Watching Daily At Wisdom's Gates

A Yorkshireman's take on life, death, and eternity

Category: Uncategorized

Redemption

Thus says the Lord , the King of Israel and his Redeemer, the Lord of hosts: “I am the first and I am the last; besides me there is no god.

Isaiah 44:6 ESV

https://bible.com/bible/59/isa.44.6.ESV

In this translation, a trinitarian understanding of God in this verse isn’t inconceivable- as the Lord, the King of Israel, and His Redeemer, the Lord of hosts, seem to be differentiated. Other translations seem more ambiguous about the difference. But however we read it, in the context of Scripture’s canon, we can see this is about the triune God.

Jesus was crucified by the Romans for apparent treason, because He claimed to be the King of the Jews- equating Himself with the Lord God here. And the Jewish leaders wanted Him crucified for blasphemy, because He claimed to be the Son of God. So He was either a fraud, or who He claimed to be!

Here, God describes Himself as the first and the last. In Revelation, Jesus does the same. He is the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and end, the A to Z, the “be all and end all”. Jesus equates Himself with God.

That last phrase, “besides me there is no God” could be contrued to be unitarian. But even within the verse we’ve seen plurality in God. God might be one, but Jesus and the Father are one, and one with the Holy Spirit too. God can only be Redeemer because the Father sent the Son to save us and the Spirit applies that work to us. All praise to the triune God for His wonderful redemption!

“God of the angel armies, our Redeemer, how we praise You, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, for our redemption! May we trust in You both now and forevermore. In Christ’s name, amen”

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Name

But now thus says the Lord , he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel: “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine.

Isaiah 43:1 ESV

https://bible.com/bible/59/isa.43.1.ESV

The Lord is the promise keeping God who is. Jacob was a deceitful character by name and nature. But God isn’t ashamed to say that He even created the Jacobs of this world (although He won’t be held responsible for our deceit and other sins).

Jacob had an encounter with God and became Israel- one who wrestled with God. Faith isn’t all strumming of harps on fluffy clouds. It’s sometimes tough to believe in God in the midst of the mess of life. But God is happy to declare that He formed Israel too. God’s patient with us when we struggle in our faith.

Over and again in these chapters in Isaiah, God commands His people to not be afraid. These chapters warn of judgement to come as well which is fearful. But this verse assures God’s people that they’re redeemed. Jacob wasn’t redeemed by being Abraham’s grandson. He was redeemed because he had an encounter with God.

Redemption isn’t on the basis of ethnicity, but upon the kind of faith that won’t let God go until He’s blessed us, like Jacob wrestling the angel of the Lord. And God calls us by name, and gives us spiritual nicknames too!

“God our Lord, may we not let You go until You have blessed us. Please redeem us from the judgement we deserve and call us home to be with You for eternity. In Christ’s name we pray, amen”

Help

fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

Isaiah 41:10 ESV

https://bible.com/bible/59/isa.41.10.ESV

How can we claim this wonderful promise to ancient Judah for ourselves? Well God’s people never were an ethnic or even a socio-political entity. As even the old testament affirms, “the righteous will live by faith”. God’s people are those who have faith in the God of the Bible.

So we don’t need to be afraid, because the God of Jacob is with us. As Paul put it, if God is for us, who can be against us? Nothing can separate us from God’s love. We don’t need to be dismayed, because the Lord is our God.

God promises to strengthen us. People who are trusting in their own strength leave God no room to work. But those who know their limitations and trust in God to work in them anyway will find that God’s strength is made perfect in our weakness.

Being a helper is a humble role. We might picture a wife helping her husband, or a cleaner helping the wife with the housework. But God isn’t afraid to say that He will help us when we come to Him in faith. He upholds us with His righteous right hand.

“Dear God our Father, thank You so much for being our ever present help in trouble. We’re so grateful that You’ll never leave or forsake us. To the praise of Your glory, amen”

Letter

Hezekiah received the letter from the hand of the messengers, and read it; and Hezekiah went up to the house of the Lord , and spread it before the Lord .

Isaiah 37:14 ESV

https://bible.com/bible/59/isa.37.14.ESV

What do you do when you get bad news? King Hezekiah took it to the Lord. The Assyrian Empire was threatening to destroy the Jews and their God, as it had destroyed other nations and their gods. Hezekiah knew that it wasn’t just his neck on the line, but the reputation of the living God.

To be honest, what’s the worst that can happen to us as believers in the West? It’s not like we’re considered as sheep to be slaughtered. Yes, we might be mocked and despised, but we’re not currently persecuted like many believers in the world.

Even for those who are persecuted, Jesus says to rejoice, because they’re blessed with an eternal reward in God’s kingdom. By all means the persecuted believer must cry out to God for vindication. But the answer may not be fulfilled until eternity.

God graciously answered Hezekiah’s prayer. He single-handedly destroyed the Assyrian army and upheld the honour of His name as the God of His people. He will do the same for His persecuted church. Our persecutors will be condemned whilst we are vindicated.

“Almighty Lord, help us to take our troubles to You, and may You answer us in our distress. For the honour of Your name, amen”

Anxiety

Say to those who have an anxious heart, “Be strong; fear not! Behold, your God will come with vengeance, with the recompense of God. He will come and save you.”

Isaiah 35:4 ESV

https://bible.com/bible/59/isa.35.4.ESV

Do you have an anxious heart today? Then this verse is for you! God would tell you to be strong, and don’t be afraid! Empty words with no substantive comfort? Not at all!

Isaiah had words of promise for the anxious heart. We have fulfilment of promise in the Lord Jesus Christ. He comes to avenge all who assail us, not so much flesh and blood necessarily but the demonic forces who trouble us and make us anxious.

Vengeance and recompense might not initially sound comforting to the anxious heart. After all, God could rightfully take revenge on us for our rebellion against Him. And if He was to pay us what we deserve, we’d be in hell!

But by the mercy and grace of God, He takes vengeance upon our common enemy, the adversary of our souls. So we are saved from the punishment our sins demand. Instead of paying us back for our transgressions, God rewards us for doing the good stuff that He’s prepared in advance for us to do!

“Dear heavenly Father, please help us to will and to act according to Your good pleasure, by the power of the Holy Spirit. Thank You that we can cast our cares on You, because You care for us, in the name of Jesus, amen”

What’s in a name?

“What’s in a name?”

I think that’s a quote from Shakespeare ๐Ÿ™‚

I love names, especially their meanings and origins.

When I was about nine years old and a new Christian, I remember moaning to mum that I didn’t have a Bible name! I didn’t realise my middle name is James, and didn’t believe her when she told me!

But I’ve come to terms with the name Robert now, which according to a keyring I once had is from the Saxon “Hrodlebert”, meaning “famous and bright”! Okay, so it’s not a particularly apt name, but never mind!

My middle name James is the Greek form of the Hebrew Jacob, meaning “deciever/usurper/surplanter/grabber”! Oh dear, perhaps that’s a more appropriate name for me :/

Then my last name is “Chamberlain”. Chamberlain is a job title for someone who manages the household of royalty or nobility, or more widely a public servant.

So if you put my name together it could mean something like “(in)famously deceitful servant of the King”. Oh dear!

Jesus is in the habit of giving His followers nicknames. Simon He called Peter (“stoney”); James and John He called “Boanerges” (“sons of thunder/thundery”). Levi became known as Matthew (“gift of God”). The other Simon was known as a zealot (a bit like calling someone a “fanatic”!).

Back to Jacob and God renamed him Israel (“wrestles with God”).

Not only do I like names, but I also like nicknames. They’re often more revealing about people than names- which are bestowed upon us before we’ve done anything. Nicknames often reflect us more accurately.

I haven’t had many nicknames in my time but my favourite is “Mr Switzerland”, because like Switzerland I can be very neutral and diplomatic (I did study International Relations after all).

No one’s ever been rude enough to directly call me a donkey (!) but like that animal I am often at once stubborn and yet also impulsive, not a good combination of characteristics! So tbh, “Donkey” would sadly be a rather apt nickname for me, although I’m working on taming myself and becoming more disciplined!

I love the following verse, and can’t wait to find out my new (nick)name from God! …

He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who conquers I will give some of the hidden manna, and I will give him a white stone, with a new name written on the stone that no one knows except the one who receives it.’

Revelation 2:17 ESV

https://bible.com/bible/59/rev.2.17.ESV

One of the great things about being a dad is that you get to name your kid (in collaboration with your wife of course). Our daughter’s full name means something like “God’s riches at Christ’s expense are glorious; He provides all the needs of His servant”.

I love “virtuous” names like my wife’s: Joy- thankfully an apt one! ๐Ÿ™‚

What does your name mean? Do you have any nicknames?

Reliance

Woe to those who go down to Egypt for help and rely on horses, who trust in chariots because they are many and in horsemen because they are very strong, but do not look to the Holy One of Israel or consult the Lord !

Isaiah 31:1 ESV

https://bible.com/bible/59/isa.31.1.ESV

For Israel to look to Egypt for help is like us as Christians looking to sin to help us in our lives. Israel had been enslaved in Egypt, and God had set them free. As Christians, we were enslaved to sin, but God has set us free. So we shouldn’t seek to become enslaved again.

Of course, Egypt/sin don’t advertise themselves as oppressive enslavers. But if we do look to them, it’s not just inadvisable. It’s a woeful thing to look to anything other than God for our security.

The Lord was Israel’s God. So they needn’t have relied on their army for security. One angel can destroy an enemy superpower’s army, and God has millions of angels at His disposal.

We might not look to chariots and horsemen, but our nations probably look to their militaries for their security. Maybe they look to alliances to protect themselves from their enemies. Even as individual believers, we can rely on our own wits and strength, rather than the One who empowers us and gives us wisdom.

“Holy Lord, forgive us for relying on anything other than You in our lives. Please help us to recognise that having been set free from sin, we mustn’t enslave ourselves to it once again. May we rely fully on You, for Jesus’ sake, amen”

Rest!

For thus said the Lord God , the Holy One of Israel, “In returning and rest you shall be saved; in quietness and in trust shall be your strength.” But you were unwilling,

Isaiah 30:15 ESV

https://bible.com/bible/59/isa.30.15.ESV

Isaiah wrote at a relatively prosperous time in Israel’s history. But he prophesied of a time to come when God would use the Babylonian Empire to judge his people’s arrogant materialism. He even anticipated that they would look to Egypt for salvation rather than the Lord their God.

I can’t help but compare Israel to the UK today in the throes of Brexit. Some look to the EU, and others to the US, but we the people of God, His church, shouldn’t be looking to politics for salvation and strength, but to the Holy One of Israel. That’s what unsaved Brits need, whatever their political persuasion, to look to their Creator in repentance for the spiritual rest that only He can provide.

Some wannabe “prophets” have decreed that revival is round the corner for the UK. Amen- so let it be! We’re being humbled as a nation, and if we turn to God He’ll uplift us. But to be honest, I suspect the UK will be like ancient Israel and be unwilling to quietly trust the Lord, even as I hope and pray for better.

What about us as Christians? The kingdom of God is not a matter of Trump or immigration; Brexit or Europe. It’s about something of infinitely greater and lasting value: God’s eternal glory. Some look to politics, and others to economics, but we will trust in the Lord our God.

“Lord our God, the Holy One, how we worship You for our salvation and strength that we find in You. Forgive us for times we look elsewhere for what is only found in You. In Jesus’ gracious name we pray, amen”

Peace

You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.

Isaiah 26:3 ESV

https://bible.com/bible/59/isa.26.3.ESV

Note what this verse doesn’t say. We’re not kept in perfect peace if we have easy lives necessarily. Perfect peace is often in spite of troublesome circumstances.

Think of Peter walking on the water to Jesus. When he kept his eyes fixed on Him, he could walk on water. When he got distracted by the wind and waves however, he began to sink. In life we need to focus on our faithful God, not upon our circumstances.

What takes up most of our thinking? Is it life in general, some preoccupying problem, or is it our our Lord. It’s by focusing on our Sovereign God that we discover perfect peace.

When we trust in God, we find Him to be completely trustworthy. If we try and trust in ourselves or in others, we’re only going to let ourselves down. But God’s love for us never fails.

“Faithful One, thank You for the perfect peace we recieve when we trust in You. Please help us to do so, and to focus on You, for the glory of Your name, amen”

11 More Q&As About Me :)

1. If you could have a ยฃmillion but weren’t allowed any more hot meals, would you take it? (I heard this question on a radio show and it tickled me!)

Yes! I enjoy hot food but it would be a sacrifice worth making!

2. Do you have a bucket list of things you’d like to do before you die? If so, give us a sample! If not, dream!

In terms of places to visit I’d like to visit Israel and Japan

3. What’s the most important lesson life has taught you so far?

To “watch daily at wisdom’s gates” in other words, to always be looking at and applying God’s Word in my life

4. What day of the week were you born on? Ask Google if you’re not sure!

The Lord’s Day: Sunday! ๐Ÿ™‚

5. Who’s your favorite Bible character (apart from Jesus!)?

I like Jeremiah because I relate to him as someone who sometimes gets depressed

6. What was the last dream you had?

See a recent post of mine!

7. If you could take up any new hobby, what would it be?

I don’t think learning Italian counts so I’ll say joining the local community choir

8. What’s your biggest ambition?

Not necessarily to be great and famous, but to be godly and gracious

9. Are you content? Why/not?

Yes, because God is good ๐Ÿ™‚

10. What are some of the things you’re most thankful for?

Salvation obviously, and family

11. If you could ask God one question, what would it be?

Why do you love me? The answer will probably be something enigmatic like, “because I am love”