I have to admit… I am really, REALLY enjoying reading through the Bible – one full book per day, plus 3 Psalms. Some days are short, while today and tomorrow will probably be the longest.
Isaiah is 66 chapters, about 100 pages in my study Bible. Jeremiah is 94 pages.
There are several things I have learned in my reading, and Isaiah seems to have summarized all of them. I was blown away while reading it today.
First, God can and does get angry at our disobedience, rebellion, sin, arrogance, and simply turning away from Him and ignoring Him as if He doesn’t exist. He especially gets angry when we create idols and bow down to them. He is jealous.
The bloodshed. The tearing down of nations, kingdoms, thrones, families, and individuals is remarkable. God will not put up with our crap. So far as I have read through the first 22 books of the Bible, I am not finding “Sunday School God.” To say that our sin “breaks the heart of God” is really missing the mark.
I was taught in Sunday School that we should fear God. After all (as I read a few days ago in Proverbs), the “fear of the Lord is the beginning of Wisdom.” The fear of the Lord, as I was taught, meant that we should hold Him up in “awe and honor.”
I have found something much more than this. There needs to exist a fear of God because when He demands our holiness and obedience. And when all our sins are just filthy rags (Isaiah 64) – we have broken our end of the covenant – we get the curse. The curse is to be cutoff, destroyed, wasted, etc.
The fear of God needs to be real in our lives because when we understand His character, we understand that the opposite of the blessing is the curse. Every time God renewed His covenant with Abraham, Issac, Jacob, David, or anyone, He lays out both the blessing and the curse. This is what I promise with my blessing. This is what I promise if you choose to not follow – the curse.
I think we don’t want a God who is offended by our lifestyles, our language, our porn, our selfishness, our laziness, our compromise, abortion, homosexuality, drunkenness, or any other form of rebellion that places ourselves over others and God. We want a God, who like a good grandparent, will say, “that’s okay. I understand.”
The fear of the Lord is understanding who He is, His character, that yes, we are in awe and will worship Him, but we also understand that we deserve the curse because we have broken our end of the covenant. The other nations in the Bible feared the God of the Israelites. I believe there must be an element of knowing that kind of fear when we talk about the “fear of the Lord.”
I realize it is so much more than that, but we must understand that our God is jealous for us. He passionately wants and desires for us to return that same affection. Yes, God’s heart is broken when we turn our back on him, but our willful disobedience and rebellion also brings anger. You cannot read the Bible and not see that.
Second, God is relentless in keeping His promises. Wow… In 22 days I have gone from Adam to Israel returning from exile to the promised land. One thing that is true, God has kept His promise alive through some incredible circumstances.
Just as I mentioned above about His anger – you see how much He has held back His hand from disciplining and destroying because He made a promise to David and to David’s descendents. God will not and cannot break His promises.
The final third of Isaiah is full of some incredible visions, prophecies, and promises of how God will restore, heal, rebuild, glorify, provide, deliver, save, reach, restore, grow, His people and extend salvation to the nations. Wow! I was blown away.
God loves us, and even though His holiness demands justice and discipline at times, His promises are meant for our good, and not our destruction. His promises have been proven in the past, they sustain us in the present, and they lie before us. Isaiah 60-66 are some incredible chapters. God is not slow to keep His promises (2 Pet 3), and we know that He keeps His promises.
While I have been blown away by an angry God in the first 22 days, I realize His anger is not without purp0se – and I have actually found it refreshing. My ideas that I learned about the Sunday School god, whom I met for the first half of my life, were rather impotent when it came to real life. I would rather walk away than believe in that god (Did our Sunday School teachers ever read the Bible???).
Thank God He doesn’t change. I believe I can love the God that I am finding in the Bible so far. He keeps His promises without fail. He desires me. He wants me. He cares about some of the stupidest stuff of my life. And, He will do what He needs to do to keep His promises and not give His glory to another (Isaiah 42).
Much more could be said… and certainly I have grossly understated who God is. I can only cover so much here. This wasn’t meant to be a commentary… just some reflections. All I know is that I’m enjoying the perspective that I have gained. Only 43 days of reading left to go!
The bottom line for me so far is that I am being led to pray more. I am repenting and realizing the filthy rags I have clothed myself in for too long. I am praying for those around me – my family most of all. And now, I am praying for His promise to be fulfilled in His desire to reach the nations.