Behold, for peace I had great bitterness: but thou hast in love to my soul delivered it from the pit of corruption: for thou hast cast all my sins behind thy back. For the grave cannot praise thee, death can not celebrate thee: they that go down into the pit cannot hope for thy truth. The living, the living, he shall praise thee, as I do this day: the father to the children shall make known thy truth.
As we move on from the “1,000th post” yesterday, I wanted to look at these verses, specifically verses 18-19. We are supposed to the praising the Lord, every day and in every way that we can find. These verses give us some good reasons to do that.
“For the grave cannot praise thee, death can not celebrate thee…” “The living, the living, he shall praise thee, as I do this day…” Every one of us has been given one life. And we all have a limited amount of life to live. And none of us know exactly how long our life will last. Once our lives are over, our opportunity to praise the Lord (especially to those that don’t know Him) will be over. We will of course be able to praise Him in Heaven, but our opportunity to influence others for Him will be over. That is a sobering thought.
Because of that sobering thought, we are implored to praise Him while we here and have life. As fathers and mothers, teachers and friends, we are to “make known thy truth” to the children. The only way the next generation will know about the goodness and mercy of the Lord will be for us to tell them. Are we fulfilling that responsibility?
Let us thank Him, praise Him, glorify Him and honour Him every day. We have but one life and one opportunity. Let us use it for His glory.
Behold, for peace I had great bitterness: but thou hast in love to my soul delivered it from the pit of corruption: for thou hast cast all my sins behind my back.
I’ve been thinking about what verse to write about for the 1,000th post on this blog. I decided on this one because it’s one of my favorite verses in the entire Bible. It perfectly describes every one of us both before and after we come to Jesus Christ. It also describes us when we stray from Him and return to Him. The whole of our Christian experience can be found right here.
“Behold, for peace I had great bitterness…” We all want peace. Christians and non-Christians alike want to pillow their heads at night at peace. We want to be at peace with other people, at peace with ourselves, and at peace with our Creator. But, as many through the years have found, that peace can be elusive. In fact, if we don’t come to Jesus for peace, we end up with “great bitterness.”
“But thou hast in love to my soul delivered it from the pit of corruption…” That is a perfect description of us at salvation. God offers to deliver us from the pit of corruption. He freely offers us salvation, if we would only take it.
“…thou hast cast all my sins behind thy back.” I love that imagery. God taking my filthy, dirty, vile sin and “casting it behind His back.” There is no greater thought to me than that. That God would save a sinner like me is beyond my comprehension. What a wonderful Saviour! The reason I started this blog was to glorify Him, and I hope and pray that I have done that thus far.
When I started this blog a few years ago, I had no idea that I would hit 1,000 posts. I appreciate everyone who reads and comments and I hope that it has been an encouragement to you. Thanks for reading, and, Lord willing, we’ll shoot for another 1,000.
Wherefore the Lord said, Forasmuch as this people draw near me with their mouth, and with their lips do honour me, but have removed their heart far from me…
Ye hypocrites, well did Esaias prophesy of you, saying, This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me.
This is a scary passage. It is mentioned in the Old Testament and repeated in the New. I think that it is mentioned in both places because it is a problem that we are always going to have. It was a problem in Isaiah’s day, it was a problem in Matthew’s day, it is still a problem today and it will likely be a problem tomorrow.
There are always going to be hypocrites. In fact, I’m sure all of us have been hypocritical in some situation at one point or another. But we do not have to be like the hypocrite spoken of in these verses. These hypocrites say everything just right. They “draw nigh unto me with their mouth.” They “honour me with their lips.” But there is no heart anywhere. “Their heart is far from me.”
God wants our hearts. He wants us to worship Him and serve Him from our hearts. Of course, when our hearts are right, it will help our mouths to be right also.
I have heard it said that it is much easier to say the right words without having a right heart than it is to say to wrong words while having a right heart. So many Christians today are putting on a show. They smile and say the right things, but they have no heart for the Lord. What a sad situation to be in.
We would do well to examine ourselves regularly to make sure that we do not fall into this category!
All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every on to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all. He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth.
Saying with a loud voice, Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing.
This post is entitled “Agnus Dei,” which, in Latin, means “Lamb of God.” I have been thinking about the theme of Jesus being the “Lamb of God” a lot lately. The Bible speaks often of us as sheep, and it often refers to Jesus as a Lamb. He is the “Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.” The inspiration for this thinking came from a strange source: a painting. The painting was also titled “Agnus Dei.” It was painted by the Spanish painter Fransisco De Zubaran in the 1600s. I came across it the other day and haven’t stopped thinking about it.
It depicts a lamb, laying on the ground, bound but not struggling. (Isaiah 53:7)
The lamb is spotless and pure. (“But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot:” -I Peter 1:19)
Looking at that painting, I saw what it represented: Jesus Christ and His sacrifice on the cross. He was bound and sacrificed for me and you. He went willingly. He was the perfect Lamb and the perfect sacrifice. He did it all for us. He was, in the words of Isaiah, “brought as a lamb to the slaughter.” He knew what was going to happen, but He went willingly without argument. What a perfect Lamb and a perfect sacrifice!
In the year that king Uzziah died I saw also the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up, and his train filled the temple… Then said I, Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts.
Set a watch, O LORD, before my mouth; keep the door of my lips.
Isaiah chapter six was the subject of a sermon at church the other day. One of the things that struck me was the importance he placed on his lips (his speech) immediately after seeing the Lord. Isaiah had just seen the Lord “high and lifted up.” He got a tremendous view of the glory and majesty of the Lord. Immediately afterward, his first words are “Woe is me!” Next, he says that he is unclean and undone. The specific he gives for this is that he is a “man of unclean lips.” He also says that he lives among a people of “unclean lips.”
Of all of the reactions to seeing the Lord, this one was surprising to me. Of all the areas in which he could have thought about being unclean, he singled out the area of speech. That just goes to show how important our speech really is.
Psalm 141:3 gives us a great prayer in this area: “Set a watch, O LORD, before my mouth; keep the door of my lips.” Think of how much improvement our lives would see if this were true of us. Think of what a difference it would make if the Lord Himself kept our lips. Think of the help we could be to others if we allowed the Lord to control every word we spoke. It would be life changing.
Often, we might neglect our speech and our words. But, like Isaiah, when we see the Lord, we will realize the importance of our words and our speech.
The voice of his that crieth in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the LORD, make straight in the desert a highway for our God.
In those days came John the Baptist, preaching in the wilderness of Judaea, And saying, Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. For this is he that was spoken of by the prophet Esaias, saying, The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.
The book of Matthew shifts gears a little from the second chapter to the third chapter. We go from Jesus in chapter two to John the Baptist in chapter three. John the Baptist is an interesting character whose life should be studied and emulated by Christians.
Today, we will look at his message: “Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” His first message was one of repentance. He preached about sin. It is human nature to think of yourself as being “pretty good.” It is also human nature to want to justify ourselves to ourselves, no matter what we do. It is human nature to want to avoid thinking about our own sin.
One of the reasons that most people will not accept Christ is that they will not accept the fact that they are guilty sinners. They will not see their sin for what it is. They will not repent.
This is where John the Baptist starts. He preaches to the people that they need to recognize their sin and turn from it. The theme of John the Baptist (and a theme repeated throughout the New Testament) is one of the issue of sin and righteousness. Jesus came to take away our sin and to give us His own perfect righteousness.
John the Baptist wasted no time in getting people to repent of their sin. He wasted no time in pointing people to the Saviour. We would be wise to emulate him.
All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.
This might seem like a strange verse to include in a series of verses dealing with Christmas. There are verses about Mary and Joseph. There are verses about the Angel appearing to various people. There are verses about Jesus being born in a manger. There are many verses that might seem to “fit” the Christmas story better than Isaiah 53:6. But, to me, this verse lies at the very heart of Christmas.
This verse is about two things: our sin and our Saviour.
“All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way…” Every man, woman and child ever born on this earth has been a sinner (except One). We are born in sin and we commit sin – every single one of us. We can try our best to not sin, but there is nothing that we can do about our corrupt, fallen nature. We need a Saviour.
“…the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.” That is our Saviour. He took our sins – all of them – to the cross, where He bled and died for us. This verse is the gospel in one verse: we are sinners in need of a Saviour, and the Lord Jesus Christ is that Saviour.
That is what we celebrate at Christmas. If we were not all sinners, we would not need a Saviour. If we didn’t need a Saviour, Jesus would not have needed to come to earth as a man and die on the cross for us. The celebration of Christmas is the celebration of the Saviour. A what a wonderful Saviour He is!
And there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots: And the spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the LORD:
And Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water: and, lo, the heavens were opened unto him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him:
The prophecies of the birth of Jesus Christ are so detailed and their fulfillments so perfect that there can be no doubt as to the accuracy of the Bible. There can also be no doubt as to the fact that Jesus is indeed the Christ. In this prophecy from the book of Isaiah, we are told that the rod out of the stem of Jesse, a “Branch” would grow out of his roots. Sure enough, Jesus was born into the house of David, which was “of the stem of Jesse.”
In the second part of the prophecy, it is foretold that “the spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him…” That prophecy was also clearly fulfilled in Matthew 3. Notice again the perfection of the fulfillment of this prophecy. It is said that the spirit of the LORD would rest upon Him. In Matthew 3:16, the spirit of God descends and rests upon Him. And the spirit of the Lord is the spirit of wisdom and understanding. It is the spirit of counsel and might. And it is the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord. The Spirit is all of those things.
That Branch that grew out of the roots of Jesse would soon become our Saviour! What a wonderful verse prophesying our wonderful Saviour!
For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this.
In these verses of prophecy, we are given a glimpse into the nature of the Christ child that would be born of a virgin in the little town of Bethlehem. Verse six is one of my favorite verses in the entire Bible. “Unto us a child is born.” And “unto us a son is given.” He came to us and for us. What a wonderful Saviour!
Speaking of His being a wonderful Saviour, the first name given here is the name “Wonderful.” He is Wonderful. So much more than just an attribute of the Lord, it is His very nature. He is both wonderful and Wonderful.
His name is Counsellor. He helps us and teaches us. He is our Counsellor. His name is The mighty God. At the time, He may have looked like a helpless baby. But He was and is The mighty God. His name is The everlasting Father. Think of that. Think of the tiny baby in the manger being the everlasting Father. But He was. His name is the Prince of Peace. He is not only the source of peace, He is peace incarnate. He is the very definition of peace. He is at peace with the Father. He made the way for us to be at peace with the Father. He helps us to be at peace with each other. He gives us peace in the storms of life. He is the Prince of Peace.
Truly, unto us a child is born and unto us a son is given!
Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.
Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.
Yesterday we looked at the prophecy and fulfillment of the place of the Saviour’s birth. Today, we see the mode of His birth. Jesus was not just any man. He was different from every other man who had ever been born in the history of the world. So His entrance into the world would be different than that of every other man in the history of the world. He was perfect and His entrance into the world was perfect.
Man’s seed had been defiled by sin with Adam. Every human born since the fall of man has been born with Adam’s fallen sinful nature. That is our heritage from our “father” Adam. With the birth of Jesus, God circumvented man. He bypassed the man and He bypassed the man’s fallen, sinful nature. It never ceases to amaze me just how perfect God’s plan is. Everything fits together perfectly, just as you would expect with a plan directly from God.
The virgin birth is at once a perfect sign and a simple test of faith. It is a perfect sign because it happened only once in the history of mankind. There could be no mistaking this sign. It is an utter impossibility, which would indicate a miracle from God if it happened. At the same time, it is a test of faith. Humanly, we would not believe this story. A virgin could not conceive – it is humanly impossible. Who would believe that? Me. And every other Bible believer in the world. Thus the sign is also a test of faith.
The prophecy was there, and a virgin did conceive and did bring forth a Son, and did call His name Immanuel, for at that time, God truly was with us.