Preparation for Worship (5/9/15)

Scripture to consider: Isaiah 31–32

31.1 Woe to those who go down to Egypt for help, who rely on horses, who trust in the multitude of their chariots and in the great strength of their horsemen, but do not look to the Holy One of Israel, or seek help from the LORD. 2 Yet he too is wise and can bring disaster; he does not take back his words. He will rise up against that wicked nation, against those who help evildoers. 3 But the Egyptians are mere mortals and not God; their horses are flesh and not spirit. When the Lord stretches out his hand, those who help will stumble, those who are helped will fall; all will perish together.

4 This is what the LORD says to me: “As a lion growls, a great lion over its prey—and though a whole band of shepherds is called together against it, it is not frightened by their shouts or disturbed by their clamor—so the LORD Almighty will come down to do battle on Mount Zion and on its heights. 5 Like birds hovering overhead, the LORD Almighty will shield Jerusalem; he will shield it and deliver it, he will ‘pass over’ it and will rescue it.” 6 Return, you Israelites, to the One you have so greatly revolted against. 7 For in that day every one of you will reject the idols of silver and gold your sinful hands have made.

8 “Assyria will fall by no human sword; a sword, not of mortals, will devour them. They will flee before the sword and their young men will be put to forced labor. 9 Their stronghold will fall because of terror; at the sight of the battle standard their commanders will panic,” declares the LORD, whose fire is in Zion, whose furnace is in Jerusalem.

32.1 See, a king will reign in righteousness and rulers will rule with justice. 2 Each one will be like a shelter from the wind and a refuge from the storm, like streams of water in the desert and the shadow of a great rock in a thirsty land.

3 Then the eyes of those who see will no longer be closed, and the ears of those who hear will listen. 4 The fearful heart will know and understand, and the stammering tongue will be fluent and clear.

5 No longer will the fool be called noble nor the scoundrel be highly respected. 6 For fools speak folly, their hearts are bent on evil: They practice ungodliness and spread error concerning the LORD; the hungry they leave empty and from the thirsty they withhold water. 7 Scoundrels use wicked methods, they make up evil schemes to destroy the poor with lies, even when the plea of the needy is just. 8 But the noble make noble plans, and by noble deeds they stand.

9 You women who are so complacent, rise up and listen to me; you daughters who feel secure, hear what I have to say! 10 In little more than a year you who feel secure will tremble; the grape harvest will fail, and the harvest of fruit will not come. 11 Tremble, you complacent women; shudder, you daughters who feel secure! Strip off your fine clothes and wrap yourselves in rags. 12 Beat your breasts for the pleasant fields, for the fruitful vines 13 and for the land of my people, a land overgrown with thorns and briers—yes, mourn for all houses of merriment and for this city of revelry.

14 The fortress will be abandoned, the noisy city deserted; citadel and watchtower will become a wasteland forever, the delight of donkeys, a pasture for flocks, 15 till the Spirit is poured on us from on high, and the desert becomes a fertile field, and the fertile field seems like a forest. 16 The LORD’s justice will dwell in the desert, his righteousness live in the fertile field. 17 The fruit of that righteousness will be peace; its effect will be quietness and confidence forever. 18 My people will live in peaceful dwelling places, in secure homes, in undisturbed places of rest. 19 Though hail flattens the forest and the city is leveled completely, 20 how blessed you will be, sowing your seed by every stream, and letting your cattle and donkeys range free. (NIV)

Thought to ponder:

art courtesy of rembrandtpainting.net

“God does not wait until we have repented to act in mercy. Rather, his mercy becomes the impetus to repent. Thus we are invited to repent as a result of attraction rather than because of avoidance.”

John Oswalt, p. 573

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