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21st April

Isaiah 9-12; Psalm 111

Bible in a Year
6 minutes
In this article
21st April

Isaiah 9-12; Psalm 111

Bible in a Year
6 minutes


So far in Isaiah, we’ve read through the first few chapters, focused on the judgement upon Jerusalem and Israel, and then their future hope. We identified the book of Isaiah as a collection of preaches and visions from the prophet Isaiah that had been collected together, edited, and repurposed by his later disciples. Isaiah was a prophet to the southern kingdom of Judah under kings Ahaz and Hezekiah, warning them of the oncoming judgement and exile. His disciples were writing after the exile, gathering Isaiah’s teachings and building a picture of a new hope for those returning to the land.

We saw the theme of God purging Israel (the nation) with judgement to make way for a new people embodied in a new Jerusalem that would be loyal to him. Currently, the leaders of Israel have become fat and greedy, holding on to power and oppressing the poor and needy. God will take a step back and let them experience the consequences of their action. But after the judgement and destruction, there will be a remnant. Like a tree cut down, there will be a stump left. And from that stump will come a branch that will grow again and bear fruit. God will cleanse this remnant of his people to make them a holy city and nation before him.

We got an image of a vineyard that's been carefully tended and looked after that refused to produce good grapes and so is scrapped. God described Israel as like that vineyard. Then we saw Isaiah in God's courtroom, purified to be in God's presence and then commissioned to be a warning to the people that they will ultimately ignore. We read about Ahaz, who was hearing about threats of foreign nations, and Isaiah telling him that in the time it takes a woman to get married, give birth, and for that child to reach about 7, those nations will be made powerless. The Israelites were not to turn to foreign powers for protection. They were to trust in God.

Isaiah 9-12

Isaiah now looks further into the future. Previously, he’s looked into the future and seen Israel’s judgement and destruction. Now he looks further ahead to a time where God will bring light to those living in darkness. In that latter time, God will allow the nation to flourish and multiply again. He will no longer oppress them and will remove their enemies from harming them.

Then, picking up the imagery of his earlier prophecy, Isaiah now declares that a son will be born. This son will be king, from the line of David, and he will be called "Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace" (Isaiah 9:6). This is a different son to the one predicted in Isaiah 7, because that one was meant to be a sign to the people that they will be saved from their enemies. This king will continually grow in authority and create endless peace, leading with justice and righteousness.

But then Isaiah switches back to the judgement God will bring on his people. He starts with Ephraim, the northern kingdom, and talks about the destruction that, at this point, God is currently bringing upon them. Their exile at the hands of Assyria happened in Isaiah’s lifetime.

Whenever he has punished them in the past, they refused to turn back to him. Instead, they trusted their own ability to rebuild again. So God allowed their leaders to be crushed and had no pity on the people as they suffered. The wickedness was like kindling and a great fire burnt, purifying the land.

Isaiah then turns to those who are currently in Judah. Those who lead and are oppressing the poor and needy and subverting justice. One day, they too will face God’s judgement and what will they do then?

Then Isaiah changes focus again, this time to Assyria. God is the one that will send Assyria to punish Israel, but Isaiah predicts that Assyria will say that they did it in their own strength. They will brag about themselves and not in God. And so God will punish the Assyrians as well for their arrogance.

Then, when all this is over, God will bring a remnant back from Israel. This theme of a remnant is another big one for Isaiah. If you remember, yesterday we read how Israel will be like a tree that is chopped down and all is left is the stump. This remnant is the stump. While God is going to punish and destroy his people, he will not get rid of them completely. There will be some left that he will restore and draw back to himself. So Isaiah encourages the people not to fear when Assyria comes and attacks them because, ultimately, God's plan is to punish Assyria and restore the few Israelites that remain to him.

Then, out of this remnant, this stump, a shoot will grow into a branch. We see this branch of the Lord theme again. That when this remnant comes back, God will draw out of that remnant a branch that will lead them. He will come from the line of Jesse, who was David's father, so this leader will be a king from the line of David.

This king will lead with wisdom, and understanding, and righteousness. Under his leadership, there will be peace, and all the nations will come to him to for leadership. And under this king, God will bring complete restoration. It won't just be the remnant, but everyone who is still in captivity will be brought back to live under this new king.

It then talks about how God will destroy a bunch of nations, which seems at odds with the talk of peace. But all the nations that Isaiah has listed are nations who are known for being violent, for conquering and enslaving other lands. In order for peace, people like that need to be removed. And once these nations have been dealt with, God will make roads and paths from across the world to lead people to his new kingdom and his new king.

Finally, Isaiah paints a short picture of what life will be like 'in that day' in this future kingdom. He recognises that, yes, God has been angry, but he will turn away his anger so that he can comfort his people again. The people will once again put their trust in God. They will see him as their strength and their salvation. They will draw water from the well, because there will be a real abundance in the land. In that time, they will praise and lift high the name of God for all that he is done in their life.

And Isaiah finishes off this first section of the book, all focused on the judgement but also future hope for Israel. What's great about this is, long before the people are taken into exile, this answers the question: what about God's promises to David and Abraham? Yes, they are going to be taken into exile. Yes, for a time, the kingdoms will be destroyed. But after all that there is coming one who will lead them well, and the will people will once again flourish and praise God under the leadership of this king.

Psalm 111

This psalm isn’t attributed to anyone in particular, and falls into the category of praise psalm. It also serves as an acrostic, with each half verse starting with a different letter of the Hebrew alphabet.

Psalm 111:1-2 - Praise the Lord for his great works

Psalm 111:3-9 - The list of God’s great works

Psalm 111:10 - The logical response to his great works

The psalmist opens with a call to praise the Lord. The psalmist themselves with give thank to the Lord with their whole heart for the Lord’s works are great.

We then get a list of the Lord’s works and attributes. The Lord is honourable, majestic, and righteous. All of which will endure forever. He has won a great reputation for himself through his deeds and is gracious and merciful.

He is a God who provides for those who fear him and is constantly mindful of the covenant he has made with his people. He has demonstrated for his people his power, and brought them into a land they can call their own. The Lord is faithful and justice and can be trusted. His works will last forever. He has redeemed his people and will remain faithful to his covenant with them forever.

Therefore, in light of all these great works, the logical thing to do is fear and obey God. This is the beginning of wisdom. If we continue to practise God’s commands, we will have understanding. This psalm seeks to praise God for his attributes and works, and to teach those who hear about who God is and why they should obey and follow him.

Anything you think I've missed? Maybe you've got a question that still needs answering. Send me a message over on my Instagram (@brynjoslin). I'd love to talk it through with you some more.

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