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Isaiah 40:1-5 1
1 Comfort, comfort my people, says your God. 2 Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and cry to her that her warfare is ended, that her iniquity is pardoned, that she has received from the Lord’s hand double for all her sins. 3 A voice cries: “In the wilderness prepare the way of the Lord; make straight in the desert a highway for our God. 4 Every valley shall be lifted up, and every mountain and hill be made low; the uneven ground shall become level, and the rough places a plain. 5 And the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together, for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.”

straightpathsmallBackground 2

This chapter begins the prophecy of from Isaiah. It appears to be divided from the former parts by the historical chapters that come between and differs in the scope and style of the being of Isaiah. Before God sent his people into captivity he furnished them with precious promises for their support and comfort in their trouble; and we may well imagine of what great use to them the glorious, gracious, light of this prophecy was, in that cloudy and dark day, and how much it helped to dry up their tears by the rivers of Babylon. Isaiah looks further yet, and to greater things; much of Christ and gospel grace we meet with in the beginning of Isaiah, but in this latter part we find much more. As if it were designed for a prophetic summary of the New Testament, it begins with that which begins the gospels, “The voice of one crying in the wilderness’’ ch. 40:3 ), and concludes with that which concludes the book of the Revelation, “The new heavens and the new earth,’’ ch. 66:22 ).

The mercies of God to the Jewish nation are similar to those glorious things performed by our Savior for man’s redemption, so they are by the Spirit of God expressed in such terms as show plainly that while the prophet is speaking of the redemption of the Jews he had in his thoughts a more glorious deliverance. Isaiah lets us look no for any further accomplishment of these prophecies. If Jesus is Jesus, and His kingdom is the kingdom we are promised, that should come. We are to look for no other. Our task is to carry on and complete of the same good work which was begun in the first preaching and planting of Christianity in the world.

Biblical Truth

Verse 1 – The Lord’s words are to ‘my people’. They are the Lord’s own special people. They belong to him by a personal covenant (see Exodus chapter 24).

Verse 2 – Enemies had ruined Jerusalem 70 years earlier. But now the people will be able to build it again (see Isaiah 44:28).

  • The verse refers to an ancient custom. If poor people were quite unable to pay a debt, they could become slaves (see 2 Kings 4:1). There were no national funds to help them. But there was one thing that a poor person could do. He could fix the final demand (bill) for the money in a public place. He hoped that some generous rich person would fold the demand in two. That is, that he would double it. Then he signed his name on the back of the demand (like a modern check). That meant that he would kindly pay the poor man’s debt.
  • So God forgives his people because of his great kindness. They could not earn their freedom by their hard labor. But God himself acts to rescue them.

Verse 3 – The New Testament declares John the Baptist to be the person who is shouting (see Matthew 3:3 and John 1:23). Of course, John’s message was not about freedom from Babylon. He lived several centuries after the Jews returned from Babylon. But John’s message was similar. His message was about the arrival of the Messiah. And the Messiah would bring about freedom from sin (verse 2).

Verses 3-4 – The Lord’s road is to be straight and level. And it is to be free from blocks in the way. When the road is ready, the Lord will definitely arrive. He will be able to travel without difficulty or problems.

Verse 5 – The Lord promises that all nations will see him in his great glory. This is the subject of Psalms 95 to 100 in particular.

Items for Discussion

  • What characteristics about our God can you discern from these verses?
  • Why is it that we cannot pay our debts?
  • What are our debts?
  • What does it mean to prepare the way for the Savior?
  • Who does the work?

 

1 John 3:1-3
1 See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. 2 Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when Christ appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. 3 All who have this hope in him purify themselves, just as he is pure.

Background

The letter does not tell us who wrote it. Our tradition is that the Apostle John is the author and that it was to the churches around Ephesus. This conclusion is drawn because John was the writer of the fourth Gospel and the thought/style of this letter is similar to that of the Book of John. To examine the similarities, you can do further research here http://www.easyenglish.info/bible-commentary/1john-lbw.htm

The author prefaces this letter to believers in general, with evident testimonies to Christ, for promoting their happiness and joy, (verses 1-4) and the necessity of a life of holiness, in order to communion with God, is shown. (Verses 5-10)

Bible Truth

Verse 1 – God loves us and makes us his children. The Father’s love is great. Those who believe are his children. Because this makes God the father of all Christians, hey have been born again of God. The Father loves each one of us with a love that is so much more than any other love. Why? Because he sent his Son Jesus to die for our sins. God’s love is a love that is strange to us. It is so much better than any other love and it all comes from God’s love for us.

We are not known to the people of the world because they do not know God. They did not recognize Jesus when he was on the earth. This is why the world does not understand Christians. As a result, we do not really belong in the world. They are like strangers whose home is elsewhere.

Verse 2 – When Jesus returns, we shall be like him. Our hope is in knowing that the future will be much better even though we do not know the benefits for God’s children. But one fact is certain. We shall be like Christ, the Son of God.

Verse 3 – The word ‘hope’ does not mean that there is any doubt. The hope is that we will be like Christ. We will see him as he really is. God has promised this and he will do it. It will happen but it is in the future. We know that one day the Lord will change us. This should have an effect on us now. Each person who has this hope will turn from sin. All who have this hope in Christ will want to be more like him now.

Items for Discussion

  • When you know you are loved, how does that affect you?
  • If you knew you were not loved, how would that affect you?
  • Why is it important to get to know who Christ is?
  • Which is a greater force on changing human behavior, love or fear/hate and why?

Discussion Challenge

  • What are the ways we can help the world understand us (Christians)? 
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