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Isaiah 55:1-9 1
1 “Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost. 2 Why spend money on what is not bread, and your labor on what does not satisfy? Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good, and your soul will delight in the richest of fare. 3 Give ear and come to me; hear me, that your soul may live. I will make an everlasting covenant with you, my faithful love promised to David. 4 See, I have made him a witness to the peoples, a leader and commander of the peoples. 5 Surely you will summon nations you know not, and nations that do not know you will hasten to you, because of the LORD your God, the Holy One of Israel, for he has endowed you with splendor.” 6 Seek the LORD while he may be found; call on him while he is near. 7 Let the wicked forsake his way and the evil man his thoughts. Let him turn to the LORD, and he will have mercy on him, and to our God, for he will freely pardon. 8 “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the LORD. 9 “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.

clip_image137Background

In 742 B.C. Isaiah was called to be a prophet. He had a vision of the heavenly throne room where an angel purified his lips with a burning coal. He lived in Judah in the vicinity of Jerusalem where he condemned social injustice. He was married and had sons to whom he gave symbolic names: Shear-jashub meant “a remnant shall return” and Maher-shalal-hash-baz meant “the spoil speeds, the prey hastens.” These names anticipated that the Assyrians would conquer Syria and Israel but that God would preserve at least a remnant of Judah. Isaiah lived during the time when the Assyrians expanded their empire. The Syrians and the northern kingdom tried to pressure the southern kingdom of Judah to help them resist the Assyrians. As a sign of God’s faithfulness, Isaiah promised that a child would be born who would be called “Immanuel,” which means “God with us.” Isaiah told people not to fight because God would protect them. Isaiah’s advice was heeded by Hezekiah, who was king late in Isaiah’s life. The Assyrians did conquer the northern kingdom and besieged Jerusalem but did not capture it. An outbreak of disease forced the Assyrians to depart. Isaiah’s life and message are recounted in the book of Isaiah.

Bible Truths 2

As we had much of Christ in the 53rd chapter, and much of the church of Christ in the 54th chapter, so in this chapter we have much of the covenant of grace made with us in Christ. The “sure mercies of David,” which are promised here (ver. 3), are applied by the apostle to the benefits which flow to us from the resurrection of Christ (Acts xiii. 34), which may serve as a key to this chapter; not but that it was intended for the comfort of the people of God that lived then, especially of the captives in Babylon, and others of the dispersed of Israel; but unto us was this gospel preached as well as unto them, and much more clearly and fully in the New Testament. Here is, I. A free and gracious invitation to all to come and take the benefit of gospel grace, ver. 1. II. Pressing arguments to enforce this invitation, ver. 2-4. III. A promise of the success of this invitation among the Gentiles, ver. 5. IV. An exhortation to repentance and reformation, with great encouragement given to hope for pardon thereupon, ver. 6-9. V. The ratification of all this, with the certain efficacy of the word of God, ver. 10, 11. And a particular instance of the accomplishment of it in the return of the Jews out of their captivity, which was intended for a sign of the accomplishment of all these other promises.

Items for Discussion

  • God is asking people to change – Why don’t people change?
  • What makes people change?
  • God proposes that worldly food and purchases are not satisfying – How does society argue against God?
  • Read verse six – Can you interpret this as saying that God may not always respond to someone’s call for Him? Explain: consider this question, Is there a time that it becomes too late to be saved?
  • Besides calling out for God, what does He expect us to do?
  • How does forgiveness support God’s instructions to us?

 

Luke 13:1-9
1 Now there were some present at that time who told Jesus about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mixed with their sacrifices. 2 Jesus answered, “Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans because they suffered this way? 3 I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish. 4 Or those eighteen who died when the tower in Siloam fell on them—do you think they were more guilty than all the others living in Jerusalem? 5 I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish.” 6 Then he told this parable: “A man had a fig tree, planted in his vineyard, and he went to look for fruit on it, but did not find any. 7 So he said to the man who took care of the vineyard, ‘For three years now I’ve been coming to look for fruit on this fig tree and haven’t found any. Cut it down! Why should it use up the soil?’ 8 ” ‘Sir,’ the man replied, ‘leave it alone for one more year, and I’ll dig around it and fertilize it. 9 If it bears fruit next year, fine! If not, then cut it down.’ “

Background 3

The Apostle Luke, was of Greek origin born in the Hellenistic city of Antioch, and was extremely educated. His studies included Greek philosophy, medicine, and art in his youth. He was also a professional physician. Luke came to Jerusalem where he came to believe in the Lord. He and Cleopas met the resurrected Lord on the road to Emmaus (Luke 24).

After Pentecost, Luke returned to Antioch and worked with the Apostle Paul, traveling with him to Rome, and converting Jews and pagans to the Christian Faith. “Luke, the beloved physician, … greets you,” writes the Apostle Paul to the Colossians (Colossians 4:14). At the request of Christians, Luke wrote his Gospel in the first century. According to some accounts this took place around 60 A.D., and according to others around 80 A.D. After Paul’s martyrdom, Luke preached the Gospel throughout Italy, Dalmatia, Macedonia, and other regions. He painted icons of the Most-holy Theotokos—not just one, but three—as well as icons of the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul. For this reason, the Apostle Luke is considered the founder of Christian iconography. In his old age, he visited Libya and Upper Egypt; from Egypt he returned to Greece, where he continued to preach and convert many with great zeal despite his age.
In addition to his Gospel, Luke wrote the Acts of the Apostles and dedicated each of these works to Theophilus, the governor of Achaia. Luke was 84 years old when he was tortured him for the sake of Christ and hanged him from an olive tree in the town of Thebes, in Beothia of Greece.

Biblical Truths 4

Two incidents and a parable all teach that people need to turn to God. They must do this so that they avoid punishment.

Verse 1 Pilate was the Roman who governed Judea. He was always afraid that Jewish crowds would disturb the peace. ‘Galileans’ are people who came from the area near Lake Galilee.

Verse 2 The Jews often thought that people suffered because they had sinned (John 9:2). Jesus had just spoken about judgement. The people may also have thought of what Jesus had said. Therefore, they were wondering if these Galileans were especially wicked. Some people from Galilee were offering their sacrifice in the Temple. Pilate did not want anyone to cause trouble against the Romans. He ordered his soldiers to stop such people. The soldiers killed the Galileans. Their own blood mixed with the blood of their animal offerings.

Verses 4-5 The building may have been part of Pilate’s plan to improve the water supply to Jerusalem. This was necessary, but the Jews were very angry. Pilate took some money from the Temple to pay for it. These men may have been working on the water system. Some people hated Pilate’s plan. They thought that people should not work on it. The workers should not have accepted money which came from the Temple as their wages. They died when the building fell down. Therefore, people thought that God had punished them. Jesus denied that they were guiltier than anyone else in Jerusalem. But their deaths were a warning. People needed to turn to God.

Verse 6 A vineyard was picture language for the nation of Israel. Isaiah spoke of the care that God had given to his vineyard. But its fruit was no good. The people were wicked. Therefore God would destroy the vineyard (Isaiah 5:1-7).

Verse 7 In Jesus’ parable, the fig tree was in good soil in the vineyard. But it had failed to produce fruit after three years. Jesus had been expecting the Jews to accept his message for the past three years. The fig tree disappointed its owner in the story. In the same way, the Jews had disappointed Jesus.

Verses 8-9 The extra year in the story suggests that God gives people every chance to repent. But there comes a time when there are no more opportunities. If the Jews did not change their behaviour, God would destroy their nation. He was like the vineyard owner, who would cut down the fig tree.

The Jews would not obey God. Jesus knew that this would lead to trouble with the Romans. The Romans destroyed the Jewish nation in AD 70.

Items for Discussion

  • What can we deduce from the story of the fig tree about the following:
    • God’s expectations for His people
    • God’s patience with His people
  • Jerusalem was destroyed by the Roman General Titus by a siege. People were starved and driven into cannibalism. All this happened because their leaders failed to listen. Can you parallel this story with modern events that were similar?
  • How should these lessons of history affect people today?
  • While we have a patient and forgiving God, what is the bottom line to God’s expectations for His people?
  • Can people change? Can old dogs be taught new tricks?
  • How do people change? What must they do?

Discussion Challenge

  • How can a Christian community help those around them, other Christians, non-Christians, people of other beliefs and faiths change so that their lives are more pleasing to God?
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