Scripture: from verse 2
[Abraham] was but one when I called him…
Observation: The passage says that if we are seeking the Lord, we should look to Abraham, who was only one person when God called him, but God called him and blessed him and multiplied him to create a kingdom of priests and a holy nation (1 Peter 2:9).
Genesis 15 says that Abraham believed God, and God counted it as righteousness. This is quoted in Galatians 3 and Romans 4, so it’s pretty important. That word “believed” is aman, which is the root of “amen.” It means to support, to confirm, to trust in, to be established.
So if we are seeking God, we are to look at Abraham’s example. And Abraham’s example is one of very simple faith: if God told him to do something, he did it. If God made him a promise, he believed it.
Application: What has God told you? What promises should you be believing?
Prayer: God, I praise you because you are the Faithful One, who never fails and never changes. I praise you because your word is good. Help me to believe in it the way you want me to. Amen.
Scripture: from verse 14
“The wealth of Egypt and the merchandise of Cush, and the Sabeans, men of stature, shall come over to you and be yours; they shall follow you…saying: ‘Surely God is in you, and there is no other, no god besides him.’”
Observation: There’s a few places where God promises that the wealth of those who do not follow God will be given to those who do. It’s a bit of an odd promise, because it has to be held so lightly to be safe: we’re warned against the love of money and commanded not to covet what others have. We’re also reminded again and again to be generous to the poor and not to judge others by what they have. And yet we’re also promised wealth.
The problem, of course, is that we don’t really believe these promises. If we did, we wouldn’t worry nearly as much about money. We may read these promises and acknowledge that they are truth, but when we picture the future, we rarely incorporate these promises. Our heart trusts the evidence of our eyes and our experience much more than it trusts God’s promises. We can’t quite really picture them.
But God is in us, and there is no god besides Him. God is categorically different from what we can see and what we have experienced. God is the overriding factor in all our calculations.
Application: I wish it were as simple as saying “believe in His promises.” But it isn’t. I don’t really believe them either. So we’ll work on that together.
Prayer: Holy Spirit, thank you for giving me faith, even if I haven’t figured out how to access it yet. I praise you for knowing truth beyond everything I understand. Please help me believe your promises. Amen.
Scripture: from verse 7
The sandy mirage will become a pool…
Observation: This is one of the “when the Lord reigns everything will be wonderful” chapters. I know two different songs based on verses from it, which is not a record but still pretty good.
Mirages are false promises. They seem to offer relief and refreshment and a whole new life, and then when we turn towards them they vanish. Over and over and over again.
But God doesn’t make false promises. His world does not contain things that seem to be and are not. What He offers is real, and we can trust Him.
Someday we will be able to trust our renewed senses. We will know the truth instinctively, and it will not vanish as we approach. God promises life and life abundantly.
Application: Trust in the Lord. He doesn’t vanish.
Prayer: Yeshua, I praise you because you are Truth and you do not change. Thank you for being willing to reveal truth to me, and to guide me to real refreshment. Help me to trust you and not my own guesses. Amen.
Scripture: verse 24 and 25
On that day Israel will be a third partner
with Egypt and Assyria a blessing here on earth;
for Adonai–Tzva’ot [Lord of Hosts] has blessed him:
“Blessed be Egypt my people,
Assyria the work of my hands
and Israel my heritage.”
Observation: This chapter started out with yet more death and destruction, this time for Egypt. But it ends with this promise. We’ve had chapter after chapter of God promising devastating punishment for Israel, Egypt, and Assyria. They would be conquering and decimating each other in turn (they are, after all, traditional enemies), and in between God would be hitting them with plagues and famine and confusion and in-fighting.
But God promises something that’s an even greater miracle than fighting and death: He promises peace. He promises that we who have rebelled and continue to rebel will be brought close to Him. He promises that these people groups who have had millenia of conflict will work together and friends and equals to serve the Lord and bless the world.
I did not have the best day today. I made a critical remark that may have been overheard by the wrong person, and I taught a children’s class that included a boy who is more difficult than average. Neither of these things is especially surprising – in fact, they are common enough that they have their own pages on tv tropes, which I have linked to. And God is using these things to point out places where I am not loving people the way He loves them.
But God’s promise is here: that someday, at the end of all the bad days, we will all stand together as friends and equals and servants of the Lord. Someday the staid leaders and the rebellious children and the slightly-crazy intellectual women like me and all the rest of everyone will be a blessing on the earth. Someday God will be bigger than all of our differences.
Application: Love other people, I guess. You’ll end up there in the end anyway.
Prayer: Father, thank you for loving me even when I am not loving to others. Thank you for promising harmony in the end. Thank you that everything really will be all right. Please help me to love others the way you love them. Amen.