Isaiah 48:1, 4, 8 ESV
“Hear this, O house of Jacob,
who are called by the name of Israel,
and who came from the waters of Judah,
who swear by the name of the Lord
and confess the God of Israel,
but not in truth or right…
“Because I know that you are obstinate,
and your neck is an iron sinew
and your forehead brass…
“You have never heard, you have never known,
from of old your ear has not been opened.
For I knew that you would surely deal treacherously,
and that from before birth you were called a rebel.”
Under the Old Covenant, only the Jews were Israel. But through Jesus’ death on the cross he put to death the hostility between Jew and Gentile, and he made one new humanity out of the two, thus making peace, and in one body he reconciled both of them to God through the cross of Jesus Christ.
Jesus Christ is the promised seed of Abraham through whom all nations are blessed, and only through faith in Jesus Christ can either Jew or Gentile (by birth) be reconciled to God and be in relationship with Almighty God. Just because one is a physical descendant of Abraham does not make him Israel.
It is not the children of the flesh who are children of God, but the children of promise are counted as offspring. There is neither Jew nor Gentile now, for we are all one in Christ Jesus, by faith in Christ Jesus. If we belong to Christ, then we are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.
The physical nation of Israel is no longer God’s people, for she, as a nation, is still in slavery with her children. The nation, as a whole, rejected Jesus Christ as their Messiah, though there are some Jews who have believed in Jesus. We, as followers of Jesus, are spiritual Israel, no longer a physical nation, but a spiritual nation comprised of those who believe in Jesus.
[Gal 3:16, 26-29; Rom 9:4-8; Gal 4:22-31; Eph 2:14-18; 1 Jn 2:22]
We are now called Christians, but we are still Israel, for we are God’s chosen people. But what this is talking about here in Isaiah is that there are those who profess to be God’s people, who profess to believe in Jesus Christ, but not in truth or right. They call themselves Christians, but it is in name only.
There are many people professing faith in Jesus Christ who are obstinate, whose ears are closed to the words of the Lord. Although they claim Jesus as their Savior, and they believe their sins are forgiven and that they are going to heaven when they die, they are living in open rebellion against the Lord.
For, they have bought into the lie that says you can “believe” in Jesus, be forgiven your sins, and have heaven guaranteed you when you die, but that you are not required to repent of your sins, to leave your sinful lifestyles behind you, to walk in obedience to the Lord, or to submit to him as Lord.
So, they profess faith in Jesus Christ, but not in truth. The Apostle John said that those who claim to have fellowship with God but who still walk (in conduct, in practice) in darkness (sin, wickedness) are liars who do not live by the truth. He also said if we don’t obey the Lord, we are liars.
Isaiah 48:12-14 ESV
“Listen to me, O Jacob,
and Israel, whom I called!
I am he; I am the first,
and I am the last.
My hand laid the foundation of the earth,
and my right hand spread out the heavens;
when I call to them,
they stand forth together.
Assemble, all of you, and listen!”…
So, this is a call to all who call themselves Christians, who profess faith in Jesus Christ, but not in truth. This is a call to listen to God, to read his word chapter by chapter and verse by verse, in context, and to see what it teaches. For it teaches we must die with Christ to sin and live to Christ and to his righteousness if we want salvation from sin and eternal life with God.
For, Jesus said that if anyone would come after him, he must deny self and take up his cross daily (daily die with him to sin and to self) and follow (obey) him. He said if we hold on to our old lives (of living for sin and self) that we will lose them (for eternity). But if we lose our lives for his sake, i.e., if we die with him to sin and live to him and to his righteousness, then we have life in him (See: Lu 9:23-26; cf. Rom 8:1-17; Eph 4:17-24).
And Paul said that the righteous requirement of the law is fulfilled in us who walk (in conduct, in practice) not according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. For, he said, if we walk according to the flesh, and we make sin our practice, we will die in our sins. We will not inherit eternal life.
For, Jesus didn’t die on that cross just to forgive us our sins, and just so we can go to heaven when we die, although many have reduced the gospel to just that. But he died that we might die with him to sin and live to him and to his righteousness. And he died that we might no longer live for ourselves but for him who gave his life up for us (1 Pet 2:24; 2 Co 5:15, 21).
Isaiah 48:17-18, 20-22 ESV
“Thus says the Lord,
your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel:
‘I am the Lord your God,
who teaches you to profit,
who leads you in the way you should go.
Oh that you had paid attention to my commandments!
Then your peace would have been like a river,
and your righteousness like the waves of the sea…’”
“Go out from Babylon, flee from Chaldea,
declare this with a shout of joy, proclaim it,
send it out to the end of the earth;
say, ‘The Lord has redeemed his servant Jacob!’
They did not thirst when he led them through the deserts;
he made water flow for them from the rock;
he split the rock and the water gushed out.
“’There is no peace,’ says the Lord, ‘for the wicked.’”
Our Lord is the only one who leads us in the right way, in the way that we should go, and this is why we need to know what his word teaches, but in context. For many people are teaching Scriptures out of their context and are teaching lies which are leading many people astray.
For example, don’t build your doctrine of salvation on Romans 10:9-10. Read all of the book of Romans and you will get the complete picture. Don’t apply John 10:28-30 to your life without looking at who it applies to (verse 27) and apply that. Don’t build your doctrine of salvation around Ephesians 2:8-9 absent of verse 10 and other verses like verse 10. And don’t apply 1 John 1:9 to your life without reading verses 5-8, and apply them, too.
We need to understand here that if we walk (in conduct, in practice) according to our flesh, and not according to the Spirit, and in sin, and not in righteousness, and if sin is what we practice, and if righteousness is not what we practice, that it doesn’t matter what we profess with our lips. We will die in our sins. We will not inherit eternal life with God.
So, this is a call to come out of “Babylon,” i.e., the world’s system, and the worldly market-driven and flesh-driven “church” which is of man and not of God. We are to remove ourselves from what is ungodly so that we can walk in holiness and live lives which are pleasing to God.
And this is a call to make God – Father, Son (Jesus Christ), and Holy Spirit – our one and only God. And this can only happen by us surrendering our lives to Jesus Christ, truly making him our Lord (owner-master) and Savior, by turning from our sins, and by walking in obedience to our Lord, by God’s grace, through God-given faith, and empowered by God’s Spirit.
For, God’s grace, which brings salvation, teaches (trains, instructs) us to say “No!” to ungodliness and fleshly lusts and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives while we wait for our Lord’s return. For, Jesus Christ gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works (Titus 2:11-14).
[Lu 9:23-26; Rom 6:1-23; Rom 8:1-17; 1 Jn 1:5-9; 1 Jn 2:3-6; 1 Jn 3:7; Gal 5:16-21; Eph 5:3-6; Gal 6:7-8; Rom 2:6-8; 1 Co 6:9-10; 2 Co 5:10]
Oh, to Be Like Thee, Blessed Redeemer
Lyrics by Thomas O. Chisholm, 1897
Music by W. J. Kirkpatrick, 1897
Oh, to be like Thee! Oh, to be like Thee,
Blessèd Redeemer, pure as Thou art;
Come in Thy sweetness, come in Thy fullness;
Stamp Thine own image deep on my heart.
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