nebula July 17 Chronological Bible Study

Timeline. Map. Go to today’s Bible reading (NIV) or alternate versions (use your browser arrow to return): Isaiah 40, 41, 42

Who is the True God?

Most people's understanding of God is hazy like a nebula in space. There are many religions in this world— estimates the number to be over 4,200 religious groups. Is there one, true God? What is He like?

In this section of Scripture, the God of heaven speaks through Isaiah to the nation of Israel, which is already exiled, and to Judah, her sister nation, who will soon be exiled to Babylon. The message is the same: give up your false gods and worship the LORD, the one true God! In today and tomorrow’s reading we see perhaps the longest and most glorious declarations of God.

Who is God?

God is the creator of the universe but He 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 just, but He is also merciful and gracious.

Many people have false ideas of a supreme being if they believe there is one. God tells Isaiah to proclaim to Judah, “Here is your God” (Isaiah 42:9, NIV). How does Isaiah describe Him? 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 faraway universe. The LORD 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 Bible studies we saw the LORD use the ungodly and ruthless king of Assyria to punish Israel for her sins and to threaten Judah. In answer to the prayers of King Hezekiah and his people, the LORD saves Judah by annihilating Assyria's army. Hezekiah's revival, however, does not last long, and she soon returns to idolatry and wickedness. In the near future, God will use Babylon to punish Judah for her sins. The LORD 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 the LORD controls the wills of the kings of the earth (the nation from the east and the north doing God’s will is Persia. She is a nation from the east but will attack 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). The LORD 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, a very large family, and blessing to Abraham and his descendants, and He will keep those promises completely. He has made promises and provisions for us 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). Furthermore, He reserves a spacious palatial place for us in heaven (John 14:2), and we will receive His spiritual blessings (Ephesians 1:3-14).

God is not a worthless, lifeless idol.

God is not a fashioned piece of wood, metal, or precious stone. He is spiritual, alive, and fully engaged with his creation. He has a 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 He saves.

Isaiah 42:1-4 is a prophecy of His Son, Jesus, his chosen servant, in whom will be the Spirit and power of the living God (Matthew 12:15-21). He will heal people, both spiritually and physically. We don't know if it is God's will for Jesus to heal us today, but he will heal us from our sins if we ask Him. Let's put our hope in Jesus (more...).

We might ask, “If God is sovereign and powerful but also personable and caring, why is He silent when we are in trouble?” Israel and Judah wondered the same thing. God says for a long time He will keep silent, although it pains Him to do so (42:14). Then, at the appropriate time, He will act. Judah will be in exile in Babylon for seventy years (Israel even longer). God will seem to do nothing because they are paying for their sins. Later, He will act. We see this in future Bible studies.

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. That will be a glorious time. Afterward, however, she will return to sinning and suffer for it. Greece and Rome will ravage her land as it becomes a battleground for the warring nations. For 400 years God will be silent before He sends His Son, Jesus, to be their Savior.

Has God been silent in our life? It doesn’t mean He does not care or is unaware of our needs. It means the time for the LORD to deliver has not yet come. Let's be patient, trusting, and faithful. God told Israel and Judah that He will not forsake them. Neither will He forsake us, even if we have strayed from Him. However, if we are living a life of sin that is causing our problems, He is not obligated to deliver us. Let's learn a lesson—we can turn from our sins to the living and one true God of heaven to experience his love and grace! (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.
  • The LORD is just but also merciful and gracious.
  • He is Sovereign over the will of kings.
  • The LORD is a covenant (promise) keeping God. His promises are faithful, reliable and true. He keeps His promises to Israel and to us.
  • God is not a worthless, lifeless idol. He has a perfect understanding of past events and knowledge of everything in the future.
  • He 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 the LORD will not forsake us, even if we have strayed from Him. Let's be faithful and patient.
  • If we are suffering from our sins, God is not obligated to deliver us. If we turn to Him from our sins, however, we can experience His love and grace (more...)

Focus Verse

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. (Isaiah 40:28-29, NIV)

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A Look Ahead: Is God With Us?

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