His will was, that He would allow people to rebel, and that He would give them what they asked? To us it appears that He changed His mind, but an understanding of the nature of God, and a careful reading of Scripture, makes it clear that God does not change. Is. 46:8-11 makes this very clear.

Chapter 39

1-4 This visit was in connection with Hezekiah's recovery from the mortal illness he suffered during the Assyrian siege. Were his actions wise or foolish?

5-7 Should we assume Isaiah is speaking of a punishment from God? Manneseh was born to Hezekiah after his healing; might he have had more? Or is "sons" just a Bible term for descendants? Apparently he had no sons before this, no one to carry on his line. Might this be why he so bitterly begged God to heal him?

What major event is predicted in 7? The Babylonian captivity of Judah is another 100 years in the future.

What do you think of Hezekiah's reaction? "As long as everything's OK during MY life and reign." No concern or remorse for how his actions will affect his children and grandchildren.

So we have three important events in Hezekiah's life centering around this time of the Assyrian invasion, one good and two bad. How can he trust the Lord like he does in Chapter 36-37, yet in 38-39, he falls on his face, all in this same short period? He is a godly man, yet has a huge problem with pride, arrogance. Are we ever inconsistent like this? Because this account is given three times (Isaiah, Kings, Chronicles), this must be an important and sobering lesson for us to think about.

Read II Chron. 32:31. Does God do this to us too? CAN He leave us alone? They did not have the indwelling Holy Spirit; He came and went. He will never leave us or forsake us; He does not come and go. Might He remove the feeling or awareness of His presence? Why might He? To see if we are depending on feelings or on faith, on His Word.

Chapter 40

Now we begin the next major section of Isaiah. The tone will be much more positive, focusing more on grace and salvation than on judgment to come. Let's review some facts we discussed at the beginning of this book. Chapter 1-39 stress law and judgment; 36-39 are written in a prose (story) style, giving a historical narrative about King Hezekiah; and 40-66 stress grace and salvation. Critics say this indicates more than one author. Jesus and the New Testament writers quote from all parts and attribute them to Isaiah.

In chapters 40-44, God is addressing Israel, Jerusalem. Many of these verses are familiar because they George Frederick Handel included them in his great musical work, "The Messiah." (Handel did not write the words; he took someone else's text and put it to music.)

1-2 When would this be? The first section of Isaiah is warning Judah of attack and possible capture, because of God's punishment for their sinfulness. This section will be talking about after that has taken place, when God again extends His grace to them after His heavy hand of punishment.

It is possible that Isaiah pictured the coming of the Messiah and His earthly millenial kingdom after Israel returns to the land, after the exile. The prophets were told of events, but not of time frames. We find in many prophecies that they mixed the events of the first and second coming of the Messiah, apparently not being told by God of the details of the time frame.

Are prophecies only for the Jews to whom they were made, or is there application for the New Testament believer? Comfort: read Mt. 11:28, what did Jesus say about Himself? Read John 14:16. God fills all the many needs in our lives; He brings both discipline and comfort, when each are needed.

3 Who is this talking about? How can we know that? All four gospel writers apply this verse to who? Mat. 3:1-3.

3-4 Apparently there will be physical changes in the earth when the Lord returns. We find evidence of this in other passages too, Is. 55:13, Amos 9:13. The earth will be much more productive at that time. Might this also be a poetic way of speaking of preparation for the Lord's coming? We often see several layers of meaning in prophetic passages.

5-8 We are frail and short-lived like grass. Is that comforting? Then what IS comforting? What lasts forever? Isaiah goes on to tell what God is like, in contrast to man; that is comforting.

9-11 In 3-4 everyone is told to get ready. Here we have the Lord returning. How is God is pictured in 10? How is He pictured in 11? Knowing that God is both of those, how does that affect your understanding of what God does in your life?

10 Does God have a physical arm? God the Father is spirit not flesh, John 4:24. But we often have descriptions of Him which include allusions to body parts, like hands, arms, fingers, eyes. Psalm 8:3, 11:4, 19:1. We know He doesn't have those physical attributes, but they are literary devices to help us understand God with our frail, limited human minds. Whenever God does appear in visible form, He appears as the second person of the Trinity, not as the Father, John 14:9. What might "arm" imply? His strength?

12-14 Does God need anyone's help? 12, can any human measure these things? Things that seem massive to us, God can easily do. In our lives, do we need Him to do those kinds of things? What kinds of big things might we need Him to do? Is He able to do bigger things than we can imagine? Eph. 3:20. Does that mean God will always do whatever we ask Him to do? Why or why not?

15-17 How important is mankind in the big picture? Is it all about us? Don't most of us like to think that it is?

18-20 How foolish for those people to liken God to what? We may not believe in graven images, but don't many people try to "create" a "God" in the image they want or imagine Him to be, rather than what the Bible says He is? Many people think that religion, and God, are just cultural constructs--an idea people make up to make themselves happy. Is God just a belief people have imagined, or is He real? Have we created "God" or has God created us? Ps. 100:3. If God is an idea created by man, can He be any smarter or more powerful than us? 20 points out that any manmade god has built-in limitations and failings.

21-26 Isaiah is flabbergasted that Israel still does not seem to know and understand who God is. God has revealed Himself from the very beginning--He wants us to know Him. Were the "foundations of the earth" laid billions of years ago? Or was the earth's beginning revealed to us according to Genesis 1? 22, the circle/vault (circular horizon) of the earth. I have read that men did know before Columbus that the earth was round. At any rate, this fact is revealed in the Bible. What does God compare man to in 22? What is His point?

How does this passage affect our view of God, our view of ourselves, our view of what is big stuff and what isn't, our view of what God can do? If you have "big" stuff in your life that you don't think God can take care of, can that possible be true? Instead of focusing on your big problems, meditate on this passage and start learning who God really is.

This passage is similar to the last few chapters of Job. Job thinks he has big problems, and is ticked off because God isn't running things the way he thinks God should. Finally God speaks to him, Job 38-41. God tells him just who He is and what He is like. He even seems to throw in a bit of sarcasm in places, almost like "just who do you think you are, Mr. Big-stuff?" Job's response is interesting, 42:1-6. He repents of his pride and arrogance. Do we ever display arrogance toward God by questioning His wisdom and power?

27-29 Doesn't 27 sound like what Job had been saying about God? Doesn't it sound like Hezekiah when he wanted God to heal him? Do we ever say things like this? Are such attitudes proud and sinful and requiring repentance? How do we humble ourselves before God? What happens if we don't? Does God zap us for our sinful attitude? What does 28 show about God's attitude toward our weak sinful human nature? Isaiah focuses on what two aspects of God's nature in 28? He will bring these two things up over and over in the rest of this book. That's why this section of the Old Testament is so relevant to the New Testament Christian. Here is where we learn about who and what God is. The better we understand and focus on these things, the more peace we have, and the easier it becomes to exercise faith in a God like that.

30-31 This possibly pictures three stages in the believer's life. The young Christian is emotionally enthusiastic--then as you grow, you settle down and run the race--then the mature Christian walks (with God). Doesn't the young believer soar like an eagle in the excitement of his new knowledge? But when we have walked with God for years, we tend to lose that emotional high. Our faith at first is tied to our emotions. As we mature in the Lord, our faith becomes independent of our feelings. Regardless of what our feelings are saying, we can exercise faith in the facts we know about God through our study of His Word. We run, then walk, as we learn endurance. When the emotional high begins to fade, we may continue to seek it, and long for it. But feelings wont carry you through the long haul; faith will. We walk by faith; it doesn't say we run or fly by faith. 31, Wait means to hope in. We are to exercise patience as we wait for God's timing, which may be far different than our idea of what should happen and when it should happen.

Chapter 41

1 This is addressed to who? Not Israel, but coastlands/island--the Gentile nations, the nations of the world. Strong's: country, habitable spot, dry land, coast, isle, island. A number of contexts indicate this meaning also; compare Is. 42:4 "coastlands" (KJV: "isles") with the same passage quoted in Mat. 12:21 and translated there as "Gentiles." Why would these terms be used to indicate Gentiles? Possibly because the known world of that day, of non-Jewish nations, ended at the various coastlands.

End of 1, what is God talking to the nations of the world about? Here is a clue that this chapter may be referring to the day of judgment--the endtimes. The immediate fulfillment to the Jews Isaiah was speaking to was a time of judgment, of making things right for Israel, God's chosen people. But we often find more than one level of meaning or application in prophecy.

2 Who is God calling now? For what purpose? This one is complying with God's righteous purpose. Isaiah may be referring in that time, the near or immediate context, to Cyrus, from Persia, which was to the east, and who we will soon read more about. He could be referring to the Antichrist, the final world ruler, who God will sovereignly bring onto the scene in the endtimes as He is about to pour out His wrath on the earth. What does this person do? What is his relation to the kings and nations of the earth? How does he treat them?

4 But is this one from the east actually doing it? Who is really doing this? We find many times throughout the Bible the concept of man's free will operating within the sovereign control of God eternal purposes. First and last--where else do we read this description of the Lord? See Rev. 1:8,17, 22:13. God uses men to accomplish His purposes--both righteous and unrighteous men. He calls and uses both Cyrus and the Antichrist to accomplish His purposes among the nations.

5-7 Again implies all the nations, not merely some islands. How are they reacting as this time of judgment is happening? In 7, who are these craftsmen? What are they making? Reading between the lines, these are men making idols (compare 29). How does the sin of idolatry apply to us today? An idol is anything you worship--serve as your master, yield to unquestioningly, putting first with your time and resources. An idol is a false religion or anything that takes the place of God in your life. What are some idols we serve? The most common and most deceptive is Self. When God's judgment (the day of wrath, the 7 years of tribulation) falls on the earth, unbelievers will band together out of fear to encourage one another in their false beliefs, but not to seek the Lord.

8-9 What names refer to Israel? 8-9 is one long sentence, describing Israel in various ways, leading up to the statement at the end of 9. What do all these names tell us about Israel? So what is God telling Israel? At this time, were the Jews scattered to the remotest parts? In this scenario, they are. This appears to have the endtimes in view. Has God permanently rejected Israel, as many claim? In the future, God will once again be dealing with them, fulfilling His promises to them. God is contrasting those who worship Him with those who worship idols. In that time of judgment, under the rule of the Antichrist, believing Jews (those who have turned to Christ the true Messiah) are encouraged to trust in God's protection.

10 This verse has been a great comfort to many believers. The Bible has a great deal to say about fear, worry, and anxiety. Before going to a psychologist, even a Christian counselor, be sure to try God's psychology. (Start by studying Mat. 6:25-34.) Do we need to rely on our own strength? Whose strength do we trust in?

Who is speaking here? Who is being spoken to? (check immediate context) Did God say this to us--to you? He spoke this message to Israel, the people whom He chose in Old Testament times. Is there application to us--to you? Of course. Nothing in the Old Testament is written to the New Testament Christian. If you did try to read this verse this way, it would not really be a problem. But in many other places, it would be a problem, and lead to faulty interpretation of the Bible's words.

This is a common error Christians make in trying to understand the Old Testament. They take the approach that the Bible is God's message to me--whatever it says, I can read it as if it is talking directly to me. This is not literally true, but the Holy Spirit can use the words of the Bible, originally spoken to someone else, to speak to you by way of application. It is always a good idea to ask these questions: who said this, to whom, at what time, in what circumstances, referring to what specific situation at that time? Once you have answered those questions, you can determine the meaning of the passage, and then you can apply that meaning to yourself.

One big problem that arises if you try to take everything as if it is spoken to you is the confusing of God's way of dealing with Israel, under the Law, with His way of dealing with the church, which is under grace. God made promises to Israel of physical blessings which He does not repeat to the church; to the church He promises spiritual blessings, Eph. 1:3. But the church is also promised tribulations, John 16:33.

So how can we know that this verse can be taken literally by the church even though it was spoken to Israel? This principle is repeated in both the Old and the New Testaments. God has made it very clear that this is how He deals with those who are His own, whether in Israel or in the church.

What does the Bible say about fear? Do we ever have a problem with fears? Fears about what? "Do not" is a command; to give in to fear is sin. When fearful thoughts or feelings come, we have not sinned; but if we give in to that temptation, we have sinned. What is the opposite of fear, that the Bible tells us to do, over and over? If we completely trust God, that He is all powerful and in control of everything, that He will work everything out for the best in the long run (Rom. 8:28), will we fear? What can we do when faced with the temptation of fear? What passages of Isaiah could we read when we have doubts that God is able to handle the thing we fear?

11-12 Will Israel be overcome by its enemies at that time (the endtime)? Can we Christians assume from these verses that all our enemies and problem people will suffer this same fate? No, because this is not promised to the church in the New Testament. We know that in the final judgment, everyone will reap what they have sown, but in this world, good guys don't always win, and bad guys don't always lose. But we can make the application that we should trust God to deal with our enemies and problem people. This principle is found throughout the entire Bible.

13-14 God continues to reassure them of His help. Why does God call Jacob (Israel) a worm? Is He calling them an insulting name, or is He making a comparison between their strength and His strength? How might this verse speak to the Christian self-esteem movement? Compare Job 25:6, Ps. 22:6. We are compared to grass that is here today and gone tomorrow. We are not strong, we are really not much; we just think we are. We need to understand who and what we really are, and who and what God really is. Why does God remind us that we have little strength, instead of saying, "Hey, come on, you can do it! You're great!"

15-16 Threshing refers to what? This threshing instrument is new, sharp and has double edges; what does this say about this instrument? Israel at that time will be God's threshing instrument; He will use them to bring judgment on who? Mountains, hills? Does God literally want the Jews to take sharp instruments and literally attack mountains and hills? Or is He speaking figuratively of nations big and small? If you have been reading through the Old Testament, you know by now that these symbols have frequently used in this sense. So during the tribulation, God will use the nation Israel to bring His judgment against the nations of the world. Israel will not be defeated or destroyed. What else does the Bible say is sharp and double-edged? Heb. 4:12. Does that mean we are to use God's Word to attack others and cut them to pieces? What does this verse say this sharp sword will do?

17-20 Is this passage speaking of people who are thirsty for literal water? Is it speaking of literal water that God will make abundant during the millenial kingdom? Or is it speaking figuratively of people who are thirsting spiritually, and that when Christ reigns on earth, spiritual thirst will be satisfied? There is biblical evidence to support both interpretations. It is possible that both are in view here.

Many Bible passages appear to have more than one meaning--both literal and figurative, both near and far fulfillment--with neither idea contradicting the other. It is not always necessary to decided if a verse means "this" or "that." We might be better off saying, "possibly either, or possibly both." If a figurative meaning is in view, we recognize that the Bible often has used trees as symbolic of nations; God will place the nations of the world as He sees fit at that time. What will be His purpose in doing all this, 20? Is there application here for us? Should we be looking around at what God has done and is doing, and gain insight into who He is and what He is like? The Bible teaches that we are to see everything as from the hand of God, that He is sovereign over all.

21-29 Who is being spoken to here? It is not clear, but 24 implies that it is not Israel but rather, 21, those who would challenge Christ as ruler on earth at that time (the Millenium). Here is the Lord's answer to them. He is challenging them to give their credentials and prove their case by explaining former events, by showing that they had foretold those events before they happened, and by foretelling events that have not yet happened. This is the true test; how does the Bible stack up to this test? Fulfilled prophecy is the mark of the words of God Himself. No human, no humanly-authored book, can pass this test.

The Lord challenges them to prove "that you are gods." This could be a reference to idols, idolatry, and idolaters, comparing 29. The context is the time of the millenial reign of Christ. Also, apparently, at that time there will be those opposing Him who are claiming to be gods. We hear this today from various cults and New Agers. As mentioned earlier in Isaiah, there is evidence that during the Tribulation, demons masquerading as "aliens" will be claiming to be gods. Regardless of who is referred to here, the Lord pronounces all such "gods" (including OUR idols that we talked about a few verses back) as false and worthless, as wind and emptiness. The true and living God--Jesus Christ--is the only God. He alone can tell the beginning from the end, Is. 46:10, Rev. 21:6.

Who is being referred to in 25, coming from the north and the east? Probably Cyrus.

Chapter 42

1 Who is this speaking about? The Messiah. What can we learn about Jesus from this verse? Is this prophecy about His first coming or His second coming? His coming to bring salvation, or His future coming to establish earthly justice for the nations? This will take place following the judgment of the Great Tribulation and the destruction of the Antichrist, Rev. 19:11-20:6.

2-4 What will He be like at that time? Will He be a forceful military leader, crushing all who oppose Him, like most earthly leaders? 4, coastlands = Gentiles; as this verse is quoted in Mat.12:21, Jesus gives us the interpretation of isles, coastlands. Gentiles are all who are not Jews (most of the world). Is 4 true of the Gentiles today? Is the world anxiously waiting to hear from Jesus Christ? But during His 1000-year earthly kingdom, the whole world will be under His law. What word is repeated in 1,3, and 4 that describes His reign?

5 Verses 1-4 were about "Him," Christ. Now God, who is described in 5, speaks in 6-7, through Isaiah the prophet, to "you," Israel. What particular aspect of God is pointed out in 5? In the Old Testament, the defining miraculous act of God, by which they were to know and understand Him, was creation. In the New Testament, what is the defining miraculous act by which people are to know and understand God? In speaking to unbelievers about the Lord, we need to stress these two acts of God as the means by which we come to know Him.

6-7 God has called His people to be what? Is this also true for us, the church? Then what does He promise to do for them in the next phrase? Is this true for us also? Kind of, but in a different way. In the Old Testament, God did not dwell within each believer by the Holy Spirit as He does today. In the Old Testament, the Holy Spirit came upon various people for special service; His presence was in the Holy of Holies. Today, God is not merely with us; He is not walking alongside us holding our hands. He is in us, empowering us by His Holy Spirit.

What has He appointed them to be and do? Acts 13:46-47. This is what it meant to be God's "chosen people." That phrase does not mean they were better or more deserving of God's favor than any other group of people. It means that they were the group of people God chose to use as He revealed Himself to all mankind. He gave them prophets through which He spoke. Through them, He gave His Law and all His inspired written Word. He gave them the Temple and the priesthood, where people could approach God and receive forgiveness of sin through what act? The good news was given first to Israel, and they were to be the means by which all men came to the knowledge of God. Did they faithfully fulfill that calling? Did they accept Christ as the promised Messiah of the Old Testament? They went so far as to assume that salvation was only for the Jews, not for the Gentiles. Because they rejected Him as a nation, God eventually bypassed them and went directly to the Gentiles with the good news of salvation; this is what the church age--the New Testament--is all about.

8 God doesn't share His glory with anyone. Now compare John 17:5,22. What possible conclusions can be drawn from these two verses? Either the Bible is contradictory, Jesus was blasphemous, or He was what? God in the flesh. The Jews who wanted Him killed didn't believe He was God; the Law of Moses required the death penalty for blasphemy.

9 This may be one of the most important verses in the Bible, along with Is. 46:9-10. What is God claiming He can do? Fulfilled prophecy is the mark of God. Things that have been prophesied have come to pass, exactly as foretold, to the detail; none have failed. More prophecies wait to be fulfilled in the future. We have seen the many prophecies of the Messiah and His future appearance, work, and kingdom. Around 300 Old Testament prophecies were fulfilled by Christ when He came the first time.

Why would God tell us things in advance? Just to satisfy our curiosity about the future? No--so that when they happen, we can know beyond a shadow of a doubt that He is God and that the Bible is His true Word, standing apart from and above all human-authored books. This is why God gives us some of the details of prophesied events; the more variables, the less probably it is to guess by blind chance. After three or four variables are added, the mathematical probability of chance fulfillment are virtually impossible. About one-fifth of the Bible is prophetic in nature; therefore, the study of prophecy is not to be lightly dismissed.

God is contrasting Himself with the idols mentioned in 8; they cannot do this. Therefore, they are false gods. What did the previous 8 verses prophesy about?

10-12 The Gentiles--the non-Jewish nations--are being addressed here; islands/coastlands are often translated as Gentiles when Old Testament verses are quoted in the New Testament. What is the whole world to do? Is this happening today? When will this happen?

13 What is He going to do? A doctrinal error that comes from not understanding or accepting that the Old Testament is written to Israel, not the church, is the idea that the earth will become more and more Christianized as the church like an army brings in this promised kingdom, and then Christ will victoriously appear to rule over it. We only find Christ defeating His enemies at the battle of Armegeddon, Ps. 2, Rev. 19:11-21; then we read that during His earthly thousand-year reign, He will rule in peace, because all knees will bow (outwardly at least) to Him. Then at the end of the thousand years, when Satan is loosed from his chains, there will be one final global revolt against Christ which will also be futile, Rev. 20:7-10.

14 Why hasn't God been doing something about all the evil in the world? Does He see and care? This is a question that bothers many believers and unbelievers: how can a good and loving and all-powerful God allow bad things to happen? The answer is found in Gen. 3. What happened in the Garden of Eden? God allowed man to have free will; what did he choose? What were the consequences? So when these bad things happen, who is really to blame? Man, not God. Yet the rest of the Bible tells us that because God is sovereign over all, He will use those bad things for His purposes, in His Big Plan. When we suffer or see others suffering, it should be a constant reminder that we are sinners in need of a Savior. We should thank God that He has provided that Way, John 14:6.

14-17 Is 14 saying that this action will cause Him pain? Now the time has come; He's getting ready to do something big, something to the idol-worshippers. So several things are taking place during the Great Tribulation. Evil, false religion and unbelief is finally being judged, while at the same time those who believe will be led by God.

18-20 Who is He talking to? Israel, who was supposed to be His servant and His messenger, is deaf and blind. They do not understand what God is saying and doing. How many Christians could be described this way? Unbelievers could also be described this way. Is this verse about eyes and ears? Or is it about our heart condition--our sensitivity to and awareness of spiritual things? Could we be guilty of this? If we suspect that we are, what should we do about it?

21-22 They are imprisoned and in caves. Apparently this prophecy, in its immediate sense, is about the Babylonian captivity.

23-25 God disciplined them, but it didn't seem to have any effect. But has God's plan for Israel been thwarted by their stubbornness and disobedience? We see people that God is chastening, and that are not turning to Him because of it. That doesn't necessarily mean that they will never respond. With some, it takes a long time, because God never forces anyone. He sets it up to be uncomfortable, and lets us decide just how uncomfortable we want to be, and for how long, before we change. Look at Jacob; it was a life-long process.

How does God's chastening relate to His forgiveness? God promises to forgive our sins; we are to repent and confess. But don't some sins bring consequences that don't go away once we repent and confess? Does an ongoing painful situation or painful feelings mean that God has not forgiven us? We may have to pay the natural consequences in this life for wrong or poor choices we have made; we may continue to endure pain because of someone else's wrong or poor choices. God may change that situation, or He may not. It all goes back to Gen. 3; now that sin has entered the world, through man's own free will, life will be characterized by pain and sorrow.

Chapter 43

In these next few chapters, we see God telling Israel about the changes in her status now that her captivity and punishment is over. The near fulfillment was the Babylonian captivity, which pictures the distant and greater fulfillment, the promised kingdom following the destruction of endtime Babylon; endtime Babylon may be a literal city of kingdom at that time, or it may be symbolic of the godless world system. From its earliest mention in the Bible to its last mention, Babylon has stood for rebellion against God. Gen. 10:8-10, Gen. 11, Rev. 17-18. We also see that God continually reminds them of who He is and what He is like. This is a wonderful section of the Bible for learning about God.

1-2 But now. Who is He still speaking to? But now what? Redeemed means bought out of slavery. Israel was literally redeemed from slavery; a price had to be paid. How does this apply to the Christian? Job 19:25, Gal. 4:5, Titus 2:14.

Can we claim this as a promise? Some Christians do. Who is it said to? In what context? They had been taken captive, but now God is going to deliver them. If this promise was for us, the church, we would also find it clearly in the New Testament; do we? Are we promised escape from death? We will pass through rivers and through fire (bad troubles). What does James 1:3 tell us about troubles? I Peter 1:6-7, 4:12-13? I Thes. 3:3? II Cor. 1:3-5? This is what the New Testament believer is promised about troubles. So what application IS there for us in this passage? We might physically burn or drown, or be tortured for our faith, or be eaten by lions. But we are not to fear; what does that mean? Trust. We know God has His reasons for what He allows, and we are to accept that in faith. Even if we feel like we are alone in our trials, are we? Whose strength are we to rely on?

3-4 God will give others in their place as a ransom. Who has He given in our place as a ransom, Mark 10:25, Gal. 4:4-5?

5-6 He's going to bring them from where? We find this stated many times in the Bible. At the time of the Babylonian captivity, they were scattered throughout the Babylonian empire. But in the end times, they will be brought back from where they have been scattered to the ends of the earth.

7 At that time, everyone who was called by His name were Jews, followers of Jehovah. This is not talking about the church, because there was no church yet. That is a separate group of believers. If He is talking about Israel, whom He created for His glory, it seems that they have not managed to glorify Him. So He must still have a future plan in which they will glorify Him. By application, we learn that man has been created for God's glory. That is our purpose. What purpose does the atheist, humanist, and evolutionist see for man?

8-9 Again, why has God declared to us the "former things"? Those who worship other gods must prove the truth of their claims before Him; where is their evidence?

10-11 The Bible states many times that there is only one God, one Creator, one Savior. Biblical Christianity has a Savior; religions have a program of works. Israel was chosen by God; what does John 15:16 say? Chosen that we might what, 10?

12-13 He is going to deliver them. Can anyone thwart God's plans? What is a witness? Someone who has seen and who tells what they have seen.

14 The Babylonians, their conquerors, would be conquered.

15-17 How does God describe Himself? "A path through the waters" seems to reveal that either man at that time in history already knew about ocean currents, or if not, God was revealing this information ahead of time.

18-21 In the future, when God brings His scattered people back to their homeland where they will be the primary nation during the earthly kingdom, there will be changes on this earth. In their present captivity, as Isaiah is encouraging them to return to Israel, they may be struggling with fears of pulling up roots after living 70 years in Babylon, and making the long and dangerous journey. In fact, only about 10% of them returned. God is promising them that HE will take care of the problems--the road back, water, dangerous beasts. What is the application for us? How do we feel when we are faced with changes, difficult decisions, the unknown? Does God tell us in advance how He will meet our needs? Can we trust that He will?

22-23 How had Israel "wearied" God and had failed to sacrifice for their sins? Perhaps He is saying that in spite of sending them into 70 years of captivity for their disobedience, they still have not learned to look to Him. Are Christians sometimes guilty of this? Perhaps He is saying that because of their captivity, with no temple and no sacrifices, their sins just piled up. Is this a similar situation today for Jews? Is there a temple? Are sacrifices being offered? Have they accepted God's final sacrifice for sin?

24 Is this saying that God gets tired of our sinfulness, maybe even our repetitious confessions of sin? No, it is comparing to the first half of the verse.

25 The Bible does not say God forgets our sin; what does He choose not to do? We often struggle with the memory of past sins we have confessed and repented of--sins which are already forgiven; we will never forget, but can we also choose not to remember it anymore? Is it possible to have that much control over our thought life? II Cor. 10:5. So why does He forgive His people? Some people think God saves us and forgives us because of our worth in His eyes, but the Bible says He does all this for His own sake, for His glory. How does that glorify Him?

26-27 Who would their first forefather be? Adam, or possibly Abraham, the father of the Jews. Their spokesmen-teachers-mediators have all sinned; who is our sinless Mediator? I Tim. 2:5.

28 If we reject God and His Mediator, there will be consequences--destruction, judgment, the curse.

Chapter 44

1 How does Isaiah refer to Israel? Can we apply this same terminology to ourselves as believers?

2 How is God described here? So does the Bible address the issue of abortion? According to the Bible, is the unborn child a person yet? Jeshurun is another name for Israel, used elsewhere. What does the Bible tell us about fear? This phrase is used many times in the Bible--why? What are we to do instead? God goes on to give them reasons why they can trust Him. Remember, the 70-year captivity in Babylon is ending, and God wants them to return to their homeland, which many are hesitant to do.

3-5 As in the previous chapter, God is promising to provide for them when they return to their land which He gave them through the promise He made to Abraham. He is telling them of the future they can have in that land. But there will be a greater, later, more complete fulfillment of these verses in the millenial kingdom.

6 In Rev. 1:8 what does Jesus call Himself? Those are the Greek terms for first and last; the Old Testament is written in Hebrew. There cannot be two firsts and lasts; the Bible is telling us that Jesus IS God. First in time, place and rank. Last hints that He is yet to come. First and last also tells us of His eternal nature, with no beginning and no end. What other names does God use for Himself in this verse? Many times He calls Himself their Redeemer, yet what does Is. 59:20 say? Who is this future Redeemer? Gal. 3:13,4:5, Titus 2:14. So taking these verses together, we see that Jesus IS God, the Redeemer, the Lord of hosts, the King of Israel.

6-8 Are there many gods? Is "God" whatever you choose to imagine Him to be? These are popular ideas today. What does He say is the evidence that He alone is God? What does He do that no one else can do? Fulfilled prophecy is proof of the truth of the Bible. That is why so much of the Bible is prophecy, much of which has already been fulfilled to the word, so that we have no excuse for unbelief. If someone claims to be God, or to be Jesus Christ, let him show such proof. God calls Himself the Rock; what are we told in Mat. 7:24-27?

9-20 Isaiah points out the foolishness, in an almost sarcastic way, of worshipping idols, as contrasted to worshipping the true and living God. Idols are made by whom? 12 points out that these human craftsmen are frail and fallible themselves; is it even possible that they can create something any greater than themselves? What are idols made from? What else is done with this same material? And yet what does this craftsman do with his handiwork, 15 and 17? Why can't he see the fallacy in his own actions, 18-20?

Throughout history, and still today in many places, people worship images made by man. In our modern world, we may not bow before images, but we still struggle with idolatry in another form--Eph. 5:3,5, Col. 3:5. How is idolatry defined here? I Cor. 10:1-10 describes sins and temptations faced in the Old Testament, including idolatry; what does it then say in 10:11-13? Our society is full of materialism--this struggle is relevant to every single Christian today. So when we read about idolatry in the Old Testament, should we ignore or skip those passages as irrelevant, or should we see them as having application to us? We find over and over in the Old Testament how God feels about our sin of idolatry. We think of idolaters as unbelievers, but the Jews worshipped idols along with worshipping God; can Christians be guilty of the same thing?

18 Here and in other places, the Bible tells us that God has blinded the eyes and hardened the hearts of unbelievers. Is God unfair? Could He possibly be an unjust God? The Bible tells us that God is sinless, holy, righteous, just, loving, kind, etc. Do you think there is anyone who has been hardened or blinded that was someone who was actually seeking God? Would God hinder such a person from finding Him? Compare I Tim. 2:2-3. However, we do find that God will help us do whatever is in our heart, whether that is to find and follow Him, or to reject Him. He will set things up so that we must act on what is in our hearts, so that we will all be brought face to face with our true selves.

We find the word "worship" twice here, in 15 and 17. Today worship refers mainly to singing, and the feelings we experience during singing; churches have "worship leaders" and "worship teams." How is worship defined in these two verses? What term is used with it? This is how the Bible defines worship; worship has little to do with singing.

Because I feel this is a very important biblical topic that is grossly misunderstood by the church today, I will stop here for a digression on the subject of worship. So I will insert here my notes on Daniel 3, the passage where we find more about worship than any other passage in the Bible; Isaiah 44 will be continued below.


Daniel 3

The theme of this chapter is worship. It defines worship for us. Worship is a very important subject and yet is often misunderstood. There is lots to discuss in this chapter.

1 Who is this incident also about? What did he make? (90 feet high) A lavish display of wealth; an indication of his great pride.

2 Who was invited to the dedication? But this "dedication" was merely a front for the introduction of a false religion.

4-5 An announcement. What was to happen the moment the music played? This is like establishing a world religion. He had conquered the world; now they all had to worship as he said.

6 Or else what? Note the two terms used together twice, fall down and worship. We often see this in the Bible (or, bow down). This helps us understand what worship really is. It's not the motions we go through in a group service on Sunday morning. It's not the song service. It is our personal response to God, every day, all day, not what we do for a few minutes a week according to whatever the bulletin says to do. To bow, to worship, is to yield yourself to someone or something, to serve someone or something.

7 What did they do when the music played? Men of every nation and language; Babylon had conquered many nations besides Israel.

8-12 Some Jews are not bowing; they are turned in. Again, note the emphasis on the wording, the repetition--the basis of this incident. 12, three Jews are named. Were there other Jews not bowing too, and just these three are turned in, because certain people would like to see them killed? Or perhaps these are the only Jews in high positions, besides Daniel? Why do you suppose Daniel is not turned in? Obviously he would not be bowing. He must not have been in attendance; why? His responsibilities probably had him elsewhere, 2:49. 12, what defining term is used with worship?

13-14 How is Nebuchadnezzar's mood described? He calls them before him.

14 They do not what?

15 What does he want them to do? Note the repetition of these terms in this story. He asks a leading question. Remember, in 2:47 he admitted that Daniel's God is "a God of gods and a Lord of kings and a revealer of mysteries." But that had not yet changed his thinking about gods in general; or maybe he knows their God is Daniel's God, but is questioning their God's power. He believes that no god can deliver them from him. He believes he is more powerful than any god. Either he sees himself as a god, or he doesn't think gods in general are all that powerful. At any rate, this now becomes a conflict between God and Nebuchadnezzar. Who is more powerful?

16-18 Here is the crux of this story. This has to be one of the most amazing statements of faith in the Bible. (KJV, "we are not careful"; they are not full of "care" in giving their answer, they will let the chips fall where they may.) Now let's look at what they are saying. Did they say God would deliver them? Big if; He is able. They don't wonder or hope; they know He is able. They know He might not choose to. And what if God chooses not to? Are they in a panic? Do they plead for their lives? Their feelings, their lives are not as important to them as obeying God, as refusing to compromise their belief in the one true God.

Couldn't they have rationalized by saying, "we'll bow outwardly, but God knows our heart, and that we don't really mean it"? Doing so would have meant that they valued their lives more than being true to God--publicly true. We don't know if these three were actually this strong in their faith, or if this was one of those instances where God just took over for their weakness and they found these words coming out of their mouths, even though they were trembling with fear. How did these young men come to such strong faith? We see, with them and with Daniel, that long years of spiritual growth and life experiences are not necessarily the only way to a strong faith.

How many times do Christians pray as if they know it is God's desire to heal them or save them from danger or give them what they want? Can we ever know in advance? Human reasoning says, surely it is not God's will for this young life, or this wonderful believer, to die, or to be sick, or to suffer on in pain for years. But the Bible often shows how God uses those things for His purposes.

How are we to react when we are faced with a choice--to obey God, to publicly acknowledge Him--or to experience some sort of pain (physical or emotional)? Some Christians will be called on to suffer or even die for their faith. Most of us at some time or other will face choices involving lesser pain, usually involving relationships or monetary considerations. How will we face that choice? How much do we trust God's goodness and sovereign plan? Do we truly believe that He is worth following, even at a price?

These three did not know that God was going to protect them. Can you imagine their thoughts and feelings as they were being bound and taken to the fire, as they were thrown? God allowed them to experience doubt and fear, even knowing He was going to deliver them. Why didn't He just keep them from the whole experience then? Why does He allow us to experience pain, doubt and fear? Why did He allow Lazarus to experience death and Mary and Martha to experience pain, doubt and grief, when He knew what He was going to do? Why did He allow Abraham and Isaac to experience doubts, fears, and emotional pain, when He knew He would stop the sacrifice at the last moment? What are God's purposes in our lives? To keep us from pain and stress, or to bring about growth, change, and glory to Himself?

19 What do we see about Nebuchadnezzar's emotions here? His face is what? Because he was filled with what? The furnace was already hot enough to kill; his orders imply an insane vengeance on those who dare to defy him. Comparing his callous pronouncement of death to the wise men earlier, and things we will read about him later, we might conclude that this man's personality is emotionally volatile, his temper is quick, he is ruled by his emotions, perhaps he is even mentally unstable. Yet he is obviously a man of high intelligence and great ability, or he would not be the king of the greatest empire on earth--great even in God's estimation. Sometimes genius and borderline insanity go hand in hand.

Psychology tells us that we should let our feelings dictate our decision. The Bible tells us we are to live by faith in the facts of the Bible, not by our feelings about ourselves, about God, about life. We will also see how God continues to deal with Nebuchadnezzar, and how it appears that he becomes a believer later. I find it so interesting that the Bible describes people of all personalities, of all stations in life, of all levels of education. No one is beyond the reach of God's power. God can take a shepherd boy and make him a king; He can open the eyes and heart of the thief on the cross in his dying minutes; He can reach a man like Nebuchadnezzar. We should never look at anyone and say, that person will never be interested in spiritual things, will never change.

20-23 They are tied up and thrown in. What happens to those who carried them?

24-25 Nebuchadnezzar comes face to face with God's power, and he can't believe what he sees. He is quite excited. Who is the fourth person? We are not told. We are only told what Nebuchadnezzar sees and says. The fourth person is obviously different; he is like a son of the gods because he appears to be god-like. We can safely conclude that this is the pre-incarnate Christ, or as the Old Testament often identifies Him, the angel of the Lord.

26-27 Should we assume from this that this is the way God will always answer our prayers? If so, there would be no such thing as martyrs, or prophets of the Bible who were killed for giving God's unpopular message.

28-29 Is Nebuchadnezzar now a believer? Do we see personal belief or commitment? Just a recognition that they have a powerful god, more powerful than any of the other gods. Again, we are reminded that the lesson is about serving/worshipping/bowing. Another word is used here that sheds light on the term worship; yield. They even yielded their what? Read Rom. 12:1-2. This concept is at the heart of what it means to be a Christian. It is not about going to church, giving money, reading your Bible and praying every day. Those are parts of it, but this is at the heart of it, and will lead to all the other things we do.

Think about the people who bowed to the image when the music played, and the people who will worship the Antichrist's image. Can people be made to worship something, in their heart? When they bowed, was it true worship? Or what was it? Convenience? Self-preservation? Why would they do that? Isn't that what will happen when the Antichrist rules? This seems to be a picture, in Babylon, under the one-world-ruler, of believers in the final Babylon, the one world empire, being asked to worship that ruler. Why are those who refuse, who will only worship the true God, a threat? Today the mood is tolerance for all beliefs. Only the Christians aren't "tolerant." The Bible commands us not to be. What if the government commands us to do something, or refrain from doing something, against our belief? If we are ever subjected to persecution, this story is an example for us. When all possible hope or help is gone, God can still act, although He may leave us in our situation for His own reasons. Either way, He will keep us.

Let's talk a little more about worship. Genesis 22 is the first use of "worship" in the Bible, although it mentions "bow" in 18:2, where Abraham bowed to the Lord when He and the two angels appeared to Abraham. Both words are translated from the same Hebrew word and are often used interchangeably, or together, as in Ex. 4:31, 12:27; see your margin notes for alternate translations. Strong's: to prostrate (especially in homage to royalty or God), bow (self) down, crouch, fall down (flat), humbly beseech, do (make) obeisance, do reverence, make to stoop.

So what is worship, according to these passages and the definition of the Hebrew word? Holding nothing back from God? Complete trust and obedience in our lives? What do people do on Sunday at 11:00 AM that they call worship? Is that really worship, in the biblical sense? People talk about what they get out of a "worship" service--if it was good or not, if they got anything out of it, if the "worship leader" was any good. Is true worship for us to get something out of, or is it for God?

The church today, unfortunately, has redefined worship to mean something it is not. It focuses on a group experience, especially the feelings we get from group singing. True worship--when Self bows to God--is not about warm fuzzy feelings. What feelings do you suppose Abraham has as he is heading toward the place at which he will worship in Genesis 22? It is about dying to Self, about giving up, about saying "no" to Self and "yes" to God. It is often hard. In Daniel 3, notice that each time the word "worship" appears with another term, that helps us understand what worship is--fall down, serve, trust, yield up their bodies.

So instead of teaching this concept of worship, too often Christians, even churches, take the Bible term and use it to mean something nice that is easy and fun to do. In many "worship songs" we sing about what we will do for God, and how we will be His completely. Is that the same as actually doing those things? How many of us are doing, or will do, what we say to God in that song? What about the unbelievers who may be present and singing that song? If we sing those words but are not actually doing them, have we really worshipped? Which would God rather have? Words are easy; actions are much harder. It makes us feel good to sing those words about ourselves, but if they are not really true, we have only deceived ourselves and lied about ourselves to God. It is much better to sing about who God is and what He has done, is doing, and will do, than to sing about "I..I..I"

When we worship, what does God get? Rev. 4:10-11. Can you find any place we are told in the Bible to get together as a body to worship? It is not basically a group activity. When and how do we worship? Worship can take place in church, in a group, but only if it already takes place daily in that individual. Ex. 34:8, Dan. 3, Ps. 95:6, Mat. 4:9-10, I Cor. 14:25, Rev 22:8. What are we to do as a church? Acts 1:14, 2:1-47, 15:35, 18:11, 20:7, Rom. 12:4-8, I Cor. 16:2, Gal. 6:6, Col. 3:16 (group singing is to be done, but is not presented as worship). In the epistles (the directions to the church), "worship" is never used in connection with a gathering of believers. Notice how angels worship God, Rev. 7:11, 11:16, and the shepherds, Mat. 2:2, 8. Compare what the Bible says about false worship; does it have anything to do with singing to that person/thing or to an uplifting group experience? Ex. 34:14, Deut. 8:16, Is. 2:8, 20, Jer. 44:19, Zeph. 1:4-6, Dan. 3:5-7, Rev. 9:20, 13:4, 8, 12, 15.

One reason people associate worship with church may be the numerous Bible references to coming to the temple to worship. Many people confuse the temple with the church, the Sabbath with Sunday, Israel with the church, and the Old Testament with the New Testament. In the Old Testament, Israel did meet with God at the temple only, Ex. 20:24, 25:21-22, 29:42-43, 30:6, 36, Lev. 1:3. That was the only place that their sacrifices (their required mode of worship) could be offered. For the Jews, the temple and the altar were necessary for worship. In the New Testament (the church age, the age or dispensation of grace), the individual believer comes to God through Christ, and our bodies are the temple of the Holy Spirit. The church is not the temple or even the house of God, it is just the place of gathering of the fellowship of true believers, for teaching, prayer, breaking of bread, the public reading of the Word. The Sabbath was not given to Israel as a day of worship but as the day of rest, Ex. 20:8-11; Sunday is not the Sabbath or the day of rest, nor are we commanded to worship on Sunday. It is done to remember the resurrection, which was on the first day of the week. Later the Jews did begin to assemble on the Sabbath at the local synagogues, as well as visiting the temple to bring their sacrifices. For the believer, the Sabbath was fulfilled in Christ, Heb. 4:9-11. We exercise faith in Christ and we rest from works. Every day is a Sabbath now.


Back to Isaiah 44---

21-22 God is speaking to Israel; can this also be applied to Christians today? We too need to remember what we have read and heard and learned about God; we have short memories. We too are to serve Him. Our sins have been removed; our guilt feelings about them may remain with us, but that does not mean we are not forgiven. Feelings are not facts. If we stray from God and forget about Him, does He forget us? If we stray, do we need to ask God to return to us, or do we need to do the returning? Repent means to turn and go the other way.

23 All creation, all the earth will rejoice when Israel finally returns to God; when will that take place? At the millenial kingdom, following the Great Tribulation, during which Israel will be refined, purged and purified, Dan. 11:35. What have we seen over and over in the Old Testament that mountains and trees often symbolize? Nations. Do we see the nations of the world doing this today? This is yet future.

24 Why does God continue to remind them that He formed them from the womb? What does this remind us of, about our relation to God? He is our Creator, as He continues to point out in this verse. The more we focus on this truth, the less we fall into the fallacy of thinking the world revolves around ME.

25 What is He saying about omens and divination? What does the Bible say about divination in Deut. 18:10? Are these practices still common today? What is God saying about "wise men" here? Is He against wisdom and knowledge? Does the rest of the Bible support that idea? Note the Bible's first reference to "wise men," Ex. 7:11. Compare also Jer. 8:9, 50:35, Dan. 2:10-12, 2:27, 5:7. The implication is those who are wise through occult powers. On the contrary, the Bible has much to say about the importance of wisdom and knowledge. Prov. 1:7 says "wisdom" in some versions and "knowledge" in others.

26-27 What God has spoken through His prophets, He will cause to happen. What God's Word, the Bible, says will take place; it is all true. What is the future of Jerusalem and Israel? At this time, Jerusalem had been broken down and needed repaired in order to be livable.

28 And who else will do as God says? Who is Cyrus? Is this man alive yet? What will he do? When will these things happen? About 200 years in the future. He is prophesied by name. Read about him in Ezra 1. What are the mathematical chances that this king could be named 200 years before he lived? He would dry up the Euphrates River to conquer Babylon. With his help, the temple foundation was laid. Fulfilled prophecy is proof of the Bible's truth and reliability.

Chapter 45

1-3 Cyrus was mentioned at the end of Chapter 44. What else is he called here? A consecrated person, as a king, priest, or saint; someone set apart for a particular job. It is a title given to the kings of Israel, chosen by God, and ultimately, to the Messiah, God's Chosen One. As we read through this chapter, we can see that Cyrus foreshadows the Messiah to come, specifically in reference to His second coming and His earthly reign.

We read about Cyrus and how he fit into Israel's picture in II Chron. 36:22-23; chapter 36 tells how Nebuchadnezzar took Judah, the southern kingdom, into captivity in Babylon for 70 years. (Israel had split into two kingdoms; Israel, the northern kingdom, had been taken into captivity by the Assyrians earlier, II Kings 17.) The worldwide kingdom of Babylon was then taken over by the next worldwide kingdom, Persia (Media-Persia); who was its king, 36:22? Then turn the page to Ezra 1:1-5, which begins right where II Chron. 36 ended. Did Cyrus recognize that God was dealing with him?

4-5 Did Cyrus know God? Not to begin with. Some commentators believe Cyrus was an unbeliever that God used. It sounds here like God revealed Himself to Cyrus so he would know God. But God chose him for this job before he knew God. We find a similar pattern in the life of Nebuchadnezzar; read his fascinating story and the part Daniel played in it in Dan. 1, 2 and 4. Does God work in the lives of unbelievers? He can; He may. Didn't all believers start out as unbelievers? Was God working in their lives to draw them to Himself?

Rom. 8:28-29 tells more about this fascinating process. According to 28, God is working out His big plan in whose lives? Believers--"those who love God." Who are "those who are called according to His purpose"? Is this just repeating "those who love God" in different words? Or might this be referring to those unbelievers who are the elect and who will eventually become believers? Is this telling us that God is working out His plan in their lives, even before they become believers? What does 29 tell us that God did? He what and what? So that these people might be what? Everything that happens in believers' lives is under God's control and fitting into His big plan, even the things that happened before they were saved. Just the good things? Or "all" things?

Obviously the Messiah, Christ, does know God--He is God! So we see that foreshadowing is not an exact picture or prophecy.

6 Who would know about God through this man? Men "from the rising to the setting of the sun"; Media-Persia was the next world empire after Babylon. If he ruled the world (the known, civilized world at that time), and he came to know the true God, imagine the opportunity and influence he had to spread this knowledge, just as Nebuchadnezzar had; we read his testimony in Dan. 4:34-37. God waned men everywhere to know him, not just Israel. He had many ways to reveal Himself, besides His written Word (the Law and the Prophets) which He had given to Israel through Moses and the prophets. How else did He reveal Himself in those days, according to Job 33:15? What other non-Israelite king seems to know about God in Gen. 20? So was God only working in the lives of the Jews in the Old Testament? What does I Tim. 2:4 tell us?

7 God is giving us lots of information about Himself and His nature in this chapter and this book, particularly from chapter 40 to the end. Where do we read about Him forming light and creating darkness? Compare Gen. 1:1-5.

What else does He cause? Well-being, peace, blessings...and what else? According to Strong's, "cause" can also be translated: accomplish, administer, bring, execute, perform, inflict, work. All events, all happenings, whether pleasant or painful, ultimately come through God's hand, yet He is not the source of evil. Who is? God has allowed Satan limited power on this earth (Job 1:6-12, 2:1-6), for a limited time. Why? What happened in Gen. 3:1-7? What resulted, Gen. 3:13-19? So who is really responsible for the entrance of evil into this world? Man. God gave man free will; how did he handle it? Mankind must now pay the consequences. Unfortunately, mankind continues to blame God for bad and painful things that happen. What does God promise us in Rom. 8:28. Why? Rom. 8:29.

8 Has this happened on the earth? This is yet future; the worldwide influence of Cyrus is foreshadowing a future time on earth when these things WILL take place. When Christ rules the earth, righteousness and salvation will be prevalent.

9-10 Is it OK to question God? What kind of questioning is God against? A potter forms clay to suit his purpose. As God is forming us into useful pots, do we ever question what He is doing in our lives? Do we ever think He is being unfair or unkind? Do we ever complain? Even if we don't accuse Him to His face, He knows our thoughts and hearts. When we question Him or complain about what He allows, aren't we acting as His judges? Who are we to question His actions? Can we see the Big Picture? Do we really know what is best for ourselves or others? Do we know how anything will work out in the future? Those attitudes exalt Self above God--what does God call that, Prov. 29:23? What is the opposite of that? What did King Nebuchadnezzar learn about pride, Dan 4:37?

It is thought that the Jews complained that God should not use a Gentile to deliver them. God is dealing with their pride.

11-12 What kind of questioning does He welcome and encourage? God wants people to ask honest questions about who He is, to prove that He is who He claims to be. Looking into fulfilled and future prophecy, things to come, will convince the honest seeker. What else has God given us as proof of His existence, power and deity? Fulfilled prophecy and the creation are two irrefutable evidences for God. Anyone who disputes the existence of the God of the Bible must refute this evidence in an intellectually convincing way. Educate yourself about the creation/evolution debate so you may intelligently present the evidence.

13 Who is him/he? What person was referred to by name a few verses back? What two things will he do? What will God do for him? Again, we see the Messiah pictured, in the Millenium, who will rule from Jerusalem with Israel, who will be the primary nation of the world at that time, Deut. 28:13.

14-16 In the Millenium, Israel will be over these nations. What will they recognize about God? About idols? How does God hide Himself? Strong's: cover, conceal, keep close, keep secret. Does everyone see and recognize and know God? Do they see His hand in everything that happens? Is God visible like an idol? God has revealed much about His existence and His nature, but do all see? Is. 44:18, Jer. 5:21, Jer. 29:13, Ez. 12:2, Mat. 13:15. Later He will reveal Himself in visible form, as Jesus. Will all believe and accept at that time?

17 A check of Strong's Concordance indicates that in the Old Testament, the terms "save," "Savior" and "salvation" generally refer to Israel (as a nation, not just individuals) being saved from enemies, danger or trouble. There doesn't seem to be much of a connotation of a God being the individual's Savior from sin, saving from hell and giving eternal life instead. This concept seems to be more a New Testament idea as the term Savior is applied to the church. Does the church fight against enemy nations? I Cor. 10:1-11 tells us that the literal, physical events of the Old Testament often picture the spiritual truths revealed in the New Testament. The physical battles and enemies of Israel picture the ongoing spiritual warfare of the believer. Who is our enemy? This passage is one that seems to leave room for both concepts of salvation, as does Savior in 21.

18-19 How does God identify and describe Himself here? Over and over in Isaiah, God makes it clear who He is and what He is like. What two criteria has He mentioned over and over as proof? Creation and fulfilled prophecy. The evidence for God is not secret or hard to find or understand. Some ask, "Will God judge those who haven't heard?" The answer is in Ps. 19:1-6 and Rom. 1:20.

20-21 There are many other "gods" that people choose to worship. The question is, can they save? Can they predict the future without error? "Who has announced this from of old? Who has long since declared it?" Here God calls Himself the Savior, without specific reference to enemy nations.

22-25 Now God extends the invitation of salvation (safety, freedom, deliverance) to all, not just to His chosen nation Israel. "Turn to Me"; the KJV says "look unto Me." We need to look, to get our attention on Him. God does many things to get the unbeliever's attention. Even believers have a problem with their attention wandering from God. For an interesting perspective on this concept, go to The True Way.

Why did God reveal Himself to Cyrus and use him? He wants to reach all men, the whole earth. Cyrus, as the world leader, would get the message out. Prov. 21:2. 23, God's Word has power; compare Is. 55:11. Has every knee ever bowed to God? Has every tongue sworn allegiance? So this must be future; this WILL happen when Christ rules in the Millenial kingdom. All will recognize who He is and give outward obedience; will all accept and worship Him? What do we know happens at the end of the Millenium, Rev. 20:7-9? There will be a final rebellion, so we know that many at that time are still in rebellion against Him. Will Israel continue to reject her Messiah, as today? Israel's future generation/seed/posterity will be cleansed, cleared, made right, turned to righteousness. When Christ returns at the end of the Great Tribulation, the nation of Israel will recognize her Messiah, Zech. 12:10. Any who do not believe will be removed before the Kingdom along with other unbelievers, Mat. 13:40-43, 49-50.

Chapter 46

1-2 Bel and Nebo are the Babylonian gods. What are they unable to do? What does Jesus tell us about life's burdens in Mat. 11:28-30?

3-4 False gods not only cannot rescue us from our burdens--they themselves must be carried by others. What does God do for His people? Are we always aware of Him doing this? Doesn't it often seem as if we are doing everything for ourselves? How can we increase our awareness of what God is doing in our lives?

5-7 People today, as then, believe it doesn't really matter who or what your god is--they are all good. Is the true and living God even like an idol or false god? How are they different?

8-11 Is there any other god like God the Creator? What has He done, what does He do, that is unlike any false god? Who is this "man of My purpose" that He will call from a far country, that He has just been talking about? Again we see the importance of fulfilled prophecy as the mark of God, as proof of the Bible. No other god can do this; this is the test. So false gods are really no gods at all, according to this test.

12-13 What is God accusing His people of? We must remember that His people Israel were not all believers, unlike His people today, the church, which is made up of all who believe in Christ. Israel was the nation He chose to work through--to give the Law, the prophets, the temple, the sacrifices. But being born a Jew did not save anyone; they too had to exercise faith to be saved. We see here that not all believed; some were far from righteousness.

Chapter 47

1-4 Who is this prophecy addressed to? Babylon/Chaldeans (same).

5-6 They will take God's people captive, which is according to His purpose to punish them. But because of the way they treat Israel, what will happen to Babylon, 5? It speaks in past tense, as if this already happened, but it is future. He will use their cruelty for His purposes, then He will judge them for it. We find this pattern many times in the Old Testament. God allowed evil to enter the world through man's free will; the Bible records how His purposes are not thwarted because of that decision, but instead He will use evil to fit into His greater purposes. Here we are told of a particular instance in which He will do this; does the Bible tell us specifically how He will do this in our lives? But aren't we supposed to apply this information to our lives and trust that God is doing this even when we can't see how He will use bad things?

7-10 What kind of attitude did Babylon (personified as a woman) have? What attitude does God hate, Prov. 8:13? Twice she calls herself, "I am." Whose name is this, Ex. 3:13-15? Twice she says, "there is no one besides me," but what has God been saying in Is. 43: 10-13; 44:6,8; 45:5,6,14,18,22; 46:9? The Babylonians will lose everything. Just because you feel secure in the things you lean on, are you secure (apart from God)? What were some things they depended on?

11 What will come upon them? Will it sneak up slowly, so they will have a chance to see it and get ready?

12-14 What are some other things they depended on? Sorceries: seeking information about the future through occult or demonic forces. Are spells and sorcery things of the past, or do people still engage in these activities, even in our country?

15 People are free to choose whatever god they wish to worship. But here is the question: can that god save you when things get tough? Can it save you from eternal damnation?

So Isaiah is prophesying the fall of Babylon as a world empire (to Persia), although it would not become one for about 100 years. At this time Assyria is in power. He has also prophesied of Persia (Media-Persia) as a world empire, but that will be after Babylon. And He spoke of its ruler by name.

This chapter has many parallels to Rev. 17-18 which speaks of Babylon in the end time. See Rev. 17:2,4,5, 18:3,7,9,23. Some believe Revelation speaks of a city or nation which will rise to power in the endtimes. Others believe it is a symbolic reference to "the world," the world system apart from God. Perhaps both are in view. Current events seem to be pointing more and more to that corner of the world. So we see this chapter has in view both a near fulfillment (the Babylonian empire) and a future fulfillment (the endtimes).

Chapter 48

Who is speaking? To whom? Almost the whole chapter is in quotes.

1-2 What names are used interchangeably here? When is it not acceptable to claim God's name or to call on the name of the one true God?

Truth and righteousness are two of the main themes of the Bible. There are about 300 references to "truth" or "true" and over 500 references to "righteousness" or "righteous." Are these major themes of the world's values? How important to you are truth and righteousness? How do you define them? Do you agree with the Bible that there is such a thing as truth, and that we can know it? Ps. 119:142,160, John 1:14, 8:32, 14:6, 17:17, Eph. 6:14, I Tim. 2:4. Do you agree with the Bible that it is possible to be righteous? The Bible speaks of two types of righteousness: our standing before God in Christ, and our conduct on earth. The believer is already righteous in God's eyes because God chooses to see us through Christ. He desires right conduct from those who claim to be His. Mat. 6:33, Rom. 4:3,6, 6:13, II Cor. 5:21, Phil. 3:9, I Tim. 6:11.

3-8 How is Israel described here? Are we ever like this? Why had God told them in advance what He was going to do? Again we see that fulfilled prophecy is the mark of God, proof of the truth of the Bible.

Did God just now decide to do something "new"? Was God surprised when His chosen people turned out to be not so great? Had His plan fallen flat? Some people wonder why God chose such a lousy nation; He could have chosen someone better. Is Israel really any worse or different than any other people? Aren't they a picture of us all? Why did He choose each of us? Because we're better than anyone else?

Who is He talking to here about their idols? Jews or Gentiles? All through the Old Testament we read that believers worshipped other gods along with the true and living God. Gen. 31:19, Ex. 32, Deut. 32:21, Jud. 17:5, I Sam. 19:13, I Kings 11:5-7, 16:26, II Kings 17:41, Ps. 106:32-36. The prophets continually warned Israel to turn from their idols. Because this is a major theme of the Old Testament, can we infer that this is a picture of the same tendency for the New Testament Christian? I Cor. 10:1-11. What is idolatry for the Christian? Eph. 5:3,5, Col. 3:5, Ezek. 27 and 28, Rev. 18.

9 God could have zapped them; why didn't He? Because they were so lovable, so worthy of His grace? For the sake of His name: His character, authority, honor, renown, reputation. God had made promises to them that He had bound Himself to; He cannot lie.

10 What had God done to them? How does God use the affliction that comes to us because of what He allowed man to choose in Gen. 3? Who should we blame for our afflictions--God, or man? What does this verse say about testing? So is affliction and testing from God? Yes and no; He allows it, He plans to work it into His Big Picture, but He did not initiate it. He doesn't say, "I think I'll give you cancer, just to teach you a lesson." The Bible makes it clear that God is not cruel or capricious.

11 More about His name, His reputation. What does God say about His glory? What does Jesus say in John 17:5? So Jesus is either a liar (and NOT a "good teacher") or He is who? The Bible does not contradict itself. We are to compare Scripture with Scripture and let it interpret itself.

12 How does God describe Himself? Is this another way of saying "eternal"? How does Jesus describe Himself in Rev. 1:7? Why would Jesus use those same words?

13 God defines Himself all through the Old Testament as the Creator. He continually points us to His creation as proof of who He is. Do you see why it is so important to unbelieving scientists to discredit the Bible account of creation?

14-15 Who is He again speaking of here? What will this man do? Will this man actually do it himself, or will he just be carrying out the purposes of God? Yet he will do it of his own free will. The Bible continually presents God's sovereignty and man's free will side by side; why do our brains have trouble comprehending both?

16 Does God need to draw near to us, or do we need to draw near to Him? If He seems farther from you than He used to seem, who has moved? Are God's messages hidden in signs or codes that only certain people have access to? Do you see the Trinity in this verse? Who is "Me"? Who is speaking? So we must keep in mind that when God is speaking in the Bible, it isn't necessarily God the Father.

17-19 Is 17 talking about making a profit--capitalism? Or is it about doing something profitable, benefiting, doing good? Who is God speaking to--whose descendants, whose offspring? We find an "if/then" statement. Some promises were conditional: "if" is the condition--what they do, "then" is what God does (Ex. 23:20-33). The Abrahamic Covenant, Gen. 12:1-3, was unconditional. God promised them the land, the nation, the blessing. The Palestinian Covenant, Deut. 28-30, was conditional. If they obeyed, they would live in their land and have blessings; if they disobeyed, they would be put out of their land (although it was still their land) and would suffer the curses.

20 When Cyrus allowed the Jews to go home, many didn't. Many stayed in Babylon. We have discussed whether they were in God's will or not; here is the answer. Why should they want to be in their land, not their comfortable new home? Jerusalem was where the temple was, so they could offer sacrifices. He reminds them of how He cared for them when their fathers left Egypt; why are they afraid to go back?

How does this apply to us? Compare the beginning of 20 with Rev. 18:1-4 and with II Cor. 5:17. What does Babylon represent for us? What do John 15:19, 17:14,16 say about how we are to relate to this world we live in? How can we live in such a way that we are not "of" the world, but yet we are still salt and light, Mat. 5:13-16?

Chapter 49

1 Who is being spoken to? Is God now speaking to just Israel, or to the Gentiles (non-Jews) also? Is God speaking, or is this Isaiah speaking? It's a little unclear at the beginning of the chapter; maybe both are in view. Which person of the Trinity is "the Lord" referring to? Which person would "Me" be referring to? So what is being prophesied here? How does this verse address the abortion debate? Compare Jer. 1:5, Ps. 139:13-16. Does God know everyone "from the womb"? It may have seemed like your own idea to seek Him, but what does the Bible say? John 15:16.

2 Who is "He" and who is "My"? Compare Rev. 1:16, Heb. 4:12, John 1:1. If this is Christ, why would He describe Himself as an arrow hidden in God's quiver?

3-4 Now it sounds like perhaps it has been Israel speaking; we have seen Israel spoken of as Gods servant. But it seems more likely it refers to Christ. But if it is spoken of Israel, it is fulfilled in Christ, the promised one who came from the nation Israel; the name "Israel" actually means "he will rule as God" so Christ is the fulfillment of that name. Both may be in view here. This is a good example of a passage that is hard to interpret, so we make room in our minds for several possibilities; there is no need to dogmatically decide it has to be this or that.

4 God was to show His glory through Christ, as the Messiah of Israel. But Christ says, prophetically, that will be in vain; Israel will reject Him when He comes. Could this also be saying that Jesus was tempted with such discouraging thoughts during His earthly ministry? The Bible tells us that, while living as a man, He was tempted in every way just like we are, Heb. 4:15; however, He did not sin by giving in to temptation.

5-6 This passage clarifies the mystery; the end of 6 refers to whom? What was the purpose of sending the Messiah, 5? Did Jesus Christ have His beginning in Mary's womb? Does "form" mean to create, from nothing? Strong's: to mold into a form, as a potter would. Christ, the Son, the second person of the Trinity, was pre-existent with the Father, John 1:1-3,8:58, Col. 1:16-17. He is the person of the Trinity that appears in visible, fleshly form--in the Old Testament, as "the angel of the Lord," and in the New Testament as Jesus. "Jesus" was His human name, the name given to Him at birth. "Christ" means Messiah, the Anointed One. "Jesus Christ" was not a first name and last name; it means "Jesus, the Christ." "Christ" was not a name but a title; notice that the disciples call Him "Jesus," not "Christ."

God says two things to Christ in this verse. First, what is too small a thing? What is the future of Israel? Many wonder if all Israel will be saved--the entire nation; doesn't God save individuals on the basis of their personal faith? Who does it say He will restore? The phrase "the preserved ones" gives us a clue; apparently not all will be "preserved." But He always preserves a faithful remnant: Is. 10:20-22, 11:11,16, 28:5, 37:32, Jer. 23:3, Ez. 6:8, Mic. 5:8, Rom. 9:27, 11:5.

But what will also happen? We see here a prophecy of salvation going not just to Israel, but to whom? "Nations" does not refer to America, Russia, Spain, etc., but is a term the Bible uses to refer to the Gentiles (non-Jews, therefore the ungodly), heathen, people in general. The Messiah was sent to the Jews first; when they rejected Him, He expanded His offer to the Gentiles. Mat. 10:5-6, Acts 28:25-28, Rom. 1:16, 2:9-10, 11:11. God knew all along that He would offer salvation to the Gentiles, but He used the rejection of the Jews to bring about His plan. Gentiles were saved in the Old Testament too, but God was dealing with man through the nation Israel and the Law. Now, in a different way of dealing with man (another dispensation), God would be dealing with man through the Gentile people--all those who are not Jews; this dispensation is the church age or the age of grace.

The prophets did not know or speak of the church, but we see in several places that they prophesied about a time when God would no longer be dealing mainly with Israel, but would reach out to the rest of the world with the offer of salvation. Compare John 1:9, 3:19, 8:12, 9:5, 11:9, 12:46. Over and over Jesus was telling the Jews that He was the fulfillment of the Old Testament prophecies of the Messiah God would send.

7 How will the Messiah be treated by Israel? Isaiah prophesied that Israel would reject Him, as would most of the world. But how will He be treated by others, including kings and princes? Did this happen at His first coming? Will it happen at His second coming, when He reigns over the earth for a thousand years? God did not reveal to the Old Testament prophets that the Messiah would come twice; they prophesied of things that would take place at both His first and second comings, but did not distinguish between the two.

8-13 Who is speaking to whom? End of 8, what is one purpose He has for Christ? Although here the Father is speaking to the Son, Paul applied these verses to us in II Cor. 6:2. The context of these verses is Israel, bound in captivity, going forth back to their own land. Can you think of anything Jesus said that resembles and possibly refers to those who are bound, 9, and a command to go forth? Bound: yoked, hitched, in bonds; compare Mat. 11:28-30, John 11:43-44. Do you see how Jesus was constantly telling the Jews that He was the Messiah that the Old Testament had promised? 9-10, do you see how even though this passage speaks directly of Israel at that time, it has spiritual application to us, to all who believe on Jesus? And that even though it is speaking to Jews in captivity in Babylon, it also has a future fulfillment when Jews will return in safety to their homeland to live under the reign of Christ, whom they will finally recognize as their Messiah at the end of the Great Tribulation. 12, they will come from afar, from where they are scattered on the earth, back to their own land. This is happening today, in preparation for the final fulfillment of Israel's promises.

14 But... who is speaking now? Israel. What are they saying? Do they get what is going on, why God has seemed to temporarily abandon them? Do they understand that He is disciplining them for their continual disobedience? Or are they too spiritually blind to see it, even though He has told them over and over through the prophets?

15-16 How does God answer that? God speaks to them of their future.

17-18 What will happen to their destroyers? Has anything like this happened yet in history? Did this happen after the Babylonian captivity? This is yet future.

19-21 They will again multiply so much that they will need more room, and wonder where all these people came from.

22 The Israelites will come from all over, and the Gentile nations will help. In their day, this was partially fulfilled when the Babylonians were taken over by the Medes and Persians, and their ruler Cyrus decreed that they may return to their land, and helped them. In the endtimes, there will be a massive movement of Jews back to Israel.

23 How are Gentiles today helping Jews return to their land? Organizations raise money to help Jews leave Russia, etc. and settle in Israel. In the future Gentiles will bring them back even more, in some way. What will the Jews finally know at that time? To wait hopefully does not imply that we wish for something that we don't know for sure will happen. Strong's: to look or wait eagerly, expectantly, patiently. Not put to shame = not be disappointed. God is making promises to Israel, and they can know that He will do what He has promised them, even though they don't know exactly when. Is this true for the New Testament believer also?

24-25 What does God say about those who are against Israel? God has promised Israel a special place in His plans; compare Gen. 12:3 (the Abrahamic Covenant) and Zech. 2:8. How does this speak to the present world situation? How does this relate to the foreign affairs policy of the United States, and what goes on at the UN? At that time, not just Israel but all men will know what? Has this ever happened yet? This must be future; this will take place at the end of the Great Tribulation, Rev. 19:11-21, Zech. 14:1-9, Phil. 2:9-11.

This is an amazing chapter, predicting Israel's rejection of the Messiah, and what God will do about it. God has a future plan for Israel that has not yet been fulfilled.

Chapter 50

1 Who is speaking? Who is the woman, the wife? Has God divorced her? He asks her, "Where is the certificate?" Did He send her away from Him, or did she leave Him? Because of her own faithless choices, she is now sent away; where? Into captivity.

2-3 Is God unable, not powerful enough, to ransom Israel, to bring her back?

4 Which person of the Trinity is "the Lord God"? Which is "Me"? What type of relationship do they have here? This section goes on to talk about Him.

5 In what way was Christ not disobedient? What did He not turn back from? "Opened ear" could be talking about the "ears" of our heart. Also, Ex. 21:6, Ps. 40:6, when a slave refused to leave his master because he loved him or had taken a slave girl as wife. Actually the awl did not pierce Jesus' ear; His whole body was pierced. Are our ears open to hear Him?

6-7 What else was done to Him? It is spoken in past tense but it is future--a prophecy of Christ's arrest. Prophecy is often given in past tense (the "prophetic past tense"). "I gave...I did not cover..." tells us what about His attitude to His attackers? Why did He willingly allow them? In the face of this, He set His face like flint--what would that mean? When we are trying to do the right thing and are facing pressure and even pain, might we have to have to have that kind of resolve to keep going? Is it always easy to do the right thing?

8-9 His false accusers will eventually face Him as their judge.

10 An invitation. What four things mentioned here should we be doing?

11 A warning to those who would walk in the light of their own fire, rather than in God's light. What awaits those kind of people? We need to be careful we don't walk in our own light, or come across to unbelievers as presenting our ideas. Our beliefs are not important because we believe them; they are important because GOD has spoken. In our postmodern society, it is popular for all beliefs to be considered equally acceptable. If you tell someone, "this is what I believe," they are apt to say, "That's great! I'm glad that works/is true for you. But that isn't true for me. Such-and-such is what I believe/is true for me." Instead of saying, "I believe…", say "God says…" Then add that you believe it. God's Words have power--ours don't. Is. 55:11, Heb. 4:12.

Chapter 51

1 Who is addressed here? All Israel? Who is speaking? Do WE need to be reminded to listen to Him? How do we hear Him? John 1:1, Heb. 1:1. God has already spoken to us, in His Word; we read it and study it to hear His "voice." Does He want them to go find a rock and look at it? Or is this figurative language?

2 So He was comparing them to a what? And Abraham and Sarah to what? Reminding themselves of what God had done in times past would encourage them. Does this work for us also? Some like to keep a journal, to record answers to prayer. Rereading them can build your faith. Reading how God worked in the lives of believers in the Old Testament will strengthen our faith.

3 Is this speaking of Israel at that time, following the Babylonian captivity? Or the more distant future--the end times? Or both? What is He promising them? Have conditions ever been like this in Israel?

4-5 Hasn't God already given the Law of Moses? So this must be talking about something else--future. When will God judge the nations? When He pours out His wrath, Rev. 6:16-17; the Great Tribulation. Here God is alluding to the fact that in the future, He will be dealing with the Gentiles also, not primarily the Jews as He is in the days of Isaiah. The word "Gentiles" is not used here; how can we know this? Compare Is. 42:1-4 to the passage where it is quoted in Mat. 12:18-21. "Gentiles" is used interchangeably with nations/peoples/coastlands/isles (depending on your translation). Are all non-Jews waiting expectantly for God now? Of course not. But is the church awaiting Him? The church is mostly Gentile; this body of Gentiles IS awaiting the day when God's law and God's righteousness will rule the earth. When will that day be? When Christ returns following the judgment of the peoples, as mentioned here. This passage is prophetic of the last days.

6 What will take place in the heavens and the earth at that time? Disastrous changes (Mt. 24:29, Rev. 6:12-14), many will die; this will all take place during the seven years of tribulation. "Like manner": Strong's, like gnats (from infixing its sting), lice. Compare Rev. 9:1-6, 16:2,10-11. Many will die during the tribulation, from various causes. Rev. 6:1-8, 8:7-13, 9:15,18. This is the time when His salvation and righteousness are near. His salvation (Christ) and righteousness will come at the instituting of the earthly kingdom, the 1000-year reign, but will go on "forever."

7-8 God is addressing who? Those of His chosen people who are true believers, during the time of the Great Tribulation. What are they not to fear at that time? It will be a time of great horrors on earth and great persecution of both Jews and Christians. Rev. 12:11,16, 13:15 Yet God tells them not to fear the evil that man will do. What will happen to those evil people? This could be figurative language, telling that they will die and their bodies will decay. Or it could possibly refer to some unique horror that will befall the wicked during the tribulation; compare Zech. 14:12, Rev. 9:1-6, 2:10-11. Or both.

9-11 Isaiah speaks to the Lord. Does God sleep? Do we ever need to wake Him up? Ps. 121:4. Does He have an arm, a physical body? Comparing Scripture, we know these are not so. Some cults teach that God has a physical body but only the Son ever appears in physical form on earth. God the Father is Spirit and can't be seen. John 1:18, 4:24. However, the Bible often speaks of God metaphorically (His eyes roam the earth, His right hand, His bared arm, His fingerwork) in terms that humans can understand. So what is Isaiah saying? He wants the Lord to show Israel His strength. Who needs to awake from sleep--God or us? I Thes. 5:6.

Does God not act until we ask Him to? Do we need to twist His arm? We want to SEE God working; if it doesn't look to us like God is working, does that mean He isn't? Doesn't the Bible indicate that God is always working, in every situation? Rom. 8:28. When we (and Isaiah) pray like this, doesn't this just reveal our own lack of faith and understanding? Instead, perhaps our prayer should be, thanks that God IS at work in THIS situation, and asking Him to help us and others to trust Him more as He works out His great plan.

This Rahab is not the harlot of Joshua 2, but is also the name given to a dragon or sea monster; the name literally means "pride." Who is the father of pride, whom the Bible portrays as a serpent/dragon, Rev. 12:9? Compare Is. 30:7. There may have been a literal sea serpent also that God destroyed; Scripture often has several layers of meaning, both literal and figurative, both immediate and distant, both past and future. What event of Ex. 14 is referred to in 10? Isaiah is "reminding" God of what He has done in the past. Do we ever do this? Does God need reminded? Who does? Isn't prayer more for our benefit--to increase our awareness of God--rather than to get God to do something He wasn't going to do, or to tell Him something He didn't already know? 11, those Jews who are true believers, who make it alive through this awful time, will return to their land. Will there continue to be conflict and wars in their homeland? What is their future in Israel following the Great Tribulation?

12-16 Now who is speaking again? Israel needs to be reminded to keep a perspective. They may fear what man can do, but how does man compare to God? What does God remind them about Himself? In the Old Testament, God is known as the Creator, just as in the New Testament He will be known as the God of the resurrection. When we get our eyes more on man and less on God, don't we also need to be reminded to get our perspective back? Doesn't that help us see our problems in a different light? 14, at that time Isaiah was specifically speaking to them of how God would again deal favorably with them after the Babylonian captivity. During the Great Tribulation, many will be arrested, imprisoned, and killed. (Rev. 20:4 speaks of those who are beheaded at that time for their testimony; what group in the news today are the ones engaging in beheading?)

17-20 God reminds them of how He has just punished them; what metaphor does He use for this, 17? Compare Jer. 25:15, Rev. 16:19. This is the picture He uses to speak of the end times. This is what Jesus did at the cross, Luke 22:42. He bore God's wrath so that we would not have to.

21-23 They will never drink it again; this must be referring to their future and final punishment and purification, during the Great Tribulation, following which they will finally recognize their Messiah, Zech. 12:10. God will use Israel's enemies to be the tool with which He punishes them; after He uses them in that way, what will happen to them? God is the righteous Judge; He will make all things right, in His time.

So we see that Isaiah is speaking to the Jews of his day of the time immediately following the Babylonian captivity and how God will lead them, comfort them and protect them. But we also see that not everything he speaks of was fulfilled at that time; his words also look forward to a greater future fulfillment, as do so many prophecies.

Chapter 52

1-2 Zion is a name for Jerusalem. Who has been controlling Jerusalem during the captivity--Jews or Gentiles? But what is about to happen now that the captivity is over--what is Cyrus doing? Has this ever been completely fulfilled? There must be a greater future fulfillment.

3-5 "Redeemed without money:" does this refer to Cyrus (45:13) or when Israel is redeemed by their Messiah? Might both be in view?

6 Did this actually happen at that time, or only in part? When will it happen? "In that day" points to the endtimes.

7 When will God reign in Jerusalem? Will we need to examine the feet of this messenger to see if his feet are pretty, to know if he is the one spoken of here? Compare Eph. 6:15. Isn't it interesting how both the Old and New Testaments use similar symbolism? Compare Luke 11:27--poetic language saying that the person involved is blessed (happy, fortunate) What will God do to Zion, 8? What will He do to Jerusalem, 9?

10 We read of God's "bared arm." Does God have physical fingers or hands or arms? John 4:24. The Bible writers refer to parts of His body as if His body were like ours, so that we may better picture how God works. When God appears in the flesh, it is always as the second person of the Trinity, not as the Father. In the Old Testament, this is "the angel of the Lord." In the New Testament He appears as Jesus.

What is described as the work of God's fingers or hands? Ps. 8:3, 19:1. So how hard was that for Him to do? A bared arm implies rolling up the sleeve for hard work--a muscular arm, strength. So which required more of God--His work of salvation or creation, in which He made something from nothing merely by His word?

11-12 They had to be encouraged to leave Babylon; 70 years had made them comfortable there. Who is Isaiah speaking to, end of 11? The priests and Levites were ritually unclean and needed to go through the required rites of ritual purification before they could serve in the temple once they returned to Jerusalem.

13-14 This begins a new section, which fits more with the next chapter than this one. Who is spoken of? Is this saying that Jesus should have been rich, instead of born to a poor carpenter? Or is it speaking of His second coming in His glory? "Prosper" can also be translated as: act wisely, discern, gain or give insight, instruct, be prudent, understand, be wise, wise behavior, show intelligence. It doesn't appear to speak of wealth. How does 14 speak prophetically of Jesus' arrest and crucifixion?

15 Who is this talking about? This word for sprinkling means, in the Old Testament, either to sprinkle with blood, as the high priest, or with water, to purify. This one who was marred, humiliated, degraded, brought so low, is the one who is now above all things, is now glorified as God. Even kings will be speechless before Him.

Chapter 53

This chapter does not name the subject; who is this "He" and "Him"? The Messiah. Why is it so important? It is as important and revealing as anything in the New Testament about Christ, especially when taken with Ps. 22, one of many Messianic Psalms. Can you think of any New Testament passages that confirm this is referring to Christ? John 12:37-38, Acts 8:32-35, Rom. 10:16.

1 Does everyone who hears the truth, believe it? I Cor. 2:14. Will Israel believe? Will they accept their Messiah? Isaiah prophesies of their rejection of Jesus Christ. Again, Godss "arm" speaks of what? Strength, power.

2 Was Christ an impressive looking man? Not like Saul, their first king; what did they want in a king at that time? "Man looks on the...but God looks on the...," I Sam. 16:7. Would you rather have a good-looking, funny pastor that preaches light-weight sermons, or a funny-looking pastor with a mediocre personality that really knows how to present the Word? Dry ground: what was Israel's spiritual state when Christ was born? There had been 400 years of silence from God; there had been no word of God through any prophets. Where else is Christ referred to as a root? Is. 11:10, which is quoted by Paul in Rom. 15:12 as applying to Christ. Rev. 5:5, 22:16.

3 Why was He despised? What was unpopular about His message? The reality of sin, judgment and hell and the need for repentance. Should we try to soften that message to attract unbelievers?

4 Did Jesus have griefs and sorrows of His own? In what way did Jesus bear our griefs and sorrows? When and where? "Bore" has the connotation in Hebrew of "lifted up." How does that fit with the first words of 5 to prophesy of the type of death the Messiah would suffer? When His followers saw Him hanging on the cross, did they understand what He was doing?

Jesus not only paid the penalty for our sins; what does He continue to do, Mt. 11:28-30? Do you know the words to the beloved hymn, "What a Friend We Have in Jesus"?

1. What a friend we have in Jesus,
all our sins and griefs to bear!
What a privilege to carry
everything to God in prayer!
O what peace we often forfeit,
O what needless pain we bear,
all because we do not carry
everything to God in prayer.

2. Have we trials and temptations?
Is there trouble anywhere?
We should never be discouraged;
take it to the Lord in prayer.
Can we find a friend so faithful
who will all our sorrows share?
Jesus knows our every weakness;
take it to the Lord in prayer.

3. Are we weak and heavy laden,
cumbered with a load of care?
Precious Savior, still our refuge;
take it to the Lord in prayer.
Do thy friends despise, forsake thee?
Take it to the Lord in prayer!
In his arms he'll take and shield thee;
thou wilt find a solace there.

5 Crushed: broken, bruised, beat to pieces. What was done to Jesus before He was nailed to the cross? Well-being: peace. How can we have peace in our hearts and peace with God? Would the Messiah come as a conquering military man--someone to free Israel from their Roman oppressors? Yet that was what many were looking for. Like people today, they selectively read the Scriptures. How can we be sure we are not mis-interpreting Scripture? The best way is to read it all, read it in context, and compare carefully.

This verse is also used as a proof-text for those who claim that Christians are guaranteed physical healing in this life. Is the context physical disease, or sin? What is the context where Peter quotes this in the New Testament, I Pet. 2:18-25? Why did He heal physical diseases while on earth? Did He promise that from then on, His followers would be guaranteed perfect health, and that His followers would continue to have power to heal all diseases? The New Testament speaks often of attesting signs and wonders, John 2:11,23, 3:2, 4:48, 6:2,26, 7:31, 9:16, 11:47, 12:37, 20:30, Acts 2:19,22,43, 4:30, 5:12, 6:8, 8:6,13, 14:2, 15:12, II Cor. 12:12, Heb. 2:4. What is a sign? Doesn't it point you to something? Healing was a sign of who He was, so they would recognize Him; compare Is. 35:5-6, which prophesied of the Messiah.

Note what two things are contrasted in each phrase of 5: Him and us. By HIS being hurt/wounded, WE are mended/made whole/made well; it is the paradox that is being pointed out here. This is the great doctrine of substitutionary atonement. WE deserve to be punished for our sins, but HE (the one who did not deserve it) took OUR place (who did deserve it).

6 What does this prophesy about the Messiah? He would be the Sin-bearer for all men. Why do you think we are likened to sheep? Sheep will follow anyone who leads them. Humans tend to let others do the thinking for them. We saw it in Israel's history, as righteous or wicked kings led them one way and then another. "Gone astray": vacillate, been deceived, seduced. Today the church is also easily led astray by false or just mis-guided teachers; it is important to be part of a solid Bible-teaching group. "To fall upon Him": the idea of being an intercessor. Again we find the substitutionary atonement. The Lord (God the Father) caused Him (Christ--God the Son) to take the punishment WE deserve. Can you accept what Christ did for you if you don't actually believe you are a sinner and that you deserve God's punishment?

7 Now this unnamed person is likened to a what? Many Bible teachers think that the first use of a significant word in the Bible sets the tone for the use or interpretation of that word; the first use of "lamb" is in Gen. 11. What important event takes place in that chapter? We see some other important words here; in 7, what does Isaac call Abraham? What does Abraham call Isaac? What does Isaac ask? What is Abraham's answer? How is this prophetic of Christ? Did God provide a lamb that day, 13? When did He provide it, John 1:29? (This chapter also contains the first use of "worship," "love" and "obey." See notes on Gen. 22 for more details on this significant chapter.) Interestingly, the second mention of "lamb" is in Ex. 12, which is the instituting of the Passover--symbolic of Christ, the Passover lamb.

Why didn't this Lamb protest as He was led to slaughter? The crucifixion of Jesus Christ was God's plan, and He used the actions of sinful, criminal men to bring it about. God's sovereign will was brought about through the free actions of sinful men. Rev. 13:8. Can He use the actions of sinful people (unbelievers OR believers) to accomplish His purposes in our lives? Rom. 8:28.

8 "Cut off" implies a violent death. What was He cut off from? Referring back to "His generation," we see that He will have no physical offspring; it was very important in Jewish culture to carry on the family line and name. Compare Dan. 9:26. Was this done on His own account, or on whose account? Again, the substitutionary atonement--the innocent for the guilty.

9 What detail of Jesus' burial is prophesied here? "Violence" carries the implication of "wrong." No wrong? No deceit? Could any man claim this? This claims that the Messiah will be sinless = God in the flesh.

10 His death and suffering was a necessary part of God's plan; is God cruel and sadistic? Is He cruel when He plans to use suffering or death in our lives? When and how did death enter the world? What should it remind us of? At what point will death no longer be a part of this world? Does God's plan for our lives encompass everything that happens? Does Rom. 8:28 say that all things feel good? What is God's plan? Rom. 8:29, 12:1-2. How do pain and suffering fit into that scenario?

If He willingly dies as a sin offering, He WILL have offspring--physical or spiritual? When we become believers, we become what, John 1:12? So in this way His days (life) will be prolonged (drawn out). How does the analogy in John 12:25 picture this?

Note the change of verb tense from past to future, of "was" to "will." starting in 10, through 12. Does this perhaps hint at the resurrection? All the facts about Jesus' death in 1-9 point to things that happens after His death.

11 His anguish turns to what? Satisfaction. Can this be true for us also? How? Who alone is righteous? So the Messiah must be who? "By His knowledge" means by the knowledge of Him--our knowing Him. John 4:42, 6:69, 10:4,14, John 17:3. Justification, substitutionary atonement; compare Rom. 5:6-21, where Paul explains this clearly.

12 Did Jesus die willingly? He bore our sin, He intercedes. This chapter repeats this thought, stresses it!

Jews are forbidden to read this chapter, according to the magazine, "Israel My Glory." Why might that be? Jews do not recognize Jesus Christ as the Messiah prophesied in the Old Testament. How can anyone read this chapter and fail to see Jesus as the exact fulfillment of it?

Chapter 54

1 Who is speaking to whom? God to Israel. A barren wife was a disgrace; having many children was seen as God's blessing.

2-3 Israel will need to expand--why, 3? The boundaries set by God in Joshua 1:4 cover about 300,000 square miles, but even under David and Solomon, Israel only occupied about 30,000, or one-tenth. This part of God's promise has never yet been fulfilled; it must be future, as it says here.

4-6 Israel is likened to the what of the Lord (Jehovah) in 6? Why was she forsaken and rejected? Is. 50:1, Jer. 3, Ez. 16:23. She has been unfaithful, adulterous. The book of Hosea pictures this relationship.

What is Christ called, Mat. 25:5-6, Luke 5:34-35, John 3:29? What is the difference between a husband and a bridegroom? The church is a chaste virgin, Eph. 5:27. Christ (not Jehovah) is preparing her for Himself; when is the wedding, Rev. 19:7? Eph. 5:22-33, Rev. 21:2,9, 22:17. We also can see Christ and the church pictured allegorically in Song of Solomon.

7-8 Is this rejection permanent or temporary? How brief was the moment? "Brief" implies small, insignificant. What might this say about the afflictions in our lives, from God's perspective?

"Outburst of anger" almost makes it sound as if God had a temper tantrum; does the rest of Scripture paint God as being like this? Strong's: outburst = flood, deluge, an overflowing, as when a flood bursts over its boundaries. The Bible says God is slow to anger, and longsuffering. What does God get angry at? Sin, disobedience. Is His anger personal and petulant, like our anger, or is it righteous anger? Is it an out of control temper, or is it justified anger?

"I hid My face from you for a moment." Does God ever leave us? We (New Testament believers) are given the indwelling Holy Spirit when we believe, John 14:17, Rom. 8:9, Col. 1:26-27; does He come and go? If we don't feel God's presence, does that mean He isn't present? Are we promised His presence, or the feeling of His presence? Might God withdraw the awareness of His presence to test us? In II Cor. 5:7, could we change the word "sight" to include "feelings"?

So we see that because of Israel's ongoing disobedience to God's revealed Word, after giving them many chances, He finally expressed His anger at their sin for a brief time; remember that in the eternal scheme of things, a few years, decades or even centuries is really just a drop in the bucket, which we will understand when we get to heaven. But then He goes on to assure them that He will again have what on them? Doesn't this promise apply to us as well? When our trials are severe, we focus on them; focusing on God's Word helps us get an eternal perspective.

So what are God's future plans for Israel? The rest of the chapter details what God will do for Israel in the future; this has not yet happened.

9-10 Does God speak of the worldwide flood as a real event? Was Noah a real historical figure or a legend? Many Christians today don't believe the flood was literally worldwide; this contradicts other passages in the Bible, including the words of Jesus, Mt. 24:38-39, and Peter, II Pet. 2:5, 3:6. This can't refer to Israel's restoration from the Babylonian captivity, because God has continued to allow disobedient Israel to experience His heavy hand of judgment. This awaits future fulfillment. Will the mountains move at same time in the future? Compare Rev. 6:14, 8:8. So we see that even though God continues to chastise Israel, it is part of His loving plan for their future. How can we apply this concept to our trials and tests? What covenant is God referring to? The Abrahamic covenant; God has not rescinded His promises to Israel. Rom. 11:1-2,29.

11-15 Has this ever been true of Israel? This must be describing Israel in the future Millenial Kingdom. We must be careful not to take the promises of 13 or 14 out of context and claim them for OUR children; this is promised to Israel living under the righteous reign of the Messiah in the kingdom. We do not find the promises of 13 repeated in the New Testament for the Christian, nor the guarantee of freedom from fear, oppression, or terror. This is speaking of the security guaranteed to the nation Israel when Christ rules physically on earth.

16-17 Who is the destroyer here? Satan? Babylon? Or whoever or whatever the Lord decides to use as a weapon of destruction. Did God form Satan? Yes! Did God know what Satan would do when He made Him as the highest angel? Did He know we would continually sin and fail when He chose us and saved us? Did He create those who "bring out a weapon" against us and those who seek to ruin us? What is His purpose in these trials? Who is the promise of 17 given to? All believers of all times? Or Israel in the kingdom? Always read the context.

Chapter 55

1-2 An invitation; for everyone, or just for Jews? The Jews thought it was just for them. To everyone who what? Do all thirst? Actual water is necessary for life; do all thirst for real water? What does this tell us about spiritual water? Shouldn't all thirst for this also? Jesus makes this same offer in John 4:1-14 and 7:37. Why is there no cost to us? What was the cost and how was it paid? Water, wine and milk; not only the necessities but more. And for those who hunger; who is the Bread of life? What do people go after that is not this bread? Do these two verses imply that following Christ is a drag, a bunch of boring rules?

3-5 Accepting the invitation gives the benefits of the covenant God made with David (that the Messiah would come in his line). 4-5, he/him refers to the Messiah, the leader and commander of the nations. The nation that Israel doesn't know would be the Gentiles. Israel was to be the spiritual center of the earth, having the temple; other nations will come there to worship. Apparently this will be the case during the Millenium also.

6 Is God hard to find? Do we need to bribe or impress His with good works? "Seek, call." Doesn't this also say there will come a time when it is too late? At what point is it too late?

7 Wicked/unrighteous could be parallelism, as are "way" (course of action) and "thoughts" (purposes, plans, intentions). Or they could be including two kinds of unbelievers--the wicked (actively bad person) and the unrighteous (literally, "nothingness," "vanity"--emptiness). What must the unbeliever do? Return = repent = change direction. "Return to the Lord" implies that man was once in fellowship with God; that was God's purpose in creating man. What does God have toward us? The Psalms speak much of God's mercy and lovingkindness, especially 89, 103 all, 107, 118:1-4, all of 136. Do we need to beg God to forgive our sin? So is God harsh and cruel, sending people to hell? Hasn't He offered eternal life to all? Do all choose to accept? Will God honor our choice or force us to choose Him? Should He force us?

8-9 Why is this so? Because He is God, and we are human! In this life, will we ever be able to truly understand how or why He does what He does? Is it necessary to understand completely? When you trust your life to an airplane, do you completely understand how aerodynamics work? When you accept life-giving medicines, is it necessary to completely understand how they work? Don't get hung up on this! God has revealed in His Word and in His creation enough information so that we may believe and trust Him. He has told us He is just, loving, merciful, all-knowing, and all-powerful. When we don't understand His ways, we can trust in His character. If He tried to reveal everything about Himself, could we even comprehend it?

10-11 Here we have the scientifically correct hydrologic cycle. What is this saying about God's Word? Will God do what He has said? Will all prophecies be fulfilled? There is power in God's Word, Jer. 23:29, Heb. 4:12; it is supernatural. When you speak to others about God, whenever possible, use God's words, not your own; His have power. Likewise, we often like to read Christian books--books about God and about His Word. Sometimes they do help us to understand, but keep in mind this distinction! The rain returns to the heavens in a different form; can we always recognize whether God's Word has been effective in a situation? Might it appear that nothing outward has happened, but its effect may be gradual and unseen. Only God knows how He is working in someone's life or in any situation. We can trust this verse instead of be discouraged because we can't see anything happening.

12-13 The curse will be at least partially removed from the earth during the Millenium (but not death). Compare 11:6-9. Poetically and metaphorically speaking, even God's creation will seem to rejoice as righteousness fills the earth. We have also seen mountains and trees used symbolically in the Bible of nations and powers; in this sense, these verses are also true. Compare Ps. 98. Perhaps cypress and myrtle vs. thorns and nettles parallel the idea of wheat vs. tares, Mat. 13:24-30.

Chapter 56

1 Since we know that Christ is returning, how should this affect the way we are living?

2 Why is the Sabbath mentioned specifically in connection with righteousness? What was the significance of keeping the Sabbath in the Old Testament? Refraining from work on the seventh day was to remind them of what, Ex. 31:12-17? God as Creator. What was it to be a sign of? If you don't work every day, but rest from your work on one day, you provide for that much less of your needs. Refraining from work on one day shows trust that God will do what for you?

The Sabbath has not been "changed;" it is still the seventh day of the week. The New Testament believer is no longer commanded to keep the Sabbath; how has Jesus fulfilled the Sabbath, Heb. 4:10? So what do we rest from? On only one day a week, or every day?

3-8 God's covenant was with the sons of Jacob; what about Gentiles who believed in Israel's God and followed the Law but were not in the "chosen line"? Were the future promises of the kingdom only for the chosen line? What about foreigners and eunuchs (those who had been made sterile by having their sex glands removed, either by choice or by force, thereby having no offspring)?

When did Jesus quote verse 7, Mat. 21:13? Who might these "others" be, 8? It could be those just mentioned, or others in the days of the kingdom that will turn to the Lord, or it could be a reference to us in the church age. Salvation is for all people, not just the Jews.

9 God invites the "beasts" of the world--invading nations--to have their way with Israel. Why? Are they doing what 56:1 says? As we have seen in many places, judgment awaits them because of their disobedience and lack of concern for the things of God.

10-12 What are the spiritual leaders of the nation of Judah like?

Chapter 57

1-2 The prophet starts out by contrasting the righteous and the wicked; what are we told about the death of the righteous? Today the Christian's spirit goes immediately to be with Christ, for once we are saved we are part of the body of Christ and are always with the Lord, John 14:3, II Cor. 5:8, Phil. 1:23, Heb. 12:23. Before the resurrection, the spirits of believers went to Sheol, the place of the dead, which was divided into two compartments: Abraham's bosom, or paradise, for believers, and the place of torment for unbelievers, Luke 16:19-31. Before Christ ascended to heaven following the resurrection, believers who died did not go to heaven. Is death a bad thing for the believer? Or is it only a bad thing for those you leave behind? Following physical death we find peace and rest and joy in the presence of our Lord; we are spared any further evil to come. We can find comfort in this fact when a saved loved one dies.

3-13 God appears now to continue speaking against Israel's leaders, as at the end of Chapter 56. He contrasts them with the righteous.

3-4 How does He describe them here? So what kind of sins might we assume they are into? What type of attitude do they have?

5-6 Why the warning about trees? Deut. 12:2, what goes on there? What specific type of idolatrous sacrifice does God condemn here?

7-8 Many idolaters included sex orgies as part of their religion. Today sexual sin is out in the open; anything goes. Is it the New Morality, or the old immorality repackaged? What type of person sets up their "sign," in relation to their bed which they love, and gazes with pleasure on someone's "manhood"? So God is likening Israel's idolatry to spiritual adultery or harlotry. We see this pictured several time in the Old Testament: God the faithful loving husband, Israel the faithless wife, the adulteress, the harlot.

What is marriage to be a picture of? How does the picture of marriage relate to our relationship with God? In the Old Testament Israel is pictured as the wife of Jehovah; in the New Testament, the church is pictured as the pure, chaste virgin bride of Christ, betrothed and waiting for the consummation of the marriage, which takes place after the church is caught up in the air to be with Christ, I Thes. 4:13-18. Rev. 19:7 appears to place it at the end of the 7 years of tribulation, right before Christ's visible physical return to earth at the Second Coming. Apparently the marriage supper takes place on earth at this time, Rev. 19:9. A study of Jewish wedding customs of Jesus' day lends fascinating insight into God's future plans.

The Bible does not present God or Jesus as being "in love with" individual Christians, as many popular Christian songs falsely portray. The Bible says God loves us. What is the difference between loving someone and being in love with someone? We are told to love our neighbor; can emotions be commanded? Is that type of love (agape) an emotional love, or a choice? Do you choose who you "fall in love with"? If you have fallen in love with someone, might you fall "out" of love with them? Is God's love for us an emotional reaction based on how lovable we are? Does the Bible say we are lovable? Isn't God's grace amazing because He chooses to love us even though we are not lovable? Can He fall out of love with us? Are we to have a love for our spouse that is based on choosing to love, in spite of various unlovable things about them, or are we really at the mercy of our fluctuating emotions?

9-10 They not only acted like harlots, they used "envoys" to advertise their services, even (figuratively speaking) to Death, the grave--Sheol. As arduous as this task was, they didn't faint under its weight. Doesn't it sound like God is using sarcasm here? There are various places in the Bible where this seems to be the case. God has a great sense of humor, and a real way with words!

11-12 Why do people lie? Isn't it out of fear of other people? Fear of what--what they might say, do, or think? What should we fear? If we are sinning, should we be in fear of God? Is we are not, and we belong to Him, is there any reason to fear Him? The only "fear" we should have of God is in the sense of awe, reverence. When we are sinning and God is "silent," should we assume that means He is approving? Does God zap us instantly when we sin? Sometimes, but not usually. Does He stop us from sinning? Sometimes, but not usually. God has always permitted people to choose sin, starting in Gen. 3. Don't assume that because God doesn't immediately "do anything" about someone's sin, whether today or in an account in the Bible, that He therefore is OK with it. We will reap what we sow, both in this life and in the next. Unbelievers wind up in the lake of fire, Rev. 20:11-15, and believers will be recompensed for their "deeds in the body," II Cor. 5:9-10. (Our sins have been forgiven and paid for; this is not a judgment for sin.)

13 If you trust in an idol (something other than God: money, things, human approval, power, reputation, another person, etc.), can that thing really give you the security and safety you crave? Not even a "collection" of idols. What does it say about those who follow Him? Speaking to Israel, God reminds them that what promise will be fulfilled one day, Gen. 12:1-3? What is the "holy mountain", Ps. 2:6? What application is there for the New Testament believer? The church is not promised an earthly land or city; we have already been given what kind of blessings, Eph. 1:3? The physical blessings to believing Israel in the Old Testament are a picture of the spiritual blessings for the church in the New Testament. What does it mean to "take refuge" in God? According to Strong's, it is another way of saying to "trust in" God. Even though we have trusted Christ to forgive our sins, do we sometimes fail to trust Him for our daily concerns? If we aren't trusting Him completely, can we experience those spiritual blessings that Eph. 1:3 says we have already been given? In the same way, Israel was given their land unconditionally, but when they were not obeying God, they were temporarily removed from their land, Deut. 28:58-68.

14-15 Paradoxically, in what two places does God dwell? Although this word is not found in the Bible, we say that God is omnipresent--present everywhere, in heaven and on earth (in the person of the Holy Spirit) at the same time, Psalm 139:1-12. So what type of people do we need to be? Lowly of spirit: humble (Strong's). Contrite: crushed, broken, humble (Strong's). Job 40:12, Prov. 16:19, James 4:6. If that does not describe us, how can we develop these qualities, or how might God develop these qualities in us?

God will revive--nourish--the spirit of the humble; the context is Israel and the inheriting of the land God promised them. Old Testament verses that use the word "revive" are often used to support the practice of "revival meetings" for the church. What is called "revival" today is completely different and not biblical. God did revive Israel at times, after bringing them as a nation to a place of repentance and turning back to worship and obey the true and living God.

Revival is an Old Testament concept, referring to the nation of Israel and the land that God promised them. The church does not need reviving; God has already given us everything we need to follow Him and to grow. We have the complete Word of God. We have the Holy Spirit, who indwells us with power; He is not like a battery that runs down regularly and needs recharged once a year. Revivalists often pray for the Holy Spirit to come down, to be poured out; this already happened on Pentecost in Acts 2. God does not leave us when we sin or are faithless or lethargic; it is up to us to get into the Word, to pray, to choose to walk in the Spirit. The New Testament does not teach the church to pray for revival, to pray for a movement of God to change us or do a "new work." It is up to us to respond to what God has already done. The only mention of "revive" in the New Testament is that sin revived, Rom. 7:9, and Christ revived from the dead, Rom. 14:9.

16-17 Will God always be contending with Israel like He was then and still is? One day they will repent and He will give them a new heart; according to Ezek. 11:16-20 and 36:24-38, this will take place at the Millenial Kingdom (following the seven years of tribulation, Zech. 12:8-14:11, Rev. 20:1-6. We see here and other places that God is angered by sin; is His anger a sin?

Is it sin when we are angered by the sin of others? When does our anger become sin? Rom. 12:17-21, Eph. 4:26. When we choose to hold onto anger and nurture it, when we choose to take vengeance, to get back at someone. Eph. 4:26 says it is possible to be angry and yet not sin; here "anger" is to be provoked or exasperated in a passive way (Strong's). Eph. 4:31 tells us not to be angry in a bad way: "wrath" implies passion as when breathing hard, "anger" implies desire, violent passion, abhorrence, vengeance.

We all sin often in many ways; we are weak, we fail to trust God in all things. Are these the kind of sins that make God angry? He speaks of the one who went on doing what? Turning away: apostate, idolatrous, backsliding (Strong's). It sounds like He is speaking of rebellious, intentional sin.

18-19 Does God write off Israel because they are sinning, or does He work with them to bring them to a point of repentance? Will He force anyone to repent? Might He make every other choice very uncomfortable? Might He wait until eternity to bring judgment? Is God's peace for those who are far from Him? So who are those far away and those near? Jew and Gentile? Jews thought salvation was only for them; it was to them first but not to them only. Rom. 1:16, 2:10. In Mat. 10:6, we find that Jesus first offered Himself as Messiah to Israel, then after their rejection of Him, to the Gentiles, that ALL might be saved.

20-21 Can there ever be world peace apart from God? Not until the Millenial Kingdom when Christ rules on earth. Can an unbeliever have peace with God? Unbelievers may experience a certain amount of earthly peace, but the only way to have peace with God is to accept His offer of forgiveness for our sin by trusting in the sacrifice He arranged--Christ's substitionary death for each of us, Heb. 10:10-11.

Chapter 58

1-4 God reprimands them for fasting because they were only going through motions. 3, they imply that God was not sufficiently impressed with their fasting; they thought fasting was a way to manipulate God, to get Him to do what they wanted. Compare Mal.3:13. After the captivity, were they any more pleasing to God than before? Human nature, Self, has not changed; "what's in it for me?" 4, they went through the motions of fasting, but their lives were still characterized by strife, contention, and unfair practices with their hired workers. Isn't it easy to confuse outward rituals with obedience? Is God impressed by religious acts or rituals? What are things we do that we might think "impress" God? Going to church? Singing "worship" songs? Giving money? Reading our Bibles or praying? Doing good things?

5 What does God say fasting was about? Did God ever command fasting, as part of the Law? If fasting was not God's idea, whose was it? Fasting, sackcloth and ashes as signs of mourning and humility were cultural practices in that day, even among non-Jewish people; Dan. 6:18, Jonah 3:5. The Jews adopted it, although God did not command it. Over time, it became an accepted part of Jewish observance--man's idea, adding to what God had said was the way to approach Him. It is still a required part of various non-Christian religions today.

6-10 God tells them what "true" fasting is, what He really requires--righteous living. In other words, God does not require or is not interested in outward rituals or religious observances; He is interested in a right attitude in our hearts, which will result in right living (righteousness). That is what He will honor.

Is fasting for today's Christian? Fasting is taught by many churches today. It is justified by the many Bible references to it; most are in the Old Testament but a few are found in the New Testament. Jesus referred to fasting in the Sermon on the Mount; He did not command that people do it, but He said "when" you fast. Many take this almost as a command, saying, "He didn't say if, He said when." Note the context of Mat. 6:1-6, 16-18. He is teaching about the concept of doing your good works in secret so that you are not consciously, or even unconsciously, hoping that others will notice what a good thing you did. He is teaching that our motives are just as or even more important than our actions. Also, keep in mind that Jesus was talking to Jews who were still operating under the Old Testament economy, and fasting had become, for some reason, an accepted part of their practice. Not everything in the New Testament is about the church; the church age (the age of grace) did not begin until the resurrection.

In Mat. 9:14-15, Jesus is asked why His disciples do not fast. He answered that they did not "mourn" because the Bridegroom (Himself) was with them, but when He was gone, they would "fast." He equates fasting with mourning, as the Old Testament does. The many Old Testament references use these terms with fasting: weeping, mourning, sin, sackcloth and ashes, humbling one's self, seeking God's favor. When Jesus fasted for 40 days before being tempted by Satan, these were obviously not His reasons. Apparently He wanted to show that even in a physically weakened state, the Son of God was sinless.

Today, reasons often given for fasting include having more time to devote to prayer, even though the Bible itself speaks of fasting as mourning. Nowhere is the church told to fast in order to have more time to seriously pray; actually, we are told to pray without ceasing, I Thes. 5:17. If we wish to devote all our waking hours to prayer in a given day, eating should not interfere with praying. We can pray while we eat. We can pray while we cook a meal, eat it, and do the dishes afterwards. We can pray while we are doing many other things. Some say that if our physical needs for food, drink and sex are always completely met, then we lack the spiritual appetite or the spiritual energy for communion with God. But it seems there is no reason why a person with a normal appetite and fulfilled marital relationship can't spend just as much time in meaningful prayer as a person who deprives himself.

So why would the New Testament believer fast? It does not make God more likely to answer our prayers. Do we need to weep and mourn over our sin to seek God's favor? Why not? What is different now than in the Old Testament? Before Christ's substitutionary death on the cross, sin had not yet been paid for; animal sacrifices atoned for sin (temporarily covered it) but didn't bring forgiveness. We now can approach the throne of grace with confidence, Heb. 4:16. We don't need to grovel and seek God with weeping and mourning.

Is there any spiritual value in depriving your bodily needs? In the Old Testament, God gave them many rituals that pictured spiritual truths that would be revealed later to the church. The physical pictured the spiritual. What does John 6:63 say about the physical?

I don't believe that fasting is necessary or important for today's Christian, although it has some benefits for health, for practicing self-discipline, and perhaps for temporarily denying bodily needs in order to better concentrate on God. Fasting and prayer is mentioned a few times in Acts; we know the apostles and many early believers were originally Jewish and struggled with whether or not to continue many Jewish practices. We don't find fasting mentioned in the Epistles; apparently the early church did not practice it, nor was it commanded.

11-12 And if they did right, this would result. In the Old Testament dispensation, physical blessings are the result of obedience. He is speaking to Israel--those who will return to their homeland to repair the ruins of the city and the wall (we read about this in Ezra and Nehemiah).

13-14 Here is how He wanted them to keep the Sabbath. They are to not do what? The Sabbath is a time to put who first? Are we to observe the Sabbath? Is Sunday the Sabbath? The Sabbath is the seventh day of the week; what did it commemorate? What is its spiritual fulfillment? Heb. 4:3,9-10. What does this mean for us? Physical rest for the Old Testament believer, who is under the Law, points to spiritual rest for the New Testament believer, who is under what? We don't need to do anything to gain (or keep from losing) our salvation; we rest from "works." Of course it is wise to rest physically one day a week, but it is no longer required by God. Jesus repeats and reaffirms all ten of the Commandments except this one. The Epistles do not command or even imply that the early church observe this commandment. On how many days of the week should we desist from our own ways and our own pleasure? On how many days should we "take delight in the Lord"? Again we see the New Testament taking the laws of the Old Testament and applying them to spiritual truths. What did Jesus say about the Law in Mat. 5:17?

Chapter 59

1-2 When Israel begged God to help them, sometimes He didn't. Why? What does this teach us about sin? Do we lose our salvation? In the Old Testament, believers did not have the indwelling Holy Spirit; He came and went. The New Testament believers has the indwelling Holy Spirit; He never leaves us (Heb. 13:5) but sin breaks fellowship between us and God. A popular current "worship" song says that God hears us no matter what state our heart is in; this is not biblical.

When God seems distant, whose fault is it? How many times have you heard someone complain, often with bitterness (often an unbeliever): "I asked God to do such and such, and He didn't do it!" This becomes their reason for writing off God and prayer. Is God like a vending machine, where we push the right button and get our request? Is that the purpose of prayer? A biblical understanding of prayer is a broad subject, requiring the comparison of many passages, but this passage contains one key part. God may choose to answer the prayer of an unbeliever or a believer with unconfessed known sin, but don't count on it.

What are some other reasons God doesn't do what we ask? Does He lack the power? Ps. 62:11, Mat. 6:13, 22:29, Rom. 1:20, Eph. 1:19, Phil. 3:21. Does He not care--does He lack love? I John 4:8,16, Ps. 118:29, 145:8. Then why might He choose not to fix painful circumstances? Rom. 8:28-29, II Cor. 4:17-18, 12:7-10. God uses pain to accomplish what in our lives? Ps. 119:67, 71,75, 66:10-12. How/when/why did pain enter the world? See Genesis 3.

3-8 Their wickedness is described; does this sound like our society? Here God is describing the nation Israel--those who have the Law and the prophets. In Mat. 13:24-30, 36-43 Jesus gives the parable of the wheat and the tares (weeds that look just like wheat). He says that the unsaved will often be hard to tell from the saved. Sometimes the unsaved live very good lives; sometimes the saved live very bad lives. This should not confuse or surprise us; the Bible has warned us that it will be so. Are we saved because of how good we are? What is the biblical basis of salvation?

9-14 Here is now their confession of sin. Could this describe Christians? Whether we are unbelievers or believers, we need to confess our sin; believers still sin.

15-16 Is truth lacking today? Is it even lacking in the church? Is there such a thing as truth? Where do we find truth? Psalm 119:160, John 17:17. What is this prophesying? There was/is no man capable of being the go-between for sinners and God. God provided an intercessor--the Messiah. Before Him, there was no intercessor. What will He bring? Does God really have a physical arm? The Hebrew meaning includes: might, strength, power.

17 Where do we read similar things? Paul quotes this in Eph. 6:14. He, the Messiah, wears righteousness and salvation as garments; in Eph. 6:14, who may wear those garments? What other garments does Isaiah mention that the Messiah will wear? In Eph. 6:14, do we also wear these? Zeal is jealousy; what is God jealous for? Ex. 20:5, what does God desire from us that He does not want us to give to anyone else? Is He jealous in a sinful way, desiring what He does not deserve? Does He alone deserve our worship?

18 Who is God's wrath for, and the vengeance just mentioned? Rev. 6:16-17, I Thes. 5:9. Here is evidence that the church, the bride of Christ, will have no part in this wrath. Eph. 5:27 says the church is without what or what? Because of what, 5:26? We have plenty of spots and wrinkles in our human condition, but because of what Christ has done for us, God sees us through Christ, and in His eyes, in His accounting system, He chooses to see us as without spot or wrinkle. There are interesting parallels to the Jewish wedding ceremony; the bride is betrothed for at least a year, to show that she is not pregnant, to show her virginity and purity. Meanwhile, the bridegroom is off preparing a home for his bride. Then he returns and takes her to his father's house for the wedding, followed by the wedding feast to which many guests are invited.

19 Following the marriage of the Lamb and his bride, Rev. 19:1-8, God's wrath will be poured out during the seven years of tribulation, 19:11-16. Once God has dealt with His enemies, 19:17-21, Christ will reign on the earth in His kingdom, 20:1-6. Isaiah tells us that at that time, all men (those from the east to the west) will do what? Does that mean all will be saved during the Millenial Kingdom age? Only believers will enter the kingdom age on earth in their physical bodies, but as they continue to multiply during the 1,000 years, some of their descendants will believe and some won't, as in every age. We know this because what happens at the end of that age, when Satan is loosed once again, 20:7-9? This couldn't happen if all were believers. However, all will give outward homage, for He will rule with a what, Psalm 2:9? Phil. 2:10-11 tells us that every knee will bow; not all will have a change of heart, but someday, will be required to recognize who Christ is.

20 Isaiah ends this message with encouraging words from the Lord. God has promised Israel a Redeemer, a Messiah. Is this Redeemer for all, or is there a condition attached? Will every individual Israelite be saved? Only those who do what? Compare Rom. 9:6,27.

21 Has this happened to Israel now, or at the time Isaiah spoke this? It can only be future, after Israel repents and accepts her Messiah. This will be the state of believing Israel during the Millenial Kingdom. The Holy Spirit will be upon them (not in them--the wording does not indicate the Holy Spirit will dwell within them as He does the church). Some believe the Holy Spirit will indwell believers in the Millenium, based on Ez. 11:19 and 36:26. But these verses do not specify the Holy Spirit, but rather just that they will receive a new "spirit." We all have a spirit, as well as a soul and a body; our spirit is different than the Holy Spirit.

Chapter 60

Israel's wonderful future in the coming kingdom.

1-3 Who is being spoken to? Who is "your" and "you"? The context indicates Israel, perhaps even Jerusalem, 14. Who is the light who has come? John 1:4-9. God is speaking (through Isaiah) of the time when Christ has returned to rule the earth. "Nations," 3, would be the all the Gentiles. So what will Israel be like at that time?

4-9 The Israelis will be brought to Israel by Gentiles, 4 and 9. Camels at that time were the means of trading goods, so this speaks of commerce. What gifts will be brought by other nations, 6? What gifts were brought by the wise men, Mat. 2:11? Why isn't myrrh brought now? Myrrh speaks of death; it was used for preparing a body for burial. The wise men brought gifts that symbolized and prophesied Christ's death (myrrh), His ultimate reign as King (gold), and His role as our High Priest, thereby doing away with the need for human priests or mediators; frankincense was an incense offered in the temple sacrifice. The "coastlands" in 9 is a reference to the nations, the Gentiles. They will somehow bring Jews back to their homeland, as well as bring gifts to their King, the Lord Jesus Christ.

How can reading about God's future plans be relevant to our lives? Don't we tend to think the world revolves around us and our little problems? Does it? Does understanding God's Big Plan help us to get a better perspective on our lives and our problems? Are our problems big to God--too big for Him to fix? Is anything even "big" to God? Are today's world events, or your personal problems, really out of control? Or are they working right into God's ultimate plans? Knowing that God has a Big Picture and that He is sovereign over everything gives us peace inside when our circumstances appear to be out of control. Just because we feel like things are out of control does not mean they are: feelings are not facts.

10-14 What had God done to Israel in the past, 10? And then what will He do after they have been disciplined? Isn't this what He does in our lives too, Heb. 12:5-11, James 1:2-4? In the millenial kingdom, Israel will be the primary nation, and Jerusalem (Zion) will be the headquarters of the Lord.

15-18 The resources of all the nations will be at Israel's disposal. Peace and righteousness will characterize the Lord's reign, not the violence, devastation and destruction which has characterized the history of this world. In 16 we see several names for God. Comparing these names with Luke 2:11, Titus 2:14, Gen. 49:24, Ps. 132:2,5, who does the Bible claim that Jesus is?

19-21 Here we find that the sun and moon are no longer the source of light. When will this be, Rev. 21:23, 22:5? This follows Rev. 21:1, so now we are talking about the new heaven and earth--the beginning of eternity. The earthly kingdom which Christ rules for 1,000 years will go on into eternity as an eternal kingdom on the new earth, II Sam. 7:13-16; Dan. 6:26, 7:18; Mat. 6:13; Luke 1:33, Rev. 11:15.

What is the point of everything that God is working out, end of 21? Glorify: make clear, explain, beautify. God will not gain anything or be changed by this; He will be made more clear to us, who suffer from foggy vision, I Cor. 13:12. What do we learn about God in the last line of 22? Does God have a timetable? Is His clock always right about world events? Is it always right regarding our lives? When God doesn't do what we ask when we ask, does that mean His clock is broken or He is hard of hearing, or He doesn't care, or isn't powerful enough? The Bible says we are to trust Him. Yes, the Old Testament does speak powerfully to our lives today!

Chapter 61

1-2 This chapter contains several important truths for the New Testament Christian. Do you see the Trinity in 1? Who is speaking? We know it is Christ because He applies this quote to Himself in Luke 4:16-21. So Isaiah is prophesying that this is what the Messiah will do when He comes. It is probably primarily speaking of Israel; their nation was often afflicted and held captive by other nations, but when Christ returns the second time, that will change, and Israel will be the primary nation on earth.

We know from the New Testament that Jesus offers this good news to all, Mat. 11:28-30. Does this mean Jesus will literally wrap a bandage around those who are hurting, or that any prisoner who believes on Christ will instantly be released from jail or prison? Why type of good news does He bring? Freedom from what, Rom. 6:15-23? Is this "year" a 12-month period, or would it mean a period of time, an "age"?

Jesus reads this passage in the synagogue, stopping after 2a. Why is that significant? The part about vengeance is left out; He did not fulfill that part at His first coming, but will at His second coming. We see how in one verse of prophecy, two separate events are mentioned, thousands of years apart, which perhaps Isaiah himself did not even understand as he gave this prophecy. We see how the New Testament interprets the Old Testament, and specifically how Jesus interpreted Isaiah for us. What time period is this chapter about? Millenium. Yet because of Jesus's action, we know that 1-2a also applies specifically to His life on earth.

3 After it mentions the day of vengeance, what is mentioned next in 2 and 3? Comforting those who mourn; how are these specifically identified? Those in Zion. Who, Zech. 12:10-14? Why will they mourn?

Can you see how these three verses might make Isaiah wonder how this could possibly be? He probably didn't know that these events would cover thousands of years; it must have sounded impossible to him, but he recorded it as God told him. This is another evidence of divine inspiration; the Bible is not a man-made book. No man could have written this; it's not humanly logical, and no one could have written something like this that would actually end up being literally fulfilled. These three verses are very important in helping us understand prophecy and how to interpret it. If the middle of this sentence can continue a pause of 2,000 years, how many verses might we be misinterpreting because we have not yet seen how the Lord will ultimately fulfill these prophecies? We need to be careful in assuming we know.

4-9 Here are more details about Israel at the time of Christ's second coming. Apparently the men of Israel will serve as priests before God to the rest of the nations. Will injustice go on forever, 8? When we see injustice that make our blood boil, and it is not made right, we can remind ourselves that a day is coming when God will right all wrongs. Why does He allow it now? Ever since Gen. 3, God has allowed us to sin, and to suffer the consequences of sin. Man chose sin, and He does not interfere with man's free will. But a day is coming when things will be different. This knowledge helps us to have patience in this life.

10-11 The Old Testament does not tell of the church age to come, when all people, Jews and Gentiles, will be part of the body of Christ; that is a "mystery" that God reveals later, Eph. 3:4-6. But it "foreshadows" the church age, hinting at it. In 10, we find reference to the bridegroom and the bride. Who is the bridegroom and who is the bride, Mat. 25:1-13, John 3:28-29, Eph. 5:22-33, Rev. 19:7? We also find an extended story of a bride and bridegroom in the Song of Solomon, a book that pictures the love story of Christ and the church.

10 also speaks of being clothed in salvation and righteousness. What similar language do we find in Rom. 13:14, Eph. 4:24, 6:11-14, Col. 3:10-14, I Thes. 5:8? Isn't it amazing how many parallels can be found between the Old and New Testaments?

Chapter 62

1-3 It is unclear here whether "I" is Isaiah speaking or the Lord speaking (through Isaiah). Who is being spoken about? When will these things take place?

4-5 "Beulah" means "married;" it goes on to talk about who is married. What was Israel's past like? What will her future be like? The Old Testament often uses the symbolism of Israel as the wife (often an unfaithful wife) of God, of Jehovah. The New Testament speaks of the church as the betrothed virgin bride of Christ; the wedding has not yet taken place. When will it take place? Rev. 19:7-9. Do you think the song Beulah Land is really focusing on the fact that Israel belongs to God and is His wife, so to speak? The song is about standing on a high mountain in beautiful Beulah land and looking over into heaven.

6-7 Here is an interesting teaching about prayer. Is it God's will to establish Israel? Are they supposed to be asking God to do it? How much should they be asking? Just because we know that God is going to do something doesn't mean that we shouldn't pray for it. Pray for God to send Jesus soon ("Thy kingdom come," Mat. 6:10; "Come, Lord Jesus," Rev. 22:20), to save the lost, to make this world right again, to transform us into Christ's image. Does "remind" mean that God forgets? The connotation is to earnestly make mention (Strong's), that there should be no silence from us on this matter until God brings it about.

8-12 Does God have future plans for Israel, for Jerusalem? Many say no, but there is abundant evidence that His promises to them will be fulfilled in the future. When the Old Testament talks about salvation in regards to Israel, 11, is it referring to an afterlife in heaven and being saved from eternal punishment in the lake of fire? No, it is usually talking about being saved from her enemies: deliverance, liberty, safety. But those in Israel who are believing will have eternal life with God. Eternal life is only through a personal faith relationship with God's Messiah--Jesus Christ. When He returns, He will bring His what and His what, 11? His reward is to believers, and His recompense is to unbelievers.

Chapter 63

1 Someone is asking what? We will see in this chapter that it appears to be the future endtime righteous remnant--believing Israel. Does this verse describe His first or second coming? Where does He come from? Edom is another name for who? Esau, the rejected son, symbolic of the fleshly nature, the ungodly man. Jacob represents the spiritual man, the one who follows God. How does God feel about the ungodly? Mal. 1:2, Rom. 9:13.

2-6 Who is speaking? What time period do we have here? The Tribulation, the pouring out of God's wrath. Whose blood is on His garments--His own or His enemies? What did He do to them? Why? Did God have a temper tantrum, or does He have righteous anger against sin, evil, and evil-doers? So they (Israel) see Him coming from Bozrah, a city in Edom/Moab, covered with blood; what has happened there? Is. 34:1-8, Zech. 14:3, Rev. 16:16, 19:15,19.

7-10 Now Isaiah speaks on behalf of Israel. How can this be said right after 2-6? Are these two aspects of God contradictory? They must go hand in hand. Even when He is pouring out His wrath on evil men, He is still loving and kind and worthy to be praised. Some people have trouble with this--salvation and wrath; these are two sides of the same coin. A truly loving and righteous God must punish evil.

Do you see the Trinity in this section? Does 10 shed some light on Eph. 4:30? Isaiah is reminding the Jews how God chose them. But what happened? This wording gives us an interesting insight into how God works. When we disobey, He becomes like our "enemy". Is He really our enemy? Or is He acting as a loving Father who is disciplining His child?

The Holy Spirit was in the midst of God's people but not indwelling individual believers; where did God dwell at that time, Ex. 25:8-22? How did Jesus explain that the role of the Holy Spirit would change, John 14:17?

11-14 This eventually caused them to think back on what God had done in the past. What is the purpose of God's discipline in our lives--to hurt us, or to bring about positive change (even though it may be painful)?

15 Captive Israel asks God to act on their behalf again. Do we really need to ask God to "look down from heaven and see"? Doesn't the Bible say God does this all the time? Often our prayers reflect our human doubts and lack of understanding. Is this a problem to God? Psalm 103:14. Christians often ask God to do things that He tells us He is already doing. As we come to understand this more, we might change our prayers to acknowledge and thank Him that He IS doing this, instead of begging Him to do what He has already told us.

16 The Jewish captives recognize and confess that they are not living as true Jews while they are in captivity, and have not been true to God and living in the covenant relationship God made with Abraham and Jacob/Israel. But they still recognize God as their Father.

17 They have strayed, their hearts were hardened. Is it really God's fault? Don't we often blame God for our problems, when we are reaping what we have sown, or what fallen mankind sowed back in Genesis 3.

18 Back home, their temple has been destroyed (remember, Isaiah is prophesying what is 100 years in the future).

19 It's been a long time since they lived in a right relationship with God. Have we ever gotten so far from God, for so long, that it seems impossible to return to Him? Is it impossible? Satan whispers this lie to us. But I John 1:9 tells us otherwise.

We can also see the prophetic application in this chapter to the Jews during the Tribulation, since the opening six verses seem to point to that time, using the same language we read in Revelation. This prophecy points out that in that future time, Israel is disobedient, is being disciplined, they are still God's chosen people, but God has temporarily taken on the role of their "enemy" to turn them around.

Chapter 64

1-3 Whom is being addressed? Whom is Isaiah speaking for? Who is the we/us in this chapter? Israel. This is a prayer for mercy--confession. What do they want Him to do? Deal with enemy nations--things like He did in the past. Where else have we read about mountains quaking at God's presence? Ex 19:18, Judg. 5:5, Ps. 68:7-8.

Besides in Israel's history, at what other time does the Bible talk about God coming down, the nations trembling, the heavens rent (torn, as a piece of cloth), mountains quaking? This speaks prophetically of the seven years of tribulation. Believing Israel will pray this at that time.

Is it biblical to pray for the Lord to return, to make things right on this earth, to come quickly? Here is a precedent for just such a prayer. Why do they pray this? Because they are overwhelmed by their troubles. Jesus also tells us to pray for His return; what does the Lord's Prayer tell us to ask for, Mat. 6:10? In one sense, His kingdom is already among us who believe, in a spiritual sense. For His kingdom to fully come--the physical reign of Christ on earth--He must come the second time. Before this happens, He must snatch up the church before the appearance of the Antichrist and the 7 years of tribulation. So every time we pray "Thy kingdom come," we are praying this. In I Cor. 16:22, "Maranatha" is Greek for "our Lord come," with the connotation of divine judgment coming. How does the Bible end, Rev. 22:20? So even though only God knows His timetable, we are to pray for Him to bring this about.

When we ask God to help, 3, does He always act in the way we want or expect? God acts on behalf of what kind of person,4? Doesn't it seem that this is one of the big things God is working on developing in our lives? The Bible speaks often about trusting and waiting on the Lord. In the Old Testament, those who believe in God are referred to as the righteous, those who do righteousness. This is not talking about an unbeliever who tries his best to do good. Is there any other God besides the God of the Bible, the God of creation, of the Trinity, of the resurrection?

5-7 God meets with what kind of person? If God seems far from you or is not answering your prayers, what might be the reason? Does God actually leave us? What causes Him to appear to be hidden from us? What do they admit (confess)? Do these verses sound familiar, from another part of the Bible? Read Rom. 3:10-12. Can anyone be "good enough," compared to God's holy standard of sinless perfection? What about our best human efforts to do what is good and right? Is this saying that unbelievers aren't capable of doing anything good? Of course not. But do those good deeds count for anything in God's accounting ledger? Man's best is always tainted by the sin nature we were born with. So if there is no one who calls on God's name, how did we get saved? Didn't we believe and call on His name? Who actually initiated this--us or God? Mat. 22:14, John 6:37, Eph. 1:4,5, I John 4:19.

What does the end of 7 say about how God may deal with our sins? What New Testament verse states this principle that is found throughout the Bible, applying to both believers and unbelievers? Gal. 6:7. Even though our sins are forgiven, might they bring consequences in our lives?

8 Compare Jer. 18:3-10, Rom. 9:20. Paul obviously knew the Old Testament; New Testament Christians need to study it also. It has much to teach about what God is like and how He works in our lives. God not only created us but He continues to mold us. Rom. 8:28-29, 12:2. Isn't their confession--"we are the clay, and You our potter"--similar to what Jesus tells us to pray in the Lord's Prayer--"Thy will be done"?

9-11 Jerusalem and temple are in ruins; a prophecy of the future captivity.

Chapter 65

1-2 Who is this talking about? At first glance it sounds like the Gentiles; reading further, context sounds like disobedient Israel. We have biblical evidence that both meanings are in view here. We have often seen that various passages have multiple layers of meaning, none contradictory, often referencing different periods of time. As God was speaking these words through Isaiah, at that time they appear to be addressed to disobedient Israel. But as Paul quotes them in Rom. 9:24-26 and 10:20, the Holy Spirit (the author of all Scripture) inspired him to reveal that now, in the church age, we see that God had in mind, in the future, that Is. 65:1 refers also to the Gentiles; Is. 65:2 refers to Israel. The Gentile nations were not seeking the God of Israel, but God permitted Himself to be found by Gentiles anyway. John 10:16. Israel has been temporarily set aside and God is dealing primarily with Gentiles in the church age.

We see that God in His sovereignty plans and initiates the finding, although it appears to us humans that people with their free will are the ones seeking God. John 6:44, 15:16. It is both, whether we can understand that concept or not. Remember, the infinite holy God is revealing His nature to finite, fallen human minds; no wonder we can't comprehend it all. So is God findable and knowable by all? Rom. 1:19-20.

What do rebellious people do? What is wrong with that? What should they (we) do instead?

3-5 What did they do that provoked God? What does provoke mean here? Ticked off? Bugged? Strong's: wrathful, angry, vexed, troubled, grieved, sorrowful. Does God have the right to feel this way when His people are hypocritical, worshipping other gods while claiming to be holy? "Holier than thou" is actually a biblical phrase.

6-7 How do these verses relate to Gal. 6:7?

8 He is going to destroy some of them (His servants, Israel). Which part will be destroyed and which part won't?

9-10 Which part is referred to here? What will they inherit? God's mountain is Jerusalem.

11-12 Which part is referred to here? Sounds like people who do not look to God, but to other things. Fortune, Destiny: two gods that Israel worshipped, setting food and drink before them. And so what IS their destiny? Compare Mat. 22:14, John 10:27, 15:16. What else did they do? Is God a righteous Judge? Gen. 18:25, Ps. 7:11.

13-16 How does He contrast these two groups? Who will slay the unrighteous group? What awaits the other group? When will this happen? Compare Mat. 13:24-30, 36-43, 49-50. What time period is Jesus describing in Mat. 13? The kingdom. When does the earthly kingdom begin? Rev. 19:1-20:6. Immediately following the Second Coming of Christ. Only the righteous will be left on earth at the start of the kingdom, still in their mortal bodies; the unrighteous will be removed, or slain, by God's angels. Those who were caught up to be with the Lord prior to the 7 years of tribulation are already in their immortal bodies, I Thes. 4:15-17, having escaped the time of God's wrath, I Thes. 5:9.

How is God described twice in 16? This concept is rejected by many today, but God has not rejected it. On first glance, this appears to be saying that when this period of time comes, the surviving believers will not remember the horrors of the past seven years of tribulation. But whose sight does it say they are hidden from? God will no longer choose to bring to mind the past sins and failure of His people.

17-25 Conditions during the millenial kingdom are described here. In a limited sense, things will be made new in the Millenium, because much of the curse will be removed from the earth; the desert will bloom, there will be plenty of water. Animals will not kill each other or us, but will once again be herbivorous as they were before the Flood; perhaps this implies that humans will also be vegetarians as in the beginning.

17 When does Rev. 22:1 place the new heaven and new earth? Following the Millenium Kingdom. Again one wonders if this verse is saying that people at that time will not remember previous sadness. But in the context of 16, it seems to be again saying that God will choose not to bring to His mind the previous state of the earth and its inhabitants; He is making all things new.

We have seen that the Old Testament prophets only saw the future distantly, the big picture, but were not given the details of timing, as in not distinguishing Christ's first and second comings. Note changes during Millenium: very long lifespans, little or no sickness and sorrow, work will be fruitful, people will outlast the work of their hands, close fellowship with the Lord. Who specifically does this passage refer to in 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, and 23? In 23, these people are the offspring of who? Apparently those believers who came through the Tribulation and who first populated the Kingdom. This passage does not state whether or not these conditions apply to the whole earth at that time; Israel IS promised to be blessed above all nations in this age.

19 This verse does speak of the absence of sorrow and tears at that time. How can people not have sorrow when they remember some things? Perhaps they will not choose to think of sorrowful things; perhaps they will have control of their memories instead of being at the mercy of them as today. Either they won't think of past things, or if they do, they will see them in a different light--in the light of God's plan for the ages. Also Rev. 7:17 speaks specifically of those martyred during the Tribulation.

20 The KJV reads, "the sinner being an hundred years old shall be accursed," where the NASB reads, " the one who does not reach the age of one hundred will be thought accursed." The word for "sinner" includes the meaning of "missing the mark," which is one definition of sin; in this case, the mark is apparently to reach the age of 100.

24 God knows what we need and what we are going to pray for before we pray; His actions are not limited to waiting until after we pray. It sounds here like it is being said specifically of this group at this time. Yet we know it is true for us too because the Bible tells us that God is all-knowing, all-powerful and not limited by time. We saw an example of this in Gen. 24:15. So is it the end of the world if we forget to pray for someone that we intended to pray for? Is God already at work in that person's life, regardless of whether or not we remember to pray for them every day? Have you ever had the experience of getting an answer to prayer, then realizing that the wheels that set that event in motion began happening long before you even prayed for it?

Chapter 66

1 Heaven: Very little is said in the Bible about going to heaven, as we think of it. In the New Testament, John speaks of it, in his Gospel and in Revelation. John 14:2-3 was apparently a new idea to the disciples. The other Gospels speak of the kingdom of heaven and of our reward in heaven. In the Old Testament, heaven is spoke of often as the place where God dwells, and often is used in the phrase "the God of heaven and earth." The Old Testament does not speak of the expectation of going to heaven. God promised His people Israel a never-ending kingdom on earth; we see Israel constantly looking for that earthly kingdom, which is still future.

The story of Lazarus and the rich man tells of what two places, Luke 16:22-28? So before Christ's resurrection, where did the righteous go at death? Where did the unrighteous go? When Jesus died and rose from the dead, we are told in Eph. 4:8-10 that He led a host of captives when He ascended; who would those be? The Old Testament believers offered sacrifices that pointed to the future Lamb of God and His sacrifice; apparently Jesus appeared to them as the fulfillment of their faith. So where do the unrighteous remain?

Hades is also called hell (see Strong's); what happens at the end of the 1000-year earthly kingdom to people in hell, Rev. 20:11-15? Who else will already be there, 20:10? What does Rev. 18:20 tell us about where the Old Testament saints are now? According to Mat. 8:11, who will be present in the kingdom of heaven? Are they Jews? So we know that the Old Testament saints that preceded the nation Israel are also in heaven now. Apparently the unending earthly kingdom will continue through eternity on the new earth, and will be the primary location of saved Israel. Where will be the primary home of the church--the bride of Christ? Rev. 3:7-12, 21:1-2.

1 What does the imagery of throne and footstool tell us about God, in connection with the heavens and the earth? What perspective does it give about God and us? The Jews returning to Israel from the captivity will seek to rebuild the temple; will God actually dwell there? Does God need a place on earth to dwell? So whose benefit is the temple really for? Does God need our church? Why does He want us to assemble? Does He need us to do "big, important" things for Him?

2 Does God have hands, John 4:24? What important truth are they (and we) reminded of here, similar to Psalm 19:1? Is this truth accepted by all, or still up for debate? The Bible reminds us of this foundational truth over and over, in the Old and New Testaments. What kind of person will God look at with pleasure, with favor? Humble: (Strong's) lowly, needy, poor, afflicted. Aren't we all in this condition? But do all admit this? What is the opposite of humble? This sin is mentioned often in Scripture as something God hates. What was Satan's sin, Ezek. 28:1-6? Contrite: (Strong's): smitten, dejected.

Are we to place our confidence in Self? When we recognize and admit what Self is truly like, shouldn't we feel like that? So is it good or bad to feel that way about yourself? Do you think humility should be the mark of a Christian? How can we become humble? Compare Ex. 10:3, Prov. 6:3 (Strong's: be bowed down, afflicted, weakened, submitted, silenced, prostrated). If we do not humble ourselves, how else might we become humble? What other related word starts with "hum-"? Humiliation: (Strong's) shame, confusion, dejection, blushing, disappointed, confounded, confused, bring reproach. Does God ever work to bring this about in our lives? How does it feel? Why does He do it--because He wants us to feel bad? How should we respond if He uses the circumstances of our lives to do this?

What sort of attitude should we have toward God and toward His Word? Can we just "take it or leave it"? Don't many people, even Christians, do just that? How seriously or lightly should we approach the Bible? Why? Why would God want us to tremble at His Word? Should there be a certain amount of fear involved? What type of fear? The Bible often says to "fear the Lord." What are some other words that have a similar meaning that might help us to understand this concept?

3 "But." Isaiah contrasts a different kind of man. This man sacrifices, doesn't he? So what's the problem? What else does he do besides sacrifice? How does God feel about his sacrifice? What should we learn here? If we do the "right" religious rituals but our heart is not right with God, how much good do those things do for us? Are these people the way they are because they can't help it?

4 Certain men made a choice, 3; now, in response to their choice, who makes a choice? What is God choosing to do here? KJV: "punishments" is "delusions." Where else does the Bible speak about God bringing delusion? II Thes. 2:11. Would God bring delusion to anyone who truly wanted to believe? What principle do we see here from Gal. 6:7? Does God call everyone, or only the elect--only those who will be saved? Is. 65:12, Mat. 22:14. Does God hold us responsible for our choices?

5-6 What sort of conflict do we see between those with true faith and the religious fakers? What is wrong with what the fakers tell their brothers? It is obviously not said in sincerity; it is said mockingly. The fakers hate, exclude, and mock the true believers. Have you seen this in church circles, in the Christian world? What is being said here about the two types of people? Recompense is a reward, getting what one deserves.

7-9 likens the bringing forth of the nation of Israel to childbirth, which God is directing until it is complete. Mat. 24:8, what term is used for the events that signal the end times? The nation of Israel was born before the labor pains came. The true nation and everything God has promised them will be found in the millenial kingdom.

9-13 Jerusalem is likened to a mother, and the people of Israel to her small nursing children. What time clue does 12 give?

14-16 How does God feel toward His enemies at that time? Is the Messiah's coming in 15 the first or second coming? Not specified here; the prophets were not shown the details of the timetable, just the events. Don't you suppose when Christ came the first time, the Jews were expecting that all these predicted events would happen at that time? Is this fire speaking of hell, or of God's judgments on wicked men at the end of the Great Tribulation? Does the Bible teach that God is only love? Might "love" include "tough love"? If God loves all men, why might He be willing to be so angry as to rebuke and execute many? Is God's anger sinful, like ours? What is God's anger directed against? Is He right and just to be angry in that way and to punish in that way? Compare 16 to Rev. 19:21.

17 This garden is obviously a place of idolatrous worship; the "one in the center" could possibly be the false god or the priest. Remember that God is speaking to His chosen people, Israel; they know the Law, but many chose to engage in idolatrous practices as well as not following the dietary restrictions God gave. God's anger seems often directed more at the sinful religious person than the sinful godless person. What does Luke 12:47-48 say about how God will judge? Do you know Christians that say they trust Christ as their Savior, say they read and believe the Bible, but also engage in purposeful sinful behavior and even hold unbiblical beliefs? How does God feel about this?

18-19 Three times God's what is mentioned? The time is coming that what will be gathered together? For what purpose? So what does that tell us about God's great eternal purposes? Everything that happens is to show what? How can everything that happens fit into that scheme? God knows everyone's what and what? Is it possible to fool or deceive God? Why does He tell us to confess our sins if He already knows everything we do and think?

20 We read in many Old Testament prophecies that the Gentile nations will help Israel return to the land in the end times.

21-23 What aspect of the Mosaic system that we no longer need will be re-instituted in the Millenium, 21? What else, 23? Other passages speak of sacrifices; apparently these things look back to the cross, just as in the Old Testament they looked forward to the cross. Observing the Lord's Supper serves that function for us today. What do these verses tell us about Israel? Is God through with Israel? His promises are as enduring as what?

All mankind will do what? This is the same word often translated "worship." "Worship" and "bow down" are frequently used together in Scripture; does "worship" mean singing? Might singing be part of our worship? Is it necessary for us to physically bow down? Why did people bow down? In our culture, equality is stressed; our leaders are just men, no higher than the ones they lead. But in past cultures, rulers were on the highest level and slaves on the lowest; others were somewhere in between. Everyone knew their place and kept it. Less important people lowered themselves in front of more important people, by bending the knee or bowing the head or body, or to a more extreme degree, by even prostrating oneself on the ground. They were acknowledging the other person's greater importance and their lesser degree of importance. What does this tell us about what worship is? What should be our attitude toward God? How should we approach prayer?

24 I'm wondering if this refers to what we see in Ez.39:12-22 or Rev. 19:18,21. These men are described as having what against God? The Bible uses several words for sin, each with a different shade of meaning. In Strong's we read: break away from authority, apostacize, trespass, quarrel, offend, rebel, revolt. So is this talking about our sin nature that causes every person to miss the mark, or is this purposeful, deliberate sin--knowingly choosing to go against God? Isaiah ends his prophetic messages with a warning against this type of sin. What does he say are its consequences? "Not die" and "not be quenched" parallel the idea of eternal punishment found throughout the Bible. What is that place called and who will end up there, Rev. 20:15? Many people do not believe in hell or that God would really punish anyone. People can believe what they want, but they can't say the Bible does not teach this truth. Does God want any person to choose this fate, I Tim. 2:4, I Pet. 3:9? The Bible says we will all be held responsible for our choices.

Copyright 2006 Jan Young

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