Tuesday, June 21, 2011

God's Plan for You in the World - June 21st, 2011

 But you shall be named the priests of the LORD,
      They shall call you the servants of our God.
      You shall eat the riches of the Gentiles,
      And in their glory you shall boast.
    Instead of your shame you shall have double honor,
      And instead of confusion they shall rejoice in their portion.
      Therefore in their land they shall possess double;
      Everlasting joy shall be theirs.
Isaiah 61:6-7

History and Context:
Isaiah is the prophet most quoted by Jesus and by the New Testament authors. There are many Messianic prophecies throughout Isaiah, but the real purpose of the book was to admonish the kings of Judah to rely on the protection of God. That being said, the first verse of this chapter happens to be one of the most well known verses which Jesus quoted from Isaiah. "The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon Me, because the LORD has anointed Me to preach good tidings to the poor..." The book of Isaiah is split into two parts; the first 39 chapters are prophesying destruction as a result of the sins of Judah, whereas the final 27 chapters (including chapter 61) prophesy restoration to the nation. In this we see that God is always looking restore His people even as the results of their sin are on their way.

The Text:
These verses were written originally to the people of Judah when destruction was inevitable. Isaiah was saying, "The Lord has anointed me to preach good news so here it is; God will restore you!" Not only did God want to restore them, but He wanted to restore them with double honor! He said that even the riches of the Gentiles will provide you with food. This prophecy was fulfilled for the people of Israel and Judah by Cyrus of Persia, who sent the Jews back to rebuild Jerusalem (see Ezra and Nehemiah). Though this was fulfilled through Cyrus, the fact that Jesus quoted it shows it has meaning beyond what was originally thought by the prophet. Jesus steps in and says, "Now I am the one who is anointed to preach good news to the poor." Then He transfers that anointing on to us.

The Challenge:
Take your place as a priest of the Lord! What did a priest do? A priest was the person who contacted God for the people. A priest was the one who could actually approach the presence of God. That is supposed to be you! Over and over again, throughout the Bible, we see God attempting to demolish the caste system of ancient times, including the position of priests, but the people continually tried to return to it. Even now we have reestablished the position of priest (I am not talking about priests in Catholicism). We have decided that it is a certain group of people, specially called by God, who are allowed to go into the presence of God and contact Him for the people. We, as protestants, simply call these people pastors instead of priests. Yet God called each one of us to be priests, to be representatives of God to the people around us. So the challenge to you today is; Take your place as a priest of the Lord!

The Prayer:
Lord, show me how to represent you to the people around me. show me what it means to be your priest. Show me how to better come into your presence. I want to take my place, the place you have called me to be in. Help me Lord! In Jesus' name, Amen!

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