It Really is Finished

It ReallyIs Finished.jpg

“Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and proclaim to her that her hard service has been completed, that her sin has been paid for, that she has received from the Lord’s hand double for all her sins.” – Isaiah 40:2, NIV

We make life difficult for ourselves with every sinful choice we make, but sometimes what we need to hear is that our sins have been paid for, and that the hard service that we had to serve has been completed. This was the case with God’s people in Isaiah 40.

The first 39 chapters of Isaiah are the prophet confront the people with their sin. One of the chapters where this is most obvious is chapter 5. In verses 20-21, we read about how the people are exchanging sweet water for bitter water, trading light for darkness, and calling evil good. The people of God have clearly made their bed, and it would seem based on what we read in Isaiah 5:25-30, they’re going to have to lay in it.

“Therefore the Lord’s anger burns against his people; his hand is raised and he strikes them down. The mountains shake, and the dead bodies are like refuse in the streets. Yet for all this, his anger is not turned away, his hand is still upraised. 26He lifts up a banner for the distant nations, he whistles for those at the ends of the earth. Here they come, swiftly and speedily! 27Not one of them grows tired or stumbles, not one slumbers or sleeps; not a belt is loosened at the waist, not a sandal strap is broken. 28 Their arrows are sharp, all their bows are strung; their horses’ hooves seem like flint, their chariot wheels like a whirlwind. 29 Their roar is like that of the lion, they roar like young lions; they growl as they seize their prey and carry it off with no one to rescue. 30In that day they will roar over it like the roaring of the sea. And if one looks at the land, there is only darkness and distress; even the sun will be darkened by clouds.” – Isaiah 5:25-30, NIV

Here we have an imagery of God sending a call for pagan nations to come and swoop down like a pack of wild animals on his people as punishment for their sin. We see this fulfilled when Assyria comes in and attacks the people. God eventually brings judgement on Assyria for this attack, even Israel brought it on themselves (Isaiah 10).

For those first 39 chapters in Isaiah, we see God heaping on Israel woe, wrath, and judgement, but then in chapter 40 something happens. It’s all over. God declares that their hard time is over, and their sins are forgiven.

We can be stubborn and rebellious like the children of Israel. 1st Corinthians 10 shows us that we can be partakers of the covenant, and yet God can still not be pleased with us. However, unlike the children of Israel, someone has already taken our wrath and judgement for us – Jesus Christ.

What we should see in Isaiah 40 are comforting words that should encourage us to leave behind our sin and run to Jesus. When He says it is finished, He means it.

 

Confessions: Unforgiveness and Bitterness

“Don’t use foul or abusive language. Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them. And do not bring sorrow to God’s Holy Spirit by the way you live. Remember, he has identified you as his own, guaranteeing that you will be saved on the day of redemption. Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior. Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.” – [Ephesians 4:29-32 NLT]

I know a lot of times I post about theology but there are other times, like now, that I just like I need to share with you from my heart. Recently, I’ve discovered that I’ve been holding unforgiveness and bitterness in my heart against some people that I didn’t even know that I had resentment against. I’ve just been talking a lot of things through lately with myself and someone else that I love dearly and I’ve come to the conclusion that I can’t hold unforgiveness back in my heart anymore over something that happened two and a half years ago. Holding a grudge is only destructive to the person who is holding the grudge. There’s nothing that you gain from continually being angry over things that don’t affect you anymore.

In these verses in Ephesians we find Paul talking to the church at Ephesus instructing them not to use foul or abusive language. I like what the Good News Bible says in verse 29:

“Do not use harmful words, but only helpful words, the kind that build up and provide what is needed, so that what you say will do good to those who hear you.” – [Ephesians 4:29 GNB]

After reading this and continuing to read in verse 30, you find that using harmful words is in conjunction with grieving the Holy Spirit. God gave us a tongue to use wholesome speech for His glory. We’re supposed to use positive words to help people and be blessing. Lately, I’ve been guilty of complaining too much when I’ve been blessed far beyond what I deserve.

What I find interesting is that these ‘harmful words’ are not only in conjunction with grieving the Holy Spirit but apparently they are also connected with bitterness and unforgiveness. The reason they are connected is because in Luke it says:

“The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.” – [Luke 6:45 ESV]

If we really speak what is out of our heart then if our speech is negative then we need to examine our heart. The word for ‘harmful’, in the Greek, literally means something that is putrid or rotten. When I think of something that is rotten I think of something that is dead. When we hold unforgiveness in our hearts it will come out in our speech and we will hold on to dead issues that cause our hearts and our speech to be rotten and it will cause the hearers of that speech to feel rotten as well about your situation. But when our speech is good it will do good to those that hear it. The word for ‘good’, in the Greek, is the word charis which is also used for the word, grace. This leads me to believe that when our speech is good and wholesome it communicates something to the hearers about the grace of God. As your thinking about this, let God begin to melt your heart and take out things that don’t need to have any place there. You are loved by the King of Kings! Be blessed!