Isaiah 53 – like it was written at the foot of Calvary’s hill

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Quite a few things in this post. Firstly, I want you to think about what you know or have heard about Jesus of Nazareth. Jewish Messiah. Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. Laid low, so others can be lifted up. Empty, so others may be full. Left home so others could come home. Momentarily lost to the Father so others could be bound to the Father forever. Without, so others could be with. Lifeless, so others could have nothing less than life. Broken, so others could be restored. Poured out, so others could be gathered up.

Consider Good Friday and Resurrection Sunday as you read this prophecy of one called the Suffering Servant from the Hebrew prophet Isaiah – almost 700 years before the life, death and resurrection of Jesus.

Starting at end of Chapter 52 & moving into 53

See, my servant will act wisely[b];
    he will be raised and lifted up and highly exalted.
14 Just as there were many who were appalled at him[c]
    his appearance was so disfigured beyond that of any human being
    and his form marred beyond human likeness—
15 so he will sprinkle many nations,[d]
    and kings will shut their mouths because of him.
For what they were not told, they will see,
    and what they have not heard, they will understand.

Who has believed our message
    and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?
He grew up before him like a tender shoot,
    and like a root out of dry ground.
He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him,
    nothing in his appearance that we should desire him.
He was despised and rejected by mankind,
    a man of suffering, and familiar with pain.
Like one from whom people hide their faces
    he was despised, and we held him in low esteem.

Surely he took up our pain
    and bore our suffering,
yet we considered him punished by God,
    stricken by him, and afflicted.
But he was pierced for our transgressions,
    he was crushed for our iniquities;
the punishment that brought us peace was on him,
    and by his wounds we are healed.
We all, like sheep, have gone astray,
    each of us has turned to our own way;
and the Lord has laid on him
    the iniquity of us all.

He was oppressed and afflicted,
    yet he did not open his mouth;
he was led like a lamb to the slaughter,
    and as a sheep before its shearers is silent,
    so he did not open his mouth.
By oppression[a] and judgment he was taken away.
    Yet who of his generation protested?
For he was cut off from the land of the living;
    for the transgression of my people he was punished.[b]
He was assigned a grave with the wicked,
    and with the rich in his death,
though he had done no violence,
    nor was any deceit in his mouth.

10 Yet it was the Lord’s will to crush him and cause him to suffer,
    and though the Lord makes[c] his life an offering for sin,
he will see his offspring and prolong his days,
    and the will of the Lord will prosper in his hand.
11 After he has suffered,
    he will see the light of life[d] and be satisfied[e];
by his knowledge[f] my righteous servant will justify many,
    and he will bear their iniquities.
12 Therefore I will give him a portion among the great,[g]
    and he will divide the spoils with the strong,[h]
because he poured out his life unto death,
    and was numbered with the transgressors.
For he bore the sin of many,
    and made intercession for the transgressors.

Sourced electronically here: http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Isaiah%2053&version=NIV

Secondly for the enquirers amongst you here is an academic treatment by a Jewish believer in Christ, Dr. Michael Brown, on how this prophecy refers ultimately and fully to Jesus the Messiah.

Clicking on the pdf button below will download automatically a pdf document written by Dr. Brown. It’s a chapter called Jewish Interpretations of Isaiah 53 from the book The Gospel According to Isaiah 53 – Encountering the Suffering Servant in Jewish and Christian Theology. It’s written at an academic level but is an important piece of work.

Click this PDF button for Chapter download:

pdfOnce downloaded – find it in you your downloads.

Click the book to purchase with free delivery within the UK.

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Is humble donkey a one trick pony?

Well yes kinda!

One of my passions in life is to see people become safe in God, from God and for God.

Safe in God – finding oneself eternally secure and without the gaze of the righteous judge looking at us – that is not a good thing. Being in God is the only safe place to escape this.

Oh! It is God himself who is the righteous judge. We need a rescue from his judgement. Otherwise what hope have we?

God for his own glory – that’s for the enjoyment and demonstration of his free flowing mercy and grace – provides that safety.

Get your head around that. You may have questions. Ask them. Ask and keep asking. Socrates said the unexamined life is not worth living. Nice one Socrates.

So this passion is for people to encounter and enter into this safety through the Gospel of Jesus – the story of the eternal Father’s offering of the eternal Son so that whoever would believe on him and his sacrifice would not perish but have eternal life [John 3:16].

Most people who have grown up around some kind of church – Protestant or Roman Catholic have just enough knowledge of this to be innoculated against the wild crazy wonderful truth of it all. Our backgrounds domesticated, tamed and froze what God has done, is doing and will do. It becomes like so much music – playing somewhere in the background of life. Muzak. Church and faith as an add-on. An accessory. A cultural appendage. I remember when growing up, a rite of passage was the ease achieved in disrespecting the Lord’s name – Jesus this & Jesus that. An expletive. A stop gap of expression while saying something ‘more important’ (as if) or to use as a ramp to provide an ascent in exclamation of an amazing or awful story – used liberally by speaker and hearer. Maturity. And yet we had somehow taken the given name of the one who flung stars into space and accommodated it to our own ugly flinging of words and thoughts into thin air.

Think about it. Let’s say we loved a great Prime Minister or President – or even that we knew he had provided greatly for us. And then we began to take his name and use it in a way that paid little or no respect to him and often used it as an exclamative, even for expletive value and intent.  That’s what we have done to Jesus, his precious name which literally means God saves.

God saves us from God and for God.

So that’s my passion in life – to point – direct toward the one who flung stars into space and whisper into the inclined ear “did you see his wrists – weird weren’t they – had holes in them and also see his side – wounded. He looks like one who was crucified and is now risen.”

Why? Where? Who cares? And so the exploration begins or not. God is not tame. At our mercy or disposal. Is not a cultural appendage. Will not always be as merciful as he is at present. This is the era of the exploration. Get to it. Wake up. More importantly – pray to be awoken.

No conferring

Growing up in the 1970’s and 80’s you got to watch a lot of quiz shows on TV – many with a line that lingers long on the memory. Remember Sale of the Century – it was the “quiz of the week”. Perhaps my favourite was the intellectual gladiator-dome University Challenge with Bamber Gascoigne – way before Jeremy Paxman. At certain points he would say “No conferring”. That meant you are on your own – you must work out the answer on your own.

Some time back I had a very special opportunity do the exact opposite. A bunch of us gathered together to confer – work stuff out together – to progress together.

I was down south of Taupo (New Zealand) to attend a Leadership Conference looking at how to respond to the clear call on the Christian believer to be a bringer of the Gospel and a bringer of compassion for people. Two separate things. More on that distinction in an upcoming post.

Super conference – very stimulating, great time together, no hype, just a great time in God’s presence with God’s people.

I am linking to the resources generally on the Living Stones Leadership Training website but specifically recommending a special series of talks.

Malcomalcolm gilllm Gill (from Sydney Missionary & Bible College) did a wonderful series over three days on The Character of God, The Gospel of God, The Glory of God.

Click on his picture to get to their media section and then pop Malcolm’s name into the Search Archive box to source them.

I would recommend each of them and in the order delivered. Lovely wife and I had very energising conversation with him during the conference – great bloke.

Have a listen and grow. And please do confer.

The Gospel – within The Big Picture

Must see – must hear – must ingest – must meditate – must believe

This could save your life

Favourite moment is at 1.55 to 2.00. Its like that moment in a movie that you know a magnificent shift has happened. Rescue is coming, good will triumph – a great and beautiful end is glimpsed just beginning to come into sight.

The Gospel Project is a Christ-centered curriculum that examines the grand narrative of Scripture and how the gospel transforms the lives of those it touches.

Go to gospelproject.com/

It is what someone says it is. IMHO.

‘The Fuel of Death-Defying Missions’ is a great sermon in my humble opinion. Someone has said it is the greatest recent message on missions. I wouldn’t argue with that.

I had ‘manish flu’ one recent Sunday. It was nothing as severe as ‘man flu’ which we men know is almost fatal. Almost – because we seem to rally on day 5 or thereabouts. Amazing. Our powers of recovery are astounding (high dose of irony at work here).

Consequently I couldn’t get out to church. So I loaded this sermon up and spent the hour ironing work shirts, (“it was the fever that made me do it guv – honest”). What with the stubborn creases – is there any other kind? – and the holding back of tears of joy & worship I was challenged and emboldened. But most of all I was reminded who is in charge of everything, including missions and how he is delighted to use the redeemed donkeys of this world in his work in the field of missions among the reached and magnificently among the unreached.

hearts in need of a haven

hearts in need of a haven

Please do watch it – and let the bits of theology, if any, that are not yours brush past you so that you can be caught up in the vision of this glorious task.

I hope this will be the first of many in a series on missions. This brother David Platt is interesting and I like him. But his apparent ‘sold-outness’ for God challenges and scares me. He is imho not a cool man. I like the uncool. I am uncool. Cool is quite overated. Here is a wonderful message – uncool in the 21st century by a lovely uncool brother.