Isaiah 8



Isaiah 8:10

   Devise your strategy, but it will be thwarted;
    propose your plan, but it will not stand,
    for God is with us.

Observation - What does it say?

Often times in the Old Testament, prophets would not only speak their messages but they would act them out. And here, God asked Isaiah to embed his message into the name of his child. His name Maher-shalal-hash-baz means swift-the-spoils-of-war-and-speedy-comes-the-attacker. God’s message through Isaiah to Ahaz was this: “The two countries currently threatening you will soon be conquered by Assyria. Assyria will attack quickly, defeat them and carry off the spoils of war from Damascus and Samaria. So there is no need to fear them. Instead, trust in your God.”

Then God spoke to Isaiah again, and this second message was directed toward the nations who would threaten his people. God tells the nations that they can prepare for battle but it will be a waste of time. No matter what strategy they could devise or plan they could come up with to defeat God's people, it’s wouldn't succeed because God would be with his people.

Understanding - What does it mean?

God is with those who trust in him, providing safety and security.

What’s amazing about this verse is that it doesn’t just say the enemy’s plans wont stand because “God’s plan is superior” or because “God will come to fight for us,” but because “God is with us”! God with his people would make all the difference in the outcome. The power of presence...

I wouldn’t say I’m afraid of the dark. I just, uh… I just prefer the light. As a kid, I hated taking the trash cans out to the street after dark. My parents would send me out there and I’d be pulling trash cans behind me while scanning the bushes and continually looking behind me. Any slight noise and I’d almost pee. As soon as I would get the trash cans to the street I would sprint for the front door of the house, slam the door behind me and breath a deep sigh of relief. But, if someone came with me it was a different story. If my dad helped me and was next to me as I walked down the driveway I was completely different. No fear, no worry, no running, no panic. I'd take my time, joking and talking with my dad, and I almost wished something would come out of the bushes so I could watch my dad whoop it. My dad's presence with me made all the difference in my ability to to face the dark without fear.

How much more amazing to think that the One who is with us always is the God of the universe?! It doesn’t matter the size of the enemy or how great the danger, God is greater. As we read a few days ago in Isaiah 6, God’s throne is high and exalted. There is none above him, none more powerful, none even close to equal with him. And this God, although he dwells on high, also chooses to dwell within each believer.

Matthew 28:20 And surely I am with you, even to the end of the age.

Romans 8:31 If God is for us, who can be against us?

Isaiah 54:17 No weapon forged against you will prevail… This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord…

Life Application

Trust in God! Whether or not I can feel or see him, God is always with me! He is present to protect and guide me.

God, thank you for your constant presence with us. Please cause that truth to sink in and to wash away any fear or anxiety we might be carrying. We give it all to you. We look to you and put our trust in you this morning. Amen.

Isaiah 7



Isaiah 7:9b

If you do not stand firm in your faith,
    you will not stand at all.

Observation - What does it say?

The kingdom was divided into Israel (the 10 tribes making up the northern kingdom) and Judah (the 2 tribes making up the southern kingdom). Ahaz, the king of Judah got word that the northern kingdom of Israel and Syria were coming to attack him. God has Isaiah bring his son and meet Ahaz in a public place to declare to him the promise that God will deliver Judah. And at the end of this declaration, Isaiah makes the statement that if Ahaz doesn’t stand firm in his faith in God, he wouldn’t stand at all.

Understanding - What does it mean?

Our faith in God is the only sure ground we have to stand on.

Anyone who fails to trust God or who looks to trust something or someone else instead will absolutely fall. All throughout the prophetic books in scripture, kings are confronted by God for putting their trust in other kings for help instead of God. Relying on them is likened to leaning on a splintered reed.

Isaiah 36:6

Look, I know you are depending on Egypt, that splintered reed of a staff, which pierces the hand of anyone who leans on it! Such is Pharaoh king of Egypt to all who depend on him.

Jesus told a parable of two builders. Those who heard God’s words and put them into practice were like the wise builder who built his house upon a rock. Those who didn’t were like the foolish builder who built his house on the sand. The storm came and washed the foolish man’s house away while the wise man’s house stood firm because of it's solid foundation. The storms and problems and trials will come, but only those who stand firm in their faith in God and his word will stand firm. God and his word is not one rock of many that could provide a sure foundation. He is the only sure foundation, the only rock firm enough to build our lives upon.

Life Application

Evaluate my faith. Am I standing firm in my faith or am I wavering in doubt regarding God or his promises? Am I standing firm in my faith or am I leaning on my own understanding or something or someone else?

God, fill us with faith! Ahaz was confronted with what appeared to be a huge problem threatening his kingdom and his very life, and his faith in you was the only sure thing he had to stand on. As we are confronted with life’s challenges, may we seek your face first! May we have the kind of faith in you that results in us carrying the deepest peace and causes us to rejoice and overflow with love regardless of our circumstances.

Isaiah 6


Isaiah 6:3

And they were calling to one another:

“Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty;
    the whole earth is full of his glory.”

Observation - What does it say?

Recorded in this passage, Isaiah has one of the most incredible visions in all of scripture. John writes about Jesus in John 12:41 when he said, “These things Isaiah said because he saw His glory, and he spoke of Him.” Because of this, most scholars agree that the One Isaiah saw on the throne was Jesus, in his glory, long before he entered the world as a man. And this heavenly vision of Jesus is an amazing scene! A huge throne above all others, our Lord and Savior sitting upon it clothed in glory with his robe filling the temple, surrounded by seraphs (literally translated “burning ones”) who lift their voices in fiery chorus, declaring the unmatched holiness of God so loud that the doorposts of the temple shake and fill the temple with smoke. Wow!

Understanding - What does it mean?

Jesus is holy and to be revered. According to Vine Commentary, the triplicate is the strongest way the Hebrew language can express something. This emphatic triplet declared by the seraphim, “holy, holy, holy” underscores God's extreme and unsurpassed level of holiness, an infinite degree of holiness.


The amazing picture of Jesus in Isaiah 6 is vastly different than the picture of Jesus above. According to scripture Jesus has called us friends (John 15:15) and we have been brought into relationship with him (1 Corinthians 1:9). But, this passage is a reminder that Jesus is holy.  Jesus is not my homeboy. He is not down on my level. Jesus isn't just “one of the guys.” Jesus is my friend, my best friend, but he is also the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, seated high upon a throne, clothed in glory and surrounded by powerful fiery creatures who day and night declare his holiness. We have unlimited access to him, but that doesn't mean we should approach him without reverence.

Life Application

Approach Jesus not only as a friend but as a holy God, with reverence and awe.

Jesus, you are holy. You are God. You are enthroned on high and I worship you as Lord over all! Thank you for calling me friend. Thank you for the intimate relationship with you that I’ve been invited into. As I approach you though, may I never come without respect and reverence for your holiness. Amen.

Isaiah 5



Isaiah 5:4

What more could have been done for my vineyard
    than I have done for it?
When I looked for good grapes,
    why did it yield only bad?

Observation - What does it say?

God likens the nation of Israel to his vineyard. Verse 2 says he prepared the ground by clearing it of stones. He planted the choicest vines. He built a watchtower and cut out a winepress. He did all he could to help the vineyard produce great fruit. But, to his surprise, when looking for good grapes he only found bad fruit.

Likewise, God set up his people Israel to produce the fruit of obedience, faithfulness and love, and instead they produced rebellion, idolatry and violence. Despite the law he gave them, the temple and priests he established, and leaders he sent who encouraged them in following the Lord, they still went awry.

Understanding - What does it mean?

God does everything to set his people up to live godly lives that bear good fruit. If they go awry, they alone are to blame.

Think of all God has done for us his people. He sent his Son to die so we could be forgiven of sin and restored relationship with him. He has given us complete access to him whenever we want it. He has given us his word that instructs us in detail how he desires us to live. He has placed his own Spirit inside of us to guide us and empower us to live godly lives. He has placed people in our lives to teach us and encourage us in living godly lives. Consider these scriptures:

2 Peter 1:3

By his divine power, God has given us everything we need for living a godly life.

Ephesians 1:3

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ.

Romans 6:18

You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness.

We have no excuse not to live godly lives, to not live in obedience to God, to not bear lots of good fruit!

Life Application

Take advantage of all God’s blessings so I can bear good fruit!

Lord, what more could you have done for us?! Thank you for all the ways you have blessed us. We recognize that with these great blessings, we have great responsibility to produce good fruit. Please give us strength to put to death our selfish desires and to live to love you and love others. When you look upon us, may you be pleased with the fruit you see. Amen.

Isaiah 4



Isaiah 4:5-6

Then the Lord will create over all of Mount Zion and over those who assemble there a cloud of smoke by day and a glow of flaming fire by night; over everything the glory will be a canopy. It will be a shelter and shade from the heat of the day, and a refuge and hiding place from the storm and rain.

Observation - What does it say?

Isaiah warned of a time when only a few of God’s people would be left. But although the framework of their society would be in ruins, the day would come when this time of complete despair would transition to a time of hope as God would restore them.

In this new time of hope and restored relationship with God, God’s presence would be manifested among them continually as a cloud during the day and fire at night. And above that the glory of God would act as a canopy to shelter them from the elements.

Understanding - What does it mean?

What amazed me about this are the lengths God goes in order to care for his people.

The cloud he created during the day would provide shade from the hot sun. The fire at night would provide light and warmth. And the canopy of his glory above the cloud or fire would protect them from any storm or rain. So not only were they physically cared for and protected, but at any moment the people of God could look up and literally see evidence of God’s closeness to them, his love for them, and his favor upon them.

This is the God we serve! A God who delights in caring for us, in loving us, in providing for us, in protecting us. And after a rocky and rebellious past, God is faithful to continually remind us that we stand forgiven and are forever his children. For the Israelites it was the manifested presence of God above them, and for us it is the very Spirit of God dwelling inside us as a continual reminder of God’s love for us and the promise of what’s to come.

Romans 8:16

The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children.

Life Application

Meditate on the lengths God has gone in order to show me his love!

God, thank you for your great love and faithfulness! You are my all in all! Thank you for pursuing me even when I was rebelling against you. Thank you for choosing me before I could choose you. Thank you for the cross! Thank you for saving me and setting me free. Thank you for filling me with joy in your presence, giving me purpose and choosing to forever dwell inside me! You are good!! Amen.

Isaiah 3



Isaiah 3:9

The look on their faces testifies against them;
    they parade their sin like Sodom;
    they do not hide it.
Woe to them!
    They have brought disaster upon themselves.

Observation - What does it say?

The people of Judah and Jerusalem were living in sin. And, it had progressed from being something done in the dark, in secret, to being done openly for all to see. They paraded and displayed their sin publicly without shame and it defied God’s glorious presence among them (verse 8) and brought disaster upon themselves.

Understanding - What does it mean?

Just because the culture accepts sin doesn’t make it acceptable to God.

I watched The Italian Job back in 2003 when it made its debut. In the movie, a team of criminals assemble to pull of a crazy heist to steal $35 million in gold bars. I remember walking out of the theater thinking it was a great movie. A few hours later it hit me. “We have come to praise people who do bad things well.”

Our culture has become one that glorifies sin. The top 40 charts are littered with songs positively portraying sexual immorality and substance abuse. People all over the nation stand in ticket lines, handing over money, to be entertained with films filled with sexual content, foul language, violence, unfaithfulness and other things God detests. Homosexuality, once frowned upon by most and kept mostly in the dark, is now something celebrated and commended in our culture.

It’s this drift from holiness to sinning in secret, to sinning in public without shame and praising those who sin well is what brought disaster to Sodom. It’s what led to the destruction of Jerusalem.

Life Application

Make sure God’s Word is the measurement for acceptable living, not the culture around me or even my own opinion.

God, please protect your church from being influenced by the ungodly beliefs in our culture. Fill us with a passion to live holy lives that are pleasing to you! Reveal to us any ways our culture has influenced us into believing some sin is acceptable. And, have mercy on our nation! Please turn the hearts of people to you and bring us to repentance rather than destruction. Amen.

Isaiah 2



Isaiah 2:22

Stop trusting in mere humans,
    who have but a breath in their nostrils.
    Why hold them in esteem?

Observation - What does it say?

God allows Isaiah to see this amazing glimpse into the future. Jerusalem and the temple of the only God will sit on the highest mountain at the center of the world. And in that day, all the nations of the world will stream to the holy city and seek God’s guidance and instruction. And, God will cause war to be a thing of the past as weapons are turned into tools for life and peace.

When the day of the Lord comes, the day God returns to judge the world, everything will be revealed for what it is. Every idol and false God will be proven worthless, everything people put their trust in besides God will be humbled. And, as it is repeated in this chapter, “the Lord alone will be exalted in that day.”

Understanding - What does it mean?

God is the only one worth trusting in, because the day will come when everything and everyone else will be brought low before him.

The Lord Almighty is the only God. He is the only one worth living for, the only one worthy of our worship, the only one worth fearing and the only one who is able to save and destroy.

The Israelites were being warned that when God comes back, nothing they had put their trust in would be able to save them except God alone. When he comes, God will be exalted and he will humble human pride and cause all idols (anything people worship or trust in besides God) to totally disappear. And, if we haven’t put our hope and trust in God, if we have been looking to something or someone else for security, we wont have anywhere to turn on that day.

Why put more stock in the counsel of mere humans when the All-knowing God offers to give us wisdom? Why trust in mere humans to protect us when we can turn to the Almighty God instead? Why trust in myself to get through a tough situation when God is present to give me strength and favor?

Life Application

Put your trust in God alone!

While God has placed great men and women in my life who help provide wisdom and guidance and who support me, my ultimate trust needs to be in God alone. Before I turn to others for help, I need to pray first. Before venting about stuff to my wife, I need to pray first. Before asking others for advice, I need to pray first.

God, forgive me for turning to others before turning to you. Thank you for placing people in my life to encourage and support me, but please help me not to hold them in higher esteem than you. You are the ultimate source of all wisdom, all strength, all provision, all protection, all healing... all that I need!  May I always trust you and turn to you first. Amen.

Isaiah 1



Isaiah 1:13 

Stop bringing meaningless offerings!
    Your incense is detestable to me.
New Moons, Sabbaths and convocations—
    I cannot bear your worthless assemblies.

Observation - What does it say?

Take the story of Ezra, which we just finished, and rewind history to before God’s people returned from Babylonian captivity to rebuild Jerusalem. Rewind to before their 70 years in captivity and to before they were conquered. They were living in the Promised Land, trying at least in part to honor God. At that time, God raised up the man Isaiah and appointed him as a prophet. In this first chapter of Isaiah, God speaks through Isaiah to the people of Judah and Jerusalem.

Most often, the prophets would declare observations about the current behavior of the people and the consequences for those behaviors. And frequently they would call the people to respond to God and change their ways. Here, Isaiah is calling out the people of Judah and Jerusalem for being duplicitous. They are living double lives. They are offering sacrifices to God, they are observing the feasts and special days required by the law and they are praying. All good things, right? But, they are also doing evil things, their “hands are full of blood” and they have been doing wrong. And because of the evil lives they are living when they aren’t at God’s temple, God calls their offerings meaningless, their incense detestable and their assemblies worthless.

Understanding - What does it mean?

God desires to be honored all the time. When we only honor him part-time, it causes our offerings to be meaningless.

The people of Judah and Jerusalem were trying to honor God part-time and acting wickedly the rest of the time. God desires to be honored all the time, in every area of our lives. Checking off the box of coming to church and offering our worship to God on Sunday doesn’t give us license to do what we want the rest of the week. We can’t compartmentalize our relationship with God. We can’t give God an hour in the morning and expect that we can take the other 23 hours of the day to do whatever we want. God desires to be involved in every aspect and every area of our lives. At work he want’s us to seek to honor him, when we come home he want’s us to be looking to honor him, when we’re with friends wants to be honored. Our offerings of worship on Sunday mornings, singing about our love for God and desire to do his will, become mere lip service, meaningless, detestable and worthless to God.

Life Application

Seek to honor God all the time!

God, forgive us for the ways we’ve compartmentalized our relationship with you. Forgive us for the times our words of commitment to you aren't followed by righteous actions. Reveal to us the areas of our lives that we’ve excluded you and help us to live lives of worship to you in all that we say and do. Amen.

Ezra 10



Ezra 10:11 Now honor the Lord, the God of your ancestors, and do his will. Separate yourselves from the peoples around you and from your foreign wives.”

Observation - What does it say?

A large crowd of Israelites gathered around Ezra as he was mourning their sin of intermarriage with the women of other nations. They mourned with him and encouraged Ezra to lead the people in dealing with this issue. After gathering all the Israelites together, Ezra confronted them of their sin and told them, "You have been unfaithful; you have married foreign women, adding to Israel's guilt." But he didn't stop there. He follows that statement with, "Now honor the LORD... and do his will." 

Understanding - What does it mean?

It's not enough to merely recognize our sin or even to be mournful about it. We must change.

Day after day I read the Word of God and God is faithful to speak to me, encouraging me, breathing hope and faith into my heart, and often times revealing areas of my life that don't yet look like Jesus. When God reveals those areas, I think I can say truthfully that I am honest with myself and God about my shortcomings. I recognize them and have genuine desire to be different. But the real question is, "Am I actually changing?" Do I merely write something under Life Application, or do I actually apply it to my life?

Like James encourages us, "Do not merely listen to the word and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says!" 

Life Application

Carefully consider my ways... are there things God has revealed to me through scripture that I haven't been intentional about putting into practice? Do I look more like Jesus today than I did a year ago or even a month ago?

Lord, bring conviction to our hearts and bring about transformation in our lives. I don't just want us to recognize and mourn over our shortcomings. I want to see us change! To look more like Jesus! It's in moments like this that I am thankful for  the promise of Phil 1:6 "Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry in on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus." As we make effort to do your will, we trust that you will move upon our hearts and continue to mold us into the image of your son.  Thank you, God, for your faithfulness to finish in us what you start. Amen.

Ezra 9



Ezra 9:6

“I am too ashamed and disgraced, my God, to lift up my face to you, because our sins are higher than our heads and our guilt has reached to the heavens…

Observation – What does it say?

After discovering that the people of Israel had disobeyed God by intermarrying with the neighboring people groups who practice things detestable to God, Ezra was appalled. In awe, distraught and frustrated, Ezra fell to his knees and spread his hands out to God and prayed about it. What stood out to me was his language as he prayed. Rather than praying with words like “their sin” and “your people” and “those people,” he took personal ownership although he didn’t sin personally in this area.

Understanding – What does it mean?

When a parent confronts their children about cookies missing from the cookie jar all the children naturally start pointing at each other, even the ones with chocolate on their faces and crumbs on their shirts. No one wants to take the blame or the punishment. Imagine though, that all the children had taken a cookie except one. And that one who didn’t reach in the cookie jar with everyone else comes to his dad. Rather than pointing the finger at his siblings and pointing out his own good behavior, he says, “Dad! I’m so sorry that we have been dishonest and taken the cookies without asking! Please forgive us!”

That is the same thing Ezra is doing here. He’s identifying himself with his siblings and standing in the gap to intercede on their behalf. Likewise, followers of Jesus should identify themselves with the rest of the church and intercede on their behalf.

Our western culture is very individualistic. It’s about my happiness and my personal goals and my interests. You have your beliefs and do what you want and I'll have mine and do what I want. And this attitude bleeds into the church. It’s easy to worry just about me and my relationship with God, to pray from an individual point of view, and to view the sins and disobedience of other believers as though it has no effect upon us. Maybe we'll pray for them, but not as one of them. It is true that there is a personal aspect of my faith - my salvation isn’t dependent upon what anyone else believes about God, no one else can have a relationship with God for me, and I cannot expect anyone else to be held responsible before God for my personal decisions. Given that, there is also a corporate lens through which we are called to see ourselves. Ezra prayed from this stance, taking the shame of his fellow Israelites upon himself and prayed phrases like, “our sins” and “our guilt.” When Jesus taught his followers how to pray, it was from this corporate perspective: “Our Father,” “Give us,” “Forgive us,” etc.  The apostle Paul had the same perspective, pointing out that “all of you together are the temple of God” (1 Cor. 3:16 NLT) and uses the analogy of the church being the body of Christ. We are all connected, part of the same body, the same family of God, and are together the bride of Christ. It's from that position that we are to see ourselves and to pray.

Life Application

When praying for the church, pray from a corporate perspecitve with words like "us" and "we" instead of "them" and "they."

God, help us to not only accept the truth that we are part of the body of Christ but may it become the lens through which we see ourselves and each other. Unite us and use us like you used Ezra to interceded on behalf of each other as believers. Amen.

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