Isaiah and Work | Bible Commentary | Theology of Work
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God abhors human pride and self-reliance. Accumulated wealth or the pursuit of wealth that presses the majesty of God to the margins of our daily lives is an offense to God: In chapter 39, King Hezekiah comes under the judgment of God because he took it upon himself to show off the temple treasury to the emissaries from distant Babylon.
The need for loans, with the consequent perils of slavery…, foreclosure and ultimately debt slavery, were the means whereby this could be pursued legally but, in the opinion of the prophets, unjustly.
As Isaiah saw that pattern continuing in Judah, he prescribed the antidote to this selfish ambition at the expense of the poor and the marginalized: Babylon would be brought down Is. In our day, we see exploitation of entire nations by their own leaders, as in Myanmar, disaster brought on by the negligence of foreign corporations, as in the Bhopal disaster in India, and the defrauding of investors by individuals like Bernie Madoff.
Just as significantly, we see — and engage in — seemingly minor injustices such as unfair compensation, excessive workloads, oppressive contract terms and conditions, cheating on exams, and looking the other way when abuse occurs at home, at work, in church and on the street, God will ultimately judge those who gain wealth or preserve their jobs or privileges by exploiting the poor and marginalized.
Studies of an Interpretive Tradition, ed. Broyles and Craig A. Brill, Back to Table of Contents In contrast to the arrogant pride and self-sufficiency that will bring us down or the exploitation of the poor in order to gain wealth, a fourth theme in Isaiah is that, as we put our trust in the one true God, we will live in peace and prosperity.
The people of God rejoice at the time of harvest Is. Because of the stress of the impending invasion by Sennacherib, the land had lain dormant. God promised food from it even though it was not farmed. But for a people to enjoy the fruit of the vine, years of peace are required to carry out proper cultivation. Peaceful conditions are a blessing from God. Similarly, in the depiction of the new heavens and the new earth where the former things will be forgotten in the new creation, the people of God will no longer be oppressed but will build their own houses, drink their own wine, and eat their own food Is.
In the Old Testament, farming was the major occupation of the majority of the people.
9. Marks Of The People Of God (1 Peter ) | az-links.info
Thus many examples in the Bible are drawn from agrarian life and expectations. But the larger principle is that God calls us, regardless of our vocation, to trust him in our work as well as in the more apparently religious aspects of our lives.
This happens when we compartmentalize our work as a secular affair that seems to have nothing to do with the kingdom of God. Of course, in a fallen world, living faithfully does not always result in prosperity. But work done apart from faith can lead to even worse outcomes than material poverty. Back to Table of Contents More than any other writing prophet, Isaiah takes us repeatedly to a vision of God that, once grasped, will cause us to bow low in humble adoration.
God is the source of all that we are, all that we have and all that we know. Three hundred years earlier, Solomon had encapsulated this truth: Now Isaiah shows us the God who is the source of that knowledge and wisdom, and why our understanding of who God is matters in our life and work.
God has given us our very being: God has given us knowledge and understanding: The God who made us and gave us understanding is the only source of such knowledge: Who has measured the waters in the hollow of his hand and marked off the heavens with a span, enclosed the dust of the earth in a measure, and weighed the mountains in scales and the hills in a balance?
See, he takes up the isles like fine dust.
That only happens in the wilderness. I would venture to say that everyone who wants to grow in God has a wilderness experience. It may be a time of illness or grief; it may be a season when a son or daughter brings heartache and concern instead of joy; it may be the loss of a job for some reason you think is wrong and unfair. Your wilderness could be any number of circumstances.
The destiny to which you are appointed demands you know who you are, and identity that has not been tested is not identity at all.
Your identity is not determined by what you say or what others say about you.
Why the Wilderness?
It has to be confirmed and sealed in your heart. God has been proving identities in the wilderness for ages. Remember how the Lord your God led you all the way in the desert these forty years, to humble you and to test you in order to know what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep His commands. But more than that, you are in the place God has chosen as your testing ground.
This is the place where God wants to strengthen you and solidify your sense of identity so you will have the internal resources you need for the good future He has planned for you.
The wilderness may look desolate, but be encouraged: How can I be so sure? He died a leper. Therefore, the privilege of being a royal priesthood would have stood out to the original audience. A royal priesthood, a merging of the two lines together? The line of Judah was for the kings, and the line of Aaron for the priests.
How is this reality possible? The only way this is possible is because under the New Covenant, there is no longer a priest who must come from a specific tribal line.
The writer of Hebrews argues in Hebrews 7: This was something prophesied about the coming Messiah in Psalm He would be a priest according to the order of Melchizedek, a kingly priest. Christians being royal priests represent the fact that we have been united with Christ. We are his body, and whatever glory Christ receives we receive as well. It means we will reign with him eternally, and here on earth, our role is to draw men unto himself and to lead people in the worship of him as priests.
This should stand out. Peter wants them to realize that they are different from the world because they know Christ. What ways can we apply the role of believers being kings and priests? It means we will rule with Christ. Scripture clearly proclaims we will rule in the coming kingdom.
We see this in many texts. As mentioned, Romans 8: In the ancient world, coming to the king was like going to court. They would often rule over cases. We see that with Solomon as he decides between two women claiming to be the mother of a child 1 Kings 3: Do you not know that the saints will judge the world?
And if you are to judge the world, are you not competent to judge trivial cases? Do you not know that we will judge angels?
How much more the things of this life emphasis mine! We see this in the Great Commission as Christ sends the disciples out to minister in his authority. But also as royalty in Christ, we fight wars on behalf of the kingdom.
Ancient kings would go off and fight battles in the interest of their kingdom. What battles do we fight?
The church is seen tearing down the fortresses and strongholds of Satan. When you preach the gospel, you go into enemy territory.
When you minister to those in depression and habitual sins, you trample on enemy ground. Paul in Ephesians 6 shows the church as a soldier putting on the armor of God, the armor of the King. But, we are also called priests. One of the unique roles of the priest was to have an intimate relationship with God. In fact, the high priest was the only priest who could enter into the presence of God once a year on the Day of Atonement. No other person could do that.
Well, on this earth, one of the things that distinguishes us as believers is the fact that we can walk and live in the presence of God. You talk to God, and he talks to you. But not only that, the priest would pray on behalf of the people for the forgiveness of their sins and bring their requests before God.
We see the priest Samuel says to Israel that he would not sin by ceasing to pray for them.
When Israel was exiled in Babylon, God called them to pray for the prosperity of Babylon because when Babylon prospered they would prosper Jer Even though Israel was no longer in their land, that did not change their identity. They were still a priestly nation called to intercede for the nations. Similarly, wherever God has placed you, in a nation, a work place, a church, or a family, they are to be places that you intercede for. You are to intercede for the leaders to make godly decisions, for strongholds to be broken, and for the light of the gospel to go forth.
Praying for everyone is a tremendous amount of work. The priests were also called to teach the people. We specifically see this with Ezra who devoted himself to the study and teaching of the law of God Ezra 7: One of the reasons you have been chosen to be a priests is to be a teacher of the Word of God. Most of the world will never read the Bible, but they should see and hear the Bible coming out of your mouth all the time.
God told Israel the same thing. These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.
Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates. Israel the nation was called to be a nation of priests, even though the specific priestly role was reserved for the family of Aaron.
You, as a follower of Christ, have been chosen to be a royal priesthood. You minister with authority, you will one day rule and judge this earth; you fight the battles on behalf of the kingdom.
You, of all people, have an intimate relationship with the Father. Christians have the privilege of being a royal priesthood. Holy Nation Peter also says they are a holy nation. This again was terminology used of Israel.
They were set apart by God for good works, to serve him and worship him. In the same way, we have been chosen and set apart for good works. This separates us from the world. Look at what Paul said about believers: The word he uses here for workmanship is the Greek word poema from which we get the English word poem.
Similar to the way a poem is carefully crafted and constructed with each verb, adjective, adverb, noun, and preposition to achieve a desired goal. God has and is carefully crafting and constructing us through various events, teachings, and even trials for the purpose of producing good works for his glory. God chose us to display his beautiful artwork—his character and good works to the rest of the world.
Holiness has the positive element of righteousness or good works, but it also has the negative element of staying unspotted or free from the pollution of sin.
Why the Wilderness? - FaithGateway
The church is a holy nation separated from sin and set apart for the purpose of good works. Are you staying unspotted, unpolluted from the world and the things of this world? Are you practicing a faith that helps and serves others, especially the less fortunate? A lot of Christians have a religion that does not create holiness in their lives. It essentially makes no difference for them or others. This is not a religion that our God accepts James 1: God has chosen to call out a holy nation to represent him and to serve others.
People Possessed by God Peter declares that the church was a people belonging to God. Again, this was something said about Israel: What does this mean? It means not only are we here to serve God, but we are here for his pleasure. Whatever you own, you own for your pleasure because it gives you joy. Well, God chose you for the purpose of his pleasure. This was a phenomenal concept that would drastically change how these persecuted believers looked at themselves.
They were mocked, abused, and rejected and yet, owned and treasured by God. We also see this reality taught in the book of Ephesians. Look at what Ephesians 5: Look at what Zephaniah says about the people of God: Zephaniah talks about the people of God in a language we are not used to hearing.
He says God takes great delight in us; he rejoices and sings over us. This is a phenomenal concept. When I see my daughter, I often just shower praises over her. You are just a cutie.
One of the things that I have found most interesting about being a parent, is that I sometimes enjoy my baby the most when she is mimicking me.
I shake my head, and she shakes her head. Or I clap my hands, and she claps her hands. It does something to me inside.
My joy is then fulfilled as I praise her. Typically, your possessions are used to bring you joy—your TV, your internet, your pets, your family, and your friends.
Well, God, who is independent and needs nothing, has chosen to create you for his pleasure. You are his treasured possession. He gets great joy over you, and no doubt, he gets the most joy when you imitate him as well--when you enjoy him, and when you walk like him. Like me praising and enjoying my daughter, he praises and sings over us.
We see him bragging even before the angels in the book of Job. Yes, you were not only made to enjoy God. You were made so God could enjoy you. You are a people on the earth whom God enjoys. You are his possession… If you truly understood this, if the eyes of your heart could really grasp this, it would deliver you from all your insecurities and fears. No, you are perfect. You are perfect because you were created by God cf. Paul prays similarly in Ephesians 3: And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God emphasis mine.
Paul prays that the church may comprehend his love so they could be filled with the measure of his fullness. What does that mean? When you understand how much God loves you, when you truly comprehend it, it will change you.
You will be filled with his fullness, transformed by his grace. Let us pray as well, that we may have power to grasp this. These persecuted believers needed to understand this, and so do we. How should we respond to this reality? Here in this passage, Peter says the church has received mercy.
They were a people whom God did not give the judgment and punishment that they deserved. Mercy is when God does not give us what we deserve. Listen to what Paul said: As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts.
Like the rest, we were by nature objects of wrath. But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved emphasis mine.
We followed this world, we followed Satan and we followed the desires of our hearts. God is angry at sin all the time, and therefore, we were under his wrath and on the path to being separated from him eternally in hell. Believers have received mercy. Peter teaches this by using another analogy with Israel from Hosea 1: However, at the end of chapter 1, God declares that though this may be true for a season with Israel, ultimately they would again be his people and would again receive mercy Hos 1: Peter, in this analogy, says the church is similar—the church was not deserving of mercy, but God gave us mercy and called us to himself.
This makes the church unique in the world—they are a people who have received mercy. Why does Peter emphasize this mercy after talking about all the other blessings and responsibilities of the people of God?
Listen to Ephesians 2: We were separated from him and under his wrath, but God saved us by his grace. This is an important revelation we must have in order to be effective at any type of ministry.