In the book of Isaiah, God’s prophet gladly told of a time to come when he said:
“Now it shall come to pass in the latter days that the mountain of the Lord’s house shall be established on the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow to it. Many people shall come and say, “Come, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob; He will teach us His ways, and we shall walk in His paths.” For out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem. He shall judge between the nations, and rebuke many people; they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore.” (Isaiah 2:2-4)
This was a time that looked forward through Isaiah’s eyes, but today this is a time that looks back through Luke’s. For this reason the apostles were told that they would preach the remission of sins to all nations, but they had to first tarry in Jerusalem until they were endued with power from on high (Luke 24:45-49). In Acts 2 we see the fulfillment of this time when Jews from all around the world were gathered in Jerusalem on Pentecost day, and through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit the apostle Peter preached God’s Law and taught about the resurrected Jesus for the first time to the world. At that time, feet prepared with the gospel of peace went forth to gather the nations into God’s kingdom, into the body of Jesus Christ, the church, by grace through faith. At that time a way of life was being introduced that would bring people, Jew and Gentile, to the Prince of Peace to learn His ways (Isaiah 9:6, Ephesians 2:13-17). That was a wonderful time, and it still is since we now have the opportunity to be joined with God through His Son! And for this reason, Isaiah 2:2-4 is a wonderful Old Testament passage about God’s Kingdom.
The providence of God is an amazing Bible topic to study. It’s also an amazing work of God to see in our life. More often than not, God’s providence isn’t one of those things that we see coming, it’s something that we see going. This was the case in Joseph’s life when he told his brothers in Genesis 50.20:
“But as for you, you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, in order to bring it about as it is this day, to save many people alive.”
To say that Joseph had been through a lot in his life would be an extreme understatement, but how else would you describe it? Betrayed by his own brethren at the age of seventeen. Sold and carried into a foreign land only to find prosperity, but then the prosperity is dramatically taken away because of someone else who meant him evil. Finding himself captive, again, Joseph could have thrown away the key and given up on life, but prosperity came again due to God’s grace. Joseph wasn’t able to see it all but God was still opening doors, one of which was going to lead straight to the royal palace of Egypt through the mistakes of a chief baker and butler who angered the Pharaoh.
To make a long story short, Joseph dreamed that one day his family would bow before him – that dream got him into trouble didn’t it? Or did it? I guess it did, but that dream also got him out of his native land and eventually into Egypt where he sat as a man with great authority over the house of a powerful Egyptian ruler at only thirty years of age! From a shepherd boy, to a slave, to a chief servant, to sitting in prison, to serving over the prison, to riding second in the Pharaoh’s entourage in only thirteen years and later being the savior of all of Egypt and his family. There’s so much more that could be said, but Joseph said it plain enough when he summed up what had happened by saying that his brothers’ actions meant to do him harm, but God’s plan turned it into good. And that’s why Genesis 50:20 is a wonderful Old Testament passage about God’s providence.
There are a variety of friends out there. There are friends we know at work, there are friends that we went to school with, there are friends that we see in our daily routine such as the person who works behind the counter at the gas station, there are friends that we give the title “best” to, there are friends who take away our need for an enemy, and there are friends who are closer than a brother (Proverbs 18:24). The young man David had such a friend in the person of Jonathan:
“Now when he had finished speaking to Saul, the soul of Jonathan was knit to the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul. Saul took him that day, and would not let him go home to his father’s house anymore. Then Jonathan and David made a covenant, because he loved him as his own soul. And Jonathan took off the robe that was on him and gave it to David, with his armor, even to his sword and his bow and his belt.” (1 Samuel 18:1-4)
If David ever needed a friend, a true friend, it was at this point in his life. He was young. He was removed from his home. He was about to become a man of war. He was about to become the talk of all the singing ladies of Israel. He was about to become an enemy of Saul, the king of Israel, the father of Jonathan. He was about to lose “everything” in Israel, save the loyalty of a few hundred souls, Jonathan being chief among them.
There were no doubt many times over in David’s life that go beyond what we read when the counsel of Jonathan was vital in God’s plan for David. Encouragement, warnings, trust, love – these formed the essence of the bond between David and Jonathan, and their friendship still stands strong as an example of what it means to be a friend today. When times were good and joyful, David and Jonathan were there for each other. When times were bad and painful, David and Jonathan were there for each other. A friend in need is a friend in deed, and in deed Jonathan was to David what we should be to others. This is why 1 Samuel 18:1-4 is a wonderful passage about friendship!
People living under the New Covenant with God through Jesus aren’t called to replicate or duplicate everything done by our ancestors during their worship of God under the Old Testament, but there are certain aspects of proper worship that God requires today as much as he did then. One of which is found in Psalm 5.7:
But as for me, I will come into Your house in the multitude of Your mercy; in fear of You I will worship toward Your holy temple.
Attitude counts when we come to worship! A person can lift up this verse and apply it to present day followers of God without doing it any damage. As the church we are the household of God where God’s mercy is found (1 Timothy 3:15) and when we worship we are to look with respect to the dwelling place of God – the place our eyes desire to see (Revelation 4).
Many of our own “spirit” problems and many of the denominations “truth” problems could be and would be solved if we only showed the proper fear during worship. Worship directed toward an Almighty God is not meant to be a free-for-all, do as we please, let’s get spiritual or a laissez les bons temps rouler thing. Nor is worship meant to be something done out of a routine where a dependence on pleasing God is based upon something we’re not doing instead of what we are doing!
Psalm 5:7 shows us that there is meant to be a joy in coming to worship God in remembrance of the great things he has done, and the great things he is going to do. Psalm 5:7 also shows us that there is meant to be a recognition of who we are and who God is, and that when we recognize the difference, fear (a holy respect) will be shown in our hearts and in our actions. This is why Psalm 5:7 is a wonderful Old Testament passage about worship.
Much like the pre-incarnate Word, when it comes to the Spirit of God in the Old Testament you don’t always see Him mentioned but He’s always there. In fact, this is one of the key evidences that the preaching Levites of Nehemiah’s day used while encouraging a proper revival amongst the people of God. In the midst of a history sermon, while thanking God, they said:
“You also gave Your good Spirit to instruct them, and did not withhold Your manna from their mouth, and gave them water for their thirst.” (Nehemiah 9:20)
Notice the order of God’s gifts to Israel’s ancestors. The word of God, bread and water! Reminds me of Matthew 4:4 – which again reminds us about another Old Testament passage. Three characteristics clearly stand out about the Spirit of God in this inspired sermon: 1) He’s good 2) He teaches and 3) He provides.
The fact that God has always had a desire to do well towards His people and that He has made a way for us to clearly follow reveals the Spirit’s affections not only for order, but also for us! The gift of God is a gift giver. Although the avenue and nature of the Spirit’s gifts have changed throughout the millennia, the purpose, the desire, the result and the source has remained a constant. Heavenly goodness and a heavenly education is what God’s people were given in the past, and it is what God still gives to His people today. For these reasons alone, Nehemiah 9:20 is a wonderful Old Testament passage about the Holy Spirit of God.
“Yet for many years You had patience with them, and testified against them by Your Spirit in Your prophets. Yet they would not listen; therefore You gave them into the hand of the peoples of the lands.” (Nehemiah 9:30)
Hope is definitely a vital thread that contributes to the wardrobe of God’s people all throughout history even though is may not always be seen, but then again there are times in the scriptures where hope by far makes up the largest material percentage on the clothing tag. One such place is Job 19:25-27 which says:
“For I know that my Redeemer lives, and He shall stand at last on the earth; and after my skin is destroyed, this I know, that in my flesh I shall see God, whom I shall see for myself, and my eyes shall behold, and not another. How my heart yearns within me!“
The only thing that Job had to hold on to was hope. It’s just as true to also say that the only thing holding on to Job was hope. Job’s situation was unique to him, but Job’s situation is also shared by all people who have hope in God. Our body will fade, our mind may grow feeble, our soul may falter. A Redeemer of body, mind and soul. That’s what Job needed, that’s what we need – that’s what we will all get in Jesus. That’s hope, and it’s wonderful.
“Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.” (Romans 5:1-2)
There is definitely more than one wonderful verse about Jesus in Isaiah but one that I don’t hear referenced very much is Isaiah 59:17. There the scripture says, “For He put on righteousness as a breastplate, And a helmet of salvation on His head; He put on the garments of vengeance for clothing, And was clad with zeal as a cloak.”
Some may shy away from this verse because of the reference to violence. But one should not be afraid to use this verse in connection with the gospel. Jesus refrained from using justice filled violence while subjecting himself to the justice of God and the unjust violence of men and women here upon the earth, but Jesus’ life here on Earth is over and when Jesus returns it won’t be a picnic for the enemies of God much to contradicting advice given by all the “universalists” out there.
Jesus is the slaughtered Lamb of God for our sins, but Jesus is also the Lion of the tribe of Judah for unrepentant sinners!
“since it is a righteous thing with God to repay with tribulation those who trouble you, and to give you who are troubled rest with us when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with His mighty angels, in flaming fire taking vengeance on those who do not know God, and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. These shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power, when He comes, in that Day, to be glorified in His saints and to be admired among all those who believe, because our testimony among you was believed.” (2 Thessalonians 1:6-10 – NKJV)