“I will lead blind Israel down a new path,
guiding them along an unfamiliar way.
I will brighten the darkness before them
and smooth out the road ahead of them.
Yes, I will indeed do these things;
I will not forsake them.”
—Isaiah 42.16 NLT

The word “Israel” which appears in the NLT above does not occur in the original text but it is who is referred to. See verses 19-20. God continued to work in the midst of the people, because of his commitment to the covenant. A remnant would survive. The reference here is possibly to the people’s return from exile to their own land. Continue reading

Yet it was the will of the Lord to crush him; he has put him to grief; when his soul makes an offering for guilt, he shall see his offspring; he shall prolong his days; the will of the Lord shall prosper in his hand. Isaiah 53.10 ESV

Isaiah speaks of the suffering servant in terms of the people of Israel, of the remnant, and finally of a single person. He narrows the identification of the servant until he arrives in chapter 53. In this chapter, he reveals details of how the servant would suffer for the sins of others. Continue reading

Some people sell their bodies, others, their soul. So it was appropriate for Isaiah to use the figure of a prostitute losing her attractions and apply it to the city of Tyre:

“Take a harp; walk around the city, you forgotten whore! Make sweet melody; sing many songs, and perhaps you’ll be remembered.”
Isaiah 23.16 NET Continue reading

Fear kills joy. Trust feeds it. At the end of the first main block of material in Isaiah (chapters 1-12), the prophet describes God’s salvation (“God is my salvation,” v. 2 ESV), by means of a figure of fountains of water.

Joyfully you will draw water from the springs of deliverance.
Isaiah 12:3 NET

In this chapter of only six verses, the hymn of gratitude pours out the feelings of the people for their salvation.

The Christian remembers that he who thirsted on the cross brought to the world the living waters.

Father, I will not be afraid, but I will trust in your promise, and rejoice in the salvation we have in Christ. Amen.

Spiritual initiative
This work of art is called, Readiness. Is it you?

The God who loved us first seeks in man the same initiative that marks his actions.

I heard the voice of the sovereign master say, “Whom will I send? Who will go on our behalf?” I answered, “Here I am, send me!”
Isaiah 6:8 NET

Perhaps that is why God asks a question, instead of giving Isaiah an order. We can’t be sure, because the text doesn’t give clear clues, but it seems that the Lord wants the prophet to make the connection between the profound feeling of gratitude for forgiveness and the need to serve the Lord. Continue reading

Light means life, joy, understanding, and purity. God is light. It’s his nature; light means discovery, while darkness means stumbling. In the light we meet one another, in the darkness we miss each other. We pass each other in the dark without seeing, without knowing.

O house of Jacob,
come, let us walk
in the light of the LORD.
Isaiah 2:5 ESV

Isaiah’s call to walk in the light is an invitation to repentance, to restoring obedience among the people, to abandon the darkness of idolatry and of the arrogance of rebellion. Continue reading

Whosoever WillTwo of my children were invited for tests at a modeling agency. But I’ve never been invited. (The kids take after their mother.) To some places some of us will never be invited to enter. But with God it works differently: the door opens for the obedient:

For this is what the LORD says:
“For the eunuchs who observe my Sabbaths
and choose what pleases me
and are faithful to my covenant,
5  I will set up within my temple and my walls a monument
that will be better than sons and daughters.
I will set up a permanent monument for them that will remain.
Isaiah 56:4-5 NET Continue reading

clipboardIn recent months, a Brazilian brother has been putting together the Sunday service roster for Taubaté; the same has been happening in SJCampos for quite some time. Because of that, it’s not unusual any more for me not to be teaching or preaching on a given Sunday. At times, I feel, maybe, left out? I like teaching and preaching. I don’t feel miffed or think that they’re trying to slight me. Sometimes, I think they’re hoping to save me from being inconvenienced. But if they think they can carry the ball, my deepest feeling is satisfaction.

With that freedom from heavier Sunday responsibilities, especially in recent weeks, I’ve devoted more time to writing and to putting websites in order. Today I took some time to answer the question from a Brazilian brother, up in the northeast, as I recall. He asked, “What would the perfect church be like?” Continue reading