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nebula July 17 Chronological Bible Study

Timeline. Map. Go to today’s Bible reading: Isaiah 40, 41, 42

Who is the True God?

There are many religions in this world- adherents.com estimates the number to be over 4,200 religious groups. How can we know the one, true God? In this section of Scripture, God speaks through Isaiah to the nation of Israel, which is already exiled, and to Judah, her sister nation, who would soon be exiled to Babylon. The message is the same: give up your false gods and worship the LORD, the true God! In today and tomorrow’s reading we see perhaps the longest and most glorious declarations of the one, true God.

God wants a personal, vital relationship with people. As though Judah were already in exile for her sins, God says through his prophet Isaiah,

Comfort, comfort my people, says your God. Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and proclaim to her that her hard service has been completed, that her sin has been paid for, that she has received from the LORD's hand double for all her sins,” (Isaiah 40:1-2, NIV).

God is a just God, but he is also merciful and gracious.

Many people have false ideas of a supreme being. God tells Isaiah to proclaim to Judah, “Here is your God,” (Isaiah 42:9, NIV). How does Isaiah describe God? In Isaiah 40:10-11 he declares him to be the powerful Sovereign LORD of the universe. God is not an impersonal force, a nebula in a far away universe. God is not uncaring, mean, or unapproachable. God is near and real. He judges and gives rewards to the faithful but punishes the unfaithful. He is, however, a gentle shepherd who is also king over all his creation. He is powerful but personable. God’s wisdom, understanding and power are beyond all limits (Isaiah 40:28-29).

God controls the will of kings. In previous lessons we saw that God used the ungodly and ruthless king of Assyria to punish Israel for her sins and to threaten Judah. In the near future he would use Babylon to punish Judah for her sins. God allows evil when it suits his purpose. Kings are tools in the hands of God to perform his will. Later, God will use King Cyrus of Persia to bring his people back from exile. It will seem to be his own idea, but God controls the wills of the kings of the earth (the nation from the east and the north doing God’s will could be Persia ---she was a nation from the east but attacked Israel from the north (Isaiah 41:2,25)).

God is a covenant (promise) keeping God. His promises are faithful, reliable and true. He made promises to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (whose name later became Israel). God chose them to be a people to glorify his name. God says,

“I took you from the ends of the earth, from its farthest corners I called you. I said, 'You are my servant'; I have chosen you and have not rejected you. So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. All who rage against you will surely be ashamed and disgraced; those who oppose you will be as nothing and perish,” (Isaiah 41:9-11, NIV).

God made promises of land, seed, and blessing to Abraham and his descendants, and he will keep those promises. He has made promises and provisions for you and me as well if we will receive them. He promises eternal spiritual life for all those who believe in His Son, Jesus Christ (John 1:12; 3:16).

God is not a worthless, lifeless idol. He has perfect understanding of events of the past and knowledge of everything in the future. He puts this challenge to any so-called “gods”

“Tell us what the future holds, so we may know that you are gods. Do something, whether good or bad, so that we will be dismayed and filled with fear. But you are less than nothing and your works are utterly worthless; he who chooses you is detestable,” (Isaiah 41:23-24, NIV).

God is personable and comes personally to save. Isaiah 42:1-4 is a prophecy of his Son, Jesus, his chosen servant, in whom would be the Spirit and power of the living God (Matthew 12:15-21). He sent his servant Jesus, his chosen one, to heal people, both spiritually and physically. He will heal you of your sins as well if you ask him. Put your hope in Jesus, God’s Son (more...).

If God is sovereign and powerful but also personable and caring, why then is God silent when we are in trouble? Israel and Judah would wonder the same thing. God says that for a long time he would keep silent, though it pains him to do so (42:14). Then, at the appropriate time, he would act. Judah would be in exile in Babylon for seventy years (Israel would be even longer). God would seem to do nothing because they were paying for their sins. Later, God would act.

Only the true God of the universe can tell what the future will be and have the power to bring it to pass. As was stated earlier, he will bring Israel and Judah back to their land under the decree of King Cyrus of Persia. Afterward, however, she would return to sinning and suffer the pillages of warring nations, Greece and Rome. For 400 years God would be silent before he would send his only son, Jesus, to be their Savior. Has God been silent in your life? It doesn’t mean he does not care or is not aware of your needs. It means the time for God to deliver has not yet come. Be patient. Be trusting. Be faithful. God told Israel and Judah that he would not forsake them. Neither will he forsake you, even if you have strayed from him. However, if you are living a life of sin that is causing your problems, learn a lesson and repent! (more...)

Lessons to live by:

  • God is all powerful and transcendent above his creation, yet he understands and knows us personally. He cares, and when the time is right he will deliver his own.
  • God is a just God, but he is also merciful and gracious.
  • God controls the will of kings.
  • God is a covenant (promise) keeping God. His promises are faithful and reliable and true. He keeps his promises to Israel and to us.
  • God is not a worthless, lifeless idol. He has perfect understanding of past events and knowledge of everything in the future.
  • God is not some impersonal force in the universe. He is personable and comes personally to rescue his people.
  • God is sometimes silent and may seem late in delivering his people, but that doesn’t mean he has forgotten about us, does not care, or is unaware of our needs. It means the time for God to deliver has not yet come. Be patient. Be trusting. Be faithful. God told Israel and Judah he would not forsake them. Neither will he forsake you, even if you have strayed from him.
  • If you are suffering from your sins, get right with God and he will deliver you (more...)

Today’s Bible memory verse: Isaiah 40:28-29

Do you not know? Have you not heard? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom. He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. (NIV)

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