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Isaiah 43:1-7 1
1 But now, this is what the Lord says—he who created you, Jacob, he who formed you, Israel: “Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine. 2 When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. 3 For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior; I give Egypt for your ransom, Cush and Seba in your stead. 4 Since you are precious and honored in my sight, and because I love you, I will give people in exchange for you, nations in exchange for your life. 5 Do not be afraid, for I am with you; I will bring your children from the east and gather you from the west. 6 I will say to the north, ‘Give them up!’ and to the south, ‘Do not hold them back.’ Bring my sons from afar and my daughters from the ends of the earth—7 everyone who is called by my name, whom I created for my glory, whom I formed and made.”.

constructionBackground

Isaiah 40-55 is sometimes called “Second Isaiah.” The objectives of these writings is meant to change people’s minds. These verses are not filled with warnings over wrongdoing, but with encouragement to reevaluate Judah’s past and future. The verses were written for exiled people in the mid-sixth century, just as the possibility of returning to the broken city of Jerusalem is reopening to the Israelites. Isaiah invites with a poetry of hope, offering to pave the way homeward with confidence.

Because the words of “Second Isaiah” are so overwhelmingly positive and comforting, it is one of the portions of the prophets most frequently quoted in the New Testament, in the Jewish Haftarah lectionary, and among Christians and Jews.

Biblical Truth

God speaks about His favor and good-will to his people and the comfort He will bring to all believers. These verses describe a new creature, wherever it is, it is of God’s forming. All who are redeemed through the sacrifice of Christ, God sets apart for Himself. Those who have God for themselves need not fear; who or what can be against them? Even the great countries of Egypt and Ethiopia, all their lives and treasures, do not compare with the sacrifice of Christ. True believers are precious in God’s sight, His delight is in them, above anyone else. Even though their lives were as if they went through fire and water, while they had God with them, they did not need to fear evil. It was as if they were picked up, carried and brought out. From God’s words and His love for us, we the faithful are to be encouraged. God’s people were to be assembled from everywhere. So with this pleasing picture in view, Isaiah again dissuades from our anxious fears.

Items for Discussion

  • What are the things that could happen in today’s world that would lift your spirits, fill you with hope, and give you that positive feeling that everything is OK?
  • What are the waters, rivers and fire of today’s world that we seek God’s protection from?
  • Why should we as modern day Christians believe that God will prevail in our world?
  • Read verse 4: So why do people still worry today?

 

2 Timothy 2:8-13
8 Remember Jesus Christ, raised from the dead, descended from David. This is my Gospel, 9 for which I am suffering even to the point of being chained like a criminal. But God’s word is not chained. 10 Therefore I endure everything for the sake of the elect, that they too may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus, with eternal glory. 11 Here is a trustworthy saying: If we died with him, we will also live with him; 12 if we endure, we will also reign with him. If we disown him, he will also disown us; 13 if we are faithless, he remains faithful, for he cannot disown himself.

Background

The first time that Paul was in prison in Rome was about 60 AD. He was there for two years. Then he travelled again and he went to Macedonia. Paul may have travelled as far as Spain before he went back to Rome. He was in prison again and soon after that the Emperor Nero had him killed. Paul wrote this second letter to Timothy from prison just before he died.

Paul wanted to see Timothy again. He thinks about him as his own son (2 Timothy 1:4). Paul is lonely and the prison is cold. He urges Timothy to try to come before the winter (2 Timothy 4:21). He asks Timothy to bring the warm coat that he had left in the town of Troas. He also wants Timothy to bring his books and papers (2 Timothy 4:13). In the court for the first time, Paul had been successful. But all his friends except Luke had left him (2 Timothy 4:11, 16). Although Paul had succeeded in court the first time, the Romans would not set him free this time. Paul expects that they will soon kill him (2 Timothy 4:6).

Paul writes to encourage Timothy in his Christian life. He urges him to be strong in what he believes. Paul tells Timothy to use the gifts that God has given to him and to preach the Gospel and teach the truth.

Biblical Truth 2

Verse 8: Jesus Christ was and is God. But, although he was God, he was born as a man. He was born to Mary who was of the family of David. This shows that he was the Messiah. He was the one whom God had promised to send. What Paul writes here is similar to what he wrote in Romans 1:3-4. There he wrote that the Holy Spirit declared Jesus to be the Son of God. He did this when God raised Jesus from the dead. Jesus is the Son of God and Timothy is to remember, not a dead Christ, but the living Lord. Jesus suffered and died. But now he is alive. This is meant to encourage Timothy, as he too will have to suffer for Christ. The fact that Jesus Christ died and rose again is the heart of the Gospel. This is the good news and truth that Paul preached.

Verse 9: Paul urged Timothy to preach the Gospel. And he urged him to be ready to suffer for doing so. He writes about his own experience. He preached the good news of Jesus Christ and he had to suffer because of it. He was now in prison and in chains. He had not done any crime. But he suffered as if he were a criminal. Paul was no longer free but that did not stop the spread of the Gospel. No one can bind up the word of God. It is free to go wherever God sends it.

Verse 10 Paul is willing to suffer for the good news. That is because God saves those whom he has chosen by this Gospel. So Paul is suffering for them so that they may believe in Christ Jesus. It is true that when we accept the Gospel, we choose Christ. But before we came to Him, God chose us. So Jesus says, ‘You have not chosen me but I have chosen you’ (John 15:16). Those who do accept the Gospel will have salvation. They will have the salvation that is in Christ Jesus. Paul and all who believe have this salvation now. Their future life will be with Christ. And they will share the glory that he has.

Verse 11: Timothy would have known these words. They were from a Christian song or poem. Paul says that the message of these words is true. In this part of the song or poem, ‘we’ means the Christians and ‘Him’ means Christ. There are four lines. Each one shows the actions of Christians and the result or the reaction of Christ.

  1. If we have died with Him, we shall also live with Him (verse 11)
  2. If we do not give up, we will also govern with Him (verse 12)
  3. If we refuse Him, he will also refuse us (verse 12)
  4. If we do not believe, he will remain true. He cannot deny who he is (verse 13)

Death with Christ will result in life with Him. Death with Christ is death to sin even as Christ died to sin. It is in the death of Christ that Christians have died with Him. The death of Christ has freed them from sin. As they believe in Christ, it is as if God has put their old life into his death.
They receive a new life now. Christians should consider that they are dead to sin. And they should consider that they are alive to God. The Lord has also promised them that as Christ rose from the dead so they will rise. They will live with Christ and never die again.

Verse 12: The life of the Christians is not an easy one. They may have to suffer many things. There will always be problems that tempt them to give up. But they must remain loyal to Christ. Those who do remain loyal to Christ will rule with Him. This looks forward beyond this present life to the life which is to come. Then those who have not given up will join with Christ as he rules as the king of heaven.

There are those who did once claim to be Christians but then say that they are not. Now they refuse to admit that Jesus is the Christ. They did not really believe in the Lord Jesus and they do not know Him. They have turned away from Him. The day will come when they will have to stand before God. Then Christ will deny them. He will say that He does not know them. They will not live with Him in that day.

Verse 13: There are those who did believe in the Lord Jesus but have turned away from Him. Some Christians fail to trust Him. But he will keep his promises to them. He will never turn away from them. He is the Lord who does not change. He will do what he has promised to do. He is always true to his own nature. He is God. For those who do not trust in the Lord Jesus at all, this is a serious warning. What God has said about the results of their sins will happen. But some have believed but are weak. They may fail but this should encourage them. They may not always be true to Him but he will always be true to them.

Items for Discussion

  • Discouragement can affect one’s faith in Christ. What is our role in helping those who may be discouraged?
  • What can we do to keep ourselves from becoming discouraged?
  • What are the ways a Christian can deny Christ?
  • Verses 11 and 12 may very well be the shortest synopsis of the Christian story. How would you explain this to someone who was discouraged?

Discussion Challenge

  • How should the Church, as an organization, keep its flock from becoming discouraged when many churches themselves are discouraged?

Notes:

  1. NIV New International Version Translations
  2. http://www.easyenglish.info/bible-commentary/2tim-lbw.htm
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