The Anchor of His Grace.

I am surrendering all to my lord. My heart, my mind, my will? – My will? It is my will that is obstreperous, contrary – I need to bring it in line with Gods will – let Your will be done in my life as it is in heaven.

I have been singing “The anchor holds” – picture of a ship, sails torn, battered and sinking – being washed onto the rocks by the storm tossed sea. But there is an Anchor, the Lord is my anchor – I hold on to Him, but he is holding on to me with a grip which will never yield. The words of Romans 5:1,2, come to mind – “since you have been justified you have peace with God through Jesus Christ, through whom you have gained access, by faith into this grace in which we now stand”. The picture is of a safe harbour and a ship which was exposed to the storms of life, sailing into that harbour of Gods grace in Jesus, the water smooth because of Jesus‘s work on the cross. Psalm 46 says “be still and know that I am God“. It comes to me that it is not enough to know that Yahweh is God, but one must know him personally so that he can be my anchor, so that he can usher me into the peace of the harbour of His grace. I need His work every day in my life, because my will is demanding my way all the time and that will prevent me from experiencing that peace.

My head is dizzy from all the catastrophes that seem to be rolling in endlessly over our country and the world, especially in the last few years. I suppose we all hope that the worst is past, but looking back at history that is a vain hope. As I read Isaiah 63:1-6, a shiver passes over me. The same shiver I felt time and again when we studied Revelation together. Here we meet the Saviour again. The same Saviour, a suffering Saviour (63:9) who takes the goblet of God’s wrath out of Israel’s hand in 51:7b. And as we know from Luke, he drinks it on our behalf, in “vindication” (63:1b)

Stand back a bit. Look at the description of God’s wrath in 63:1-6. Allow it to sink in. “Crimson stained garments, red from the winepress (of His wrath), blood spattered garments and stained clothes. Nations crushed in His anger, drunk from His wrath He has poured out their blood on the ground.” Taste it, feel it. It is huge, it is frightening and yes, I know it will only be released fully at the end times, but is what we are experiencing now not just a fore-taste of it? The so-called “natural disasters” and wars. Notice the coupling of His “power to save” with this lurid description of His judgement. Notice also how Yahweh speaks in vv 3 – 5, stressing the fact that He alone has the power and mandate to pronounce His judgement.

If you read Revelation ch 14 you will see some of this language repeated there.

Do you really comprehend what waits for the unsaved and what we have been saved from? The pictures of war, floods, plague are simply that, mere pictures warning of the great judgement that is still going to come. Reading a passage like this should cause us to fall on the ground in thanksgiving that we have been saved. And rising, redouble our determination to share the “Good News” of the Gospel.

Thankfully we can read on in the next 8 vv about a compassionate God full of faithful love (Chesed). Here He speaks of His relationship with His people Israel, whom He saved again and again. However they rebelled and grieved the Holy Spirit (Vs 10), so He became their enemy. Nevertheless, He relented and put His Spirit among His flock again. That is the God who sent His Son to drink the cup of His wrath on our behalf. And why? For His glorious Name’s sake. (V14.b).

To make a glorious Name for Yourself”. The glory of God. A refrain repeated over and over. I cannot fully understand all this, but this is His priority and I am continually drawn to glorify Him and the Name which represents Him and who He is.

Give the Lord no rest from your Prayers.

Love – the greatest command, the command that supersedes and determines all others. Firstly love for My Father and I – then for your neighbour as yourself. This is something that is only made possible by My grace after you have been re-generated. It is firstly an action determined by a decision, then a feeling which accompanies it. It is made supernaturally possible through the avenue I open to make that the central aim of your life. However there is a sense in which you must cooperate with My work in you.. You must decide to love while I make it your life‘s purpose through my Spirit and My Grace. This is a continual growth and interaction. While I lead you through life and situations where you have to practice it. All the time I am pouring out my love into you. See it in My word, feel it through My Spirit, feel it in prayer and in the music and feel it through the actions and interactions of my other children with you. Go and practice my love today.

In the words promising the restoration of Zion in Isaiah 62, the picture is once again painted of marriage. While God has desired a relationship from the beginning which is as close and loving as a true marriage, His people have committed adultery by loving other god’s and idols more than Him. Yet here again He promises the prospect of a marriage (62:3-5), where He can delight in His bride and rejoice over her. As time passed we know that Zion never lived up to this hope of His. Yet in His mercy He gave them plenty of time to do it.

We also know that His ultimate answer to this disloyalty of His people was to send His Son, who would make the way possible through His redemption and the power of His Spirit for His love to be released and realized. So overriding everything in our lives is the preparation to be part of the heavenly bride one day.

Now in ch 62 an interesting addition to the message. Immediately after the invitation to be part of His bride comes a message of the importance of prayer. cf 62:6,7. The word watchmen is taken to mean prophets or maybe prayer warriors. Those who will pray all day. And notice the interesting instruction to these prayers in vs 7. Do not give Him (Yahweh) rest. Does that not remind you of the importunant widow?

Reveling in the concept of being part of God’s eternal bride, I am struck again by the importance of the part I must play in its establishment. As small and insignificant as I am in the bigger scheme of things, every one who is chosen has a specific, irreplaceable role to play. I have been reminded today again of the importance of love. Love for the Father and for my neighbour. However there is something more. Something that I know I fall far short of. That is in praying as a watchman. Praying continuously, Never giving God any rest. How are you, dear readers doing in these areas?

The Messianic Age. “Now but not yet”.

Even as Moses had to put a bronze snake on a pole and the people had to look up at it, trusting that by doing that they would be saved, just so have I been lifted up on the cross so that people, anyone, can look to me in trust and I will save them. Yet they first have to understand they need to be saved – it is as simple as that – this message is often made unnecessarily complicated. The very fact that the person has come to the point of recognizing their need and calling out, means they have started repenting from their trust in themselves. It is as simple as that, but not always easy because mankind does not like to be told they are inadequate and need salvation. Yes this is the key element of the Christian faith – the crux as it is called. However, as many people as there are in the kingdom, their personal experience of this moment is unique – yet equally precious.

Jesus stood up in the synagogue and read the first verse from Isaiah 61 (Luke 4:18), ending by saying “today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing”. So we know that this prophecy was looking way ahead of Isaiah’s time. However it must have been a great encouragement to the Israelites in Babylon, who had left a war ravaged land behind them 70 years before. 70 years of suffering for the disobedience of a people over the centuries before. Now it was promised that it would be reversed. A rebuilding and restoration not only of their cities and lands, but of their internal spiritual state. “A crown of beauty instead of the ashes of mourning” etc vs 3. we know now that that promise was not nearly fulfilled when the Israelites returned to Zion, way back then.

As I read this passage I found myself thinking of Eukrane. There will be an end to their war, but what will be left of their beautiful country and cities? Much more serious though, will be the mental and spiritual damage to each person who has survived. Their lives will never be the same again.

That is, in fact what sin has done to the world. The picture of war and destruction is a physical reminder of the consequences of the sin which pervades the world. Now Jesus came promising a restoration. A spiritual restoration (vs 1). Looking back in history we see that as much as that promise is real and wonderful, it has not been fulfilled completely, yet. Yes individual people are healed, spiritually and emotionally on a continual basis as they experience Jesus’ work in their lives but, there remain the scars that sin has caused.

What is the answer to this enigma? It lies in the next verse after where Jesus stopped at the end of vs 1, when He read the passage in the synagogue. He did not read vs 2 “to proclaim the year of God’s favour and the day of God’s vengeance; to comfort those who mourn.” the ultimate time of the fulfilment of that prophecy lies ahead in the future when there will be a day when all this will be totally fulfilled. That is why we speak of the “now but not yet”. We have much of the benefit of Jesus’ work of salvation and restoration now, but the ultimate day of the complete restoration of God’s favour and at the same time of judgement, will still come.

So what is Jesus saying to me from this passage? I should not be discouraged as I look at all the evil in the world, because this promise still holds. Instead I should continue to share the promise of the ultimate fulfilment through salvation, with anyone whom God sends to me. The second thing that really speaks to me is the whole question of God’s timing. 70 years had passed before God brought back the Israelites to their land. His time is not ours. This speaks to my impatience to see things happening now, people changing, events working themselves out etc. I must learn to relax into God’s time and trust Him, while I do every day what I feel He wants me to do. Taking one step with the Spirit at a time, with the reassurance that His plan will be accomplished in my life as well as the whole world.

The Glory of the Lord.

The cross is emblazoned across the sky. It remains the central symbol of the most important event in history – it is through the cross that you can say, “Worthy is the lamb”, today because that act on the cross has declared my worth! It made the splitting of the sea for my people, as I rescued them from slavery to the Egyptians – a symbol of what I do for each person who trusts in me. Taking them supernaturally out of slavery into the Promised Land. But in the meantime you are still a pilgrim going through the wilderness. Yet just as I went with my people as a Cloud by day and a Pillar of Fire at night, I have given you my Spirit who not only goes with you guiding and protecting you, but indwells you to enable you to trust and follow Me – and the destination is not an earthly Promised Land, but the heavenly Beulah land. Embrace that message so that you can fully experience the freedom I have won for you.

The theme of Isaiah ch 60 is the “glory of the Lord” as is revealed in many places in the Bible. We see it climax in Revelation, 4:11.The revelation of the glory of the Lord appears as an interlude after the promise of the coming Messiah 59:21 which brackets this chapter with ch 61:1 ff, which is going to show more clearly what the Messiah is going to accomplish.

The phrase and concept of His glory is repeated several times in ch 60. See if you can spot it. (vs 1,2,3,9b,19,21). Picture the pageant which is presented up to vs 7, all coming to celebrate and declare God’s worth. Then it moves to Jerusalem. A Jerusalem which is now open. Open to foreigners as well. And notice too that as part of the revelation of God’s glory there is always the theme of salvation (16,18).

Now, having battled for some time to see the relevance of this chapter in the bigger picture of the book it came to me. Against the backdrop of Israel’s disobedience as depicted in the previous chapters, and God’s movement to rescue them there an important purpose of God is revealed. Indeed that purpose covers everything that is described in God’s story. It is the purpose of revealing His glory.

His glory is mainly revealed in two ways. It is revealed over and over again in His creation power and beauty. Secondly it is revealed in the great act of salvation which was accomplished through the death on the cross of the Messiah and is still being accomplished as He gathers a people to be His ultimate Bride.

What a wonderful thought. I can continually celebrate and enjoy God’s glory, giving Him praise as it looks forward to what I am going to spend my time doing throughout eternity.